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

Volume 6, Issue 1
January 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   Language Learning OR Language Imposition   Reader Response:
Ask Dr. Manute
NEW! Tony Vincent's Blog:
Two iPod Touch / iPhone Videos
Tech/21st Century Corner: 
21st Century Skills and Lifelong Learning
Themes on Life: 
"God Lives Under The Bed"
NEW! Science Activities for Any Setting   10 Days of Writing Prompts   10 Days of Math Problems
School Features:
The Montessori Method
(part 2)
New Teacher's Niche:
Snow Day Procedures
Student Teachers' Lounge:
Creating Web Pages in Class
Book of the Month Club:
On Common Ground: The Power Of Professional Learning Communities
  Website of the Month:
The Partnership for 21st Century Skills
  Winter 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

 

READER RESPONSE

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 starting off the new year:

Dear Dr Manute,

This is a time for new year's resolutions.  What are some ideas you have for kicking off the 2010 year in teaching?

Cyd, Lakeland, FL

Dr. Manute responds:

Welcome, I hope the new year brings you much happiness and success.  In response, I have written some thoughts as you begin 2010.

  1. I am an effective educator and I have chosen an honorable profession.
  2. All students will be successful in my classroom.
  3. I am in total control of my classroom.
  4. As a professional I set the tone for the learning climate.
  5. Parents remain one of my greatest resources for meeting students needs.
  6. I will design and implement lessons that are challenging and creative.
  7. I will employ effective teaching techniques that are current and proven.
  8. I realize there will always be a political agenda in education and I vow to keep focus on my classroom and students.

If you can keep the above within eyesight of your desk it may help you as the rigors and challenges occur daily.  The old saying about those who can, do... and those who cant, teach is not correct.  It should say "Those who can, teach...and those who cant, go into some less significant line of work."  Have a great 2010 and enjoy one of the most satisfying and worthwhile endeavors. 

Happy Teaching!

Dr. Manute      

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Two iPod Touch / iPhone Videos

Courtesy of Tony Vincent,
Learning in Hand Blog
www.learninginhand.com

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.

Two iPod touch/iPhone Videos

The K12 Online Conference is an annual event where presenters share about various topics in education and technology. Most presentations are in video format and are freely available to educators around the world. The conference, run entirely by volunteers, began November 30th and is ongoing through January 9th. I'd like to point you toward two presentations about iPhones and iPod touches.

 

Just a "Touch" of Leadership Using the iPod touch/iPhone in Administration
Andy Crozier and Mike Amante in Cedar Rapids Iowa and New Hartford, New York show you apps and success stories from administrators in the field that are using iPod touch/iPhone for data collection, organization, creating a mobile office, and personal professional development. Links to apps and resources mentioned in this video can be found at the Apple Learning Interchange. (Audio in the video below is not working correctly. Click here for a better version.)

 

The iPod touch in the Classroom
Kern Kelley from Newport, Maine shows some of the basic uses for iPod touch. Kern first takes you from unboxing the iPod to syncing with iTunes. After showing some basics, he shares a dozen of his favorite apps and they are listed here.

 

You can download the above videos in iTunes since the 2009 K12 Online Conference is available as a podcast. You might be interested in other sessions so check out the 2009 schedule.

 

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

Creating Web Pages in Class

Web pages can become a great means of displaying and publishing student work. There are millions of people online every moment of every day. Our students are fully accustomed to using the web for everything from research to communication to shopping. Web pages are the language in which they are both comfortable and competent.

Creating student web pages provides a great in-road for teachers to reach students on their terms. Though there are many simple programs to use, many students (even very young elementary students) who can fluently speak `html' and code and decode scripts. This is truly their `native language', as is the ability to multi-task (which often gives us `aliens' headaches!). Take the initiative and create projects for your students to show off their skills.

There are several concerns to think about before beginning such a project.

One concern to be aware of is your school or district's Internet use policy. You may need parental permission to allow students to put their work, name, or pictures on the net. I would always caution you about including a student's full name on a web site that is available to the general public. There are also cautions about putting personal photographs online. Usually whole class, group, or team photos are ok. Always check first. If your school is not exactly at the forefront of technology, don't be afraid of blazing a trail for your colleagues to follow. Your work may become the basis for others in your school to make positive change.

