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Ideas and Features For New Teachers
and Veterans with Class

Volume 7, Issue 2
January 2011
StarTeaching Store Advertise with us Previous Articles Submit an Article FREE Reports Feature Writers Tech Center New Teacher's Niche

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

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

What's New @ StarTeaching   The LEAST APPROACH to Classroom Discipline (part 1)   NEW! Science Selections: Rad Resources for Science Educators
NEW! Hank Kellner: 
"Write What You See"
Tech/21st Century Corner: 
Move Over Desktops: Here Comes the iPad
From the Admin Desk: Seek to Take Responsibility Before You Place the Blame
Science Activities for Any Setting   10 Days of Writing Prompts   10 Days of Math Problems
School Features:
Sociology of Education
 (part 1)
New Teacher's Niche:
Change Lives!  Be A Mentor!
Student Teachers' Lounge: Positive Parent Conferences
Book of the Month Club:
Sandwich Bag Science
  Website of the Month:
  Themes on Life: 
"Recipe for a Happy New Year"
Article of the Week: "Proper Grammar"   Winter 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



The LEAST Approach to Classroom Discipline
(part 1)


Robert R. Carkhuff

Copyright 1981

The Michigan Project and Northern Michigan University

  Used with permission


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

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

The LEAST method evolved in five discrete phases:  (1) basic research, (2) development, (3) piloting, (4) refinement, and (5) applied research.

  1.  Basic Research.  The LEAST approach is based upon nearly two decades of research on the effective ingredients of teaching and learning.  This research is summarized in Helping and Human Relations, The Development of Human Resources, and Teaching as Treatment, all by Carkhuff;  and Kids Dont Learn from People They Dont Like, by Aspy and Roebuck.1

  2.  Development.  The LEAST approach was developed into a step-by-step method by the authors and the personnel of the Carkhuff Institute of Human Technology (CIHT), the National Foundation for the Improvement of Education (NFIE), and the Instruction and Professional Development unit of the National Education Association (NEA/IPD) in conjunction with NEA teacher members.  It draws heavily on the skill-based approaches developed in The Skills of Teaching series. 2

  3.  Field Testing.  The LEAST method was field tested in several settings, including statewide demonstrations in Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee under the direction of Dr. Griffin;  at the Sunnyside Junior High School, Tucson, Arizona, under the direction of Karen V. Unger and Alexander F. Douds;  and with teacher associations in Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, and North Carolina by Richard Mallory.  The responses of the teachers were overwhelmingly positive, according to the teachers reports. 

  4.  Refinement.  The LEAST method was modified, based upon teachers and learner feedback.  Refinements were made by personnel of CIHT, NFIE, and NEA/IPD, incorporating the suggestions of teachers in the field in order to improve the delivery of survival discipline skills in the classroom.

  5.  Applied Research.  The LEAST method was field tested again in the same settings.  The response was again overwhelmingly positive.  In addition, longitudinal research in the Sunnyside Junior High School project indicated significant changes in all targeted student behaviors, including a reported 50 percent reduction in office discipline referrals.


Watch for more on the LEAST APPROACH coming up in the next issue!


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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.


Approaching Autumn
By Elizabeth Guy

I love those sometimes mornings in late summer
When the air seems like an apple, tangy crisp
Cool, tasting sweetly on the tongue,
The white and yellow heat of summer fading
In the waning light of autumns mellow sun. 

Long since, fresh spring disappeared,
Its lovely blossoms browning at each edge.
Too soon, summers fullness was upon us.
It drowsed and dreamed
In heated grass and sedge. 

Now I await the fruited harvest.
As ripened colors burst upon my plate,
Sumptuous and succulent
Rich, redolent, and ripe.
I shall savor autumns flavor bite by bite. 

I shall feast upon lifes autumn.
Devour each dimming, lazy day.
Treasure lengthened shadows in the twilight,
For my cold winter isnt far away.

Photo 1 by Hank Kellner

Delicious autumn!  My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.  - George Eliot

PIE        TASTE       HARVEST      RED


Molten Glass
By -Hank Kellner

Colors swirl and melt
Into muted shapes
That have no meaning,
No clear shape fixes them
To things my eyes can recognize.

Blue, black, subtle green,
Too muted to be seen,
The liquid shapes
Melt into molten glass.
Like gentle waves
On a moonlit lake.

