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Ideas and Features For New Teachers
and Veterans with Class

Volume 6, Issue 5
March 2010
StarTeaching Store Advertise with us Previous Articles Submit an Article FREE Reports Feature Writers Tech Center New Teacher's Niche

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

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

What's New @ StarTeaching   Changing Literacy for the 21st Century   Reader Response:
Ask Dr. Manute
NEW! Tony Vincent's Blog:
iPod Touch DOs & DONTs
Tech/21st Century Corner: 
21st Century Skills and Lifelong Learning
Themes on Life: 
"I Wish You Enough"
NEW! Science Activities for Any Setting   10 Days of Writing Prompts   10 Days of Math Problems
School Features:
The Montessori Method
(part 4)
New Teacher's Niche:
Capitalizing on Current Events
Student Teachers' Lounge:
Preparing for Emergency Situations in School
Book of the Month Club:
What Video Games Have To Teach Us About Learning and Literacy
  Website of the Month:
Quest Atlantis
  Winter Book Sale
for Teachers

Remember to bookmark this page and to visit our website for more great articles, tips, and techniques!

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


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



Ask Dr. Manute

The Doctor is in!!!  After his brief stay overseas, Dr. Manute is pleased to be back stateside answering questions from our readers.  

Dr. Manute is a well-renowned world traveler, guest speaker, and educational consultant.  

Dr. Manute holds multiple degrees in several educational fields. He has taught in both stateside and international school communities.  He has extensive experience (25 years) in school administration.  He also has worked at the university level, supervising teacher interns and teaching undergraduate courses.

 You can  contact Dr. Manute through the form at the end of this article.  Thanks!

I recently received a question regarding curriculum and pedagogy:

Dear Dr Manute,

Which do you feel is more important to teaching, curriculum or pedagogy?

Max, Columbus, OH


Dr. Manute writes:

Which was more important, knowledge of subject matter or teaching methodology?  Wow, what a question!  Let me begin by saying that both are important in my book and one without the other just wont get the job done effectively.  There are definitely two independent camps on this subject with very biased views.  Both seem to want it one way without compromise.

Weve all heard the stories about teachers who know their subject content from A to Z, but have a difficult time transferring that knowledge.  I remember teachers I had or have worked with who have struggled in that area.

Lets look at both issues independently.  Knowledge of content seems to me the cornerstone of teaching.  How could someone transfer knowledge or information without possessing that knowledge themselves?   That doesnt mean as a professional educator you are required to know or understand everything there is in a specific discipline, that would be impossible.  However a solid background is vital.  Without it, how would a teacher possess the confidence to face a classroom of students regardless of grade level?  Take for example a classroom teacher engaging her students in a discussion about the application of a right triangle.  How would she be able to answer questions without a solid knowledge base or how would she progress to higher levels of thinking?  Where does one acquire this knowledge?  Well, students reach proficiency levels as they progress through their formal schooling from elementary through middle and high school.  Education majors acquire a more rigorous content base at the undergraduate level.  In many cases teachers choose a discipline that they are really interested in.  This interest creates motivation.  It is the same principle of classroom teaching.

Another aspect of content mastery is it allows a teacher the freedom and flexibility to design creative and interesting lessons.  Teachers are also able to help students draw connections and parallels with important events in their daily lives; that in itself helps in retention.  Best of luck in your teaching, remember, those who can, teach, those who cant go into some less significant line of work.

Dr. Manute      

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iPod Touch DOs & DONTs

Courtesy of Tony Vincent,
Learning in Hand Blog

Learning in Hand is an educator's resource for using some of the coolest technologies with students.Tony Vincent

Learning in Hand is written by Tony Vincent. Tony taught fifth grade in Omaha, Nebraska for six years, and three of those years his students were pioneers in educational handheld computing. Then, as technology specialist at Willowdale Elementary, Tony brought the newest technologies into classrooms. Whether it was digital video, blogs, email, podcasts, or handhelds, Tony helped Willowdale teachers and students understand the usefulness of new technologies. Currently, Tony is self-employed as an education consultant. He conducts workshops, presents at conferences, and writes books based on his teaching experiences and passion for new technologies.

