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Ideas and Features For New Teachers
and Veterans with Class

Volume 6, Issue 11
June 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   Are the Students Truly Understanding It?  Are We? (part 3)   Reader Response:
Ask Dr. Manute
NEW! Tony Vincent's Blog:
Show an iPod/iPad Screen: New $69 USB Camera
Enhancing Students' Participation Through Practical Classroom Activities Themes on Life: 
"The Seeker of Truth"
NEW! Science Activities for Any Setting   10 Days of Writing Prompts   10 Days of Math Problems
School Features:
Bias in Education
New Teacher's Niche:
Group Work in Class (part 1)
Student Teachers' Lounge:
Preparing For Your Student-Teaching Experience (part 3)
Book of the Month Club:
Help! I'm Teaching Middle School Science
  Website of the Month:
KidsOLR: Kids Online Resources
  Summer 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 letter about student reflection at the end of the school year.  

Dr. Manute,

I've always been a big fan of your writings.  I would like to have my students reflect back on their experiences over this spring semester.  What ideas might you have for me to engage the students in a meaningful reflection?

Mary-Beth Annderson
Olympia, WA


Dr. Manute's response:

Reflection is important for the students as well as the teachers. As a thoughtful educator, you know how vital it is for you to reflect back on your practice - what worked, what didn't; the successes and failures;  approaches you'd try again and those you want to lock away in the closet This is so important to your students too.  They need that time, the meta-cognitive processing that occurs when they reflect back on their own learning, their successes and failures, etc., the same as you would.

I would suggest a writing prompt (or several prompts over several days) to get your students thinking.  You will undoubtedly want to engage them ahead of time with discussion.  Not too many students are expected (or taught) to reflect on their experiences.  You will hopefully also garner true statements from the students.  They need to be honest with themselves and with you.  But be prepared - sometimes they may say things you don't like or want to hear!  However, if you want them to really express themselves, they'll have to know they can trust you to tell you the truth in how they feel and how they see their part in the educational world.  

You've chosen a truly great road as a teacher, and the path to self-reflection is one that not every educator travels.  If you can take that path, and lead your students up it as well, you will be certainly headed for a lifetime of great teaching.

Yours in teaching, 

Dr. Manute


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Show an iPod/iPad Screen: New $69 USB Camera

By Tony Vincent

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.

Unless you're willing to jailbreak your device or you're Steve Jobs, there's not a way to directly pipe your iPod touch, iPhone, or iPad's screen into a computer or projector. Teachers who use these devices with students would love to have this feature. Direct video from a handheld or slate allows for crisp, crystal-clear, and glare-free video of the the device. This could be projected on the wall so the whole class can see what's on the small device.

You might think that since Apple sells video cables and iPad VGA adapters that these would be good solutions for enlarging an Apple device's screen. Unfortunately, these adapters do not project everything you see on the screen--they are designed to only show photos and movies. In the case of iPad, apps must be programmed to output to the VGA adapter (and almost all are not), and the VGA adapter won't show the Home screen.

If you've got a document camera in your classroom, you're pretty good to go. Cameras from AVerMedia, Elmo, and Epson are popular, and they connect directly to a projector to show live video of what's under the lens. Unfortunately, document cameras can also be pricey. Some teachers have found less expensive USB web cams that do an acceptable job of showing a device's screen.

I've been on the hunt for a good portable USB camera. That's because I need it to travel with me, and the video needs to be directed through my computer so I don't have to switch video connections when toggling between my slideshow and the camera. In the past I've used an iSight Camera mounted on a flexible stand. Today the iSight is no longer available. I've recently been using using a Hue HD Webcam. I got it on sale for $30, but the problem is that the stand falls over when pointed down like a document camera.

Thanks to a suggestion I heard on the Bit by Bit podcast, I am now using the IPEVO Point 2 View USB Camera. It's $69 and gives a better picture than my cheaper Hue HD Webcam. Point 2 View is designed to be used like a document camera, so the base is weighted down. Point 2 View adjusts height and position using a multi-jointed stand instead of a flexible stand so it doesn't wobble.

Point 2 View comes with P2V software for Macintosh and Windows. This software lets you view the camera's feed in a window or you can go full screen. It also has a variety of adjustments if you want to try to improve the picture.

