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Ideas and Features For New Teachers
and Veterans with Class

Volume 7, Issue 7
April 2011
StarTeaching Store Advertise with us Previous Articles Submit an Article FREE Reports Feature Writers Tech Center New Teacher's Niche

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

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

What's New @ StarTeaching   Online Learning Made Easy for All Ages   Teaching As A Career
NEW! Tony Vincent's Blog: iPad 2's Display Mirrored on a Big Screen Rad Resources for Science Educators: Earth Day! Themes on Life: 
"I Am A Teacher"
Science Activities for Any Setting   10 Days of Writing Prompts   10 Days of Math Problems
School Features:
Education Vouchers
 (part 2)
New Teacher's Niche:
The LEAST Approach to Classroom Discipline: (part 6)
Student Teachers' Lounge: Crosswords & Word Puzzles: A Great Way to Review in Class
Book of the Month Club:
The Art of Teaching Reading
  Website of the Month:
  Article of the Week: "Tried As An Adult"

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


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Teaching As A Career

by Munir Moosa Sewani

Munir Moosa Sewani is one of the most famous, prominent and creative names in the field of Education for the past 9 years. He is a Master Trainer In Special Education, Post Graduate, Teacher Educator and a Teacher. He is a Freelance Writer and Photographer, in addition to his role as a featured writer for StarTeaching's newsletter for over four years now. He is an author of the famous self-published storybook for children titled "The MORAL STORIES FOR CHILDREN" and has also written a Biology book for Secondary Classes. He has written more than 75 articles dealing with social, health, educational and cultural issues, which are internationally recognized and published in famous world wide websites, newsletters, magazines and newspapers. 

He is also a Social worker, private tutor, career counselor, musician, lyrics writer and have multi- dimensional talents. His future plan is to write dozens of informative articles and to work for education and media, in order to explore hidden creativity.

You can contact Munir Moosa Sewani at: munirmoosa@yahoo.com 

Education is considered as ďThe Green PassportĒ of our future.

A person who gets a professional qualification and acquires a high degree gets ready acceptance worldwide with an open arm.  The profession which was on, is on, and would be continued forever is the profession of teaching, which is one of the most noble and leading of careers in todayís world.

The growing demand of teachers is hovering in every field of life internationally, whether it's school, college, university, organization, Multinational company or else where.  Teaching is the only profession which gives the greatest and the multi-dimensional opportunities of career to an individual.

The developing countries now recognize that teaching requires the dedicated leadership of professional specialists to mold the future of the next generation.

Teaching is the specialized field of education, and it requires proper education, training and inborn adoration for children. Itís not an easy profession. Time has gone when those who did not get good job opportunities shifted themselves in the field of teaching in order to earn livelihood. Today, teaching is the professional liberal art field. Teaching requires skills that can be brought out by taking professional certifications or degree courses.

Teaching involves being with children or with colleagues to design syllabi or problem solving too.

In the field of Education/Teaching, you can become a Principal , Vice Principal, Deputy Head Teacher, Section Head, Co-ordinator, Supervisor, Teacher Educator, Educational Psychologist, Student Counselor, Curriculum Developer or Researcher, Special Educator, Language Co-ordinator, Recruitment Manager, Writer, Programme Officer, Montessori Directress, Lecturer, Subject Specialist, Journalist and so on.

Its not a profession of last resort; itís a profession of dedication.

Pay scale

A person who adopts a career in education gets the starting salary from 3000 rupees to 300 thousand rupees nationally and anywhere from 1000-50,000 dollars internationally.

Qualification requirement:

The best qualification which suits a teacher is at least Graduate or Post Graduate with specialization in the subject over which they command (like education, psychology etc.)

Certificate courses are additional advantages for the post of Teacher and Asst Teacher.

For Montessori directress, at least Certificate/Diploma in Montessori is the pre-requisite along with some internship experience in high profile school.

For the primary and elementary level, command over early childhood, education, art, music, and physical activities are necessary along with graduation.

