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Ideas and Features For New Teachers
and Veterans with Class

Volume 7, Issue 15
August 2011
StarTeaching Store Advertise with us Previous Articles Submit an Article FREE Reports Feature Writers Tech Center New Teacher's Niche

Our Back-To-Back, Back-To-School Issues, packed with excellent articles on getting yourself and your students back into school mode! 

Look for August Issue 16 and September Issue 17, coming soon

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

What's New @ StarTeaching   Tech Corner: Communication Today   Where To Find That Job
NEW! Tony Vincent's Blog: Interesting Way to Protect Your Tablet: iBallz Teaching Literacy to ESOL Learners Themes on Life: 
"September Poems"
Science Activities for Any Setting   10 Days of Writing Prompts   10 Days of Math Problems
School Features:
Single Sex Education (part 3)
New Teacher's Niche:
The Writing Process: Second Day of Class Writing Assignment
Student Teachers' Lounge: Preparing For Your Student Teaching Experience (part 1)
Book of the Month Club:
Reading Essentials: The Specifics You Need To Teach Reading Well
  Website of the Month:
  Article of the Week: "Do Cell Phones Cause Cancer?"

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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Feature Writer

Where to Find that Job!

By Dr. Peter Manute., Educational Consultant

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 at:

This is the second in a series of informational articles focusing on finding that first teaching job. 

The key ingredient in any endeavor is being adequately prepared. In other words develop an action plan. A properly developed plan will help you stay organized and can help deal effectively with a crisis or unforeseen situation.
Chances are you have already invested an enormous amount of money in your education. Now, you are taking the next step – expanding your investment to the next level. Once you sign your contract your investment will begin to pay big dividends!

First and foremost, quality time and energy needs to be available to collect and prepare the necessary and appropriate materials that will comprise your professional portfolio. It is amazing how much time this actually takes. The next article in this series will focus on the make-up of your portfolio.

Secondly, knowledge of where jobs are is vital. There are many excellent sources including College and University Placement Offices that publish weekly bulletins that are also available on line. There usually is a charge for these services, around $25.00. There are other sources as you will discover including personal contacts. A good idea is to begin a data base of contacts.

Once you have your materials ready and have actually applied, you will need to be flexible. Openings can occur at any time, even during the school year and often a week before school actually begins. Usually jobs come in waves. Around January and February, retirements are announced and districts begin to plan for the next year. Budgets are developed and positions become available. Job Fairs take place in the spring and provide an excellent opportunity to develop contacts and practice interviewing skills. Many of those contacts lead to jobs immediately or later on. Don’t be discouraged about the long lines; be ready when it’s your turn.

After the first wave of jobs are filled come the summer openings. Some districts, due to budget constraints, won’t know their financial situation until June or July. In some cases, these schools may choose not to replace retiring teachers in an attempt to save money. And, as stated earlier, some districts won’t be able to make a decision on hiring until August. Don’t get discouraged if you are not selected immediately. In many cases you will send out many letters only to receive a rejection letter in reply. The same holds true after an interview when you wait patiently by the telephone or mailbox. In most instances if you make it past the first round of interviews (usually there will be at least 2 and more often 3) you will be called immediately. 

Schools involved in the hiring process usually want to get it completed thoroughly and in a timely manner. During your interview you will be told (if not, it is a good question to ask) about the district’s timelines.

If not contacted within couple of days by telephone, chances are you will not be included in the second round and will be notified by mail. There are some districts, though few who don’t respond at all. Don’t despair, the contacts you made during your interview can actually lead to other jobs even in the same school!

Part of being flexible means when you get your call you are able to travel. This may involve taking time off work and you will need to have adequate resources. These include transportation, travel money, clothing and other incidentals. Keep in mind these are expenses that are going to be necessary to launch your professional career and will pay off.


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Interesting Way to Protect Your Tablet: iBallz

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.

There are a lot of interesting accessories for mobile devices and iBallz is certainly one of them. iBallz is designed for iPad 1 and 2 but also fits other similar-sized tablets. Made by Friendly Integration LLC, iBallz offers protection by placing a styrofoam ball at each corner of a device.