Remember to also create an etiquette policy about creative license (or use one already developed by your school). Obviously you want students to be creative, but you also don't want them to be outlandish or off of the topic of your assignment. Students are funny in that way. If they are just writing a paper, its the same old same old. However, once they realize they are going public, many become stringent about what they want to show the general public. Many will try to make their own 'statement' or 'presence' and disregard the rules of etiquette you've set up. Hold your ground. You do have the right to control what the students can put onto a school site.

Where to host your sites is another concern you'll have to deal with right away. At the present, we have our students' sites on our own server at school. It is great if your school can accommodate your class. You will need a web editor such as Microsoft FrontPage or one of the many free down-loadable editors from the net. But what if your school is unable (or unwilling) to fully accommodate you? There are many free sites online that can help you out. In the past, we used the commercial site GeoCities. This is a nice, free site that even includes a free web/html editor and basic tutorials to guide students through the steps of design. It is very easy to use and students can access it from any computer in the world that has an internet connection.

We started out simply, having students type in their name and school as headers. Then we split up the page into sections for math, social studies, science, and English. At this point, the page can hold assignments from any class, so any teacher in the grade can give web page assignments.

We practiced creating links to our school homepage and our 7th grade page. We also added links to our homework assignment calendar, our pages of vocabulary, and to Google for net searches.

We also talked at length about page layout. Unlike programs like PowerPoint where you can place anything wherever you want it on the page, html requires codes called tables to set up items horizontally. We teach the students about tables and cells so they can divide up the page in whatever fashion they wish.

Students' personal preferences and creativity are also taken into consideration. We show them the basics of formatting text, changing fonts, sizes, colors, and styles. Students are also allowed to change page attributes such as the colors of the background and links. We even show them how to add different background pictures from files.

The first assignment to be placed on the students' websites was our biography project. Our English curriculum includes reading a biography and writing a report on that person. We adapted this to publish the report online, with the information, pictures, and clip art placed on the web page. Look for more details on the biography- web page project in an upcoming issue.

There are many options your class can do with the websites. You can teach the students to code in html, or work with the structures of a web page (such as tables, formats, links, and additional pages). You might have students explore new technologies to embed in the pages, such as PowerPoints, blogs, videos (streaming) or audio (podcasting). You may wish to connect with other students around the world (e-pals). You and fellow teachers may want to collaborate on projects.

There are many directions these projects can take your class. The key is for you as the teacher to be open to using new technologies and ready to go out and learn about them. You can learn a lot from the students; you don't have to know it all. But you must be ready to provide support to them when needed.


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

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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. 

Ive been interested in 21st century skills for several years now, ever since I realized the traditional way of teaching isnt reaching the students. In my research to learn more I came across the organization: Partnership for 21st Century Skills located at http://www.21stcenturyskills. org/. They have put together a plan that connects curriculum and 21st century skills. Just as we've heard about the 3 R's of reading, writing, and arithmetic, the 21st century skills are called the 5 C's.  These are critical thinking, creative problem solving, communications, collaboration, and cross cultural relationship building. Lets take a closer look at these skills. Critical thinking and creative problem solving are skills that we need to learn to help us understand the world around us and interact with it. Communications and collaboration are skills that help us work and interact with others in our work and learning situations. Cross-cultural relationship building is something that is important in our global economy. 

Ive been working with my students for several years using group work (collaboration), having them journal and reflect on their answers (critical thinking), and doing problem solving as individuals and partners. Last year, my class connected on ePals (cross cultural relationship building) with a South Korean class and we did video chat (Skype) with the teacher. One evening five of my students connected with students from that classroom. The time difference offered some interesting challenges. 

In an article posted in the Toronto Star (Canada) on Aug. 9, 2009 called No More Pencils, Lots More Fun they take you to a school district that is changing the learning culture in their school. They have changed the pedagogy of the school. In the article a statement is made that is a great explanation of why to make this change and I quote: Jim Greenlaw, dean of the faculty of education at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Oshawa, says education is moving away from the "transmissional" where teachers simply impart information to transactional, or working together, and even to transformational, where it changes students' lives. "And if you are a fair teacher who gives students something interesting to do, then you can be more demanding because they are more interested," he says. 

Lifelong Learning is a very intriguing subject. I say that because so many people like to throw that term around, but have no clue what it means. As an example, my elementary school has that in its mission statement, yet its a traditional school, which lectures, uses mostly worksheets, and is constantly testing the students. I find that when they get to me the students think learning comes from a worksheet and I have to undo that philosophy.  