In the same manner, Diploma courses in Special Education or Teacher Education is the pre-requisite for the position of Deputy Head or Special or Teacher Educator.

Likewise, professional degrees like B.Ed and M.Ed is the required degree to become professional lecturer, professor, writer, program officer, etc.  There is Masterís Degree in Teacher Education as well, which is nowadays in demand to qualify for many high salaries.

For Researchers, Head Principal, or Educational Psychologist, in many cases a PhD in their subject is the required qualification.

Where they can join?

They can join any Private/Governmental institution, school, college, university, educational publishing house, Montessori, Government Research Departments, and Media.

Remember that continued training is necessary to meet the future challenges.

Confidence, teaching methodology, pre-planning, and communication skills, reading and writing skills, and clear language are the features of the great educationalist.

A few of the careers in the field of education is described below :

Education Consultant/ Counselor:

They assesses the needs of the professionals and advise an individual/ professional to choose the right career. Education consultants also develop policies and program initiatives within an area of professional specialty.  

Special Education Teacher/ Educator

They are the ones who design curriculum, and teach according to the special needs of students. They are the ones who work with students who have a variety of disabilities such as deaf and dumb, mild, moderate, severe, profound, borderline, cerebral palsy, mental retardation etc.

Special education teachers instruct their students in basic life skills and basic education.

Career Counselor:

They are the ones, who give the true and efficient guidance to the students in order to evaluate their talents and to choose the desired career according to their talents and creativity. Student counselors evaluate the students' abilities and interests and guide them to take proper decisions.

Principal/Vice Principal:

They serve as an Administrator of a school or college. They are the ones who develop rules and regulations, designing and promoting programs and activities. They also promote educational and professional development of the students and staff. They also evaluate teacherís skills and polish these time to time by arranging Certificate Courses for them.


They design and formulate the curriculum according to the age level of students.

They also manage research projects.

They are the ones who use a variety of methods such as interviews, questionnaires, etc on specific issues and prepare report and theses.

They also analyze and present data in a meaningful manner.


They are the ones who not only write curriculum books, but they are the ones who write articles and also help in formulating teaching curriculum.

Head/Assistant Teacher:

They teach their students with an inborn adoration and also groom their skills time to time by attending workshops or teacher training courses.

They are the ones who evaluate students' strengths, instruct them and teach them effectively.

Master Trainer/ Teacher Educator:

They are the ones who train teachers. They develop instructional materials and educational content. They are the one who also assess a teacherís capabilities.

They also provide guidelines to the schools/ colleges and also design suitable activities for students.

Operational Managers:

They work on a wide range of issues, such as strategic planning, competitive positioning, performance management, student and teaching hiring and firing, alumni relation, etc.



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iPad 2's Display Mirrored on a Big Screen

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.

A feature that has long been request by educators has finally arrived in iPad 2: video mirroring. Video mirroring shows exactly what's on your device's screen on a second display, like a projector, television, or monitor. We're used to video mirroring with laptops--many teachers do this everyday.

iPad 2 requires either the Apple VGA Adapter or Apple Digital AV Adapter. The VGA adapter connects to most projectors while the digital adapter connects to HDMI, which is common on newer televisions. Apple Digital AV Adapter also outputs sound while the VGA adapter outputs only video to the display.

I've used both adapters and they are very simple to use. In fact, there is no software to install or settings to adjust on iPad. Within seconds of connecting iPad and to the display with the adapter, mirroring is automatically activated. You can even rotate iPad between portrait and landscape and the mirrored image rotates as well. Read a little more about video mirroring from Apple (the page only mentions HDMI, but mirroring can certainly be done with VGA).


During presentations and workshops I have alternated displaying my laptop and iPad 2 to a projector simply by disconnecting one from the projector and reconnecting the other with no issues. It takes just a few moments for the projector to recognize the new input source. Having a VGA switch (Monoprice has them cheap) would handy so that I don't have to disconnect and reconnect to the projector each time I want to change which device I want displayed.

