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Ideas and Features For New Teachers
and Veterans with Class

Volume 7, Issue 14
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!

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

What's New @ StarTeaching   Why I Teach   NEW! Science Selections: Rad Resources for Science Educators
NEW! Hank Kellner: 
"Write What You See"
Tech/21st Century Corner: 
Education Today: Google Search and Project Based Learning
Maximizing Your Study Time
Science Activities for Any Setting   10 Days of Writing Prompts   10 Days of Math Problems
School Features:
Achievement Gap (part 1)
New Teacher's Niche:
Teacher Directions for Administering Paragraph Writing in Class
Student Teachers' Lounge: Preparing For Your Student Teaching Experience (part 2)
Book of the Month Club:
Reading Essentials: The Specifics You Need To Teach Reading Well
  Website of the Month:
  Themes on Life: 
"Back To School Blues For  Teachers"
Article of the Week: "Airport Terrorism"   Autumn Book Sale for Teachers      

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

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


Would you be interested in becoming a Featured Writer for the StarTeaching website?

Our Newsletter is now posting a opening for a Social Studies / History Writer interested in a monthly column focusing on Historical Events and Education.

Email your resume and letter of interest to:  editor@starteaching.com



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Why I Teach

By: Chris Sura

Chris Sura, upon earning his Bachelor’s at Western Michigan University worked for Central Michigan University in Housing before teaching at River Valley High School. When he moved to Houghton Lake where he currently teaches, Chris completed his Masters in Education at Central Michigan University. A member of the Crossroads Writing Project through Ferris State University, he facilitates a conference on Professional Writing every summer and does online instruction through Kirtland Community College. He is married to Heidi, his wife of twenty years, and has two kids, Christopher and Grace. Chris writes poetry and fiction and has self published a book of poems. 

On a bad day, I have asked myself, “Why do I teach?” It is usually after I have slapped myself in the forehead in frustration. This slap may have prevented me from smacking a student upside the head. Or it may have been due to some new directive from the state. “Why do I teach?” The answer to the question easily outweighs the frustrations.

I teach because I found something I like to do and share. The thing was writing. I recall a discovery of self moment when I was working night shift at a Hotel in Florida. I would spend my own time at my Apple IIe computer (yes, I have just dated myself) tapping out the next greatest science fiction adventure ever. Sure, I did other things; I was in my early twenties and on the Gulf in Ft Myers, but I spent a majority of my time reading, writing and revising a story. So, when my concerned parents indirectly asked me about what I am going to do with my life, I said I was going to write. Their next response was not so indirect, “What are you going to do for a living until you get published?” I remember thinking that writers need to have jobs until they can sustain a living through writing. So, my answer was “I’ll teach.”

It may have been a side door into a good decision. I figured I can take what I know and pass it on. Shortly there after, I applied to Western Michigan University and declared my program for the fifth or sixth time as Education with English major. I found out that I did not know much and learned a great deal and that it was the right choice.

Four years later, I had my degree. I had enjoyed my student teaching, yet I postponed getting into the classroom because I enjoyed the student resident life and became a hall director at Central Michigan University. Thus, another four years later and a few new adventures including marriage and a son, I wandered back into the classroom to teach.

Why I teach has been modified slightly from writing to stories. I do not teach English. I teach stories. I love a good story be it a play, poem, song, novel, short story, novella, news article or yearbook feature. To teach these effectively, I teach writing in all forms from journal entries and short answers to creative works and essays. Good writing is the tool to good stories in any form or genre.

Currently, I teach drama, yearbook, journalism and science fiction and fantasy. I am an adjunct instructor at a local community college where I teach composition, research and writing. I have taught every high school grade level in writing, composition and literature. And it comes back to stories. It comes back to why I teach.

Why I teach is I get to share things I am passionate about. I share my period of over use of a comma (my comma-holic period) and joke about my therapy. I share my love of weird adventures that include heroes, monsters, aliens and other planets. I share my research of Bigfoot (and my twelve year old fear). I share how words combined together can create an awesome picture. I share the tedious struggles needed with research and MLA formatting to establish a unshakeable, thought out research paper. I share well-crafted humor and bad puns. I share the mighty pen and the powerful words.