The balls are kept in place by a tight elastic rope, which Friendly Integration suggests can be used for handling your device. Besides protection from drops, iBallz says it can offer protection from liquid spills because the device is safely suspended above any table.

Friendly Integration sent me a set of iBallz to review. I'm all for innovative designs, but I don't keep iBallz on my personal iPad because it looks silly. However, I think that iBallz could be a nice solution for all those iPad-using toddlers (and less expensive than more fun or more durable cases). With the availability of bright colors, iBallz really do seem like an accessory for kids. I think their newer Minis look slightly less comical.

I found it challenging to put iBallz on my iPad. However, once in place, they remained tightly on my iPad. I also put iBallz on my Acer Iconia Android tablet. It's a thicker tablet and iBallz sometimes slipped off.

Friendly Integration has a line of cases and sleeves that are made to accommodate an iPad with iBallz. It makes me giggle to see iBallz sticking out of the corners.

Read more about iBallz at iballz.info.

A couple of other interesting accessories include earbud cable management that looks like an apple's core and a stand for iPad so that you don't have to to hold it.



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 1)

This is the first 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.

There are many questions you'll want to pose to yourself far in advance of your student teaching experience. It is important to think carefully about them, as they will help to guide the actions and decisions you make. What kind of teacher do you want to become? Are there other teachers who have been a positive influence on you? Who have been your role models? Are there teachers you've had whose style you want to emulate? Are there teachers you know you don't want to be like? What has worked for some teachers that you want to implement in your own practice?

Who do you see yourself as? What style will you create for your own teaching? How will you balance the subject matter with the care for kids? How do you want the students to see you? How do you want your students to remember you five, ten, or twenty years later on? Will they remember you as a positive influence on them? Could you potentially change their lives?

Create a plan to become your dream. Do it now. Talk with teachers you admire and respect: those you want to model yourself after. Discuss the techniques and ideas that work for them, and use or adapt what you feel is useful. You can also check out the FREE teacher "Who I Want To Be" inventory available on our website. It gives ideas, provides guidance, and helps to create a plan for starting out on your teaching career.

Click here for the "Who I Want To Be" plan:

Meeting your mentor teacher as early as possible is very important.  The two of you must form a bond, a cohesive unit in the classroom.  Your co-op teacher will become the most important contact for this point in your career. They provide you not only with support, guidance, and structure, but also critique. Your co-op teacher's evaluation and recommendation is vital to your resume and to interviewing.

Planning will become very important to every aspect of your life, from school to your personal life. One huge difference is planning for class. Not anymore are you just setting up an activity or a day's lesson plan. Now you must think in terms of the long haul. It becomes a campaign where you must have an overall picture of what you'll cover with your students.

Also within this overall framework, you must have weekly and then daily plans. You'll also have to reflect daily and adjust and (re- adjust) your plans depending upon how each lesson or activity goes (or doesn't go!) The daily grind is often interrupted by school-wide activities, fire drills, and those 'teachable moments' that happen on the spur of the moment. You'll need to be flexible and able to adapt on a daily (or even hourly) basis. But that's a part of teaching!

Another concern many new teachers and student teachers have is becoming involved in extra-curricular activities. There are several ways to look at this. First, it is a good idea to become involved in extra-curriculars at your school. These are good resume' builders, and your involvement shows potential employers you are a team player and willing to go the extra mile for your school and job. Extra curriculars also set you up in a new and different relationship with those students. They are able to see you in a different role too, and many times you're able to create in-roads with students whom you might not otherwise make a connection. Of course, taking part in extra-curriculars means more time and efforts put in, especially when you're already pulled in all directions. However, it is in your best interest to find an activity you can join, even if just as an assistant.

You will also need to carefully plan your personal time while student teaching. In addition to the increased teaching and planning load, your time will be further divided by your college, which undoubtedly has course work or projects for you to accomplish. There are always hoops to jump through. If you have a family, you'll be pulled in even more directions as you find the new balance between home and work.

Our next articles will focus on the duties of student teachers, including observing, team teaching, and flying solo. We'll get you started in becoming accustomed to your class and school, and what specific steps you can take right now and this summer to prepare.