But when, as if by magic,
The water seems to slow its pace
As if to take a breath,
I can see the very things
That once eluded me.                                   

Ah, theres a moment long forgotten,
And theres a long lost love.                
And theres the time when I
And another when I

But why this yearning for the past?
Those times are gone.
Like breezes on a summer night
Or yesterdays sunset.

And tomorrows still to come.  

So I will live my life each day
As if it were my last.
And fondly bid adieu
To days that are long past.


Photo 2 by Hank Kellner
Carpe Diem
- Horace

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 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 authors 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:



From the Administrator's Desk: 
Leadership for Today's Administrators

Seek to Take Responsibility 
Before You Begin to Place Blame

By Jerry Judge, Educational Consultant

Jerry Judge is a Affiliate Professor with Grand Valley State University.  Prior to this he was a High School principal at L'Anse , Kalkaska and Royal Oak for a total of 25 years. During his tenure in education he has observed many changes and has had the opportunity to work with many outstanding teachers in Northern Michigan. His position with Grand Valley is to work with educators on leadership and writing articles on leadership for all educators. 

People dont become leaders by staying beneath the radar and avoiding responsibility.  Rather, they earn their position at the front of the pack by doing the exact opposite: taking responsibility. 

They arent afraid to say, It was my fault, if a problem was their doing, or the result of their team.  Leaders must take the responsibility and try to resolve the situation. 

Leaders are out in front, serving as role models.  They are willing to assume responsibility for every success or failure that comes their way. There are many times the opportunity to pass the buck and say, "There is nothing I can do about a situation," when the opposite will have a more positive affect.


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

Positive Parent Conferences

It's parent-teacher conference time! Some are positive experiences where teachers are able to make great connections with parents. And yet other meetings are foretold by apprehension and met with strife. Over the years, you will encounter the gamut of positive and negative experiences, and everything in between. However, there are strategies you can use to make the best of any situation.

It is extremely important to make a good first impression (even if you already know the parents). Make eye contact with them, and greet the parents with a firm handshake. No weak grips! If you've never met the parents, stand up to introduce yourself. Welcome them with a smile. Remember that you are building relationships, and setting the tone for the conference.

A good way to open the conference is to ask how the student is doing in other classes. Ask about their other grades, and start building an overall picture. You will often find the student's strong and weak areas, and you may even find surprises. I've found students who were failing every class but mine. And I've found the opposite too. A good overall picture can really give you a new perspective on your students.

Always try to say something positive. Even in the cloudiest of situations, you should find some ray of sunshine. And if you do have bad news to share, opening with good news can help ease the transition.

Be objective with bad news. Give truthful and accurate facts, and keep from making speculations. Make sure you have your facts straight! Work with parents, and try to offer suggestions. Most parents will look to you for ideas. Plan what you'll say ahead of time. If you've taken the time to get to know your students well, you'll find the conferences easier.

Positive parents are what we all expect and hope for. They come in with an open mind, are pleasant, and are willing to both listen to your comments and help with solutions to problems that do occur.  These are often very short conferences at the middle and high school levels. The parents have heard the stories all before, and with good reason; students whose parents regularly attend conferences have higher grade averages and fewer instances of behavior problems than those students whose parents rarely interact with school personnel.

The truth be known, many parents are intimidated by teachers. Many do worry that their concerns and critiques will be turned around and used against their kids. Even though teachers find this entire concept laughable and preposterous, it does, nonetheless, cross many parents' minds.

So, what do you do with a hostile parent? Diffuse the situation by being patient and listening. Sometimes its hard to just listen while parents are going off on you. They may be right or wrong, misinformed or even plain out of line. It is only a mistake to interrupt them, especially if they are on a roll. Stop yourself, focus on what they're saying, even take notes to show you're listening, and let them burn themselves out. Sometimes the hostile parents are looking for an audience, and sometimes they just need to vent. By giving them the time to 'get it all out of their system', you allow them to calm down so you both can reasonably discuss the situation.

Be sure to stand when they leave, again this is being courteous and polite. Thank them for attending. And let them know you'll contact them if anything changes. Parents generally want to be kept informed about their kids, both the good and bad.

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?