Always excited to share, Tony has documented much of what he knows about handheld computing and podcasting on his website, learninginhand.com. There you'll find useful software collections, the best webs links for handhelds, complete lesson plans, and an informative blog.

Tony is a teacher who wants to make education effective, relevant, and fun. He knows handhelds are small computers that can make a big difference in classrooms! He hopes Learning in Hand inspires and motivates teachers to use technology that students crave.

Bringing iPods into the classroom is a great way to give students access to learning tools. However, there are so many things to keep in mind to make the iPods work smoothly in the classroom. While my list of dos and don'ts is for iPod touch, much of the same advice can be given for using iPod classic and nano in classrooms. The list is for large or small class sets of iPods; if students are using their own personal iPods you'll have a different set of considerations and technical issues to deal with.


Do sync all iPods to one computer. You'll really be doing yourself a favor by syncing with one computer. You can add media to one computer's iTunes Library and know that it will sync with all iPods. If you must use more than one computer for syncing, always sync the same group of iPods to the same computers. This will probably involve color-coding the iPods and computers. The one computer you sync with can be Windows or Macintosh. Some people report that Windows computers freeze when syncing more than a few iPods at once. Macs appear to work better at syncing multiple iPods simultaneously.

Do name iPods. The first time you sync an iPod you are prompted to give it a name in iTunes. Start the name with a number so iPods are listed in order under the Devices list. Include a zero in front of number 1-9 so the computers sure to list them correctly. You can always change an iPod's name anytime using iTunes.

Naming iPods

Do set iPods for automatic sync of all content. Configure each iPod to sync all audio, video, podcasts, and apps so that everything in the iTunes Library is automatically transferred to the iPod. This way there are no buttons to push or click. Simply plugging in the iPod will ensure that everything in the iTunes Library is synced onto the iPod. Refer to this PDF for directions. Each iPod will have to be configured separately in iTunes. But, once configured, you won't have to touch the settings again.

iPod Sync Settings PDF

Do make playlists. Because everything in the computer's iTunes Library will be synced onto the iPods, it's a good idea to organize what you want students to access into playlists. Do this by click the + in the bottom-left of the iTunes windows. Name your playlist and then drag and drop audio, video, podcasts, and audiobooks onto it. You can click and drag to reorder items within a playlist. Upon next sync, the playlist will appear on the iPod.


Do delete content. Since you are mirroring the computer's iTunes Library onto the iPods, deleting items from iTunes will delete them from the iPods. After you no longer have a need for a podcast, video, or audiobook, delete it so it is not taking up room and cluttering up the iPods. Chances are you want to use this content with a future class. If it's something you will use again, drag and drop it into a folder on your desktop. You can drag and drop it back into iTunes for the next time you want it synced to iPods.

Do configure the Music app for easy access to playlists and podcasts. I wish the Music app on iPod touch was named Audio instead because that is where you listen to any audio and access podcasts. Like it's name suggests, the app is set up for listening to songs. With a few changes, you can make it easier for students access educational content on the iPod. First, launch the Music app and tap the More button. Then tap Edit. Drag the Playlists, Podcasts,and iTunes U buttons to the bottom of the screen. If you use audiobooks you can drag that too. You'll need to do this on each iPod touch (or better yet have students do it). Now when the Music app is launched, students have quick one-tap access to whatever buttons you added to the bottom of the screen.

Configure Music App

Do label or engrave iPods. It's important for teachers and students to be able to identify iPods. Giving iPods numbers is helpful. Some schools engrave numbers on the iPods' backs. Unfortunately, this number cannot be seen when the iPod is in a protective case. Putting a sticker on the front or writing the number on the case is helpful. Be sure the number matches the number you gave the iPod in iTunes. Additionally, having a variety of colors for cases can make it easier for students to spot their iPods.

Do set up an iTunes account for the classroom computer. Most prefer to keep their personal iTunes account separate from their school account. Now, you do not need an iTunes account to download podcasts and iTunes U collections. You do need an account if you plan to download audiobooks and apps, even if you are will only download free apps. iTunes usually requires a credit card to be on file when you create an account unless you follow these directions. You can sync all of the iPods using that one account. Everything you download with that account will be locked to that account and can only be installed from computers that are authorized with the account's Apple ID and password.