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

Do You Have Great Ideas, Tips, or Techniques to Share with Our Readers?  
Are You Looking To Be Published?

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  Tech / 21st Century Teaching Corner

Communication Today
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.

What is communication today, and has it changed? Do we, as educators, need to adjust our thinking, or continue to teach the same things we learned when we were young? Do students of today approach it the same way as we do? To find out the answers to these questions, we need to look at what today's students do to communicate.

Text messaging has become one of the most popular ways for students to communicate. It has a language of its own such as r for our and u for you. This form of communication happens anywhere they want through cell phones or computers. It can happen anywhere and at any time.

We need to decide how to handle it. Should we control it or make adjustments in our classes to integrate it into what we do? We live in the midst of a changing world, probably similar to what people felt like when the industrial revolution came along. This change takes a number of years as everyone adjusts. If we are going to prepare the students for their world we need to make some changes in our present world.

We grew up with communication being letter writing and phone calls. Today we have e-mail, cell phones, text messaging, blogging, podcasting, video podcasting, video conferencing, and who knows what else around the corner.

In the past, to become an author, you had to get a book or article published by a publisher. Today, anyone can publish on the internet. To make movies you had to be a professional. Now anyone can make a movie with easy to use software and upload it to the web.

So what does this mean to us as educators? Can we continue to do things the same old way, or is it time that education took a leading role in preparing students for their future? It might take a learning curve on our part, but if students are suppose to learn to be life long learners, we should become their role models.

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




  StarTeaching Feature Writer

Teaching Literacy to ESOL Learners

by Christine Riggan

Twenty three of my twenty five years of teaching in public schools was with ESOL students from all over the world—from Asia to South America to the Middle East . At one point I had students who spoke thirteen different languages in my classroom, in addition to the English-only speaking students. My job was to teach them English; and to teach them to read and write, learn math, science, social studies, etc. on top of the challenge of learning another language.

You may believe that I started out trained, certified, and with some experience with ESOL kids, or different cultures, but you would be incorrect. My first experience occurred in the second year of my teaching career when the Hispanic Kindergarten teacher next to me came to my room, and asked me to take the new student assigned to her class. He spoke only Japanese. She said, “I teach Spanish. I don’t know what to do with him.” Of course, neither did I, but I took him anyway.

I had no teaching experience with other cultures, or teaching English to others, but I had always loved history, cultures, and languages and their people. I taught the young boy that year for Kindergarten and his younger brother the following year, and learned “by the seat of my pants”. His parent invited me to dinner before they left to return to Japan . One valuable thing I learned about Japanese culture: Don’t eat everything on your plate. It means that they haven’t fed you enough food. Of course, to Americans it is meant as a compliment to the hostess. So therein lies the conundrum for cultural misunderstanding, and a good laugh, if everyone has a good sense of humor. These same parents have sent me a Christmas card faithfully for twenty years.  

Later, the next year, my district paid for twelve additional college course hours for my training in linguistics. I received my certification through training, not a test. To be fair to the district I worked in, they had little to no experience with ESOL students and their families. But when faced with an influx of students, they did the right thing and paid for training for their teachers. As unprepared and as untrained as I was initially, some situations I see occurring now are even worse. Usually they begin with districts unwilling to spend the money and time on training and preparing teachers properly, and teachers resentful of the extra burden from students who may need more than the teacher can supply.

Additionally, even though there is additional work, preparation, and training required for ESOL teachers, few teachers receive stipends. I have even heard some ridiculous folks say “Anyone can teach ESOL. It is simply good teaching.”

No, not just anyone can teach ESOL. It demands training and preparation. You needed a certified math teacher for your math classes; you need trained and certified personnel for one of the most important jobs in public school: teaching English and literacy.

So I will offer to you my Five Principles of Teaching ESOL Students, gained from twenty plus years working with these students and their families, my training, and my professional development and reading. This is certainly the short and sweet version—honed down for this article.  


FIRST PRINCIPLE: Remember that they are scared to death, may cry, may vomit, tremble, run away, throw temper tantrums, or not speak for a year, OR MORE. You get the idea.