The camera has a one-touch focus button. I really like that it has two auto-focus modes. There's Continuous and Single. I keep mine on Single so that I can set it to focus on my iPod touch, and it doesn't change--even when my hand is in front of the iPod. Speaking of focus, this camera does a great job. Below is a screen capture to show you how clear the image is. Video from Point 2 View is better than other USB camera I've used. 

When using a camera to show an iPod, iPhone, or iPad, I've found it looks best to turn the brightness setting on the device to about 20%. Be sure to turn off Auto-Brightness (in Settings app > Brightness) and adjust Auto-Lock (in Settings app > General) to 5 minutes or higher so the device doesn't keep dimming and turning off.

Of course, there are others uses in education for a USB camera like the IPEVO's Point 2 View. Check out IPEVO's Bring Your Curriculum to Life one-page PDF. Other resources for using document cameras include Teaching Tips from eMINTS and the Document Cameras in the Classroom handout.




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 Your Student-Teaching Experience
(part 3)

This is the third in a series of articles designed for college interns getting ready for their student-teaching experience. Student teaching is the final step for most teaching programs, and having a positive experience is vital for new teachers. This series of articles will provide many ideas, tips, and suggestions for young educators to make the most of the experience.

Working closely with a mentor or collaborating teacher can be both rewarding and challenging.  The rewards include developing a positive relationship with a professional educator and gleaning tremendous amounts of insight and effective teaching tips and techniques.  The mentor has been working effectively for a considerable number of years and has perfected both the art and craft of teaching.  In the ideal situation the mentor guides and provides feedback while allowing the intern to develop style and work through different situations and challenges.  The intern has the opportunity to make mistakes and develop strategies for improvement all under the guidance of a thoughtful and caring mentor. 

Sometimes an intern is placed with a mentor who finds it very difficult to let go of his/her classroom.  This teacher remains in the room all day and really doesnt allow the intern the flexibility and creativity to develop and refine an individual style.  The intern loses the opportunity to be on his or her own, a very valuable experience.  Another challenging situation is the mentor who for some unknown reason decides to try to clone themselves.  This mentor actually creates a situation that is counter-productive to a positive student teaching experience.  This mentor really inhibits the growth and development of the intern through constant manipulating and overbearing direction.

There have been some mentors who view the interns almost as personal servants making them run errands and do menial tasks not really aligned with the internship.  This situation needs to be reported to the university supervisor as soon as possible. 

Equally ineffective is the mentor who views the internship simply as time off.  The intern does not receive the necessary feedback necessary to process the many situations they encounter.  Consequently the intern struggles and makes decisions that can actually create additional problems. "The interns must always realize that the internship is a tremendous amount of work that requires vast amounts of time and energy and they are guests in a classroom; however, they also have many responsibilities in the learning of the skill and craft of teaching."

How does an intern deal effectively with these challenges?  That is not an easy answer.  Ideally, interns are not placed in these situations; however, we all know ours is not a perfect world.  One suggestion would be to schedule a meeting as soon as possible with the mentor.  Be prepared with questions that might provide some insight and if there appears to be a problem, contact your university immediately, maybe a change could be arranged.  Sometimes true motives dont surface until well into the internship, that can create difficulty and put the intern in a tough spot. 

The interns must always realize that the internship is a tremendous amount of work that requires vast amounts of time and energy and they are guests in a classroom; however, they also have many responsibilities in the learning of the skill and craft of teaching.  In most cases, the intern will create a strong relationship with the mentor.  The personal skills learned and practiced during the student-teaching experience will be invaluable as the intern moves into his/her own classroom.

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

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 Teaching Corner

Are the Students Truly Understanding It?  
Are We? (part 3) 

By Mark Benn
Middle School Teacher

Mark Benn teaches math and ELA at Inland Lakes Middle School in Indian River, MI. He completed his Masters of Science from Full Sail University on June 4, 2010. He is the educational/ technology writer for an online newletter called Star Teaching. He can be reached via email at mackinacfurtrader@gmail.com.

This is part three of a three part look at what teaching is all about.

