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What is Your
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.
You can visit Chris at his
A new year begins. This is the time we take on resolutions or goals in the areas of self-improvement, finances or accomplishments. As teachers, many of us take on resolutions at the
beginning of the school year: “This year I will use more technology, try out a new strategy or read more
professional articles in the field.” But how about your resolution as a writer? What are your writing
Writing is many things for many of us, and since writing is a cross-curricular tool of thinking,
reporting, processing and assessing, writing needs to be on our list. And I have a great suggestion for
following through on that resolution.
As you may have read, I am a fellow of the Crossroads Writing Project. This is a local, university
affiliated branch of the National Writing Project (NWP). Across the nation, there are many affiliations
with the NWP. Writing Projects are guided by the words, “Teachers as Writers. Writers as Teachers.”
Basically, the NWP wants teachers to spend time on their own writing, thus developing the teacher’s
own skills. The benefit then reaches out to the classrooms as teachers grow as writers.
After a few years of being encouraged to participate, I attended the Summer Institute of the
Crossroads Writing Project in 2006. It was the best rejuvenating, rewarding experience as a writer and
teacher I that I had ever participated in. During the Institute, I spent hours free writing, participating in
teaching demos, pursuing my writing projects that emerge out of the free writings, learning about I-
Search research and associating with excellent teachers from across the region. I left with great writing
strategies, a journal full of my writing, and several good friends. And here’s the kicker. It’s not just for English teachers.
Writing Projects are geared for any grade level, and subject. In the Crossroads of 2006, out of the
sixteen fellows, I worked with an art teacher, a social studies teacher and a couple
of special education teachers. Plus, we had teachers from elementary to college.
We were all after the same goals. We all wanted to find more ways to be effective in the
classroom, and we all wanted to practice and develop out own writing. A lead by example motif.
Oh, and the writing - it was a blast. The voices and writing pieces that emerged from our writing
groups were spectacular. I was privy to the blossoming of a rugged shipping tale on the Great Lakes, the
horror of bad mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving, the panoramic view of nature poetry and the humor of
daily life of the classroom.
Since 2006, I have remained involved with Crossroads as a teacher-consultant. I am a part of the
Leadership Committee (other teachers and CWP fellows) that meets three to four times of the year. I
am the facilitator for the Professional Writing Summer Institute for Crossroads. We have other institutes
for Professional Development, Technology and Action Research. All with the goal: teachers as writers.
The best way to find a Writing Project near you is to go to www.nwp.org
On the top right corner is a site map for all fifty states. Through the national website, you can read more about the NWP, find
the affiliates and get more info about them.
So what is your writing resolution? How about a Writing Project?
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iPod Touch, Apps, and
Wirenode in Fourth Grade
Hand is an
educator's resource for using some of the coolest technologies
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
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.
Lauren Haber teaches fourth graders at Sandy
Plains Elementary in Maryland. She's got a class set of
iPod touches, and her students and she are having a blast
learning with them! Lauren shared some of her favorite
apps with me (and she assured me that they have many
favorites at Sandy Plains).
Shop - Lauren used this as a review of counting
money. She wishes it could have different ability levels
because it doesn't challenge her students, but they love
Carries - Practice regrouping.
- Great for when they play games in class, random number
generation, and probability. There's no real dice for
students to misplace or leave scattered around the
- This is another great multiplication game, with
expressions represented as arrays.
- Math Dr. Lite - Lauren loves how it can be customized
for the needs of each student (they use it for
multiplication and division facts) and she likes the
variety of helpful aids while students are in review
mode (number line, repeated addition, multiplication
table, nearby facts).
Social Studies and Science
News - Read about currently events.
- Terrific space resources.
Moon - Display a picture of what moon looks like on
this day and access a current calendar of moon
- Make Words - Use root words, prefixes, and suffixes to
Dication - Transcribe what students speak into a
microphone with this free speech-to-text app.
- Great for word of the day and choosing appropriate
Lauren has created a mobile website for her students and
their parents using the free Wirenode
service. It makes it simple for Lauren to share links with
students, and it gives her students a place to go on the
web related to each of their subject areas. Parents find
the page helpful for keeping updated on what's going on in
class. The site also guides students when they research
topics at home. Check out the mobile site at misshaber.wirenode.mobi
Lauren says her students are so much more engaged while
using the iPod touches. She can't imagine teaching without
them as much as her students can't imagine learning without
Order your own iPod Touch Today with the links below:
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:
of these modules runs at three different levels, from easy to
At each level, the individual's performance is depicted as
A feedback has been built into the software for all these 18
levels depending on the marks one scores during the
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
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
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.