1.      Be loving, patient, welcoming, smile, and be friendly.

2.      Discuss compassion and empathy with your students beforehand.

3.      Create a learning environment that encourages success for everyone.

4.      Help them make friends.

5.      80% of communication is nonverbal, so you can communicate. Use nodding heads, hand signs, pictures, mime.

6.      If you resent the child, (or the extra work he/she requires) he/she will know.

7.      Art and drawing are the first written universal languages of communication--begin there, and use it as a tool to gaining language.

8.      Play, fun, games, and laughter are universal childhood pathways to learning--

       be smart and use them to your advantage to teach ESOL learners.

SECOND PRINCIPLE: Fear can paralyze anyone. Risk for a child might mean shame and humiliation in front of their friends, peers, family, and teacher, or school.


1.      Keep the task small, manageable, and successful. (90% successful-10% risk- especially at first)

2.      Nodding approval, smiling, “good job”, clapping, etc. show approval and offer reward and success for students. Most of them want to learn and are desperate for approval.

3.      Create a low-risk classroom where risks are encouraged and applauded, failures are minimized as paths to learning, and everyone helps each other learn, by respecting the process and each other.

4.      Encourage collaborative learning. It lightens your load and creates synergy for learning. Learning is then the responsibility of everyone, and everyone is responsible for each other’s learning. Besides, remember the adage that the best way to learn something is to teach it?

THIRD PRINCIPLE: Teach vocabulary, writing, and reading together and keep it simple.


  1. Gather teaching materials that help illustrate words and their meanings. Real objects are terrific. Models of the real thing work too. For example, it is fun to bring real food to school when you do the food unit.
  2. Pictures (realistic and in the correct color) with the matching word are essential tools to do your job. As are writing materials-paper and pencils, markers, crayons, notebooks.
  3. Dictionaries with pictures and words, and simple reading materials are also necessary. Use simply written books with either one word per page or one simple sentence per page.
  4. Start with a thematic unit that is universal—family, body parts, colors, food, transportation, animals, numbers, and the alphabet. I start with the family and the family names.
  5. Spend as much time as it takes to master the concept. Language learning occurs constantly, but usually silently. But then it may begin all at once like an avalanche. Be patient. Encourage speaking, by modeling. Speaking slowly and clearly, but naturally. Don’t try to force them to speak.  On this vein, make sure that you are speaking Standard English correctly. Do not use slang, or idiomatic expressions, and keep drawls to a minimum. Please do not use “fixin’ or getin’”. Students--all students--are hearing and learning English from you. While no one wants a teacher so prim and proper he/she can’t relax, nevertheless, remember that you are their model for many things.
  6. Teach them how to write and say their name first. Then work on a simple repetitive sentence. i.e.  I see my mom. I see my dad, brother, sister, grandma, grandpa, dog, baby brother/sister, aunt, uncle. Draw and illustrate one to a page and assemble into a book.
  7. Keep the books at school in a safe place for them to use as a source for spelling and as examples of vocabulary development. This will allow for transference to other sentence structures such as:  I see a tree, a house, a school.
  8. Over time, you will have created dictionaries for learning (colored and illustrated) evidence of teaching, learning and mastery for anyone to examine or view; and definitions of progress and growth.

FOURTH PRINCIPLE: Learning the alphabet, phonic sounds, and how to combine those sounds into simple words is a basic foundation for linguistic mastery. Spelling simple words (from word families) is essential to reading, writing, and speaking English. I recommend that you read Richard Gentry’s “Teaching Kids to Spell” for valuable information on this. 

  1. Pull your ESOL kids for ten minutes daily-- devoted to building background for learning, developing vocabulary, and reading.
  2. They should write and read every day.
  3. Ask for help from the administration, and accept help if it is offered. If parents or an assistant teacher offers to help, let them work with the most needy students.
  4. Sometimes the most at-risk English speaking kids are also in need of extra help with vocabulary, sentence structure, phonics mastery, spelling, and reading and writing skills. Consider how you could expand your lesson to subtlety include more students who may need it.

FIFTH PRINCIPLE: Be respectful in every way of other cultures, their customs, beliefs and values, or food, especially when they differ from yours, the schools, or even the United States .