In this third part I will be focusing on formative and summative assessment and some of the tools available to help you get to know where each of your students is at any given time. Quoting from the first article: "What is this formative and summative assessment about? Giving final tests have been around forever (summative assessment). Asking questions of the students isnt new either (formative assessment). But what have you done with the answers the students gave? Did they help in guiding where you were going with the material? Did it help you assess the success of your teaching strategies?"

Let's first start with questioning strategies. When a teacher asks a class a question, does it engage everyone? I would say it engages only those who know the answer or are interested in the question. What about the rest of the class? What about the shy ones, or those who don't or aren't sure of the answer? Our job is to engage all the students, or at least most of them. During most question and answer sessions you'll find many students checking out. Also, in asking the question, you ask one student for their answer. This only tells you that one student understands. What do you know about the rest of the class?

Formative assessment is a very important tool for the teacher. It should be done frequently (meaning daily) to help you assess where the students are in their learning and whether you, as a teacher, needs to make an adjustment in your approach. But it is very important that formative assessment is done correctly. All students should be engaged in the assessment. The assessment should be designed to give you instant feedback as to where each individual is. Realize right away that this is not for a grade. It's to give you feedback to where everyone is so that you can respond to it..

One easy way to do this is to use small white boards. When you ask a question each student writes down their answer on the board, and when given a cue, they show their boards to you. The reason for the cue is so the students don't just copy someone else's answer because that person had gotten it done early. If you don't have boards, or can't afford them, use blank white paper. This works great in giving you instant feedback and the students enjoy it because they find out right away whether they are  understanding it and everyone is involved. The drawback to this method is that you don't have a good record of what each individual student understands. You could keep a tally with a class list to highlight students that need extra help as you scan their answers.

You may be thinking: Why go through all this hassle? Let me ask you this: Are we there for the learning, or just to present the curriculum? That is what all teachers need to decide.

Another way to assess students in a formative way is by using a Student Response System. There are several systems available. The system I use is available through einstruction. They are located at www.einstruction.com. Quoting from their website:

"You can engage every child in class material by creating an interactive learning environment in your classroom. Students who normally remain silent in class can now answer every question without fear of embarrassment. And since you see instant feedback from the entire class, you know whether to move on or continue teaching a concept.  CPS also streamlines administrative tasks. Now you can spend less time grading and more time teaching."

The system uses a projector, computer with CPS software, response pad, and receiver. Your questions are displayed on the screen and every student then responds by using the response pads to input their answer. Depending on the type of system you use, the questions can be of varied types from multiple choice to short answer. The system then keeps track of the students' responses so you can see how each individual student responds.

This also gives the students immediate feedback on whether they are understanding the lesson and engages every student. It also allows you, due to the instant feedback, to adjust your teaching to help them achieve greater understanding immediately.

Hopefully, I've peaked your interest. What you'll begin to see is better understanding and higher results in your summative tests. You'll also see more students engaged and becoming a part of their learning. I've had students say to me, "I'd take a test any day if I could use these", referring to the response systems. Have I seen an improvement? Yes, because I have a much better idea of where my students are at and can make the immediate adjustments to help those who are struggling.

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




  StarTeaching Feature Writer

Enhancing Students' Participation Through Practical Classroom Activities

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.

All teachers will surely agree on the reality of dealing with diverse learners ( who have different intelligence levels) in their day- to- day teaching: no doubt, it some times helps the facilitator to bring varieties in class to respond to various needs; on the other hand, it sometimes diverts the focus of the class as well.  

Educationists firmly believe when students dont get interaction and an environment of learning with fun, they usually get depressed and begin ill-behavior. A conscious teacher always keeps in mind the effective use of teaching which could be done through different teaching methods including a variety of teaching strategies. However these approaches bring out the learning environment as C.R.Christian and D.A Garvin mentioned, To teach is to engage students in learning.  Although the active engagement of learners is possible through various ways, all the suggested strategies have meaningful effects that facilitate students to take part in such activities and enjoy learning.  