Create Account

Do know you can authorize more than one account on a computer. If you bought software using a different account from your classroom account, it is possible to also authorize your account in addition to your school account on the classroom syncing computer. Click Authorize Computer from iTunes' Store menu and enter your Apple ID and password. Realize that you can authorize an account on up to five computers. When you de-authorize your account on the computer the apps and audiobooks that are associated with your account will be deleted from the iPods.

Authorize and Deauthorize

Do use a flash drive to transfer apps between computers. When you purchase an app in iTunes it is downloaded and stored on your computer's hard drive. That same app file is then copied to all iPods that sync with your iTunes Library. There might be times you download apps on a computer other than the one you use for syncing. In this case you will need to copy the apps from the original computer's Library onto the new computer for syncing with iPods. The easiest way is to use a flash drive. On the first computer click Applications under Library. Then drag and drop the apps you wish to copy onto the flash drive. They appear as .ipa files with an iTunes icon. Eject and insert the flash drive into the computer used for syncing. Drag the apps from the flash drive into the iTunes Library. If the apps were downloaded or purchased under a different iTunes account than the one on the syncing computer, you may have to authorize your account (see above).

Copy app to flash drive by dragging and dropping

Do get a charging cart, case, or tray if you have the money. Bretford makes the PowerSync Cart for iPod. It's pricey at about $2300. For about half the price they offer the PowerSync Case. TriBeam is another company that makes carts and trays for syncing iPods. An advantage to these solutions is that each iPod has it's own slot. Numbering these slots allows the teacher to quickly see which iPods are missing. If you cannot afford a cart or case, do buy a couple of powered USB hubs so you can sync and charge several iPods at once. If you stagger connecting the iPods, you can sync and charge an entire class set without buying expensive equipment.

Charging Solutions


Do have procedures for passing out, turning in, and syncing. Will students get their iPod as they enter the classroom? Do you have a helper student who will pick up the iPods? How will you know when all iPods have been turned in? There are lots of ways teachers manage iPods in the classroom. The key is having procedures for everyone to follow.

Do secure iPods when not in use. Have a place to lock up the iPods. It's no fun when an iPod is stolen.


Do have earbuds for each student. Something else that isn't fun is using earbuds that someone else has stuck in their ears. You can get inexpensive earbuds at Walmart and online. Most students probably already have their own earbuds. Earbud wires do tend to get tangled. Those in elementary classrooms may consider putting a hook on a wall for each student. Label the hooks and earbuds so students can drape their earbuds from the hooks when not in use as a way to keep the wires tangle-free.

Earbuds and Hooks

Do create a web clip icon for your class or school website. A web clip is an icon you can add to your Home screen as a shortcut to a website. With one tap, Safari will open to the web clip's page. To make a web clip, simply open the page in Safari. Tap the Plus sign at the bottom of the screen. Tap Add to Home Screen and edit the title (if you want). Tap Add and, presto, a new icon is added to your Home Screen. This will need to be done on each iPod individually. Adding a web clip to your class website enables you to add a link to your site that students can easily access on their iPods without typing in a web address.

Add a web clip icon to the home screen

Do use a URL shortener. If you don't have a class website or don't have time to update it, give wen addresses for students to type in using a URL shortening service. Sites like tinyurl.com and bit.ly take longer web addresses and make them shorter. The shorter the URL the easier they are to type on an iPod touch. Read more about shrinking long web addresses.

URL Shorteners

Do have consequences for misuse. Unfortunately, students will be tempted to use iPods inappropriately. I've found that taking away the iPod is an effective consequence for misuse. Students who have continual problems with misuse should be seated so that the teacher can monitor their activities. Maybe even point a video camera on a tripod at the student's screen so that the student knows the teacher is always "watching."

ContractsDo create a usage contract. A contract is an effective way to communicate how and when an iPod can be used. Have students and parents sign the contract to indicate they agree to follow the rules and accept the consequences for breaking the rules. You may want to model your contract after some of these:

Do set up email.. Like it or not, email is the primary way to get some information off the iPod and onto a computer. If students are assigned their own iPods, then it makes sense to set up each iPod with the student's email account. Some schools use Gaggle.net email, which can be configured to work on iPod touch. If students do not have their own email or students share individual iPods, you may want to set up each one with a free Gmail account. The problem with setting up all those accounts is the time involved and the difficulty in monitoring so many accounts. An alternative is to create one Gmail account to be used on all iPods. So that you can tell which iPod an email originated from, type in the number of the iPod or the name of the student in the Email settings Name field. This will need to be set up individually on each iPod. Additionally, be sure the teacher's email address is added to the address book so students can easily send what they create on the iPod touch to the teacher.