Dr. Terry Paulson gives an interesting perspective on Lifelong Learning. Although his talk is more for an adult audience, his points are well made on its importance. He mixes some historical statements with an understanding of todays changing world and how we should be as learners.

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


 

 

  StarTeaching Feature Writer

Language Learning OR
Language Imposition
By 
Rozina Jumani

Rozina Jumani is a Development consultant associated with a number of Non governmenetal Organizations(NGO). Prior to this, she was with Aga Khan Education Services Pakistan for 10 years as a Professional Development Teacher and Counsellor. She has done her Masters in Islamic Studies and English from University of Karachi. She is a commonwealth scholar and completed her Masters in Education Planning, Economic and International Development from the institute of Education (IOE), University of London.

Language learning OR language Imposition: Revisiting Announced Educational Policy -Sepetmber 2009 by Federal Education Minsiter of Pakistan
by Rozina Jumani

WE are all aware that learning is an arbitrary act and it can take place anywhere, anytime, and at any pace, (Shachar & Neumann 2003). Likewise, language learning is also an uninformed, subjective act where the children are provided the stimulus to communicate in their mother tongue, also known as the childs first or native language. 

Language learning is a natural process where the child does not face any problems in learning his mother tongue because his whole environment provides him with the scaffolding. 

Learning a language through his receptive skills, he later applies his productive skills to communicate in and write that language. Noam Chomsky in his book Language and Mind (1968) discusses the innate abilities of childrens brains and shares that each human brain has a language acquisition device (LAD) that enables the learner to learn any language with ease. It is important to underline that first language learning is an unconscious learning process, and usually learnt joyfully where as second language acquisition requires a conscious effort from the learners to learn a language with all its complexities, grammar and structures, etc. 

Commenting on the recently-announced education policy that aims to teach all concepts of mathematics, sciences, social studies, etc., in the English language from grade one onwards, seems a tall claim. Being an educationist, though I belong to the progressive school of thought and intend to connect all our students with the global society using the global language, i.e., English, I am not for distorted learning. 

Linguists and educationists, for many years until now, have been debating over the suitability of instructional language. They confront questions such as whether the concepts to teach a foreign language since the early years of learning are right or not. 

On the other hand, other linguists and educationists believe that learning during early years is critical as that is the stage where children comprehend the concepts based on the stimulus and develop their own patterns of learning, which usually last forever and guide them throughout their lives. 

Thus they claim that the meaning might be lost when teaching children the concepts in a foreign language like they are taught in the first language (mother tongue). Most of the time the translation of certain concepts, too, cannot be made available in a second or foreign language. 

Still all the educators, linguists and parents can come to one consensus for the sake of the policy about using the English language from grade one in all schools, rural or urban, across Pakistan. 

We might ignore for a while the private sector as according to Dr Shahid Siddique, 33 per cent of the education provision is in the hands of the private sector. They might handle it on their own. Still what will happen to the remaining 67 per cent students population in the government schools? 

According to the official statistics available from the Ministry of Educations website, in 2005-2006, there were 137,751 primary schools, 14,982 middle schools and 9,110 high schools in the public sector. A majority of them are in the rural areas. Therefore, what will be our strategic intervention to at least cover the 137,751 primary schools where the curriculum will be taught in the English language exclusively from next year? 

How can we even ensure the approachability of the federal or provincial education ministries in the rural areas of Pakistan to oversee the effective implementation of the announced education policy when there are apprehensions about the state of several government schools operating as ghost schools in the urban areas where accessibility and monitoring is easily manageable? 

We also need to reflect on the following questions prior to the implementation of the policy to see whether we even have the answers to some of them. Are we prepared to implement the policy? Do we have enough trained English language teachers, competent in teaching conceptual knowledge in a foreign language? Do we have an enabling environment for our children to learn their conceptual knowledge and skills in a foreign language? What kinds of resources are required to teach conceptual knowledge in a foreign language, and do we have enough of them or not? Will conceptual teaching be done through grammar translation as is done in many government as well as semi-private or private schools or would other pedagogical methods be explored and the teachers be equipped accordingly? 

These are just a few of the questions that come up in ones mind. Moving ahead further for the implementation, we will certainly face more hard-core realities that we may be unaware of now. 

We can have various perspectives but who among us is willing to think out the implementation plan for the announced policy from the learners point of view? Will the policy make our students linguistically rich? 

Despite all deliberations, I still hope that the entire process of new language learning would become an enriching and enjoyable process for all our young learners in the main cities or the remote rural areas. Otherwise, it will be nothing more than a language imposition, which has its own negative repercussions on childrens personalities as it said in such cases: Jack of all trades and master of none. 