Yes, I teach stories and writing, and I can spend my day sharing and discussing these things I love. Why I teach is because, like stories and writing, it is challenging, fun and life affirming.



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Feature Writer

Using Photography To Inspire Writing

By Hank Kellner

Hank Kellner is a retired teacher of English who has served as a department chair at the high school level and an adjunct associate professor of English at the community college level.

He is the former publisher of Moneygram, a marketing newsletter for photographer.  He is also the creator of many photographs and articles that have appeared in publications nationwide, the author of extensive reading comprehension materials for a publisher of educational materials, and a former contributor to Darkroom Photography magazine.  His self-syndicated series, Twelve Unknown Heroes of the American Revolution appeared in more than fifty newspapers and magazines nationwide.

Kellner's most recent publication, Write What You See: 99 Photos To Inspire Writing, is marked by Prufrock Press.  His blog appears regularly at hank-englisheducation.blogspot.com.

The purpose of Hank's most recent work, Reflections, is to inspire student writing through the use of poetry and photography.  

Most of the poems and photos have been submitted by students, teachers, and others nationwide, though some are directly from Hank.  Although Reflections has not yet been published, all of its contents are copyrighted.  Teachers are free, however, to download selected contents for use in their classrooms.

Each selection will include a poem, a photograph, a direct quotation, and four trigger words.

We at StarTeaching kindly thank Hank for his permission to use the materials.


by Cynthia Lee Katona

Woman in burka
hands her license to a cop.
Does the picture match?



Photo 15 By Hank Kellner

Bums mutter in streets
“OK baby, yeah,yeah, you bad.”
The words keep them warm.

Photo 15b By Hank Kellner

Human pincushions
Vie with mimes and fire eaters
For smiles and loose change.

Photo 15C by Cynthia Katona

To give us a chance to give,
beggars work non-stop.


Photo 15a by Hank Kellner

Copyright 2009 Hank Kellner

These poem/photo combinations are from Hank Kellner's upcoming publication, Reflections: A Collection of Poetry, Photos, and More.


Hank Kellner is the author of Write What You See: 99 Photos To Inspire Writing. Published by Cottonwood Press ( I-800-864-4297) and distributed by Independent  Publishers Group, Write What You See includes a supplementary CD with photos. 8 ½ x11, 120 pages, perfect binding, ISBN 978-1-877-673-83-2, LCCN 2008938630. $24.95. Available at bookstores, from the publisher,  and on the Internet at www.amazon.com and other websites. Ask your school or local librarian to order it.Visit the author’s blog at http://hank-englisheducation.com. The author will contribute a portion of the royalties earned from the sale of this book to The Wounded Warriors Project.


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:



Guest Writer

Maximizing Your Study Time

By Roger Seip
Memory Training For Students

About the author: Roger Seip is a nationally known memory trainer. His new program, The Student’s Winning Edge - Memory Training, teaches students how to train their memory to study more effectively and get better grades. For more information on how your student can have a more powerful memory visit http://www.memorytrainingforstudents.com 

The daily schedule for many young students today could rival that of several top-level executives. With soccer practice, dance, scouts and clarinet lessons taking up much of the evening, when do students get to focus on their studies?

Too often students get overwhelmed with the amount of work left over at the end of the day. They look at study time in one big sum and get distracted and exhausted before they even begin. To solve this problem, you may not be able to adjust your child’s schedule, but they can change their study techniques. Here are 3 study techniques that will help any student maximize their study time. 

They should start by separating and segmenting their study time. Break it up into smaller bits. No matter how brilliant you are a concentrated attention span lasts only about 20 minutes. So break your 2 or 4 hours study sessions into groups of 15 or 20 minutes. During the break, stand-up, walk around, grab a bit to eat or something to drink and then get back to the grind for another 15 or 20 minutes. This not only helps create spaced repetition, which is crucial for retention, but helps make study sessions less stressful and daunting. 

Another tool to help in maximizing study time is to use random practice. When reviewing lists or concepts don’t go in order. Skip around to force your brain to pull from an entire group of information. This aids in understanding the purpose or meaning behind a concept instead of merely its place in line. The simplest way to implement random practice is through the use of a study partner. 