HERE to order your own copy today:
For The Things They Don't Teach You In College
Give Me Five Sentence Writing Activity
This is a great writing activity that can be
used in any class, any subject, or any grade level.
We've created another variation of the context sentences activity
which we call 'Give-Me-Five'. It is similar in that you create a matrix
of words, vocabulary, or terms from which your students will write
unique, interesting, complete sentences. And students should be given
the opportunity to share their unique sentence creations with the class.
The original context sentences activity had a matrix of nine total
words, three across by three down. Students then created a sentence for
each line across, down, and diagonal, writing a total of nine sentences.
Give-Me-Five builds on this, but expands the matrix to five words across
by five words down, twenty-five words in all.
Now the lines down, across, and diagonal will include five words that
you have designated. That gives you and the students twelve different
lines of word combinations to choose from. We like to have the students
choose five (or more) such lines from this 5x5 matrix. The students then
must fit all five words from their line into a sentence. The students
are getting practice in spelling and using the words correctly, as well
as writing complete sentences.
One of the great aspects of this activity is its durability. I like to
create several matrices and type them out on an overhead sheet so I can
use them over each hour and I can file them for year after year. We make
up specific sets of words to match certain stories, lessons, or units,
and we also use them with random words just to have fun.
Always give the students the opportunity to share their creations with
the class. This reinforces the correct use of the vocab or terms, gives
students practice reading and listening to properly written sentences,
and creates an opportunity for students to present in front of their
peers, a skill that always needs practice. This also makes a great
lesson to leave for a substitute teacher, or to put in your emergency
plans. Make sure you have fully explained this activity and your
students have practiced it a few times under your guidance before
leaving it as an activity for your sub.
This activity (as well as the context sentences activity) is great for
utilizing vocabulary in foreign language classes, as it forces students
to spell and use words properly while writing sentences. It is also good
for any class or subject that has specific vocabulary students need to
familiarize themselves with. This works well for social studies and
science classes, and it makes an easy writing assignment for music, art,
p.e, and other elective-type classes where the teacher may be required
to add writing activities, even if he or she isn't highly trained in
This is especially good for English teachers if you're covering compound
or complex sentence structures, as you can specify particular types of
sentences to have students write. Simply set up your matrix so there are
two or more nouns or verbs in a line. You might even add a conjunction
to the line!
Now of course you might want to adjust this activity to meet the needs
and level of your students. This could include changing the number of
lines you require students to make sentences out of. You might have
students choose fewer lines and create different unique sentences from
the same five words. You might have students choose two or three lines
and take all ten or fifteen words and create a story paragraph. There
are many possibilities you can develop. If you create any really
interesting variations, let us know and we'll feature you in an upcoming
issue of our newsletter.
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
/ 21st Century Teaching Corner
is a fantastic program that can make your classroom
presentations come alive. It is at a basic level an interactive
slide show. For advanced users, it can include timed
transitions, video clips, and audio elements. A digital
projector and a computer can enliven your presentations and make
note taking easier. The use of technology also captures and
keeps the students (or your audience's) attention.
PowerPoint (or a comparable
software product) allows information to be displayed in a fun,
interactive manner. It ties text, graphics, and animation seamlessly in
an easy to use format. You have total control, from choosing text sizes,
fonts, and colors, to creating graphics of all shapes and colors, and
even to adding pictures, clip art, sounds, and animations. You also
determine the page layout by simply moving any item wherever you want on
You begin with a blank slide on
which you will arrange your data, whether it be text or graphical
Having used PowerPoint for many
years, I have some suggestions for you.
least size 16 font, and think seriously about size 20 or 24
font. This is so youw words and letters are large enough to
see from everywhere in your room.
with color schemes. A creative slide may actually be hard to
see when projected. Use light colored (white/yellow) text and
graphics on a dark background, and use dark text and graphics
on a light background. Avoid red/blue combinations, and others
like these that tend to blend into each other. Always test
your presentation before giving it so you can ensure it will
be seen properly.
bother using sound unless you have a good set of speakers. The
audio will use up valuable memory and is useless unless you
have speakers. And many times the novelty wears off and your
audience will tire of the repetitive sounds.
students are using graphics and photos, check that the sizes
are appropriate. Expanding (enlarging) a photo can reduce its
resolution, making it grainy and hard to see clearly.
and slide transitions are neat and fun, but don't overdo them.