 

 

 

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The Montessori Method
(part 2)

Courtesy of K12Academics.com

Goals of a Montessori School:

The goal of Montessori is to provide a stimulating, child-centered environment in which children can explore, touch, and learn without fear, thus engendering a lifelong love of learning as well as providing the child the self-control necessary to fulfill that love.

Philosophical Concepts:

The Montessori method emphasizes the uniqueness of each child and recognizes that children are different from adults in the way they develop and think (they aren't just "adults in small bodies"). Dr. Montessori believed in children's rights, the value and importance of children's work to develop themselves into adults, and that this development would lead to world peace.

The Montessori method discourages traditional measurements of achievement (grades, tests) as negative competition that is damaging to the inner growth of children (and adults). Feedback and qualitative analysis of a child's performance does exist but is generally provided in the form of a list of skills, activities and critical points, and sometimes a narrative of the child's achievements, strengths and weaknesses. Deficiencies in one area are treated as places to improve, not as failures.

The Montessori method is based on observing young children and learning from them about their characteristics and needs. Universal characteristics of children are recognized for each level of development: the first is birth through 6, the second is ages 6-12. Montessori classroom for the first level is called the casa dei bambini, or "children's house," where each child is nurtured and guided in individually-paced learning and development. As children enter the second level, they become peer-oriented and learn best in a social environment, collaborating with others, and "cosmic education" is introduced to expand their awareness and develop as citizens of the community and the world.

As an educational approach, the Montessori method's focus is on the individuality of each child in respect of their needs or talents, as opposed to the needs of the class as a whole. A goal is to help the child maintain their natural joy of learning.

The Montessori method encourages a great deal of independence, freedom within appropriate limits, which is always linked with responsibility. The youngest children are guided in "practical life" skills towards taking care of themselves, maintaining their environment, and interacting gracefully with others. Integral to the practical life activities are essential skills such as focusing of attention, hand-eye-body coordination, and the students' ability to accomplish what they set out to do. The Montessori Method states that satisfaction, contentment, and joy result from the child having access and guidance to be full participants in daily activities. There are also attractive and enticing materials with which the child gains a foundation for academics and other skills. Montessori education carried through the elementary and high school years follows the child's emerging tendency for peer interactions and still emphasize each student as guardian of his or her own intellectual development.

The Premises of a Montessori Approach to Teaching and Learning will include:

A view of children as competent beings capable of self-directed learning.

That children learn in a distinctly different way from adults.

The ultimate importance of observation of the child interacting with his environment as the basis for ongoing curriculum development. Presentation of subsequent exercises for skill development and information accumulation are based on the teacher's observation that the child has mastered the current exercise(s).

Delineation of sensitive periods of development, during which a child's mind is particularly open to learning specific skills or knowledge, including language development, sensorial experimentation and refinement, and various levels of social interaction.

A belief in the "absorbent mind", that children from birth to around age 6 possess limitless motivation to achieve competence within their environment and to perfect skills and understandings. This phenomenon is characterized by the young child's capacity for repetition of activities within sensitive period categories, such as exhaustive babbling as language practice leading to language competence.

That children are masters of their environment, which has been specifically prepared for them to be academic, comfortable, and allow a maximum amount of independence.

That children learn through discovery, so didactic materials that are self-correcting are used as much as possible.

Independent problem solving is encouraged.

Part 3 of this series will focus on the Montessori classroom and materials

 

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 Western Odyssey 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

Snow Day Procedures

For the many of us who are lucky enough to live and teach in the northern climates, weather-related cancellations and delays to the school day schedule are always possible. These 'snow days' are in the backs of students and teachers' minds constantly during the winter season. 

Even if your district doesn't get a lot of snow, cancellations can also occur due to ice, floods, fog, deteriorated road conditions, power outages, and other such emergency situations. And as we've seen so many times in the last few years, powerful storms can render both schools and communities helpless.

As a teacher, you'll want to form an emergency plan to deal with such inconveniences.

Some teachers just like to 'push' the day forward. If a Tuesday was cancelled, those lesson plans would get 'pushed' to the next day students return to class.