Some apps have been designed to output video that is different than from what appears on the device's screen. For example, Keynote's is mirrored until you tap Play. Then iPad outputs your slideshow while showing the controls on iPad's screen.

Unlike using a document camera, mirroring is a crystal-clear image without glare and smudges. However, there is a major drawback to using mirroring instead of a document camera to demonstrate apps. Those viewing cannot see what you are touching nor the gestures you use on the screen. Using a document camera (like the $69 Point2View USB Camera) might not always be in perfect focus and show glare, but at least viewers can see how you are interacting with the touchscreen.

I made a short video demonstrating video mirroring through VGA and compare it to using the Point2View camera. I used an Epiphan VGA2USB signal grabber to input into my computer. This method produces interlacing (those horizontal lines you see when there is lots of movement). When connected to a display, you definitely do not see any interlacing.

Currently video mirroring only works with iPad 2. Sorry iPad 1, iPod touch, and iPhone users. If you jailbreak your device, you can get access to Cydia, an alternative to Apple's App Store that has apps that Apple will not allow in its own store. DisplayOut is available in Cydia for $3.99 and gives iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch video mirroring capabilities. Cydia also has apps like iDemo designed to share what's on your handheld's screen. While jailbreaking is legal, it can void your warranty, goof up your device, and make it tricky to install iOS updates. I have never jailbroken any of my handhelds--now with iPad 2, I don't have to jailbreak for video mirroring.





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

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Crosswords and Word Puzzles:
A Great Way to Review in Class

Many of us enjoy the challenge of a good crossword puzzle in our local papers when sitting down to breakfast on the weekends or passing the time when traveling. But did you ever think about the benefits of using crosswords and other word puzzles in class?

Crossword puzzles are said to be the most popular and widespread word game in the world. However, according to George Elliott of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament,
http://www.crosswordtournament.com/more/wynne.html, this serious adult pastime has a relatively short history. To paraphrase Elliott, "The first crosswords appeared in England during the 19th century. The first known, published crossword (December 21, 1913 in the Sunday newspaper the New York World) was created by a journalist named Arthur Wynne, who is usually credited as the inventor of the popular word game. Wynne based his crossword on a similar, though much older game (played in ancient Pompeii) called Magic Squares or word square, which was a group of words arranged so the letters read alike vertically and horizontally. These word squares were printed in children's puzzle books and other periodicals. During the early 1920's other newspapers picked up the newly discovered pastime and within a decade crossword puzzles were featured in almost all American newspapers."

Crossword puzzles require two fundamental vocabulary skills, 1) knowing the definition of the word and 2) knowing how to spell the word correctly. This can be a great way to review important terms and words for any class, from foreign languages, to math, to science, to language arts. By varying the number of words, and the size of the letter boxes, crosswords can be used at any grade level. Even lower elementary students can fill in these puzzles, and many children love the interesting shapes and connections between words.

Crosswords are not difficult to create, especially with the help of your handy computer. There are several on-line websites that allow you to input your vocabulary word list and definitions (clues). Good programs also allow you to customize the puzzle, changing the puzzle's overall dimensions, box sizes, title, and even colors. One easy to use puzzle making website is located at:

Once there, you simply choose the type of puzzle you wish (you can even see examples of the different types of puzzles, including math puzzles, mazes, and word searches among others). Crossword puzzles are fun for students, and they provide a welcomed break from finishing review worksheets, studying vocabulary lists, and answering questions from the textbook.


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

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Online Learning Made Easy for All Ages

by Mark Benn
Instructional Technologist

Mark Benn earned his Masters of Integration of Technology from Walden University. Previously, he 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.  

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.

Imagine what the everyday math, social studies, or science teacher goes through each day as they try to teach a group of students about a certain skill or concept.