Use a Study Partner. When at all possible, it is very beneficial to study with another student who shares the same educational goals and motivation. A study partner can help identify areas of weakness and ensure that topics don’t get skipped. It’s also beneficial to witness how another student takes in and stores information. For this reason and others, it is better for the study partner to be another student, but parent don’t be afraid to fill this position. The progress gained from working with a partner is general is worth it. 

Proper and efficient study techniques will follow a student through all levels of education and learning. Establishing good habits and skill sets, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem at the time, will prove to reap massive rewards in the long run. So while little Johnny and Suzy might need their first day planners before the third grade, don’t let it stop them from becoming the best students they can. 



Grand Valley offers a Masters in Educational Leadership in Boyne City and Cadillac. If you would like to find out more about our program feel free to contact me at: jjudge2935@charter.net  or call me at 231-258-2935.

Many of the topics we will present will be for teachers seeking and administration position and for recently appointed administration. I will also receive comments from those who have just completed their first year as administrators. Since the program in Northern began eleven years ago we have placed over 60 GVSU graduates in administration positions.



Student Teachers' Lounge: 
For The Things They Don't Teach You In College

Preparing for Your Student-Teaching Experience 
(part 2)

Your student teaching experience is a very important step in your teaching career.  In fact, your entire outlook on teaching and learning can be affected by your success during this period of your life.  This series of articles will help give you excellent 'insider information' on what they didn't teach you in your college classes.

Being an intern is an interesting position to be in. The university treats you as a student, making you jump through hoops completing projects and meeting deadlines sometimes seeming totally irrelevant to the internship.  The school district you are working in expects you to be a professional educator with all the secrets of innovation and new technologies fresh from the university 'think tank'.  Parents think of you as someone who really doesn't know what they are doing yet and don't understand why you are practicing on their kids.  They are always quick to point out their perceptions of student teachers when a problem arises about grades or behavior.  

Hopefully I will provide you with some practical information presented in a no-nonsense form.

First and foremost, make sure all of your personal chores and plans are in order before you begin your assignment.  Once you start it is vital to focus all of your energy and time into your placement.  Secure your housing well in advance and establish a routine of daily tasks.  Plan to arrive at school early and plan to stay late.  Student teaching is absolutely relentless; you will be exhausted after your first day.  The mental and physical strain is unbelievable .  Make sure all of your details are taken care of in advance;  you don't want anything to interfere with your teaching.  Do create some time for yourself or you will self-destruct.  You need to keep your mind clear in order to make effective teacher decisions.  Plan to have some time each day for your self - it may only be a few minutes, but it is very important.  You may think you don't need it, but all veteran teachers will tell you differently.  

Secondly, be a sponge.  You are new to the profession and regardless of how well your university has prepared you, nothing measures up to being on your own in a classroom.  When the door shuts  for the first time you will know what I am talking about.  Glean as much from your mentor and other teachers as possible, and by all means, don't come across a s an expert.   "Learn from your observations and reflections;  don't be afraid to make mistakes.  As you progress and you become more effective, take risks and try different methodologies and teaching strategies."

You have not paid your dues and therefore you are really not an expert at anything.  Learn from your observations and reflections;  don't be afraid to make mistakes.  As you progress and you become more effective, take risks and try different methodologies and teaching strategies.  By all means keep in close contact with your mentor and always remember - no surprises.  Ask questions before you do something;  your mentor knows the ropes and will offer excellent advice.  Make it your responsibility to learn the routines and specifics of the district and building you are working in.  Don't rely on someone to tell you; find out on your own, take the initiative.  You can learn many things from both effective and ineffective teachers.  Unless asked, keep your opinions to yourself, being new and having all the energy of youth will be a threat to some, so tread lightly.  

If there is any down time in your room, ask your mentor for tasks to accomplish.  Help out anywhere you can.  Ask to take on something difficult and work with your mentor to accomplish it.  Save as many artifacts as possible and use them in your professional portfolio.  Creative lesson plans and examples of student work are excellent things to have.  Ask for feedback and listen and process.  Create an open dialog with your mentor;  remember that is the person who will be called first when a district wants to know about you. Your mentor will be able to talk about strengths and weaknesses, so what do you want to them to say about you?  