Choose one slide transition to use throughout the presentation
so your audience knows the next slide is here. The same goes
with animations: keep them simple and appropriate. You want to
impress the audience with your information, not the 'gadgets'
you use to soup up the PowerPoint.
The program also includes
several templates where you can just click and insert the text or
graphics you want. The best way of gaining proficiency is to play with
the program. That's right, pretend you're a kid and try everything out.
There's no way you can break it. Check out all of the menus and buttons.
If you do become confused, find a third grader who can help you out (at
that age, many kids are already proficient and still love to show you
how to do it). There are many tricks, shortcuts, options, and neat ideas
you can try. You'll find ones you like and that fit your personality or
Most of the 'equivalent'
programs for various platforms (Mac/Windows/Linux) are close enough for
you or your students to be proficient on any machine. At our school, we
regularly switch between Macs and Linux computers, and our students have
quickly mastered both the basics and more advanced techniques. Remember,
you as the teacher don't need to know exactly every detail of the
program. You can rely on (or challenge) your students to find the little
intricacies of the program. The big thing is for you to have your
students use the program, and you'll learn alongside the kids.
PowerPoint is very easy to use.
With just a little bit of computer familiarity, you can be creating
professional and creative presentations.
COMMUNICATION SKILLS! HERE THE MAGIC BEGINS….
By Munir Moosa Sewani
is one of the most famous, prominent and creative names in the
field of Education in 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.
is also a Social worker, private tutor, career counselor,
musician, lyrics writer and has 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
In today’s competitive world, communication plays an important role to progress in every
walk of life. Once it was believed that communication is for businessmen and marketing
managers; but today, the world demands that everyone, including students, must have
good communication skills.
Are you good at expressing your ideas? Can you turn your ideas into words? If yes, then
you are on the right track. But if you feel hesitation while speaking in front of
an audience and you often pretend to have vocal issues when your teacher asks you to give answer to
question, then you must learn the skills to be a good communicator.
In this article, I will try my best to give you some basic tips which will
surely assist you to overcome the problem of communication. To begin with, I have a
very good example. When I was in my school, I was very reserved and shy. I never spoke
in front of my teachers because I always assumed that my classmates would laugh if
I said anything wrong. Though I was a very good speaker when it came to
sharing my ideas with my friends, I usually sealed my lips while facing
the public or my classmates. I do remember that my class teacher once asked me to recite Naat in Eid Milaad. She called
me up for the rehearsal with other students. At the last moment, I ran away to my class
and started sweating. My teacher was disturbed. She always wanted to raise my morale.
But as time passed by, I learned the art of communication.
When I entered the field of teaching, I had a student in my class who always
kept himself isolated in the classroom because he could not speak well. Whenever I used to
ask him to come up front to recite a poem, he never showed up.
I also came across another student who was very shy and reserved. He thought he was
not good at speaking. But after 2 years, he won the best speaker award in New
York because of his motivation to overcome his phobia.
This was not the only child having such a problem. I came across many children during my
career who were not good at communication. But improving communication is not a
Here are some guidelines:
1. The first thing you require is to boost your confidence and to have courage to face
the people. To begin with, you can regularly talk to your best friends, siblings or to
your parents about your day to day activities. If you do not want to share anything
with anyone, let’s begin virtually - you can start recording your ideas and upload
them on the internet and later invite your family members, friends and anonymous
people to listen to you. If you do not have any ideas to come up with, take out your
English textbook, and record your reading regularly. People will comment
on you unanimously, which will help you to gain confidence in sharing your ideas to
2. To become a good speaker, you must improve your listening skills. To begin with,
all you can do is to tune in your favorite channel, and watch it regularly for
half an hour. That will help you to get many ideas about different things. Moreover,
always appreciate others' ideas before sharing yours. When I was in my university,
I routinely tried to listen to others' ideas and then compiled those ideas to share
3. Just believe in yourself. Learn the art of talking by receiving phone calls. That
will help you to improve your listening skills as well as controlling your tone
and tempo. Remember that yelling and arguing may not be the best way to communicate with other. Be mindful of your own tone of voice when talking to
others. You can even monitor your tone by carrying recordable walkman. You can
later listen to your voice to understand areas of improvement.
