FEATURES  FOR   TEACHERS
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Ideas and Features For New Teachers
and Veterans with Class

Volume 6, Issue 8
April 2010
StarTeaching Store Advertise with us Previous Articles Submit an Article FREE Reports Feature Writers Tech Center New Teacher's Niche
   

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Welcome back to our StarTeaching newsletter, 
Features for Teachers, packed full of tips, techniques, and ideas for educators of all students in all levels. 
 

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In This Week's Issue (Click the Quick Links below):

What's New @ StarTeaching   Using MOODLE in the Classroom (part 3)   Using Sign Language Signs to Make Your Read-Aloud Interactive & Fun
NEW! Hank Kellner: 
"Write What You See":
Contrasts in Photos
Tech/21st Century Corner: 
Textbooks: Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
Themes on Life: 
"Testing For Gossip"
NEW! Science Activities for Any Setting   10 Days of Writing Prompts   10 Days of Math Problems
School Features:
Response to Intervention
New Teacher's Niche:
The Many Benefits of Sustained Silent Reading
Student Teachers' Lounge: The Apple iPod As A Great Learning And Resource Toolt
Book of the Month Club:
21st Century Skills: Learning For Life In Our Times
  Website of the Month:
eNLVM Utah State University Interactive Online Math Lessons
  Spring Book Sale
for Teachers

Remember to bookmark this page and to visit our website for more great articles, tips, and techniques!
http://www.starteaching.com

Also, feel free to email this newsletter to a friend or colleague!

FEATURE WRITER OPENINGS:

Would you be interested in becoming a Featured Writer for the StarTeaching website?

Our Newsletter is now posting a opening for a Social Studies / History Writer interested in a monthly column focusing on Historical Events and Education.

We are also looking for an administrator interested in sharing 21st century leadership skills and ideas in schools.  

Email your resume and letter of interest to:  editor@starteaching.com

 

FEATURE WRITER

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Using Sign Language Signs to Make Your Read-Aloud Interactive and Fun

by Kim Taylor-DiLeva

Kim Taylor-DiLeva is an educational trainer and owner of Kims Signing Solutions (www.kimssigningsolutions.com).  She conducts parent and teacher workshops throughout New York State and conducts sign language enrichment classes for daycares and preschools in the Albany , NY area.

Teachers read aloud to their students because of the benefits, which include introducing and reinforcing new vocabulary words, strengthening listening skills, encouraging reading for enjoyment, and introducing new genres, etc.  Since read-aloud time is a listening activity, it does not allow for much interaction. This specifically hinders your visual and kinesthetic learners.  Fortunately, there are easy ways to make your read aloud time more interactive and enjoyable for your students. One way is to incorporate American Sign Language signs.  Heres how: 

  • Choose a book to read to your class. It would be best if it has one or two repeating words that are words you would like your students to learn.

 

  • If you do not know the signs, look up the sign in an American Sign Language Dictionary.  I suggest Michigan State Universitys ASL Web Browser, which you can find online at  http://commtechlab.msu.edu/ sites/aslweb/

 

  • Introduce the signs along with the book. Tell your students that whenever you read the word they are to sign it.  They will not only have to listen to the story but also sign the word when they do hear it.
 
  • Your students may need to be reminded to remember to do this, but this will force them to pay close attention because they have to listen carefully for the word and also remember to sign (and what the signs are).
 
  • In addition, you can also benefit from this because it will be easy to determine who is paying attention and who is not. Those who are not signing are most likely not listening and you can now redirect them. By using this strategy and incorporating ASL signs into your reading time, you will present your kinesthetic learners with a way to physically learn by acting out the story and your visual learners are more apt to grasp concepts by learning through the visual representation of the story you are reading.
 
  • For example, when teaching students about hibernation, I recommend using the book Time to Sleep by Denise Fleming for your read-aloud.  Have your students learn and sign the words winter and sleep. These two words are repeated often throughout the story to explain how each animal begins their winter hibernation. By the time you are done reading the story, your students will have signed the words several times and they will have an understanding that there are some animals that sleep through winter, or hibernate. Your students will now understand the topic and new vocabulary words. The best part is that they had fun doing it through the interactive read-aloud time.