Now, jump into a students shoes as they watch, participate, and attempt to learn from what they are seeing and hearing. What happens when, as a student, you donít fully grasp the skill, but watch the teacher erase what was on the board. Now you are totally lost. You could raise your hand, but you donít want to look foolish. What should you do next?

This scenario is always a possibility for any group of students. So what can a teacher do to change these dynamics? They could stop and ask if there are any questions, but the shy student isnít going to ask. In fact, most of the students wonít step out of their comfort zone to ask. At this point youíre asking, what can I do.

Watch this video for your answer.

Now, having seen this video, how could this website change the way you do things in class. When it comes to math, this isnít just for high school, but for every grade.  The students can watch the tutorial, stop it at any point, take it back and re-watch a section. Thatís not possible to do with a live teacher. You canít rewind them, or pause them so that you can think about what is going on. The tutorials are always available online at anytime, where a teacher isnít. It takes away the fear, as a student, of stepping out of your comfort zone. You can feel very safe in this learning environment.

On the teacher side of things, this is a great support tool. It frees you to work with the students that are struggling while the other students can move on once theyíve proven mastery. Check the Khanacademy website out and try some of the tutorials. Also, take a look at the self paced lessons. Thereís also an app. for the iTouch, iPhone, and iPad thatís free for downloading called KhanAcademy. Then, plan how you could use this site and tools for your students benefit. For myself, Iíve embedded a number of these tutorials in my Moodle site for my students to use. Iím in the process of designing lessons based upon using these tutorials, so that I will be freed up to work with the students that struggle with math no matter what you do.

Your browser may not support display of this image.  

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




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Rad Resources for Science Educators

Wild About Wildlife

By Helen de la Maza

Helen de la Maza is a Curriculum and Instruction Consultant in southern California with almost 15 years experience in the field of education. She has written curricula and taught science, environmental science, and environmental education to students ranging in age from 4 to 85 years! 

She believes that learning the process of scientific thinking can help students think critically and be careful observers of the natural and human-made world. 

Helen earned an MS in Wildlife Science, an MA in Curriculum and Instruction, California single subject teaching credentials in Biological Sciences and English, and a multiple subject credential. When she was in graduate school for her MS, she realized that "interpreters" were needed to communicate between the scientific community and lay people. Much of her work has been focused on doing this through teaching, training, and writing.

The Internet and World Wide Web provide the opportunity for massive amounts of information to be distributed to a wide audience. In fact, so much information is available that it is overwhelming to sort through! As a Science Educator you barely have enough time to plan your curriculum and assess your students, let alone spend hours surfing the web looking for great resources. That's where I come in - providing excellent information, media, and lessons to your students that are already available on the web. 

Iíll do the searching for you and highlight every couple weeks some Rad Resources for Science Educators. Feedback is appreciated! Email me at: delamazah@earthlink.net

This week is our Earth Day Focus

United States Environmental Protection Agency: 
It's My Environment Video Project


Show that it's your environment by submitting a video clip up to 10 seconds long of someone
doing something for the environment, then reading and passing along a sign that says "It's My
Environment." It'll look like the sign is traveling from clip to clip, forming a human chain.
The best clips will be included in the next video Ė deadline: June 6, 2011.

Green Teacher Celebrating Earth Week: It's Elemental


A collection of ideas, activities and resources for exploring and celebrating our connections to
the earth during Earth Week.

Classroom Earth


This website is an online resource designed to help high school teachers include environmental
content in their daily lesson plans.

Earth Day Activities: Teachers Share their Favorites


Some fun and interesting ideas from teachers who have engaged their students in Earth Day

Education World: Lessons for Earth Day


To recognize this special day, Education World offers original lesson plans that will engage
students in creating maps of an astronaut's view of Earth, exploring issues of junk mail and
hazardous household waste, and learning about endangered species. Included: Student work
sheet, 20 bonus Earth Day lessons, plus links to fun Earth Day resources for kids!

HotChalk Earth Day Lesson Plans


Variety of lesson plans appropriate for various grade levels and science topics.