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  TECH/21st Century CORNER

Mover Over Desktops: 
Here Comes the iPad

By Mark Benn

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 Mackinac State Historic Parks in the as a historical interpreter.

The iPad has been with us less than a year, but its beginning to make inroads into education. For so long, the idea of one to one computing was a goal that looked unattainable. Laptops are way too expensive and desktops arent practical or cheap either. So life has continued using textbooks that are very expensive, also. So whats the answer?

Enter Apples version of a tablet computer called the iPad. What makes this device more practical? First of all is the availability of thousands of applications that continue to grow in number daily. Secondly, its far more mobile than even a laptop. You can sit with it comfortably in your lap just like a textbook. Its far more interactive than a textbook. In fact, check out this video on a full algebra course on an iPad.


In the fall of 2010 Seton Hill University issued iPads to every full time student. The students were to download their textbooks into the iPad.  In addition, iPads could be used as phones and for air and file sharing, as well as note taking. In Singapore, schools handed out 140 iPads to students and teachers to be used for more interactive learning. In Summit View elementary Duke Energy Foundation has set up a fourth grade classroom with iPads for learning. Watch the video to learn more.

Heres another video dealing with the infusion of iPads into the classroom.

With this entire happening in the first year of the iPad, think of the possibilities when the second generation of iPad comes out with cameras. Then students could use Facetime to collaborate with students from classrooms from around the world. The way we learn could change drastically, think about it.


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

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. 

Ill 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

McRELS Lesson Plan Library

Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) maintains a free online lesson plan library for science educators organized by topic, including Life Science, Earth and Space Science, Physical Science and Scientific Inquiry. The library also links to external lesson plans and background information from such groups as BSCS, PBS, American Chemical Society and NASA, among others.

National Geographic

The lesson plans on this site were written by educators and have been tested in the classroom. Together, they address all of the U.S. National Geography Standards, the five geography skills, and the main geographic perspectives.

Population Connection: World of 7 Billion

Next year world population is set to reach 7 billion people - take advantage of this teachable moment! Our World of 7 Billion campaign provides newly developed lesson plans for middle and high school classrooms as well as ideas for school wide events. We're also hosting a student video PSA contest for high school students. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top eight video entries and free curriculum is available for teachers who have students enter. Visit the website to find out about the PSA contest, download lesson plans, and background information.

The Gateway to 21st Century Skills

(Browse by subject Science then refine by Type (e.g., Lesson Plans), Grade Level, Keywords, etc. Click on the Title of the Lesson Plan and decide whether it works then Print and Implement!
The Gateway is a Consortium effort to provide educators with quick and easy access to thousands of educational resources found on various federal, state, university, non-profit and commercial Internet sites. The Gateway contains a variety of educational resource types from activities and lesson plans to online projects to assessment items. Materials that are purposed for use in the classroom are appropriate for inclusion in The Gateway.



Be Sure to Check Out 
Our Website Store for Specials:


Sociology of Education

(part 1)

Courtesy of K12Academics.com

The sociology of education is the study of how public institutions and individual experiences affect education and its outcomes. It is most concerned with the public schooling systems of modern industrial societies, including the expansion of higher, further, adult, and continuing education.

Education has always been seen as a fundamentally optimistic human endeavour characterised by aspirations for progress and betterment. It is understood by many to be a means of overcoming handicaps, achieving greater equality and acquiring wealth and social status. Education is perceived as a place where children can develop according to their unique needs and potential. It is also perceived as one of the best means of achieving greater social equality. Many would say that the purpose of education should be to develop every individual to their full potential and give them a chance to achieve as much in life as their natural abilities allow. Few would argue that any education system accomplishes this goal perfectly. Some take a particularly negative view, arguing that the education system is designed with the intention of causing the social reproduction of inequality


A systematic sociology of education began with mile Durkheim's work on moral education as a basis for organic solidarity and that by Max Weber, on the Chinese literati as an instrument of political control. It was after World War II, however, that the subject received renewed interest around the world: from technological functionalism in the US, egalitarian reform of opportunity in Europe, and human-capital theory in economics. These all implied that, with industrialization, the need for a technologically-skilled labour force undermines class distinctions and other ascriptive systems of stratification, and that education promotes social mobility. However, statistical and field research across numerous societies showed a persistent link between an individual's social class and achievement, and suggested that education could only achieve limited social mobility. Sociological studies showed how schooling patterns reflected, rather than challenged, class stratification and racial and sexual discrimination . After the general collapse of functionalism from the late 1960s onwards, the idea of education as an unmitigated good was even more profoundly challenged. Neo-Marxists argued that school education simply produced a docile labour-force essential to late-capitalist class relations

Look for more in part 2 of this series!