 

A Great Offer to Our StarTeaching Readers
From Kim's Signing Solutions!

Star Teaching Readers Get a Special Discount on a set of
My 1st 50 Sight Words in Sign
Regularly 12.95, You Pay ONLY 9.95.
Click below to get your set of cards at this great discount, ONLY FOR STAR TEACHING READERS.  

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http://www. kimssigningsolutions.com/

You must use the link above to receive your discount! 

Fully endorsed by Frank Holes Jr., editor of Starteaching

 

 

 

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Using Photography To Inspire Writing IV

By Hank Kellner

Contrasts in Photos

A veteran of the Korean War, Hank Kellner is a retired educator who has served as an English Department chairperson at the high school level and an adjunct Associate Professor of English at the community college level.

For several years he published "Kellner's Moneygram", a newsletter for photographers. He also owned and operated Simmer Pot Press, a small press specializing in cookbooks, for several years.

Kellner is the creator of many photographs and articles that appeared in publications nationwide; the author of extensive reading comprehension materials for a publisher of educational materials, and a former contributing editor to Darkroom Photography magazine. His current publication is Write What You See: 99 Photos To Inspire Writing (Cottonwood Press, due out January, 2009)

Born in New York City, Kellner now lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Visit his blog at hank-englisheducation.blogspot.com.

Most students probably dont realize that they exercise the mental process of contrast every day. For example, each morning they may contrast two choices of clothing. Or they may contrast two kinds of breakfast cereals. Or they may even contrast you to other people who influence their lives.

    But when it comes to using contrast in their writing, students dont seem to make the connections as easily as they do at other times. Fortunately, photographs can easily help students develop compositions using this pattern of organization.

 

Contrasting Two Women

Using the photographs similar to those shown here, students could develop papers that are organized in terms of the differences between the two women.

    In their compositions, the students could discuss the differences in clothing, hairstyles, facial expressions, lighting, and even the jewelry the women are wearing. They could also speculate as to the period of time during which the photos were taken.

Contrasting Two Men

    The two photographs of the men looking at the camera with what appears to be hostility offer many opportunities for students to write papers in which they point out the differences between not only the men, but also their environments.

    And thats not all. Students could also use their imaginations to write about the men themselves: their backgrounds, their work, their hopes, aspirations, and dreams.

   Of course, its possible to use photographs to inspire writing that isnt based on a specific pattern of organization. You can use photographs to stimulate compositions based on example, process analysis, comparison, definition, classification, analysis, cause and effect, or any combination of these techniques. The following two photos illustrate this idea.

Writing About a Lonely Man

   Is the man in this photograph frustrated? Is he disappointed? Is he waiting for someone to arrive? Unsure of the future? Recalling an unhappy event? Neglected by his friends and family? Wishing that he were somewhere else? Wishing that he had done something differently?

   Those are just a few of the many questions that can help even the most hesitant students overcome their reluctance to write. Whats more, some students may choose to ignore the questions and create biographies of the man based on their imaginations. Others may write poems or stories from the point of view of the subject.

 

Can You Hear Me Now?

    Farewell conventional telephone! Hail cell phone! Did you know that in 2006 there were an estimated 219 million cell phone users in the United States ? That said, one cant help speculating as to how many cell phones make their way into classrooms every day. And one cant help wondering if traditional phones will soon go the way of 78 rpm records and vacuum tubes for radios.

    Using a photo as simple as the one shown here, you can easily inspire students to express their thoughts about traditional phones and cell phones. They could, for example, discuss whether or not telephones help people become closer in their relationships. They could discuss some of the positive and negative effects cell phones have on their users. They could write about some ways in which using phones can be annoying to others or even dangerous. They could tell how many times they talk on the phone each day. And they could relate several of the most interesting telephone conversations they have had or overheard.