  1. Learn something about the cultures of the students you are teaching.
  2. Many cultures teach their children to never look adults in the eyes.
  3. Many cultures do not like to shake hands. A slight bow or a nod may acknowledge one another.
  4. Some cultures find it highly offensive to touch their child’s head. Safe advice is to not touch any child anyway.
  5. Food is culture specific. Teach your American kids manners about civility when eating together. No offensive comments like “Ew! That’s gross or disgusting!”
  6. Discuss cultural preferences with respect and an interest in learning. I have found that most Americans have a great deal to learn about the history, contributions, and value of other countries and cultures.
  7. Encourage some cultural experience days when your class might learn a dance, new words in another language, or taste food from a different culture.
  8. Advocate respect for other cultures with your fellow teachers, other students in the school community, and the community at large. It seems ridiculous to me to argue whether it is proper for women to wear their head covered. Generally speaking, I have found that the more respect you evidence for other cultures, the more respect you will receive for your own, and this will allow honest communication and clearer understanding between cultures.

My experience with other cultures and ESOL students has been one of the greatest rewards of my teaching career. I have learned so much, and my experiences have deepened my interests in all cultures and their histories. The more I have learned about other people and their history, the more respect I feel for different cultures; and it helps me realize that America could learn something of value from all people. I suggest that if you have the opportunity to teach ESOL students, that you try it, and see if it is not one of the greatest rewards of your life.


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Single Sex Education
(part 3)

Courtesy of K12Academics.com

Single-sex education is the practice of conducting education where male and female students attend separate classes or in separate buildings or schools. The practice was predominant before the mid-twentieth century, particularly in secondary education and higher education. Single-sex education is often advocated on the basis of tradition, as well as religious or cultural values. It is practiced in many parts of the world. A number of studies starting in the 1990s are showing statistical data that children from single-sex schools are outperforming students from coeducational schools, although some studies also say that these are non-conclusive. In 2002, because of these studies and bipartisan support, the US law of 1972 was revoked and funding was given in support of the single-sex option. There are now associations of parents who are advocating for single-sex education.


Many supporters of single-sex education hold that it can help students learn more effectively.

Several studies show that single-sex groupings deliver advantages to students. Dr Rowe, a Principal Research Fellow at the Australian Council for Educational Research, presented the VCE Data Project – a population study of 270,000 Year 12 students’ achievements on 53 subjects of the Victorian Certificate of Education over a 6-year period (1994-1999). The findings indicated that after adjusting for measures of students’ ‘abilities’ and school sector (government, Catholic and independent), the achievements of boys and girls in single-sex environments were, on average, 15-22 percentile TER ranks higher than the achievements of their counterparts in co-educational settings.

According to defenders of coeducation, segregated learning facilities are inherently unequal. System bias will reinforce gender stereotypes and perpetuate societal inequalities in opportunities afforded to males and females. Single-sex schools in fact accentuate gender-based educational limitations and discrimination. Boys' schools do not offer cheerleading or home economics classes, while girls' schools do not offer football or wood shop.

However, gender roles can be subverted in a single-sex environment; boys will be more likely to pursue the arts, and girls more likely to pursue math and science. Margrét Pála Ólafsdóttir, an Icelandic educator who introduced single-sex kindergarten to Iceland in 1989, stated: "Both sexes seek tasks they know. They select behavior they know and consider appropriate for their sex. In mixed [i.e. coed] schools, each sex monopolizes its sex-stereotyped tasks and behavior so the sex that really needs to practice new things never gets the opportunity. Thus, mixed-sex schools support and increase the old traditional roles." In one school which shifted from coeducation to single sex education, the girls who once didn't want to take up playing the trumpet, took courage to take it up in the single sex system and became very good at it.

Without the presence of the opposite sex, students will be less distracted from their academics.

Female graduates of single-sex schools go on to achieve greatness in typically male-dominated careers and statistically obtain more high-ranking positions in Fortune 1000 companies than girls who were educated in a co-educational setting.



Article courtesy of K12Academics.com



MythMichigan Books
Novels by Frank Holes, Jr.

Dogman’s Back!

 A masterful blend of science fiction, fantasy, and folklore, the DOGMAN EPOCH: SHADOW and FLAME 
is an epic tale in its own era, stretching from the present day to far beyond 
the history of humanity.