Article courtesy of K12Academics.com




MythMichigan Books
Novels by Frank Holes, Jr.

Dogmans Back!

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

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

  A mysterious police report of an unsolvable death in Manistee County

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

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

A secret governmental agent investigates the grisly aftermath of Sigma

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

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

Welcome to Dogman Country!


Click Here For The
Tales From Dogman Country Website


Now Available!

Year of the Dogman Website
Now Available!

Haunting of Sigma Website
Now Available!

Nagual: Dawn of the Dogmen Website 
Now Available!
Now Available!
The Longquist Adventures, written for elementary students, is excellent for teaching mythology and classic stories to young children.  




We now have special offers on Classroom Sets of our Novel.  Click here for more information:





New Teachers' Niche: 
A Place for Teachers New To The Craft

Change Lives! Be a Mentor

by Jill Gurr
Create Now!

Jill Gurr is founder of the non-profit organization Create Now! She has mentored more than 50 high-risk children and youth and has trained hundreds of people to mentor thousands of kids. Learn more at www.createnow.org    or email Jill at:  info@createnow.org


Half of the U.S. youth population (17.6 million kids to be exact) is considered to be at-risk of getting into trouble with the law, or high-risk and already in trouble. This isnt a problem only in the United States. Street gangs, drug addiction, child prostitution, abuse and neglect are major concerns around the world.

Our children need help!

Its easy to turn your back and ignore the problem, but what will you do when some kids jack your car? Or rape your daughter? Or spend their entire lives on welfare or in the prison system, on your tax dollars?


One solution that has been proven to work is mentoring. A mentor is a loyal advisor, a teacher or coach, sponsor, guide, confidante and role model. He or she is a special friend who serves as an advocate for the needs of someone else and makes an effort to bring out their best qualities.

I learned this first-hand in 1993 when I mentored a group of teenage boys who were incarcerated at a Los Angeles detention center for a variety of crimes. As a produced screenwriter, I wanted to share my love of writing with troubled kids in hope of inspiring them to change their lives.

I had a great idea for a story about two rival gang leaders from different ethnic backgrounds (Latino vs. African-American) ending up at the same detention camp where they had to resolve their differences.

During the next few months as I worked on our script with the boys, my Screenwriting Workshop went through all kinds of changes. In the end, the boys completed writing the script with me and it was optioned by producers. The best part though was that a number of the kids who were illiterate learned how to read and write through my program. I witnessed other remarkable changes as well -- a tough Chicano gang leader had tattoos removed from his body, and several of the boys wanted to go to college.

Thrilled with the results of this experience, I quickly came up with another idea for a screenplay and started a new Screenwriting Workshop, this time at a co-ed detention center. Again, these girls and boys were transformed through their experience of contributing to a screenplay, but especially from my interactions with them every week as their mentor. They opened up their hearts, shared their problems, and flourished under my guidance.

Inspired by these successes, I founded a non-profit organization in 1996. Create Now! matches writers, artists, musicians and other creative individuals in Los Angeles with high-risk kids who live in court-mandated institutions, such as homes for abused and neglected children, runaways, homeless kids and those in trouble with the law.

Through Create Now! Ive personally mentored more than 50 of these kids and Ive trained dozens of other mentors to work with high-risk youth. Create Now! has reached thousands of the most troubled children in Southern California.


You may wonder exactly what is mentoring. Its not tutoring, which involves the teaching of a skill or discipline. Mentoring depends on the nurturing of a close, personal relationship. While helping with schoolwork can be a part of it, thats just one aspect. Mentors inspire us to try harder and give us the confidence to reach for more ambitious goals. They teach us how to make good choices and open doors to new opportunities that normally wouldnt be available.

A mentee, or protg, is a novice, student or learner. At-risk and high-risk kids can be of any race and religion. They generally come from disadvantaged homes in poor communities. All children need the support of a positive adult, but these particular kids especially need help.