 

How Some Master Teachers Use Photographs

     At the University of Mississippi Writing Project , Co-Director of Special Programs Allison Movitzs students use their own photographs to spark various kinds of writings. The students also incorporate their photos into multi-genre presentations and portfolios.  Most recently, writes Movitz, weve used Microsofts Photostory, a digital camera, and a microphone to recreate a who done it from a mock trial in speech/debate classes.

     Mary Birky is an English teacher at the Papillion-LaVista High School , Papillion , Nebraska ; a Nebraska Writing Project Advisory Board member, and a contributor to a forthcoming book on place-conscious education. Birky uses student-generated photos to stimulate writing assignments based on the content of the photos, the mood of the photos, and the imagery of the photos. I tell my students to paint the photographs with words, she writes, before she asks them to create free verse poetry based on the photos they have selected.

    Justin Van Kleecks very successful writing activity with students he tutors involves a seagull that simply cant get enough Doritos. A former adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Piedmont Community College , Van Kleeck shows his students a video of a seagull that steals a bag of Doritos from a store in Scotland every day. In the first part of his assignment, he directs the students to become the thieving seagull and write process papers in which they tell their fellow seagulls how to steal, open, and eat the Doritos. In the second part of the assignment, he tells the students to write from the point of view of a shopkeeper who, in a creative, non-violent way, is telling other shopkeepers how to prevent the seagull from stealing Doritos. The key to the exercises, writes Van Kleeck, is for students to use the process approach while also using their imaginations.

    

Call for Submissions

    Do you have a photo-related writing activity youve used successfully in the classroom? Would you like to share that activity with other teachers at many levels nationwide? If so, Id love to hear from you.
   Please send approximately 100 words describing your activity to me at hankpix@gmail.com as a WORD attachment to your e- mail . Dont forget to include your name, title, school or college, city, state, and a brief statement granting permission to use your submission in my articles. Thank you.

 

The Addison Gallery of American Art

    The Addison Gallery of American Art is a department of Phillips Academy , Andover , Massachusetts . When you visit http://chat.andover.edu/addison/education/education_PWP.htm youll discover more about this organizations Photography and Writing Program, which is designed to enable and inspire students to express themselves in words and photographs. Definitely worth a visit.

Copyright 2009 by Hank Kellner

__________________________________________________________________________

Hank Kellner is the author of Write What You See: 99 Photos To Inspire Writing. Published by Cottonwood Press ( I-800-864-4297) and distributed by Independent  Publishers Group, Write What You See includes a supplementary CD with photos. 8 x11, 120 pages, perfect binding, ISBN 978-1-877-673-83-2, LCCN 2008938630. $24.95. Available at bookstores, from the publisher,  and on the Internet at www.amazon.com and other websites. Ask your school or local librarian to order it.Visit the authors blog at http://hank-englisheducation.com. The author will contribute a portion of the royalties earned from the sale of this book to The Wounded Warriors Project.

 

iPod Touch

Order your own iPod Touch Today with the links below:

NowAvailable! 

  

Mastering Basic Skills software:

$29.99

There are six modules designed to test the basic ability of an individual in terms of Memory & Concentration. Needless to say this is the most important basic skill for not just to survive but also to thrive in this competitive environment. Each of the six modules tests the six variants of Memory & Concentration in an individual, namely: 1. Picture recognition
2. Paired Associate Learning
3. Immediate Recall
4. Serial processing
5. Parallel processing
6. Recognition and Recall
Each of these modules runs at three different levels, from easy to difficult.

At each level, the individual's performance is depicted as Scores Obtained.

A feedback has been built into the software for all these 18 levels depending on the marks one scores during the test. 

Each individual can assess his/her performance any time by clicking on "history", which gives complete details of date and time of taking the tests, marks scored each time and even time taken to do the test. This builds the confidence level and encourages more participation to eventually culminate in improvement and enhancement of memory and concentration.

Essentially, this software is a SELF AWARENESS tool that surely motivates the individual to realize one's capability and seek or be receptive for improvement. Also, if repeatedly done over a period of time works as Training tool to enhance their capability.
This software package is specifically designed to help young children to learn basic skills that will help them in school.  Continued follow-up will give these young learners success as they mature.  