Email Name


Don't give students the iTunes account password. If you give them the password, they can download apps right from the iPod itself. Apps downloaded on one iPod will eventually be synced to all iPods so a single problem could grow larger. Teachers should be in complete control over what is loaded on the devices, so they should keep passwords to themselves.

iTunes Password Warning

Don't sync iPods with any other computer than the original. If an iPod is attached to a different computer you will get messages that content on the iPod will have to be erased. You probably don't want that. If you click Cancel, the iPod will charge but won't sync.

Erase Message

Don't feel you need to sync iPods everyday. Chances are you won't need to sync iPods everyday. You only need to sync when there are new podcasts, audio, video, or apps you want to put on the iPods. If you plan ahead, you can make it so syncing is required only weekly and perhaps monthly. Depending on use, however, iPods will probably need to be charged every couple days.

Don't spend too much on iPods. The 8GB iPod touch is the most affordable. Is 8GB enough? For most, yes, 8GB is plenty for dozens of apps, lots of audio, and a few videos. You can see how much of the available memory is taken up by viewing each iPod's capacity gauge. The gauge is found in iTunes under the Summary tab for each iPod.

Capacity 8GB

Don't buy expensive accessories. Apple sells $30 earbuds with microphones, $30 cases, $20 syncing cables, and $30 wall plugs. Monoprice sells $4 earbuds with microphones, $1 cases, $2 syncing cables, and $4 wall plugs.

Monoprice iPod Accesories

Don't mistreat batteries. iPods use lithium-ion batteries. These batteries will lose capacity over time. The worst thing you can do is store iPods somewhere hot, like a car in the summertime. It's also not healthy for lithium-ion batteries to be completely discharged. For healthiest batteries, store iPods at about 80% charge over the summer (be sure to completely power down the iPods over the summer as well).

Battery Meter

Don't stick with just free apps. Yes, there are lots of free apps out there, but you often get what you pay for. Many terrific apps are less than $5. If you are using an iTunes account without a credit card, you can fill your account balance with iTunes gift cards. Nevada teacher Tina Holland has a little "store" in her room where she sells knickknacks, water, and treats. She uses the revenue to buy iTunes gift cards that are used to purchase apps (if you are a Costco shopper, you can actually buy iTunes cards for less than their iTunes value). Note that an app can be purchased once and then synced to all of your iPods. That's a very good deal!

iTunes Gift Cards

Don't use liquids to clean the screen. You don't want liquid getting inside. Microfiber clothes clean the screens nicely. If the screen is really gunky, put a small amount of water on a cloth and then clean the device.

Don't put up with a glitchy iPod. iPods can easily be restored to factory settings if something gets out of whack (or if a student decides to lock the iPod and forget the password). Read about restoring.


Don't forget professional development. There's always something new to learn when it comes to teaching and learning with iPods. Consider booking a workshop with me, Tony Vincent, and my workshops can even be attended by students. Don't forget that I offer a podcast for iPod-using educators. Additionally, there are plenty of other great websites out there where educators are sharing their iPod touch activities, ideas, and resources.

I'm hoping to make this list as thorough as possible. I will update this list with your suggestions so leave them in the comments.



iPod Touch

Order your own iPod Touch Today with the links below:



Mastering Basic Skills software:


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

Preparing for Emergency Situations in School

We know emergency situations can (and will at some point) happen in your class. It may be minor, such as a student becoming sick in your room, or even a practice event like a fire drill or tornado drill. Hopefully you won't encounter a real life-threatening emergency. But you should always be prepared for such instances.

Fire drills are probably the most common situations you will encounter. The best way to handle these is to teach your students what to do in the event of a drill or an actual evacuation. Yes, you can teach this to your students. Fire drills are to be surprises only WHEN they occur, not a surprise in WHAT to do. It is good practice for your students to know exactly what the procedure to follow is. The most important part is to be sure YOU fully understand the school's fire drill procedure and you can confidently teach it to your students.