Morally, teachers are responsible to engage their pupils in the learning experience, particularly in relation to the quality of the instructions and activities. No doubt, the ultimate purpose of any activity is learning, which can be obtained through doing. Hence it may be either Minds-on or Hands-on. Hands-on learning by doing is a powerful idea, and we know that engaging students actively and thoughtfully in their studies pays off in better learning. (Rutherford, 1993:5) Hand-on activities include arts & crafts, creative writing, role play, drama, problem solving.  Minds-on activities usually have students engaged in imagination, mind mapping, concept mapping, reflective thinking, brainstorming, higher order questioning, discussion, Think-PairShare, interviews, PMI, and analytical thinking. A qualified teacher may link these activities with proper lesson management and organization where learning takes place during the lesson to maintain pupil attention, interest and involvement. 

Having said that, the function of classroom activities is to maintain misbehavior at minimum level and sustain their interest. It also provides opportunities for children to explore & engage with the content in a creative and dynamic way. Furthermore, it encourages learners to express their thoughts, feelings, and responses. Jean Piaget (1896-1980) believed learning occurs by an active construction of meaning, rather than by receiving it passively. He states when we, as learners, encounter an experience or situation that conflicts with our current way of thinking, a state of imbalance is created. When a teacher allows learners to  construct their own knowledge, it automatically enhances their critical thinking which further leads him or her to take decisions  for their  self- development.  

No doubt this whole process makes learners motivated and active and takes them toward the constructivism where learners themselves partake in learning and make meaning.

This approach fosters in them the use of critical thinking; enabling students to learn through constructing their own understandings that make them active and motivated learners. 

Also, the constructivism theory suggests a simple and effective sequence called the 5 E Model where participants initiate their learning through personal Engagement, and Explore new knowledge through inquiry and experiences and connect their knowledge by Explanation. Moreover they practice and apply new context thorough Elaboration. Thus their understanding could be assessed through Evaluation even during the process or while getting the end result.

Here the most important question arises: Why do we need to do all such things in our classes?' The most suitable response is that our teaching should move around the holistic development of the child or learner who is the center of attraction and if in case, as teachers, we couldnt attract these children towards learning, then surely we ruin their natural instinct to learn and discover life.

Fortunately or unfortunately, there is no single magical formula to motivate learners or students towards learning. Many external and internal actors affected student's motivation and they were willing to work and to learn (Bligh, 1971; Sass, 1989); their interest in the subject matter, perception of its usefulness, their desire for greater achievement, self-confidence and self-esteem, as well as patience and persistence. Moreover, not all students are motivated by the same values, needs, desires, or wants; some students will be motivated by trial and error, other influenced by case studies, etc.

Researchers have begun to identify those aspects of the teaching situation that enhance students' self-motivation (Lowman, 1984; Lucas, 1990; Weinert and Kluwe, 1987; Bligh, 1971). To encourage students to become self-motivated independent learners, instructors can do the following:

    • Give frequent, early, positive feedback that supports students' beliefs that they can do well.

    • Ensure opportunities for students' success by assigning tasks that are neither too easy nor too difficult.

    • Help students find personal meaning and value in the material.

    • Create an atmosphere that is open and positive.

    • Help students feel that they are valued members of a learning community.

     Keeping in mind the milestones of every physical and cognitive age, it is also important how learners participate in learning within and outside classroom.  Also important are the types of tasks assigned to make their learning more meaningful. Vygotsky has discussed two types of students development in his thesis, "Zone of Proximal Development as cited by Crowl, Kaminsky & Poldell (1997:71), The level of actual development is the level at which an individual can function independently, whereas the level of potential development is the level at which the person can perform when working with a teacher or a group of students

As a teacher and learner myself, it is my conviction and experience that when we perform teaching as a conscious act, we not only enjoy but also become satisfied. It all depends upon the teacher who could be motivated intrinsically and/or extrinsically and can MAKE A DIFFERENCE in students' lives and their own lives as well.  


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Bias in Education

Courtesy of K12Academics.com

Bias in education can refer to real or perceived bias in the educational system.

Many recent allegations against the United States have surfaced about them hiding many historical facts from the public through public education and thus luring the public to believing that the actions taken by the U.S. government are justified and provide a global benefit.

Gender bias in education occurs in many cultures. Often educators are not aware of Gender bias.

Religious bias in textbooks is often observed in countries where religion plays a dominant role.

Many countries and states have guidelines against bias in education, but they are not always implemented. The guidelines of the California Department of Education (Code 60044) state the following: "No religious belief or practice may be held up to ridicule and no religious group may be portrayed as inferior." "Any explanation or description of a religious belief or practice should be present in a manner that does not encourage or discourage belief or indoctrinate the student in any particular religious belief."