Three versions of the software exist: Individual Software on either CD or Online,   Family Version Software, and an Institutional Software package.

StarTeaching wholeheartedly supports and endorses this software.  It will make a difference with your child or student.

Click HERE to order your own copy today:

 

 

Student Teachers' Lounge: 
For The Things They Don't Teach You In College

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The Apple iPod As A Great 
Learning and Resource Tool

By Ken Cheong

There is no doubt that the Apple iPod has become a common item amongst today's youth as a great music player. But is the iPod more than just a music player?

In fact, the iPod is more than a music player. It is also a great teaching and learning tool as well. And it is guaranteed to help you learn fast. 

Audio Books 

Besides music, the iPod also plays audio books. These are essentially books that has been converted into a audio format and saved as a MP3 file. From a technical angle, there is no difference in the file format between a music or a book and you can download and play the same audio book off your computer or your iPod. This opens you to a whole library of 'books' for your iPod. 

These can include many great books found in public domains and downloaded for free. There are also many good commercial 'books' that you can purchase for a small price. These audio books are great as you can play them over and over again in the car, on the train or even on the plane. It's a good way to kill time and gain knowledge at the same time. 

The best thing about audio books is that you do not need to read. Let the book read to you and this can be a great enhancement for learning while driving or while sitting in a shaky bus or train. 

Podcasting 

Have you also heard of podcasting? If you have not, these are simply audio files published by individuals or companies covering interest topics ranging from music, technology, current affairs, news, politics, cars, sales and marketing, electronics, fashion to many other interesting niche areas. 

They then put up these audio files in certain podcast stations on the internet. 

Most podcast are free and you can download and treat them just like audio books. Similarly, you can subscribe and organize these podcast on your computer iTunes and then synchronize them to your iPod. It's also a great way to gain knowledge while driving or taking transport to school or work. 

What is gaining fast popularity today is video podcast. Video podcast are essentially video files that can be downloaded and again, it covers a great genre of subject. (As a matter of fact, I am learning about designing my own podcast by watching a video podcast of this subject.) 

However, you can only watch a video podcast on your computer or on the latest iPod video model. All earlier models of iPod will not be capable of playing video. With the iPod video, you can also output the video signal to a normal TV and watch the entire podcast on TV as well. 

What's more, you can watch them, stop them, rewind them or repeat these audio or video podcasts as often as you like. What better way to learn? 

So who says that iPods are meant for music only?

Ken Cheong / Katherine Xie have 4 iPods starting from the 2G model. Katherine runs a popular website, http://www.smart-ipod-ideas.com, that gives tips on iPods as well as showcase quality iPod accessories from Japan. 


Interested in FREE writing activities you can print out and use immediately in your classroom? Simply click the following link to our writing page: http://www.starteaching.com/writing.htm

Be sure to check out our website for the FREE teacher Who-I-Want-To- Be plan and other great Freebies for new teachers. Simply click the following link: http://www.starteaching.com/free.htm

 

 

 

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Are You Looking To Be Published?

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  TECH/21st Century CORNER

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Textbooks: Here Today, 
Gone Tomorrow 

By Mark Benn
Middle School Teacher

Mark's latest articles are focusing on 21st Century Learning and the latest research to drive 21st Century Teaching. 

As the opening bell, buzzer, light, or whatever goes off every morning in every school across the nation, teachers have already made many decisions that apply to what the students will learn that day. This has been a time honored part of being a teacher for as long as teachers have been around. In the last century, the learning has centered around textbooks written for every subject. Even today, this practice continues throughout our nation and world.

Each week a teacher plans out their lessons based on the textbook they're using, following page by page and chapter by chapter until they complete the textbook or the school year runs out. You may say, yeah, your point?

My point is that the 21st century (the digital age) has arrived and with it a whole new way of doing things. You may ask, why should I change just because something new has come along? I agree, no one should change just because something new is available. Change should take place when it's more beneficial.