4. Do you know that you can call free of cost to the USA and Canada from Gmail
to any landline or mobile number? All you have to do is to search numbers of
schools located in USA or Canada, and call the representatives to learn about the
courses offered by the schools. This will not only help you to gain knowledge,
but at the same time you can also improve your accent which is mandatory for good
communication. In the same manner, if you want, you can voice chat with your
friend or to your cousins residing abroad, in order to improve accent.
5. Once you are familiar with your virtual practices, you need to learn the art of
making good eye contact. Whenever you find teachers, friends and your family
members speaking, you must make good eye contact with confidence and always have a pleasant smile on your face. While listening, always make
proper facial gestures. That will surely help others to understand you and they will also
listen you and will accept yours ideas with a open arms.
6. Posture and body language plays an important function in conversation. Learn
space perimeters by improving your reading skills. Practice different types of
body language so that you can understand how it affects others' perception of
your message. Use simple terms such as "When you stand with your arms crossed, the listener might think you are angry or frustrated even if you are not."
Practicing through role-playing or games will help you to develop effective
communication skills that will carry you into adulthood.
7. The next step is to speak clearly and correctly in front of others. Using good
pronunciation, not rushing your speech and using good grammar are all aspects of
communication that are necessary. We already discussed how to learn the art of
pronunciation. For good grammar, reading good books in the library may help.
8. The next step is to have patience. We often love to share our ideas by interrupting
others in between. You must wait for your turn and don't interrupt.
9. Remember that communication is a two way process, so always pay attention and
later respond appropriately.
10. If you have stage phobia, you can rehearse in front of your mirror to overcome it.
You must participate in extra curricular activities, such as debates, singing, etc., in
order to gain more confidence.
11. Always enter conversations politely. Avoid giving bias statements. Last but not the least,
“The art of communication is the language of leadership”. (James Humes)
Accreditation is a process by which a facility's services and
operations are examined by a third-party accrediting agency to determine
if applicable standards are met. Should the facility meet the
accrediting agency's standards, the facility receives accredited status
from the accrediting agency.
In the United States, the term is most often used with reference to
schools and hospitals. Accreditation of these institutions is performed
by private nonprofit membership associations known as accreditors. The
Council for Higher Education Accreditation oversees accrediting agencies
and provides guidelines as well as resources and relevant data. In
contrast, in many other countries the authority to operate an
educational institution is at the discretion of the central government,
typically through a Ministry of Education (MOE). In these countries, the
MOE may provide functions similar to those of accreditation body,
depending on resources and government interests.
In the United States, unaccredited degrees may not be acceptable for
civil service or other employment; criminal penalties sometimes apply
should such a degree be presented in lieu of one from an accredited
school. The use of such degrees are restricted in Oregon, New Jersey,
Indiana, Illinois, North Dakota, Nevada and Washington where improper
usage can result in misdemeanor charges punishable by fines. For
instance, the state of Washington passed a bill in March 2006
"prohibiting false or misleading college degrees.". The state
senate "unanimously amended and approved a bill that would make
issuing or using a false degree a class C felony, a crime of fraud that
could warrant five years in prison and a $10,000 fine" unless the
degree were accredited or otherwise recognized. Oregon has a procedure
in which unaccredited schools can apply for authorization from the
state, which maintains a list of approved and exempt unaccredited
schools which are permitted there. An Oregonian wishing to use an
unaccredited degree not approved by the state must make it clear that
the school is not accredited.
Some state laws allow authorities to shut down large illegal
operations of unaccredited schools or diploma mills. In November 2005, a
group of operators in Seattle was caught running several diploma mills.
The group was indicted after a Secret Service investigation. In 1998,
Tyndale Theological Seminary was fined $173,000 for issuing degrees as a
seminary without a license.