On the basis of these guidelines, the Board of Education of California corrected in 2005 misrepresentations of Judaism, Islam and Hinduism in schoolbooks. Many of these misrepresentations were described as biased, erroneous or culturally derogatory. All 500 changes proposed by Jews and about 100 changes proposed by Muslims were accepted, but many of the proposed changes related to Hinduism were opposed by a group led by Professor Witzel, although this group also admitted that they were unaware of the nature of the proposed changes when they wrote their protest letter on November 7, 2005.

One change that was opposed by the Witzel group was to use the word deity instead of statue for murthis (carved images of a God), another change that was opposed was to use upper-case G for God, because for Hindus there are many forms of the one god. The correction of an incorrect statement about the Hindu epics was rejected by the Witzel group with the comment: "Who in Sixth Grade cares which epic was 'written' first?"

School Textbooks

The content of school textbooks is often the issue of debate, as their target audience is young people, and the term "whitewashing" is the one commonly used to refer to selective removal of critical or damaging evidence or comment. The reporting of military atrocities in history is extremely controversial, as in the case of the Holocaust (or Holocaust denial) and the Winter Soldier Investigation of the Vietnam War. The representation of every society's flaws or misconduct is typically downplayed in favor of a more nationalist or patriotic view. Also, Christians and other religionists have at times attempted to block the teaching of the theory of evolution in schools, as evolutionary theory appears to contradict their religious beliefs. In the context of secondary-school education, the way facts and history are presented greatly influences the interpretation of contemporary thought, opinion and socialization. One legitimate argument for censoring the type of information disseminated is based on the inappropriate quality of such material for the young. The use of the "inappropriate" distinction is in itself controversial, as it can be used to enforce wider and more politically motivated censorship


Article courtesy of K12Academics.com




MythMichigan Books
Novels by Frank Holes, Jr.

Now Available!  2nd Book in the Longquist Series:

Viking Treasure

Avast ye scurvy dogs,
there be danger on the high seas!

The realms of blood-thirsty pirates and powerful Norse raiders collide in Viking Treasure, the exciting second book in The Longquist Adventures series.  Our young hero finds himself on a Viking merchant ship bound for long, lost treasure buried in the new world.

Not fully trusting his one-legged mentor, the time-traveling boy must rely on his own wits and ideals to escape terrifying, colossal beasts and unexpected, treacherous mutiny.  Can he survive in a world where nothing is what it seems?

Click Here For The
Longquist Adventures Website

Now Available!
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. 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.   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
Nagual: Dawn of the Dogmen 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.  


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

Group Work in Class
(part 1)

This is the first article in a series on using collaborative groups in class.

The business world tells us that they want people who are good at collaboration. Being that our job is to prepare the students for the future, this skill should become part of what we teach in the classroom.

Planning and preparation are key to getting your groups underway.  The first thing to do as you prepare to use group work as part of the learning process is to setup your groups. Never allow the students to set up the groups; you are only inviting disaster. There are many ways to set up groups. I like to spread the abilities out among the groups. The smartest student isnt always the one who can lead the group through to a conclusion. I also like to mix boys and girls up in the groups. They tackle problems from different ways, so it enhances the learning taking place. Also, change the groups after every section, so they learn to work with different people. This makes it a more real world experience.

"The smartest student isnt always the one who can lead the group through to a conclusion."

Size of the group is another part of the equation. A lot depends on the lesson being used. Two person groups are fine for a short term group that lasts one day. If you are

going to have it go longer, the group should be at least three to four students. The reason for this is the fact that what is the group going to do if the next day one of the students isnt there? With three or four students you will at least have a group of two or three to continue on if someone is missing.

As you begin the groups, realize the students may not know how to work in a group. This is something that we as teachers shouldnt take for granted. Talk about using listening skills, the fact that only one person is speaking at a time. Explain that arguing doesnt solve anything. They must learn, when there are differences of opinion, to share why they feel the way they do and support it with reasons. We also talk about the importance that everyone be a participant in the group process. Another thing I tell the groups is that they are not to ask me, the teacher, a question until theyve talked about it in the group. If the group cant answer the question, then I will gladly help them out as a group. This fosters dependence on their group.