Observe your students and consider what you see. Are they truly engaged in that textbook, or are they checking out? I had a fellow teacher remark to me a year ago that she didn't see students very interested in their textbook anymore. How about you? Does going through a textbook page by page and chapter by chapter really fulfil your state standards, or is it just easier.

In all of this, does it meet the needs of today's students.

In the last two years, brain research has changed what we thought about how the brain works. With the help of technology we can see that today's students are different from the past in how their brain functions. These "screenagers", as some have called them, even prefer different colors then in the past. Blood red and neon green are some of their favorite colors. Their least favorite color is black. We're not talking about what color they like to wear, but what they like to see on the screen or in print. I've watched many students reverse the colors on their computer screens so it's white on black, instead of black on white. Now think of these implications when it comes to textbooks. I've seen students enjoy reading a book on their handheld computer, which is digital, compared to reading a hardcover book.

In the January 2008 edition of Technology & Learning magazine an article entitled "Top 10 Tech Trends" written by Susan McLester states In the recent report, A Revolution in K-12 Digital Content How Soon Is Now? research group Eduventures declares the textbook "dead...or at least dying" as the "primary content delivery mechanism" for schools. In another article from the same edition Tom McHale writes an article entitled "Tossing Out Textbooks" where he talks about a Tucson high school that has done away with textbooks and gone totally digital using laptops.

As we've talked about in the past, today's students are more engaged when it comes to learning in student centered  classrooms vs. the traditional teacher centered approach. So are you ready to make a change? You don't have to have a bank of computers to make the change, but it does help. In my next article I'll talk about ways you can break the textbook dependency cycle. Till then, think about it.

 

Your browser may not support display of this image.  

Mark Benn earned his B.S. from Western Michigan University and his Elementary Certification from Northern Michigan University.  He is a 21 year teaching veteran of 5th and 6th grade students at Inland Lakes Middle School in Indian River, MI.  He is currently working on Masters of Integration of Technology from Walden University. 

Prior to teaching, Mark spent 11 years as Department Manager for Sears, Roebuck and Co. dealing with emerging technologies.  He has been married to his wife Bonnietta for 32 years with one daughter and two sons.  In the summers, Mark works for Mackinac State Historic Parks in the as a historical interpreter.

StarTeaching Featured Writer

Mark Benn is a leading expert in using technology in the classroom.  
You can feel free to contact him on email at mbenn@inlandlakes.org or at his blogsite:  http://www.furtrader.blogspot.com/ 

Check out our selection of past articles, including more about groups and stations, from previous issues at:

http://www.starteaching.com/newsletter.htm


 

 

  Feature Writer

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Using Moodle in the Classroom
(part 3)

By Frank Holes, Jr.

Frank Holes, Jr. is the editor of the StarTeaching website and the Features for Teachers bi-monthly online newsletter.  Started in 2004, StarTeaching is received by an audience of over 25,000 readers in the US and world-wide every month.  He has been blessed with the help and aid of a wonderful international staff of gifted educational feature writers.  

Frank earned his B.A. degree from Michigan State University and his M.A. in Educational Leadership from Central Michigan University.  Frank has taught in both the high school and middle school levels (in schools of all sizes and communities) in his extensive educational career.  

In 2007, Frank was awarded the prestigious Wal-Mart Teacher of the Year award.  He is married to his wife Michele with son James and daughter Sarah.  Frank enjoys writing, publishing three Michigan folklore thrillers, Year of the Dogman , The Haunting of Sigma, and Nagual: Dawn Of The Dogmen, as well as the children's fantasies The Longquist Adventures: Western Odyssey and (coming soon) Viking Treasure.  He is also putting together a book on teaching writing at the middle school level.  

Interested in making your life much, much easier as a teacher?  Tired of grading dozens and dozens of worksheets and quizzes?

Interested in turning your classroom into an ONLINE course?  Want your students to have access to materials from any place in the world, any time of the day?

Interested in capturing your students' attention and building upon the strengths they already bring into your classroom?