Regional accreditation is a term used in the United States to refer
to the process by which one of six accrediting bodies, each serving an
area of the country, accredits schools, colleges, and universities. Each
regional accreditor encompasses the vast majority of public and
nonprofit private schools in the region they serve. They include among
their membership nearly all elementary schools, junior high schools,
middle schools, high schools, community colleges, public universities,
and private universities.
Vocational and religious accreditation groups have standards that are
different from regional accreditors. For example, Trinity College
(Florida) holds the Association for Biblical Higher Education. Trinity
applied for regional accreditation from Southern Association of Colleges
and Schools, but was rejected in December 2005 In December 2005, SACS
reviewed the college and rejected the application for accreditation
because "Trinity College of Florida failed to provide information
demonstrating its compliance with Core Requirement 2.5 (Institutional
Effectiveness), Core Requirement 2.7.1 (Program Length), Core
Requirement 2.7.2 (Program Content), Core Requirement 2.8 (Faculty),
Comprehensive Standard 3.7.1 (Faculty), and Core Requirement 2.9
(Learning Resources and Services) of the Principles of Accreditation
Despite the widely recognized benefits and accountability of
accreditation, some institutions choose, for various reasons, not to
participate in an accreditation process. According to the United States
Department of Education, it is possible for post secondary educational
institutions and programs to elect not to seek accreditation but
nevertheless provide a quality post secondary education. Yet, other
unaccredited schools simply award degrees and diploma without merit for
Some religious schools claim that accreditation could interfere with
their mission or philosophy even though organizations do exist
specifically to accredit religious institutions without compromising
their doctrinal statements. Some states, such as California, allow
exemption from accreditation for religious schools. Thus, occasionally
diploma mills operate as religious universities to avoid laws against
diploma mills. Meanwhile institutions, such as Strassford University,
claim "none of the recognized regional accrediting organizations
accept as members institutions that are not dedicated to traditional
education," and thus, Strassford does not "desire"
traditional accreditation. The Strassford University is listed by the
Oregon State Office of Degree Authorization as part of a diploma mill
operation. Furthermore, other schools simply do not have the means or
organizational structure to meet accreditation standards and others,
like San Diego Christian College, have had their accreditation status
revoked after failing to meet minimum requirements.
An ongoing problem within higher education accreditation is the
existence of diploma mills and accreditation mills. These organizations
exist to grant apparent degrees without course work to give a willing
buyer a degree for money. Sometimes both the buyer and seller know this
or a potential student is not aware of the fraud. In some cases a
diploma mills and/or its "accreditor" is unrecognized and
exists only at a post office box or Web page owned by the proprietor of
Novels by Frank Holes, Jr.
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
, Frank weaves:
A mysterious police report of an unsolvable death in
terrifying encounter in the U.P.’s remote
begun as one man’s therapy, becomes a chronicle of sightings
governmental agent investigates the grisly aftermath of Sigma
family meets more than they expected on the trail north
campfire tale of ancient betrayal handed down through the Omeena
to Dogman Country!
Here For The
Tales From Dogman Country Website
of the Dogman Website
of Sigma Website
Nagual: Dawn of the
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:
A CLASS SET
A Place for Teachers New To The Craft
Project Centers Effectively
Project centers or stations can be a great
way to have your students working independently (or as a team)
on a number of assignments. These centers have been used
successfully by elementary teachers, gym teachers, and coaches
for many years. And this technique can be utilized by middle
school teachers too. In fact, writer's workshops and science
labs are really not too far from this style of teaching.
Basically you divide up your students into several groups, and
each group of students moves from one project area to the next,
doing work at each station.
teachers have specific centers or stations they use each week during the
year. They have certain skills they want their students to practice
through the year. Some stations may change or be adjusted as the year
goes on. Other teachers use groups as needed in particular units or for
extra practice. These are geared toward specific objectives in a unit or
they may be determined by testing and assessment of students progress
(or lack of progress).
Dividing up the students will be determined in large part by the
resources you have to work with and the types of assignments you want
the kids to do. For example, in my class I want my students using
technology in real-life applications. Thus, we need every computer put
to use every hour. Now, we're quite lucky to have a bank of eMacs
updated with new software right in our room. Because of this, we have
students working on projects like PowerPoints, web pages, newsletters,
and the like. Each week the students have a large project similar to
these to work on. Sometimes these are individual activities, and other
times the group of students must work together. This is one
example of the resources in your room dictating the group size; there
are five computers, so I can have groups of five students.