Finally, enter the internship with the idea there will be a teaching opening that you will be qualified for in the very building you are student teaching.  Create positive relationships with staff, parents, and students.  You do that by demonstrating professional behavior.  When your internship is completed you want everyone to say - "We would really like to have you become part of our team!"  Prove to people that you are the type of teacher that would be a perfect fit for their district.

School districts are looking for candidates who are 'low maintenance' - teachers who can come into their buildings and have an immediate impact.  Confidence, solid work ethic, and exemplary professional dispositions are words you want people to use to describe you.  Your internship is an excellent place to begin!

Interested in FREE writing activities you can print out and use immediately in your classroom? Simply click the following link to our writing page: http://www.starteaching.com/writing.htm

Be sure to check out our website for the FREE teacher Who-I-Want-To- Be plan and other great Freebies for new teachers. Simply click the following link: http://www.starteaching.com/free.htm



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

Submit Your Articles On Our Website At:   http://www.starteaching.com/submit.htm


  TECH/21st Century CORNER

Google Search and
Project Based Learning

By Mark Benn, Instructional Technologist

Mark Benn earned his B.S. from Western Michigan University and his Elementary Certification from Northern Michigan University.  He is a 20 year teaching veteran of 5th and 6th grade students at Inland Lakes Middle School in Indian River, MI.  He finished his Masters of Integration of Technology from Walden University. 

Prior to teaching, Mark spent 11 years as Department Manager for Sears, Roebuck and Co. dealing with emerging technologies.  He has been married to his wife Bonnietta for 32 years with one daughter and two sons.  In the summers, Mark works for the Mackinac State Historic Parks as a historical interpreter.

In today's world it isn't always about what you know, but more importantly where you found it. That has been called the Google effect. With that understood, are we educating out students today on how to do a more complete search? I doubt it, because we were never taught how to do one. This website, provided by Google, gives lessons on teaching the art of the search.

Project based learning engages students today far more than any lecture will do, but how do you write a good driving question? This blog will help in learning how to write one.





Great BLOGS to read on the changes in the way students learn

Doug Johnson The Blue Skunk Blog
Ian Jukes The Committed Sardine
David Warlick Two Cents Worth
Will Richardson WeBloggEd
Kathy Schrock Kaffeeklatsch
Tony Vincent Learning In Hand



Mark Benn earned his B.S. from Western Michigan University and his Elementary Certification from Northern Michigan University.  He is a 21 year teaching veteran of 5th and 6th grade students at Inland Lakes Middle School in Indian River, MI.  He is currently working on Masters of Integration of Technology from Walden University. 

Prior to teaching, Mark spent 11 years as Department Manager for Sears, Roebuck and Co. dealing with emerging technologies.  He has been married to his wife Bonnietta for 32 years with one daughter and two sons.  In the summers, Mark works for Mackinac State Historic Parks in the as a historical interpreter.

StarTeaching Featured Writer

Mark Benn is a leading expert in using technology in the classroom.  
You can feel free to contact him on email at mbenn@inlandlakes.org or at his blogsite:  http://www.furtrader.blogspot.com/ 

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




 Science Selections  

Rad Resources for 
Science Educators
Back To School

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. The purpose of this new Science Feature in StarTeaching is to help you provide excellent information, media, and lessons to your students that are already available on the web. 

I’ll 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

Focus on Back To School

Our Recent Natural Disasters
http://www.usgs.gov/ (U.S. Geological Survey)
http://www.usgs.gov/blogs/features/2011/08/26/hurricane-science/ (Hurricane Science)
http://www.usgs.gov/blogs/features/2011/08/23/5-8-earthquake-in-virginia/ (Virginia

Many of us throughout the country, especially along the Atlantic Coast, have had a couple rare
events recently that can be used to help our students understand the importance of science. The
recent earthquake, and hurricane, can make for interesting and relevant learning.

Video about the Importance of Science by Music Folks

Great first day of science class video! Help your students gain an understanding of how
importance science is in today’s modern (rockin’) world.

Edible Candle – Great 1st Day Demo.

Engage students in science by having them observe the “lit candle” and then witness you eat it!

Discovery Education

Discovery Education offers a broad range of free classroom resources that complement and extend learning beyond the bell. Foster deeper engagement and opportunities for students to take charge of their own learning with high quality, engaging, relevant tools designed for today’s busy teachers and parents. Explore programs and contests, lesson plans, videos, and more.