Then perhaps using Moodle is for you.  Moodle is a software application that works online.  Last time I focused on the page setup and layout of Moodle (click here for the previous article).  This time I'd like to share with you some of the basics of Moodle's communicative features.

The program comes equipped with its own form of messaging, a basic email-type of communication between all participants and the instructor.  Students can message each other and they can message me, and we can send assignments back and forth.  There are many times I will assign homework through email, and students are expected to message their work to me.  

Another form of communication is the 'chat room' feature.  This is an open dialogue for any number of participants to share thoughts and information.  I find this especially useful for after school hours, when I can designate a specific time to open the chat and allow students to pose questions and ideas.  The teacher has full control over the chat hours of operation, and I closely monitor the students.  They can ask me questions or pose thoughts to their peers.  This is great for when students are reading literature at home and come across passages they don't understand.  And it is much like hosting 'office hours' so that they can get clarification and answers from me outside of school.

Since Moodle keeps its own database and information at the teacher's fingertips, I can always check on my students' progress and I can monitor their messages.  There is always a digital record!  We have had students inappropriately use the messages or chats, but it is very easy to catch them and show them what they've done wrong or inappropriate.  Then appropriate consequences can be handed out.  

In all, Moodle acts just like an online course.  Students can be working on my class work from any computer anywhere in the world (that has internet, of course!)  It is also helpful for making my class size smaller, as like classrooms around the state I'm now having many more students in my room each period.  By putting a group of students on the computers in my mini-lab, I can reduce my class size back down to a manageable group.  Then I can rotate the groups through several stations, one of which is always Moodle.  I set the activities and projects for the kids and they work independently on them.

I'll continue to share more about Moodle in the series of articles coming soon.  Watch for them!

 

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Response To Intervention (RTI)

Courtesy of K12Academics.com

In education, Response To Intervention (RTI) involves examining the performance of individuals after an educational intervention (reading tutoring, peer tutoring, phonics interventions) and then collecting data on the changes in performance after these interventions. The RTI model is based on frequent data collection and changes in instruction based on the results of these interventions.

Curriculum Based Measurement (CBM) is often used to collect data on interventions and their effectiveness. Response to intervention is based on discovering what works best for an individual student, not what might be the 'best' intervention for everyone. Additional methods are tried until students 'respond' to the intervention and improve their skills.

RTI provides an alternative means to classify students for special education. The current method is to use a "severe discrepancy" model which indicates that a student has a learning disability if there is a discrepancy between ability and achievement. This model did not take into account the possibility that a student is low on the achievement dimension simply because of lack of effective teaching. RTI is a way to insure each student is afforded the opportunity to learn.

 

Article courtesy of K12Academics.com

K12Academics.com

 

MythMichigan Books
Novels by Frank Holes, Jr.

Now Available!  3rd Book in the Dogman Series:

Nagual: Dawn Of The Dogmen

Michigan s legendary Dogman returns in Nagual: Dawn of the Dogmen by Frank Holes, Jr.  The third book in the series is a masterful blend of fantasy and folklore, delving into the pre-dawn history of the mysterious creature and then rushing forward to the present day.  The supernatural beast is seen from two fronts.  The first encounter, part of a 1700s French fur-traders dream, chronicles the cultural clash between the indigenous, prehistoric civilizations and the Nagual, the half-man, half-canine skin-walkers, a clash where only one side can survive.  We then return to the modern day as the Dogman rampages across the fields and forests, the farms and camps of Grand Traverse and Benzie Counties in northern Michigan .  The supernatural beast is hunting for the remnants of its stolen, ancient treasure that will give it immortality and unlimited power.  Can two young camp counselors put an end to the chaos without losing their lives?

Click Here For The
Nagual: Dawn Of The Dogmen Website

Now Available!
Now Available!
Now Available!