Tying the Dogman legend to the 2012 Mayan doomsday prophesy, a secret governmental agency races to solve 
the ancient puzzle and save the world 
from destruction, all the while 
dodging a hidden enemy…


10,000 years in the past, the Nagual and their sorcerer chieftain begin their conquest of the native civilizations. Can the great Guardians stand against the evil onslaught, or will the looming end of the Third Age of the Sun prove the downfall of humanity?

Welcome to Dogman Country!

Now Available!

Click Here For
Dogman Epoch: Shadow and Flame Website


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Year of the Dogman Website
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Tales From Dogman Country Website
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Nagual: Dawn of the Dogmen Website 
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Haunting of Sigma Website
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

The Writing Process,
Second Day of Class Writing Assignment

Once the hectic pace of the first day of school is over, you'll want to get your students off and writing 'on the right foot'. We begin the second day of class with a writing assignment / activity that will give me an idea of where the students are in terms of their understanding of the writing process.

Our school uses a common writing program that increases in complexity at each grade level. The teachers use common terminology and formats for paragraphs which are the basis of our drafting. Thus, I know they will have a bit of familiarity with the process. However, even if you are teaching 'on an island' without any class or grade continuity, this activity will allow you to assess your students understanding of the writing process and set them up for the teaching of your expectations for writing paragraphs.

I've put this activity onto an overhead sheet so I can use it each year. At the top are the writing directions: "Write a paragraph describing one of the most important things you learned over the summer. No talking, and no questions." The directions are specific enough that I want a paragraph written, not a page or a few sentences. And the topic is broad enough that everyone can think of something to write about. However, it is just vague enough that students must use their best judgment to decide exactly HOW to structure the writing and how long it should be.

I tell the kids there is no right or wrong way to do this assignment, and there is no right or wrong response to the prompt. In fact, the only wrong thing that can be done is just to NOT write anything at all. This explanation will help most of your students get started right away. If a student is sitting idle for more than a minute, I'll remind them that this is a writing activity, not a thinking activity. They need to get started writing, or I'll assign them a disciplinary paragraph to copy. That's usually enough to get them going.

Undoubtedly you will have some students who seem stumped on this, or will want to ask questions of you. Stand firm on the 'no questions', and let them figure it out for themselves. If you give in now, these same students will rely on you the entire year. You want them to become good thinkers and problem solvers. Let them do it!

We usually give students about ten minutes to write. Although this is less than normal, it's just enough to get them on the right track and enough for you to see if they have any idea what they're doing.

Once the time is up, each student draws a line across his/her paper right under the paragraph. I then uncover the second part of the activity. Students must now "write down THREE rules, guidelines, or expectations they have learned about writing paragraphs." After these are written down, the students prioritize them, the most important labeled #1, and so forth. These provide excellent prompts for class discussions, which is next. We look to affirm correct ideas, and dispel the wrong ones. Then the students draw another line across the page.

Lastly, the students number their page #1-5, and write in their responses to four questions I pose for them. We then discuss their answers, and I'm able to evaluate what they know and what they think they know about paragraph writing.

Again, these help me to see what knowledge the students bring to class, and how closely they are to our class's writing expectations.

The last thing we do is a bit of self-editing. The students are to underline their topic sentences and clincher statements and number their three supporting statements (just imagine their surprise if any realize they didn't write these down!) This also makes for great conversation.

Now they're ready to learn the rules, procedures, and expectations for the formatting of a paragraph in this class. I have these on an overhead sheet and also on a PowerPoint presentation. Both have a note sheet so students can write down the information as it is presented. They quickly learn the rules and expectations I have for the formatting and writing of their paragraphs.


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

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"September Poems"
Themes on Life

Time for a little humor...


The breezes taste
Of apple peel.
The air is full
Of smells to feel-
Ripe fruit, old footballs,
Burning brush
New books, erasers,
Chalk, and such.
The bee, his hive
Well-honeyed hum
And Mother cuts
Like plates washed clean
With suds, the days
Are polished with
A morning haze.

- John Updike


Down! Down!
Down, down!
Yellow and brown
The leaves are falling
Over the town.