There are a number of ways to designate your groups. You might have
preformed groups, either choosing them yourself or allowing students to
have input. One teacher at our school has the kids write down one
student they work well with and one student they cannot work with at
all. She then uses this to form groups. Another teacher uses his
knowledge of the students' leadership skills and academic performance to
form groups. In my room, students are already at tables, and each table
is labeled with a different symbol (star, heart, square, triangle, &
circle). This makes it easy for me to just write the symbol on the board
next to each group, and I can rewrite them each day. One teacher in our
elementary has a permanent chart on his wall and uses velcro (you could
use magnets if you have a white board) to affix small signs to designate
each group. Then changing groups each day is quick and easy.
You have to be ready for and expect a certain noise level when your
students are in groups or project centers. But as always, there is
'productive' noise and then there is 'off-task' talking. Keep yourself
free to move about the room, monitoring students and checking their
Monitor the groups carefully and keep the kids on task, especially the
first few times you try centers. Once your students understand your
expectations, you'll be freed up more to help individually. I like to
include normal classroom activities and assignments as part of the
centers. After we've practiced this skill or activity and the students
know how to do it, they are more likely to successfully accomplish a
similar task in group.
This is one great advantage of the groups - you can move from group to
group working with kids. Each project center has an activity for the
kids so they are on task. And since these are much smaller groups of
students, you can work closely with them, discussing and answering
questions. And you can check for understanding faster, easier, and more
Choose meaningful activities at each station. In our English class,
students need at least one reading and one writing activity each week.
These may take various forms, and I try to mix it up a bit. Then I
also try to make use of the technology with computer projects.
Each activity has meaning and many provide good practice on skills.
After a few rotations, the students get the hang of it. I'll give them a
two-minute warning, and we put a 30 second timer on the switch between
groups. This keeps them hopping and eliminates the down time. They do
get much faster the more you practice.
My students have responded favorably to the groups. They enjoy switching
gears once or twice each class period. This fits with their attention
spans too. I like it too, because the kids are split up around the room
and they're on task. And I'm able to interact more closely with the
students. It frees me up to walk around and work individually or
conference with a student if I wish. I'm not sure this is the only way
to teach effectively, but it is an excellent teaching tool to keep in
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"A Teacher's Survival
Kit for Everyday Living"
Adapted by Charles Nelson & fellow teachers
What essential items do we
need every day?
Reminds us to look for the good qualities in our students. You may
be the only teacher who says something positive to them that day.
Reminds the teacher that they have to be flexible. Things
don't always go the way we plan, but flexibility will help to work
Reminds the teacher that sometimes we do more than teach, that we
help heal hurt feelings, broken dreams, and lend an ear to a
Reminds us to be thankful and we should list our blessings daily,
but also encourage our students to list their blessings and to be
proud of their accomplishments.
Reminds us to allow students to know we are human and make
mistakes just like they do, and it's ok. We must all be able
to learn from our mistakes.
Reminds us to stick with it and encourage our students to do like
wise. Even the impossible task or assignment can be
accomplished by sticking to it.
Reminds us and our students we are worth a mint. (We may not be
paid a mint, but are worth one.)
Reminds us that everyone needs a hug, kiss, or warm fuzzy
everyday. (All teachers, students, parents, and even
Reminds us we need time to relax, go over our blessing, and take
time for others. Family, husbands, wives, friends, children
need quality time together.
A teacher must be willing to show their students how much they
What's New @
Welcome to our first January issue.
We are celebrating the beginning of our seventh year! This month, our web partner Tony Vincent shares
great apps used by a fourth grade class, while tech writer Mark Benn
shares an excellent video on learning, and our Featured Writer Chris Sura has
a great writing activity to spur discussions.
Our Website of the Month features
SpellingCity, and we have an excellent science book for our Book of the
Month. There is also an article on public speaking from Munir Moosa Sewani.
Look for more real math problems from Mary Ann
Graziani and the Article of the Week
from Frank Holes, Jr. And we round out the issue with articles on
writing and project centers. Be sure to join up on our FACEBOOK page for StarTeaching for more reader
interaction as well as constant, updated streams of educational
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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