Of course, you'll want to think about your assigned work. Students have no idea (or control over) whether school will be cancelled, so it's unlikely they have prepared themselves (unless you have taught them to do so and set that as an expectation). These students may not have your textbooks and materials at home (for whatever reason) to do the work. Then you have to take into account students who were absent the day before a cancellation, as they would not have the assigned work. And let's face it - kids at home are just as happy to have a day off as the teachers are, and it's unlikely they are doing school work (let alone thinking about school!)

With this in mind, there are some teachers (myself included) who will give one extra day on assignments. It's really just not worth the hastle or headache to stress over it. However, I'll move ahead with the rest of the plans from the cancelled day. If there was something assigned that was intricately necessary to the plans, I would try my best to find a way to delay it a day if at all possible.

Another thing I'll do to make up that time lost is just to cancel one or more of my weekly assignments.

Of course things get really crazy if two or more days are cancelled during the week or consecutively. My standing rule is that two days cancelled will automatically eliminate my weekly Friday spelling & vocabulary quiz.

And should three (or more) days be cancelled, that lost time will just be wrapped into the next week. Sure it takes a bit of adjusting, but it is far better on my students and on my own mental stability!

I keep the vital activities intact, like our essays and writing activities, and our reading assignments, whether they be from novels, handouts, anthologies, or our Articles of the Week.  

These are just some ideas and you'll want to find procedures that work for you, your students, and your classes.

For a single snow day or cancellation:
Everything shifts one day forward. Assignments are due the next day we return to school.
Vocab packet is due one day later (Mon, Tues, Wed).
We cancel the vocab crossword

If there are 2 or more snow days in a week, we cancel all Friday activities. 
No vocab quiz for the week.
move activities forward another day
cancel weekly activities if necessary

For 3 or more days off:
wrap the lessons into the next week.
adjust weekly work or delay until the next week.


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"God Lives Under The Bed"
Author Unknown

Themes on Life

Whose Life do We Truly Envy?

I envy Kevin. My brother Kevin thinks God lives under his bed. At least that's what I heard him say one night.

He was praying out loud in his dark bedroom, and I stopped to listen, "Are you there, God?" he said. "Where are you? Oh, I see. Under the bed..."

I giggled softly and tiptoed off to my own room. Kevin's unique perspectives are often a source of amusement. But that night something else lingered long after the humor. I realized for the first time the very different world Kevin lives in.

He was born 30 years ago, mentally disabled as a result of difficulties during labor. Apart from his size (he's 6-foot-2), there are few ways in which he is an adult.

He reasons and communicates with the capabilities of a 7-year-old, and he always will. He will probably always believe that God lives under his bed, that Santa Claus is the one who fills the space under our tree every Christmas and that airplanes stay up in the sky because angels carry them.

I remember wondering if Kevin realizes he is different. Is he ever dissatisfied with his monotonous life?

Up before dawn each day, off to work at a workshop for the disabled, home to walk our cocker spaniel, return to eat his favorite macaroni-and-cheese for dinner, and later to bed.

The only variation in the entire scheme is laundry, when he hovers excitedly over the washing machine like a mother with her newborn child.

He does not seem dissatisfied.

He lopes out to the bus every morning at 7:05, eager for a day of simple work.

He wrings his hands excitedly while the water boils on the stove before dinner, and he stays up late twice a week to gather our dirty laundry for his next day's laundry chores.

And Saturdays-oh, the bliss of Saturdays! That's the day my Dad takes Kevin to the airport to have a soft drink, watch the planes land, and speculate loudly on the destination of each passenger inside.

"That one's goin' to Chi-car-go!" Kevin shouts as he claps his hands.

His anticipation is so great he can hardly sleep on Friday nights.

And so goes his world of daily rituals and weekend field trips.

He doesn't know what it means to be discontent.

His life is simple.

He will never know the entanglements of wealth of power, and he does not care what brand of clothing he wears or what kind of food he eats. His needs have always been met, and he never worries that one day they may not be.

His hands are diligent. Kevin is never so happy as when he is working. When he unloads the dishwasher or vacuums the carpet, his heart is completely in it.

He does not shrink from a job when it is begun, and he does not leave a job until it is finished. But when his tasks are done, Kevin knows how to relax.

He is not obsessed with his work or the work of others. His heart is pure.

He still believes everyone tells the truth, promises must be kept, and when you are wrong, you apologize instead of argue.

Free from pride and unconcerned with appearances, Kevin is not afraid to cry when he is hurt, angry or sorry He is always transparent, always sincere. And he trusts God.

Not confined by intellectual reasoning, when he comes to Christ, he comes as a child. Kevin seems to know God - to really be friends with Him in a way that is difficult for an "educated" person to grasp. God seems like his closest companion.