September is a time
Of beginning for all,
Beginning of school
Beginning of fall.

The sunflower children
Nod to the sun.
Summer is over,
Fall has begun!

The leaves are falling
One by one.
Summer's over
School's begun.

Off to school
We go together
In September's
Sunny weather.


"Come, little leaves," said the wind one day,
"Come o'er the meadows with me and play:
Put on your dresses of red and gold -
For summer is gone and the days grow cold."


What's New @ StarTeaching?


Welcome to our first August issue.  Starting with the next issue, we will present our two part Back-To-School set of newsletters. 

This month our web partner Tony Vincent shares a great new apparatus for the iPad2.  Dr. Manute is back with the second in a series on finding that first job.  And our tech writer Mark Benn discusses the change in communication today.

Look for more real math problems from Mary Ann Graziani, Article of the Week from Frank Holes, Jr., and great teaching ideas for great teachers everywhere.  Be sure to join up on our FACEBOOK page for StarTeaching for more reader interaction as well as constant, updated streams of educational information.  

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



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Paragraph Graphic Organizer



"We are all inventors, each sailing out on a voyage of discovery, guided each by a private chart, of which there is no duplicate. The world is all gates, all opportunities."

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

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World Education
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World Education
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Student Teachers and 
Job Finding
Kim Taylor-DiLeva:
Sign Language
Christina Riggan:
School Features
Michael Kett: 
Magic in the Classroom






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Click to see over 1000 prompts

10 Days Of


How can you prepare yourself now for the first day of school?


What are FIVE important things you have to do to be ready for the first day of school?


Describe the BEST first day of school you've had.


Describe the WORST or HARDEST first day of school you've had.


What is one goal you have for the first day of school this year?


What items do you need to purchase to start the school year?


Write a story or poem about the first day of school.


What are TWO things you can still do between now and when school starts?


What class are you looking forward to the most this year?  Why?.


 What friends do you hope to see at school this year?  Why?

Click to see over 1000 prompts


10 days of writing prompts


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Writing Process Articles

Check out the entire collection of writing articles, including:
* Paragraph Writing
* Essay Writing
* Journaling
* FREE printables you can use!




Be sure to check out our

Reading Essentials: The Specifics You Need To Teach Reading Well

by Regie Routman



Coming Soon:

More Article of the Week

Technology & Teaching: Seamless Integration into Curriculum

Writing Process and Programs

Classroom Management


Are You Looking For a Teaching Job?

Need a position in a K-12 school, administration, or a coaching job?  Our website has just gained access to a specialized service just for our members and newsletter readers.  Job listings, application and interviewing tips, and priceless information, at your fingertips!

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10 Days of 
Math Problems
by Mary Ann Graziani

Day 1 Adding/Subtracting Decimals:

0.6 – 1.4 =

Day 2 Adding/Subtracting Decimals:

0.33 + 0.75 =

Day 3 Adding/Subtracting Decimals:

0.9 + 0.47 =

Day 4 Adding/Subtracting Decimals:

0.7 – 0.15 =

Day 5 Adding/Subtracting Decimals:

7.1– 6.2 =

Day 6 Adding/Subtracting Decimals:

15.7 –  13.2 =

Day 7 Adding/Subtracting Decimals:

0.3 + 0.52 =

Day 8 Adding/Subtracting Decimals:

4.2 + 7.12 =

Day 9 Adding/Subtracting Decimals:

10.4 –  4.9 =

Day 10 Adding/Subtracting Decimals:

12.3 –  9.8 =


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




Tech-Ed Articles

Check out our entire collection of technology articles, including:
* 21st Century Learning
* Integrating Technology
* Computer Literacy
* REAL activities you can use!




Science Activities For Any Setting
By Helen de la Maza
Boat Buoyancy
(click for PDF)

(click for PDF)

Click HERE to see all of 
Helen's Science Activities


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Inspirational Quotes
& Photos

Check out our entire collection of inspirational quotes and photos from our 5 years of newsletters.  




The American Scholar.org




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.


Article of the Week
"Do Cell Phones Cause Cancer?"
Click here to download the PDF
"Michigan Urban Legends"
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