NASA Educators Page


Welcome to the Sun-Earth Day page for Educators. We are committed to providing you with the
essential materials needed to help your students see our sun in a different light! This section has
been specifically designed for you, the educator. You will find lesson plans for grades K-12. You
will also find other helpful web resources and educational hooks that demonstrate how today's
technological marvels in solar viewing were built upon the foundation left by our ancestors.
Includes a multimedia center.



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Education Vouchers

(part 2)

Courtesy of K12Academics.com

An education voucher, commonly called a school voucher, is a certificate by which parents are given the ability to pay for the education of their children at a school of their choice, rather than the public school to which they were assigned.


Education is a rivalrous good. That means that only one person can enjoy each education spot. If there are twenty places for students in a class and the quality of teaching isn't compromised, students can only be aggregated if only a limited number are taken. It is also an excludable good, because someone can easily be prevented from attending classes offered. With such characteristcs, education can be classified as a private good, which are, according to economic theory, usually better provided by the market than by the government. But education is a service that contains several positive externalities, which is why the government chooses to fund it.

A minority of voucher opponents in the U.S. object on radically different grounds from the above mentioned. These opponents believe that granting government money, even indirectly, to private and religious schools will inevitably lead to increased governmental control over non-government education. Individuals who oppose vouchers on these grounds are often libertarian; a few of them go so far as to call for the abolition of all government sponsorship of education in the U.S. The Alliance for the Separation of School & State opposes education vouchers on the grounds that "if vouchers become commonplace, private and religious schools will become more and more like public schools" Other libertarians, such as Milton Friedman, fully support school vouchers, though his plan assumes no additional regulation of private schools.

In addition, economists point to the theoretical (but unproven) problem of "cream skimming," a variety of adverse selection in the educational market. With a presumably greater pool of applicants, the private schools will be more selective over which students to admit, possibly excluding those who belong to the "wrong" religion or ethnicity, those with disabilities such as autism or multiple sclerosis and those with disciplinary problems. On the other hand, by law the public schools have to educate everyone, so that they become a "dumping ground" for those students unwanted by the private schools. This further undermines the reputation of the public schools, leading to a vicious circle that tends toward the total abolition of the public schools and the end of universal education. However, logic dictates that private schools may spring up to meet the demand of those empowered by school choice and thus negate this possible disaster.

Often, the low costs of the private schools benefiting from voucher funds arises from the non-union status of their staffs and their limited overhead because of their exemption from laws protecting those with disabilities and the like. Government regulations aimed at making the private schools act like "good citizens" threaten to make them be exactly like the public schools.


The school voucher question in the United States received a considerable amount of judicial review in the early 2000s.

A program in the city of Cleveland authorized by the state of Ohio was challenged in court on the grounds that it violated both the federal constitutional principle of separation of church and state and the guarantee of religious liberty in the Ohio Constitution. These claims were rejected by the Ohio Supreme Court, but the federal claims were upheld by the local federal district court and by the Sixth Circuit appeals court. The fact that nearly all of the families using vouchers attended Catholic schools in the Cleveland area was cited in the decisions. In a 2002 ruling in the case Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in a 5-4 vote that the Ohio program was Constitutional. The justices cited the private choice made by the parents and affirmed that the ultimate purpose (improving elementary education) was secular.

The Florida Supreme Court on January 5, 2006 struck down laws that allowed for school vouchers in Florida.

Political support for school vouchers in the United States is mixed. On the left/right spectrum, conservatives are more likely to support vouchers. According to the National Education Association (NEA), a U.S. teachers union and the largest labor union in the country, "(U.S.) Voters, for the last 30 years, have rejected vouchers every time they've been proposed". However, some state legislatures have enacted voucher laws. As of 2006, the federal government operates the largest voucher program, for evacuees from the region affected by Hurricane Katrina.




Article courtesy of K12Academics.com



MythMichigan Books
Novels by Frank Holes, Jr.

Dogmanís Back!