In my moments of doubt and frustrations with my Christianity I envy the security Kevin has in his simple faith.

It is then that I am most willing to admit that he has some divine knowledge that rises above my mortal questions

It is then I realize that perhaps he is not the one with the handicap. I am. My obligations, my fear, my pride, my circumstances - they all become disabilities when I do not trust them to God's care.

Who knows if Kevin comprehends things I can never learn? After all, he has spent his whole life in that kind of innocence, praying after dark and soaking up the goodness and love of God.

And one day, when the mysteries of heaven are opened, and we are all amazed at how close God really is to our hearts, I'll realize that God heard the simple prayers of a boy who believed that God lived under his bed.

Kevin won't be surprised at all!

 

What's New @ StarTeaching?

 

2009 was a great year for us.  We added a new staff writer, Helen de la Maza, who is now sending us monthly science activities for our newsletter.  We continued to reprint articles from Chris Glavin of K12Academics.  Most of our other Featured Writers are already sending us articles for the new year.  And we've managed to locate Dr. Manute after his travels abroad and bring him back for another school year of useful educational advice.  

Now on to 2010!  Starting this month, we have been so fortunate to have added several nationally-recognized educational specialists to our newsletters.  Tony Vincent (this issue) will be joined by Hank Kellner (next issue), a leading expert in using photography to help teach writing skills.  Both educators bring a detail-rich perspective to our readers.  

You will also notice we have MORE TO OFFER to our readers each issue!  Be sure to see our new column, Student Teachers' Lounge, a section devoted just to those teachers-in-training.  And we're bringing back our WEBSITE of the MONTH, updated both on our newsletters and our website.  And we've now set up a FACEBOOK page for StarTeaching for more reader interaction and 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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10 Days Of
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Prompts 

Day
1

What is PROFESSIONALISM?

Day
2

What does it mean to be a PROFESSIONAL? 

Day
3

Describe how you dress to work as a Professional.

Day
4

Why do we want to be seen as Professionals?

Day
5

What are TWO goals you have for the second semester of school?

Day
6

How can we be perceived as Professionals in our jobs?

Day
7

Describe THREE ways that a Professional acts on the job.

Day
8

How can you develop a Professional mindset even as a student? 

Day
9

Describe a Professional that you admire.  Why do you look up to him/her?

Day
10

 List FOUR steps you can take to reach your goals for the next semester.

STARTEACHING WRITING PROMPT COLLECTION - 
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10 days of writing prompts

 

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10 Days of 
Math Problems
by Mary Ann Graziani

Day 1 Sandra is playing in a tennis doubles tournament. The rules say that the average age of the pair of players on each side must be ten years old or younger. Sandra is eight years old. Her partner must be _____ years old or younger.
Day 2 Juan has played in four baseball games this season. He struck out an average of twice per game. In the last three games, he didnt strike out at all. How many times did he strike out in the first game of the season?
Day 3 Jerome took five spelling tests in the last marking period. He scored 100% in all but one. His lowest score was 80%. What was his mean score for the spelling tests in the last marking period?
Day 4 Lucy bought seven pens. Four of the pens cost a dollar each. Three of the pens cost 30 cents each. What was the average cost of each pen?
Day 5

1.      This mystery number has 4 digits. Every digit is an odd number. None of the digits is a 9. Every digit in the number is different. The smallest digit is in the thousands place. The greatest digit is in the ones place. The preceding describes two possible numbers. The mystery number is the greater of those two numbers. What is the mystery number?

Day 6 This mystery number has 6 digits. If you add one to this number it will be a 7 digit number. What is the mystery number?
Day 7

1.      This mystery number has 5 digits. There is a 4 in the ten thousands place. None of the other digits is a 4. What is the smallest number that this mystery number can be?

Day 8

1.     This mystery number is one half of a billion. How many zeros are in this number?

Day 9 Brian has fourteen pets. All of his pets are cats and dogs. Brian has four more cats than dogs. How many dogs does he have?
Day 10 Brienne owns four cars. Gavan owns twice as many cars as Brienne. Ashley owns one less car than Gavan. Ashley is buying four new tires for every car she owns. Each tire costs one hundred dollars. How much money will the tires cost altogether?

 

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Science Activities For Any Setting
By Helen de la Maza
Insect Life Cycle
Scavenger Hunt
(click for PDF)

Plant Life Cycle Hike
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