Making sure all of your students are accounted for is your main responsibility. Thus, your attendance taking is very important. You want to make sure you have a means of carefully checking attendance when you and your students reach your destination. Have your grade book, attendance sheets, or a class roster easily accessible and always in the same location so you can grab it as you leave the room.  I use the class roster file on my handheld because it's always with me. Teach your students to exit the room carefully yet quickly.  Instruct them in which direction to turn from your doorway, and what exit is to be used. Always have your kids line up and stay organized so you can take attendance easily.

And let them know why it's important to maintain composure and control, not playing or wandering around. If you are new to the building, your students will probably already know where to go! The trick will be getting them there quickly and maintaining order.

You'll want to let the students know how to react to different situations. They may find themselves in the hallway heading back from the library, in the rest room, or involved in a group activity in a far corner of your classroom.

Obviously more urgent matters will constitute true emergencies, and it is very difficult to prepare for these. Hopefully your school has a comprehensive plan to cover bomb threats, intruders, inclement weather, and other emergencies. Take time to carefully read through and understand these procedures, so when an emergency does occur, you can confidently lead your students. The students will respond to you when you give direct, confident directions.

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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  TECH/21st Century CORNER

21st Century Skills
and Lifelong Learning 

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. 

This month Id like to get into some practical ideas of how to change the way you do things in school.  What is engaging students today? Who has figured out how to deliver something the kids want? Two industries have been overwhelmingly successful, gaming and video. Education needs to find their secret and begin to use it. Before you turn me off and say I cant do anything like that, check out these three YouTube videos on Quest Atlantis. 



Go to http://atlantis.crlt.indiana.edu/ for more information. To become part of Quest Atlantis you must go through three to four training meetings to help you know what you need to do as the teacher. This is a fabulous project, and as you saw, students are engaged. Its totally secure for the kids. It has great projects for all parts of the curriculum for ages 8-12. So check it out and sign up today for the next training sessions. Thats the best way to understand 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:




  StarTeaching Feature Writer

Changing Literacy
for the 21st Century
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.  

Students in today's world are extremely literate.  They know and understand far more than most parents and educators give them credit for.  Every bit of technology embraced by today's youth becomes an integral part of the way they construct meaning from the world.  From television to websites to blogging to texting and messaging, everything the students learn is then shared back with the world through the same kinds of media.  The students' world is no longer a static place, as is was much for all previous generations; they fully interact with the information they take in, they make sense of it, and then they pass along their interpretations and 

Students in front of a screen are anything BUT couch potatoes.  This becomes very difficult for many of us to understand, because our generations were the couch potatoes - we simply looked into the television or the computer screen and shut out everything else.  These were little else than a fancy means of reading books, and all else around was blocked off.  There were no avenues for sharing information we took in, for sharing discussion, for sharing opinions.  But today's students interact with this information.  They are fully fluent in the streaming of media, and they CAN share opinions and discuss with others all over the world through this same media.  

Kids can't just watch TV, or read books, or look at art;  their literacy is in making their own videos, their own shows, their own music, their own digital stories and artwork.  They are not passive, they are active in their learning.  

Now, I'm not saying students and teachers should abandon the pencils, paper, and novels.  But we need to seriously look at the way we expect our students to learn and to demonstrate that they have learned.  Our students are far more advanced than simply reading text books and writing down answers on lined paper.  Be creative, step out of your comfort zone as teachers, let your students lead for a while.  You'll be amazed where they take you.  And you'll see they are still learning, probably more and better than they had been before. 

The following video is from a series by Stephen Heppell who is challenging the way educators see their students as literate people, incorporating technology to advance their learning.  He sees today's students as being very literate, but in needing schools and teachers to provide the avenues for telling those stories, for sharing those thoughts and opinions.  



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The Montessori Method
(part 4)

Courtesy of K12Academics.com

The Montessori method is both a methodology and educational philosophy. It was originally developed in the early 1900s by Dr. Maria Montessori as a way to educate poor children in her native Italy. Many Montessori schools are preschool or elementary school in level, but there are some Montessori programs which have all grade levels up to and including High School.