  The legends of the Michigan Dogman come alive in six haunting tales by folklore author, Frank Holes, Jr.  Based upon both mythology and alleged real stories of the beast, this collection is sure to fire the imagination!

  Spanning the decades and the geography of the Great Lakes State , Frank weaves:

  A mysterious police report of an unsolvable death in Manistee County

A terrifying encounter in the U.P.ís remote Dickinson County

A BLOG, begun as one manís therapy, becomes a chronicle of sightings from around Michigan

A secret governmental agent investigates the grisly aftermath of Sigma

A pioneer family meets more than they expected on the trail north

A campfire tale of ancient betrayal handed down through the Omeena Tribe

Welcome to Dogman Country!

Now Available!

Click Here For The
Tales From Dogman Country Website


Now Available!

Year of the Dogman Website
Now Available!

Haunting of Sigma Website
Now Available!

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

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The LEAST Approach to Classroom Discipline:
(Part 6)


Robert R. Carkhuff

The LEAST approach to classroom discipline is a simple survival strategy for the teacher.  It is a response to teachersí urgent pleas for quick and easy methods they can use in the face of mounting discipline problems.  Succinctly stated in the words of one teacher, ďWe must survive before we can grow.Ē  It involves the ďleastĒ methods that should be employed to facilitate and maintain classroom control.  LEAST is an acronym for the following activities of the teacher: 

L- Leave things alone when no problems are likely to ensue
E- End the action indirectly when the behavior is disrupting classroom activities
A- Attend more fully when you need to obtain more information and/or communicate
S- Spell out directions when disruption and/or harm will occur
T- Track student progress when following through to evaluate and reinforce behavior.


When Should You Spell Out Directions?

Spell out directions for a student or students in any situation that threatens loss of control or danger.  In general, this will be a situation that fulfills either one of the following conditions:

  1. The disruption is severe enough to make further learning impossible.
  2. Students are risking harm to themselves and/or to others.

In such a situation, you must first end the action (Option #2) and attend more fully (Option #3).  Then having as full an understanding as possible of what is going on, spell out directions for the students involved.

What does ďSpell Out DirectionsĒ Mean?

There are two separate steps involved in spelling out directions for any troublesome student or students.  The first, of course, is to tell the student what you want him or her to do.  This may involve identifying the problem behavior (if the student is not already aware of it), and it should definitely involve outlining some specific, positive, and alternative behavior you want the student to undertake.  Make sure your directions are voiced in clear and concrete terms.  It is better to spell out directions positively, in terms of what students should do, rather than negatively, in terms of what they should not do.  The former approach avoids student denial ("I wasn't doing that ...") and has a more lasting effect.

The second step is to outline for the student the inevitable consequences of his or her continued problem-related behavior.  As will be seen, there is a fundamental difference between outlining consequences and threatening the student.

Why Spell Out Directions?

In most problem situations, you probably need to give the student a clear picture of the problem to forestall the traditional reaction.  "I didn't know I was doing anything wrong!"

You should specify a positive and alternative activity because merely telling a student to stop what he or she is doing is not effective.  It is far better to get the student involved in something else that will provide a constructive outlet for all that extra energy.  Thus, "Margie, no more fighting," is by no means as effective as, "Margie, please sit down and open your history book."

As far as consequences are concerned, these should be spelled out to help a student understand how his or her actions can have specific unhappy results.  Outlining consequences reminds the student that he or she is not an independent agent but is bound up with you and the rest of the class in a cooperative venture.  However, it is a "last resort" approach to discipline.  Taking such an approach risks alienating the student, who may feel that you are "coming down" too hard on him or her.

How Do You Spell Out Directions?

As noted, there are two elements involved in spelling out directions:  the directions themselves (i.e. telling students what you want them to do) and the consequences (i.e. telling students what will happen if they don't follow directions).  Let's look at each element in turn..