Part mystery, part science fiction, Year of the Dogman is an imaginative, compelling, and adrenaline-pumping adventure. Author Frank Holes, Jr. takes no prisoners in creating a diabolical creature that leaves the forest to prey on the hapless hamlet of Twin Lakes in Northern Michigan . When night falls, the nocturnal beast, Dogman, scares the living daylights out of anyone he happens upon as he searches for a timeless treasure stolen from a Native American tribe. In the midst of the chaos, a young teacher is forced to put two and two together no matter how high the cost to rid the village of the treacherous man-beast who thrives on destruction and terror.  

In The Haunting of Sigma, Frank Holes, Jr. returns fans of the legendary Dogman to the wild world of cryptozoology in Northern Michigan .  This darker, far more sinister prequel to Holess first novel fully establishes his hold upon the imaginations of readers all over the Midwest .  June 1987 ushers in the hot, dry summer season, but something else far more horrifying has taken up residence in the deep wilderness in Kalkaska County .  The Dogman, a supernatural combination of canine and man, has returned to wreck havoc upon the tiny, sleepy community of Sigma.

 

Based upon the epic Greek tale of The Odyssey, yet set in the American Wild West, The Longquist Adventures: Western Odyssey chronicles the journey of a young boy and his guide through a perilous world of dangerous encounters and fantastic creatures.  It is a world of gun fights at high noon, stampedes on the great plains, stagecoach robbery, and an ultimate showdown with a ruthless, powerful gangster aboard a turn-of-the-century paddlewheel in the San Francisco Bay.  Can the time-traveling boy and the law-abiding Marshal restore order to the chaos of the American West gone truly wild?

Click Here For The
Year of the Dogman Website
Click Here For The
Haunting of Sigma Website
Click Here For The
Western Odyssey Website

 

The Dogman, a creature of MythMichigan, is an excellent example of modern-day folklore to study in your classes.   

http://www.dogman07.com

The Longquist Adventures, written for elementary students, is excellent for teaching mythology and classic stories to young children.  

Look for the sequel, Viking Treasure, this summer!

Teachers:
We now have special offers on Classroom Sets of our Novel.  Click here for more information:

ORDER A CLASS SET 

 

 

 

New Teachers' Niche: 
A Place for Teachers New To The Craft

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The Many Benefits of Sustained, Silent Reading

The benefits of classroom reading are many. Children (especially young children) have a natural love of reading. However, we at the middle school often see students who either struggle with texts or are turned off to reading. A great way of regenerating that interest is through sustained silent reading in your classroom.

This topic has been hotly debated recently in the International Reading Association newsletter. I'm not trying to enter this debate.  This article will simply describe what we in our school have observed and detail what we've done in our classes that has worked for our students.

First off, let your students choose what they read, whether it is a book, magazine, or whatever. It makes a huge difference in peaking their interest. Teachers already give (and require) plenty of specific readings through activities, literature, and in textbooks.  Students need the opportunity to read about what interests them, and this can occur when you allow them to choose what they want to read.  By all means, continue with your regular activities, but find a way to give your students time (in class is best) to read on their own.

It is very important for you as the teacher to model reading to your students. Read the entire time your students are reading too. Don't let this time be wasted on grading papers, checking email, or doing any other administrivia. If you want your students to take the time seriously, show them you are taking the time yourself and are enjoying the activity. Regardless of what the kids may say to you, they will imitate your behaviors in your class. You have this great opportunity to be a positive role model!

Just as in practicing writing and their skills through the week, you as the teacher need to schedule in time for sustained silent reading.  When I'm covering a piece of literature, for example, my class may read in a variety of ways. We may read aloud, I may read to the class, or we may play 'popcorn' around the room as students choose others. You probably have other out-loud reading activities you use too. These are great, and I always recommend them. But you should always give students time to read silently too. It doesn't have to be a lot, but I do recommend at least ten minutes, though not more than twenty. Think in terms of attention spans: plenty of time to become engaged in the text, read for a bit, and yet stay focused. Obviously some students could lose themselves in a book for hours on end, but not all kids have such a long attention span. Start with ten minutes and work upward, adding a few minutes each time.