Criticisms of the Montessori Method:

A wide range of conflicting criticisms have been leveled at the Montessori method. Some parents believe the Montessori environment leaves the children too free while others see the Montessori method as stifling to creativity. Some see Montessori schools as elitist prep schools for preschoolers while others question Montessori teaching priorities, and decry children spending time on such menial tasks as washing tables or arranging flowers. Some parents are put off by what they view to be Montessori teachers' unusual manners: some may appear too subdued, others too stern, none of them necessarily praising or teaching the children in a conventional manner.

The two primary critics of the Montessori Method in education theory are William Heard Kilpatrick and John Dewey. They thought that Montessori was too restrictive, and didn't adequately emphasize social interaction and development. Dewey believed that the Montessori Method stifled creativity.

Another criticism of Montessori schools is that they do not traditionally assign homework. The lessons taught in a Montessori classroom are not generally conducive to home use, and the materials are highly specialized. It would be unlikely that a parent would buy materials for this purpose. Critics allege that a child who transfers to a traditional school and is required to do homework will have trouble adjusting, although research has shown the opposite. Homework in some form has started to find its way into the Montessori curriculum, if in a somewhat forced manner.

For many years Montessori schools in North America did not believe in marking students according to letter grade system, and instead issued report cards that focused entirely on descriptions of the student's behavior and progress in class. Many parents complained that such report cards made it too difficult to get a clear picture on how well or poorly a student was doing in their subjects. As a result, some American Montessori schools now issue letter grades just as non-Montessori classes do.

Within the Montessori professional community, there have been squabbles ranging from minutiae to the core principles of the philosophy. Those from one training background may believe another is too strict or outdated while others are accused of diluting Montessori's scientifically derived vision of ideal environments to support human development.

Internal divisions regarding the classroom materials also exist. Some Montessori associations (such as AMI) are seen as adamantly opposed to the development or inclusion of new types of materials or ideas. A further problem lies in the traditional Montessori requirement that materials used in the classroom should be of natural materials (primarily wood) and of high quality. This creates a rift between well-funded schools who purchase material based on quality, and those schools who purchase cheaper materials (often plastic) in order to stretch their budget.

Dr. Angeline Stoll Lillard's 2005 book Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius (Oxford University Press) presents the first real comprehensive overview of research done on the comparison of Montessori educated children to those educated in a more traditional manner. Lillard cites research indicating that the children do better in later schooling than non-Montessori children in all subjects, and argues that more research is needed in this area.

A 2006 study concluded that Montessori students performed better than their standard public school counterparts:

On several dimensions, children at a public inner city Montessori school had superior outcomes relative to a sample of Montessori applicants who, because of a random lottery, attended other schools. By the end of kindergarten, the Montessori children performed better on standardized tests of reading and math, engaged in more positive interaction on the playground, and showed more advanced social cognition and executive control. They also showed more concern for fairness and justice. At the end of elementary school, Montessori children wrote more creative essays with more complex sentence structures, selected more positive responses to social dilemmas, and reported feeling more of a sense of community at their school.


Article courtesy of 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.   


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

Look for Western Odyssey this summer!

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





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

Capitalizing on Current Events

The curriculum we teach isn't just to be found in the dusty tones we hand to our students each fall. There are many important issues and events that naturally occur in our world every week that you can capitalize upon.

One such recent example was the president's State of the Union speech. This became an important study in current events, economics, and politics for our social studies class. Subsequently, our English class was asked to join in an interdisciplinary project by writing an essay response to the speech.

It was great. The social studies teacher covered the material and content in the speech. This was difficult for our 8th graders, as many of the President's terms were unfamiliar to our kids. Once their class was able to form a conceptual understanding, we in English class began the dialogue. We met in groups to brainstorm and clarify the students' thoughts. They discussed the issues in depth. We also completed a freewrite to organize the key issues. Then we started the essay.

The essay focused on a few key issues from the speech and connected them to the students' lives.  We asked the kids to use a real-life example to illustrate at least one of the key points.  To grade the essay, our social studies teacher examined the content and our English teacher checked the essay for form & format.  We also had the students peer check & edit, as well as type and spell-check the essays.  Once they were typed, we could hang them up in the hallway for parent-teacher conferences.  