  1. Giving Directions
    If there is any doubt in your mind about whether a student is aware of a problem, you should identify it.  (In most cases you will have done so already by ending the action indirectly.)  The next step is to spell out your directions, preferably in positive terms.  As indicated above, giving positive directions ("I want you to start ...") is usually more effective than giving negative ones ("I want you to stop ..."); there is no debate involved, only a clear indication of what you want the student to do now.

    In specifying what you want the student to do, try to indicate an alternative behavior which will take the place of whatever the student has been doing.  Thus, "Tom, stop flicking the lights," is much less effective than "Tom, please sit down and start reading chapter 6 in your book."

    In telling students what you want them to do, it is important to be as polite and generally decent as possible.  No truly effective teacher ever confuses firmness with harshness or rudeness.

  2. Outlining Consequences
    There are often a few students in a class who do not respond to simple directions.  You can speak to them time and time again about troublesome behavior without really resolving the problem.  With such students, you may need to spell out the consequences of further disruption.  If you do this, be sure to state the consequences in terms that make the particular student (rather than you) responsible: not, "If you don't stop talking I'll keep you after school," but "Either you stop talking or you'll have to come in after school today."  While the meaning of both statements is the same, the former makes you the threatening party while the latter treats the student as the person responsible.  

    In selecting consequences, there are two things to keep in mind.  First, try to outline consequences which fit the problem behavior.  Thus, if a student has been talking during a test, you might have him or her come in after school and work quietly; or if a student has persisted in leaving his or her desk a mess, you might have the student come in after class and give the desk a good cleaning.  Second, of course, make sure you can follow through on the consequences you outline.  For example: Fred is a fighter.  You know it.  He fights in the halls, restroom, cafeteria, playground, off campus, and at home.  Fred likes to fight; he usually does well at it, and it is a good attention-getter.  You've learned all this by attending more fully.  There is no way you are going to get Fred to stop fighting, so what should your directions and consequences be?  They must be attainable.  You should certainly not indicate that you may have to call his parents if school policy allows only the administrator to make direct contact with parents.  In other words, don't say it if you can't or won't do it!  Perhaps the best you can do is say, "No more fighting in my room this period (the direction) or I will have to speak to you again (the consequence)."

Following are a few additional guidelines to keep in mind as you spell out directions (and possibly consequences) for your students:

  1. Keep "Grandma's rule" in mind: any behavior in which a student engages can be used to forestall any less desirable behavior; simply have the student perform the more desirable behavior first.  Thus if a student is clowning around out of his seat and you know he enjoys working at the board, you might say, "Jimmy, please come up and show us how you worked this problem."
  2. Don't expect to come up with an ideal solution to every discipline problem immediately.  Promoting consistently good classroom behavior is a lengthy process.  Be ready to accept a partial solution to a problem if it reflects behavior that is somewhat more constructive than the problem behavior.
  3. Watch out for the "criticism trap," i.e., criticizing what a student is doing without specifying what he or she would do and how to do it.  Instead of "You look sloppy!" say, "Try to come in tomorrow looking your very best."  Criticism by itself invariably produces an increase in negative behavior.


The fistfight situation would be a problem requiring the teacher to spell out directions.  The obvious first step must be to end the action.  The teacher can then attend more fully (responding to the students' anger and asking questions) in order to calm them down and get more information.  Finally, the teacher must specify what she or he wants these students to do -- and what not to do!

Another example: Rick arrives late for class, the third time this week.  His teacher ends the action by pointing out that by coming late, he not only misses part of the day's lesson but also interrupts the rest of the class.  She then responds to Rick: "You probably feel pretty embarrassed about getting here late" (Rick's face is red).  And she questions him, discovering in the process that he has been late because he keeps missing the school bus.  

Now the teacher spells out directions: "Rick, I'd like you to set your alarm for 6:30.  That's a half hour earlier than you have been setting it, right?"  If Rick fails to follow her directions, her next step will be to spell out the consequences of his tardiness -- perhaps, "If you're late again, you'll have to stay late that afternoon and write out a good strategy of your own for catching the bus!"