Science of Everyday (Discovery Education resource)

Bring the science of everyday life into the classroom.

National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Learning Center

If you want a better understanding of what you teach and how to teach it, the NSTA Learning Center is the place for you. NSTA developed this 24/7, electronic professional development website with your classroom needs and busy schedule in mind.

Demonstrations for Chemistry Teachers

This webpage contains PDFs of several demonstrations. Explore the rest of the site for additional resources!


Be Sure to Check Out 
Our Website Store for Specials:


Achievement Gap
(part 1)

Courtesy of K12Academics.com

An achievement gap refers to the observed disparity on a number of educational measures between the performance of groups of students, especially groups defined by gender, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.

High Performing Minority Learning

Exceptions to the achievement gap exist. Schools that are majority black, even poor, can perform well above national norms, with Whitney Young High School and Davidson Magnet School in Augusta, Georgia being prominent examples. Another school with remarkable gains for students of color is Amistad Academy in New Haven,Connecticut. All of the aforementioned schools generally offer more rigorous, traditional modes of instruction, including Direct Instruction. Direction Instruction was found to be the single most effective pedagogical method for raising the skill levels of inner-city students (Project Follow Through). High performing Black schools are not unique to the twentieth century. In Washington, DC in the late 19th century, a predominantly low income Black school performed higher than three White schools in yearly testing. This trend continued until the mid 20th century, and during that time the M Street School exceeded national norms on standardized tests.

Social researchers Carl L. Bankston III and Stephen J. Caldas have argued that the achievement gap, rather than overt racism, is the main source of continuing school segregation in the United States. In their books, A Troubled Dream: The Promise and Failure of School Desegregation in Louisiana (2002) and Forced to Fail: The Paradox of School Desegregation (2005), they maintain that students benefit academically from going to school with relatively high-achieving schoolmates and are academically disadvantaged when they have relatively low-achieving schoolmates. Therefore, a racial gap in achievement means that even parents without racial prejudices tend to avoid sending their children to schools with large percentages of minority students

Low Income/Minority

It most often describes the issue of low-income/minority education in the United States; that is, that Blacks and Latinos and students from poor families perform worse in school than their well-off White and Asian peers. SAT scores broken down by family income show when students have similar family incomes, Black and Latino students still score lower than Whites, and Whites score lower than Asians with similar incomes.

The achievement gap can be observed on a variety of measures, including standardized test scores, grade point average, dropout rates, and college-enrollment and -completion rates. Explanations for the phenomenon -- and levels of concern over its existence -- vary widely, and are the source of much controversy, especially since the effort to "close the achievement gap" has become some of the more politically prominent education reform issues.

Look for more in next issue's part 2


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


Now Available!

Year of the Dogman Website
Now Available!

Tales From Dogman Country Website
Now Available!

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

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

Teacher Directions for Administering 
Paragraph Writing in Class

We like to present the steps for new teachers to administer the basic paragraph writing in class.  As you gain experience, you will undoubtedly tweak these procedures to fit you own style. 

1.        Announce to the class that they will be writing a basic Paragraph.  By saying this, they already know the format of HOW they will be writing and have a basic understanding of WHAT is expected of them during this time.

  2.        Have students get out a regular, lined piece of paper.  They can put their NAME in the upper RIGHT CORNER, and write FCA in the upper LEFT CORNER. 

  3.        Put up the topic for the paragraph on the board or overhead.  Students will COPY THE TOPIC at the TOP CENTER of the paper, between the FCA and their NAME.

  4.        Once you reveal the FCAs for the paper, have students copy them down exactly under the FCA (top left corner).  If they don’t tell you what to grade on their paper (by writing the FCA) you don’t have to grade the paper!

  5.        You may wish to explain or give more information about the topic.  You can have class discussion if you wish, or just have the students start working.

  6.        Students begin with BRAINSTORMING ideas at the top middle of the paper, just below the topic.  Students are required to include  AT LEAST 8 pieces of information (or more depending on the teacher and/or topic).  This can be done in a WEB, LIST, or OUTLINE (again depends on the teacher and/or topic). 