There will constantly be themes in the world around your students. We use these in our Article of the Week (click here to see the newsletter article from November 2009). This is a weekly expository piece our students read covering a current world topic. We look at technology, politics, issues in health and education - basically important, real-world issues our students that they can relate to. This gives us great practice in informational reading skills for expository and persuasive texts.

We've even used technology to share ideas on current events. At the beginning of the year, we watched the President's speech to students on YouTube. Then we discussed it and wrote about it.

Though the material and content of most current events are much mire suited for other disciplines, we in the English classroom welcome readings and writing prompts. These topics give us prompts that are relevant and provide students a wealth of information to write about.  

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

Be sure to check out our website for more great information, tips, and techniques for new teachers, student-teachers, and interns in teacher prep programs. Also be sure to check out our Who-I-Want-To-Be teacher plan for preparing yourself to enter the educational profession.  Simply click the following link: http://www.starteaching.com/free.htm

Want to check out the articles in our Student-Teaching series?  Check out our special Student-Teaching page through the following link:  http://www.starteaching.com/studentteachers.htm



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"I Wish You Enough"
Author Unknown

Themes on Life

What are the things you want to really tell your family?

 Recently I overheard a Father and daughter in their last moments together at the airport. They had announced the departure. Standing near the security gate, they hugged and the Father said, 'I love you, and I wish you enough.'

The daughter replied, 'Dad, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Dad.' They kissed and the daughter left.

The Father walked over to the window where I was seated. Standing there I could see he wanted and needed to cry. I tried not to intrude on his privacy, but he welcomed me in by asking, "Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?" "Yes, I have," I replied. "Forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever good-bye?" ."I am old, and she lives so far away. I have challenges ahead and the reality is - the next trip back will be for my funeral," he said. "When you were saying good-bye, I heard you say, 'I wish you enough.' May I ask what that means?'"

He began to smile. "That's a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone." He paused a moment and looked up as if trying to remember it in detail, and he smiled even more. "When we said, 'I wish you enough, we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them." Then turning toward me, he shared the following as if he were reciting it from memory.

"I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how gray the day may appear.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting.
I wish you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good- bye."

They say it takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, a day to love them; but then an entire life to forget them. Remember to tell your family and friends that you wish them enough! To all of you reading this, I wish you enough.


What's New @ StarTeaching?


Wow!  We're seeing a huge spike in our monthly readership so far this year.  Obviously the expanded newsletter content and the videos are appreciated by our readers!

This month, our web partner Tony Vincent shares some great information on using the iPod touch in classrooms.  His list of DOs and DONTs are especially helpful for teachers just getting started in using the handheld computers in the classroom.  

Our Website of the Month features the QUEST ATLANTIS from Indiana University.  Learn more about it in Mark Benn's tech article.  And be sure to join up on our FACEBOOK page for StarTeaching for more reader interaction as well as constant, updated streams of educational information.  

Of course, you should also check our website for a number of updates and re-designed pages.  We're starting to collect quite a few articles from educational experts all over the world.  See these archives on our website: www.starteaching.com



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Give your definition of Heroism.  What makes a hero?


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Describe THREE ways that a hero is different from a role model


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Describe a time when a hero was needed in your town or city.


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Year of the Dogman

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What Video Games Have To Teach Us About Learning and Literacy

By James Paul Gee



Coming Soon:

Preparing For the Spring

Technology & Teaching: Seamless Integration into Curriculum

Writing Process and Programs

Classroom Management


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10 Days of 
Math Problems
by Mary Ann Graziani

Day 1 What is the area of a rectangle 20 yards long and 7 yards wide?
Day 2 What is the area of a rectangle 102 inches long and 250 inches wide?
Day 3 What is the perimeter of a rectangle 20 yards long and 7 yards wide?
Day 4 What is the perimeter of a rectangle 102 inches long and 250 inches wide?
Day 5

1.      What time is it 7 minutes after 9:55 p.m.?

Day 6 What time is it 22 minutes after 4:48 a.m.?
Day 7

1.      What time is it 30 minutes after 12:42 p.m.?

Day 8

1.      Write 47% as a decimal.

Day 9 Write 102% as a decimal.
Day 10 Write 9% as a decimal.


Be sure to visit Mary Ann Graziani's website to pick up a copy of any of her THREE books for sale





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Science Activities For Any Setting
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