Focus is the most important part of using groups as a tool for learning. If you as a teacher dont provide a structure within the lesson, you will lose the students. 

"As you begin the groups, realize the students may not know how to work in a group."

I like to call this the Driving Question. This is what they are to be focusing on as they work together. Decide what you want them to learn, set the goals, and then communicate to the students your expectations.

In conclusion, from observation and research that collaboration (group work) when used properly can be an excellent learning tool. I hope you will find using this learning tool as stimulating and rewarding as I have, both for the students and yourself.

The second part of this article will detail more of the 'nuts & bolts' of getting your groups underway, and describe a few example projects you can use in class.

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"The Seeker Of Truth"
Author Unknown

Themes on Life

Can you see how the fragments of your life can be brought together?

After years of searching, the seeker was told to go to a cave, in which he would find a well. 'Ask the well what is truth', he was advised, 'and the well will reveal it to you'. Having found the well, the seeker asked that most fundamental question. And from the depths came the answer, 'Go to the village crossroad: there you shall find what you are seeking'.

Full of hope and anticipation the man ran to the crossroad to find only three rather uninteresting shops. One shop was selling pieces of metal, another sold wood, and thin wires were for sale in the third. Nothing and no one there seemed to have much to do with the revelation of truth.

Disappointed, the seeker returned to the well to demand an explanation, but he was told only, 'You will understand in the future.' When the man protested, all he got in return were the echoes of his own shouts. Indignant for having been made a fool of - or so he thought at the time - the seeker continued his wanderings in search of truth. As years went by, the memory of his experience at the well gradually faded until one night, while he was walking in the moonlight, the sound of sitar music caught his attention. It was wonderful music and it was played with great mastery and inspiration.

Profoundly moved, the truth seeker felt drawn towards the player. He looked at the fingers dancing over the strings. He became aware of the sitar itself. And then suddenly he exploded in a cry of joyous recognition: the sitar was made out of wires and pieces of metal and wood just like those he had once seen in the three stores and had thought it to be without any particular significance.

At last he understood the message of the well: we have already been given everything we need: our task is to assemble and use it in the appropriate way. Nothing is meaningful so long as we perceive only separate fragments. But as soon as the fragments come together into a synthesis, a new entity emerges, whose nature we could not have foreseen by considering the fragments alone.


What's New @ StarTeaching?


This month, our web partner Tony Vincent shares some great tips on using document cameras to display the iPod & handhelds.  Mark Benn is back with the 21st Century Learning corner, and our Featured Writer Rozina Jumani shares information on practical activities to enhance student participation.  And our own Dr. Manute answers a thoughtful question on student self-reflection at the end of the semester.  

Our Website of the Month features KidsOLR, an online resources for kids. We're also featuring articles on Bias in Education, and finishing up the series on Preparing For The Student Teaching Experience.  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.  

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Writing Process Articles

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Help! I'm Teaching Middle School Science

By C. Jill Swango



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 Something is on sale for $35.00 and it is  advertised  40% percent off? How much is it going to cost?
Day 2 Something is on sale for $125.00 and it is  advertised  55% percent off? How much is it going to cost?
Day 3 Something is on sale for $6.99 and it is  advertised  25% percent off? How much is it going to cost?
Day 4 Something is on sale for $30.99 and it is  advertised  35% percent off? How much is it going to cost?
Day 5 Something is on sale for $17.99 and it is  advertised  15% percent off? How much is it going to cost?
Day 6 James was 52 when Sam was born. How old will James be when Sam is eleven?
Day 7 Sarah was 25 when Mary was born. How old will Sarah be when Mary is eight?
Day 8 Michael was 29 when Jennifer was born. How old will Michael be when Jennifer is twenty-two?
Day 9 Jill was 32 when Joe was born. How old will Jill be when Joe is six?
Day 10 David was 31 when Tom was born. How old will David be when Tom is 27?


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Science Activities For Any Setting
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Air Pollution Experiment
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Inspirational Quotes
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Kids Online Resources




Using Photography To Inspire Writing
By Hank Kellner

Visit his blog at: hank-englisheducation.



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




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