  7.        Once the BRAINSTORMING has been completed, students ORGANIZE these items by order of importance (or some other type of order determined by teacher and/or topic).  We usually number them from 1-8, 1 the most important to 8 the least important.  This will then determine the organization for the paragraph, so students have a plan for writing.

  8.        The teacher walks around checking progress and answering questions.  Once the students have finished their BRAINSTORMING and ORGANIZING (web/list/outline of 8 items which are numbered for importance), teacher will give the paper a CHECKMARK at the top indicating that the BRAINSTORMING and ORGANIZING is finished.  Check each paper to see that the proper format is achieved (see above). 

  9.        At this point (ONLY WHEN THE PAPER HAS A CHECK MARK) the students may begin writing their paragraph. 

  10.     Continue to walk around checking progress and answering questions.  There should be NO TALKING.  Give a lot of positive reinforcement and praise.  Remind them of how good writers they are. 

  11.     When students have finished, they should SELF CHECK their paper for mistakes, banned words, spelling, etc.  Students should also see that they covered all of the FCAs.  They then give themselves a score (out of 20 points) at the top, and turn the paragraph in.

12.     All paragraphs must be turned in at the end of the hour.  DO NOT LET THEM GO HOME OR GIVE ADDITIONAL TIME.  This is to practice for the time limits of the MEAP test.  Keep the pressure on!


Interested in FREE writing activities you can print out and use immediate
ly in your classroom? Simply click the following link to our writing page: http://www.starteaching.com/writing.htm

Be sure to check out our website for the FREE teacher Who-I-Want-To- Be plan and other great Freebies for new teachers. Simply click the following link: http://www.starteaching.com/free.htm

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

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



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Are There Other Teachers in Your School or District Who Would Love to Receive Our Newsletter?

Be sure to pass along our website and newsletter!

"Back To School Blues For Teachers"

by Heather Skipworth Craven 
Heather's Bells, August 2005

Themes on Life

As the school year begins, we reflect on where our summer went...

Oh where did the summer go, it's lazy days all too soon slipped away,
Didn't I just pack up my classroom and strip the walls bare in silence lay?
Vacation seemed to pass so quickly and the new school year looms in view.
I'm getting a migraine just thinking of all the things to do.

I think fondly of beaches, clear blue water and white sand
Of sunsets and picnics and picturesque lands.
But I quickly snap back as I make my list of things to do,
My brain is so taxed as I think this new year through.

Time to unpack, stock and plan lessons without end,
Do bulletins boards, centers, and write letters to send.
I'm pulled away by meetings and workshops to bear,
I'm bombarded with papers and agendas to share.

I need desperately to work in my classroom, my nerves to steady,
My room is a disaster, for that ominous first day, will I EVER be ready?
Time to think of each new student and what new experiences they will bring,
I'm getting that all too familiar excitement when I hear the school bells ring.

And even though I'm exhausted already, and knee deep in paper and books,
I imagine the first day with all the anticipation and nervous looks.
I can put aside all the hours and hours I prepare,
And think of these bright minds that I'll open with care.

Just maybe I'm getting that teaching passion anew,
And amidst all the yet million things to do,
I yearn for the difference I'll make in each life,
I put aside my weariness and my overwhelming strife.

And I look to this new year as fresh and alive,
With possibilities to make great strides.
So I persevere and push on with all the preparations,
I slog through the posters, the folders and decorations.

To welcome my students into a haven of learning,
To open my arms and meet each yearning.
Yes, I miss vacation and the endless summer sun,
But I look forward to each young life, so my quest has begun.

- Heather Skipworth Craven, Heather's Bells, August 2005

What's New @ StarTeaching?


Hello readers!  Welcome to your second August issue of Features For Teachers for 2011, the first of our Back-To-Back, Back-To-School issues!   

This month, we bring another great poetry/photograph selection from Hank Kellner from his upcoming book, Reflections. We also feature some excellent Back-To-School science resources by Helen de la Maza, and a few excellent tech websites from Mark Benn

You'll also find great articles from feature writers Chris Sura, Dr. Peter Manute, and guest writer Roger Seip.

As always, we have free activities (from Mary Ann Graziani and Frank Holes Jr.) and articles with practical ideas and techniques to be applied directly into your classroom.   

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Day 1 Grace bought 4 bags of candy. There were 34 pieces of candy in each bag. How many pieces of
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