In addition to literature we all cover in class, I also set up a regular library time so students can select their own books. We'll stay in the library for, again, about twenty minutes. I give students between ten and fifteen minutes to look over the shelves and 'try on' a book. Its like trying on clothing. This trial version is very important so students can start deciding if this is the book for them.  If it doesn't hook them in the first ten minutes, I suggest they try again. I'll try to make suggestions based on what I think the students' interests are. Sometimes we talk about what they like, what their interests are. Students are not required to check out a book, but they must 'try out' at least one book at each visit.

We designate each Friday after our vocabulary quiz for sustained silent reading. Students may read their library book, another book of their choice, or even a magazine from the rack in my room (I typically collect old magazines from everywhere and keep them in a large rack in class). Old magazines include the old stand bys - Reader's Digest, National Geographic, and Sports Illustrated. But I also gather Teen magazines, food and cooking, gardening, hunting and fishing, and video game magazines, among others. This way there are a large variety of topics for students to choose from.

The bookshelves in my room also have old reference materials and some outdated textbooks I've scrounged from other teachers. Some of your students will enjoy looking through drafting texts, recipe books, or science books, and you'd be surprised at the number of kids who love maps in social studies, history, or geography text books.

I've noticed a difference, especially in the attitudes of my students toward reading. Students given choices through the year were more engaged in the assigned readings through the year. Often, students (especially struggling students or low readers) have told me they enjoy reading, or they've found a topic or author they want to read more about, or the readings I did assign were some of the only ones they actually read (that year or in several years). Comments like that last one are bittersweet, because though I'm glad the student has regained the interest in reading, I'm sorry it took so long and the student was turned off in the first place. Sustained silent reading and allowing students to choose their own texts can be very powerful and beneficial to your students. You can be the teacher who makes a difference to your students.


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"Testing For Gossip"
Author Unknown

Themes on Life

Of what value do we speak?

In ancient Greece, Socrates was reputed to hold knowledge in high esteem. One day an acquaintance met the great philosopher and said, Do you know what I just heard about your friend?

Hold on a minute, Socrates replied. Before telling me anything Id like you to pass a little test. Its called the Triple Filter Test.

Triple filter?

Thats right, Socrates continued. Before you talk to me about my friend, it might be a good idea to take a moment and filter what youre going to say. Thats why I call it the triple filter test. The first filter is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?

No, the man said, Actually I just heard about it and ...

All right, said Socrates. So you dont really know if its true or not. Now lets try the second filter, the filter of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my friend something good?

No, on the contrary

So, Socrates continued, you want to tell me something bad about him, but youre not certain its true. You may still pass the test though, because theres one filter left: the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my friend going to be useful to me?

No, not really

Well, concluded Socrates, if what you want to tell me is neither true nor good nor even useful, why tell it to me at all?

 

What's New @ StarTeaching?

 

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What is CHANGE?

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Why is CHANGE difficult for some people?

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Describe how you deal with CHANGE in your life.

Day
4

What are FIVE reasons people give to keep from CHANGING?

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Describe how you have CHANGED over this past semester.

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6

Why do people fear CHANGE?

Day
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List TEN things you have CHANGED during your life.

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Why is CHANGE a good thing for people? 

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Day 1 Complete the Proportion:

4 : 10  =  x : 25

Day 2 Complete the Proportion:

16 : x  =  24 : 40

Day 3 Complete the Proportion:

18 : 21  =  17 : x

Day 4 Complete the Proportion:

 x : 12  =  18 : 66

Day 5 Compute the scale factor:

1 inch : 50 feet  =  
___ inches : 200 feet

Day 6 Compute the scale factor:

5 cm : 75 m  =  
20 cm : ___ m

Day 7 Compute the scale factor:

____ inch : 28 miles =  
16 inches : 400 miles

Day 8 Compute the scale factor:

20 cm : ____ m =  
17.5 cm : 140 m

Day 9 What is the Probability of drawing a RED JACK from a standard deck of cards?
Day 10 What is the Probability of drawing an ACE from a standard deck of cards?

 

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