Now Itís Your Turn

Develop several imaginary situations in which you might need to spell out directions for students.  How would you exercise the other options before you spell out directions?  What positive and alternative behaviors could you specify in each case?  When would you need to outline consequences, and when would you avoid doing so?  The answers to these questions will help you master the specific steps involved in spelling out directions for students.  . 

You've Spelled Out Directions, Now What?

Once you've spelled out directions for students, you will need to track their progress.  (see component #5)  This will involve checking to see if they are doing as you asked, providing positive reinforcement whenever possible and (if necessary) following through on the consequences you have outlined.


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"I Am A Teacher"

Themes on Life

A little inspiration for our work...

From The Canadian Teacher

I am a Teacher.

I was born the first moment that a question leaped from the mouth of a child.

I have been many people in many places.

I am Socrates exciting the youth of Athens to discover new ideas through the use of questions.

I am Anne Sullivan tapping out the secrets of the universe into the outstretched hand of Helen Keller.

I am Aesop and Hans Christian Andersen revealing truth through countless stories.

I am Marva Collins fighting fir every child's right to an education.

I am Mary McLeod Bethune building a great college for my people, using orange crates for desks.

And I am Bel Kaufman struggling to go Up The Down Staircase.

The names of those who have practiced my profession ring like a hall of fame for humanity ... Booker T. Washington, Buddha, Confucius, Ralp Waldo Emerson, Leo Buscaglia, Moses and Jesus.

I am also those whose names and faces have long been forgotten but whose lessons and character will always be remembered in the accomplishment of their students.

I have wept for joy at their weddings of former students, laughed with glee at the birth of their children and stood with bowed in grief and confusion by graves dug too soon far too young.

Throughout the course of a day I have been called upon to be an actor, friend, nurse and doctor, coach, finder of lost articles, money lender, taxi driver, psychologist, substitute parent, salesman, politician and keeper of the faith.

Despite the maps, charts, formulas, verbs, stories and books, I have really had nothing to teach, for my students really have only themselves to learn, and I know it takes the whole world to tell you who you are.

I am a paradox. I speak loudest when I listen the most. My greatest gifts are in what I am willing to appreciatively receive from my students.

Material wealth is not one of my goals, but I am a full-time treasure seeker in my quest for new opportunities for my students to use their talents and in my constant search for those talents that sometimes lie buried in self-defeat.

I am the most fortunate of all who labor.

A doctor is allowed to usher life into the world in one magic moment. I am allowed to see that life is reborn each day with new questions, ideas and friendships.

An architect knows if he builds with care, his structure may stand for centuries. A teacher knows that if he builds with love and truth, what he builds will last forever.

I am a warrior, daily doing battle against peer pressure, negativity, fear, conformity, prejudice, ignorance and apathy. But I have great allies: Intelligence, Curiosity, Parental Support, Individuality, Creativity, Faith, Love and Laughter all rush to my banner with indomitable support.

And who do I have to thank for this wonderful life I am so fortunate to experience, but you the public, the parents. For you have done me the great honor to entrust to me your greatest contribution to eternity, your children.

And so I have a past that is rich in memories. I have a present that is challenging, adventurous and fun because I am allowed to spend my days with the future.

I am a teacher ... and I thank God for it every day.

What's New @ StarTeaching?


Welcome to our first April issue.  This month our web partner Tony Vincent shares great tips for connecting an iPad to your TV or projector for presentations.  Mark Benn features an awesome website with educational teaching videos.  And our featured writer Helen de la Maza shares her collection of Rad Resources for Earth Day.

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Day 1 Which coupon will save Mary Ann more money on a hockey stick originally priced at $98 - a
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Day 7 A 5-pound box of grapes costs $20.80. What is the price per ounce?
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Day 9 A 3-gallon bottle of fabric softener costs $25.56. What is the price per quart?
Day 10 A 3-gallon bottle of fabric softener costs $25.56. What is the price per quart?


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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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