Research has shown that kids who are mentored have improved school attendance and better academic performance, a good appearance and attitude, less hostility, more self-esteem and many other improved qualities that are too numerous to name.


Tasha is another perfect example that proves mentoring makes a difference. She came from a poor community in South Central, Los Angeles. A bright girl with many talents, she didnt get along with her family. When she was thirteen years old, Tasha began running away from home. She hung out with boys who got in trouble with the law. She was sent to detention camps and different institutions over the next few years.

I met Tasha at a detention facility when she was almost sixteen. She eagerly signed up for a Create Now! TV Writing Workshop with a professional sit-com writer who prefers to remain anonymous. When Tasha returned to her home in South Central, her mentor continued to visit her weekly. They formed a strong bond.

Her mentor moved to another state, so Create Now! provided Tasha with two additional mentors who helped her periodically. Her original mentor stayed in touch via phone and email. When Tasha graduated from high school, her mentors helped her apply to USC Film School and arranged for a scholarship. She was one of only fifty people in the world to be accepted into their film program.

Tasha graduated from college in December 2004. She got a job teaching disadvantaged middle-school children how to make their own videos. One of her mentors helped her get employed as a production assistant on a TV show and shes now on the way to a lucrative career in the entertainment industry. Were all very proud of Tasha.


Mentors benefit greatly from their experience. Its a powerful feeling to know that youve made a difference in someones life. Most mentors grow on a personal and professional level through this process.

Many people who mentor develop leadership abilities and have a more profound understanding of children. Their own family bonds strengthen, plus they receive admiration and respect from their own peers.

There are different kinds of mentoring. Here are a few:

This is traditional mentoring, sometimes referred to as a Special Friend or a Big/Little relationship. Youre paired up with one child and the relationship tends to be close. Dont take this involvement lightly and make sure you maintain your commitment.

With group mentoring programs, one adult volunteer builds relationships with a number of young people. Meetings can take place with a focus on a particular project or an ongoing activity.

A group of two or more adults work together as a team to mentor a group of youths. This system focuses on team building, leadership development, and community service, but it can be used for any type of program.

Low-income families face enormous pressure getting food and shelter. The stress can severely disrupt family life and lead to homelessness. These families can be matched with mentors (possibly your entire family) who work with them over an extended period of time. By connecting disadvantaged family members with useful community resources, helping them to develop life skills, and strengthening their foundation, you help the family to overcome challenges.

By using email and chat rooms on the Internet, mentors can reach children all over the world. Many forms of computer-assisted learning are becoming popular, as students have access to computers at school, libraries, and their homes.

Think carefully about what your needs are and how you can best serve at-risk and high-risk youth before you decide which type of mentoring program is right for you.


There are a lot of things that you can do with your mentees. Many of these kids have never been out of their own neighborhoods. You could take them on a trip to the beach, a hike in the mountains, a movie, a meal, or a visit to a museum. Expose them to cultural events like the theater or the circus, or just hang out and talk.

Most importantly, LISTEN! All kids need to communicate and vent. Its important to hear what they say and be as open-minded as possible. Most kids need reliable adults with whom they can talk about their fears, dreams, and concerns. Mentors serve as sounding boards, and when asked, someone who can give trustworthy advice.

At-risk youth may not have any adults in their lives with the time, interest, or ability to listen to them. High-risk youth who live in residential institutions will rarely confide in staff members, administrators, or even psychologists for fear of punishment. Yet they might confide in you because of the trust that youve developed. It usually takes time, but when they know that they can count on you, theyll start to open up.


Mentoring requires commitment and responsibility. You must keep your word and be dependable to have a positive effect. If you break your word, youll do more damage than good.

These children have been let down by adults most of their lives. Imagine if you come along, full of hope and excitement, and reach out to lend them a hand. They take it and off you go, spending time together and bonding. They slowly open up and start to trust you.

But then something changes in your life; perhaps you get a different job in another part of town, or youve got a new boyfriend who takes up all of your free time. Abandonment can be devastating to any child, especially these kids.

Its okay if you only have sporadic time available to mentor, since even a short amount of time devoted to an at-risk youth is better than nothing. But its essential that you communicate this clearly to your mentee. The most important thing is not to set their expectations high only to let them down later.

These children represent our future. Through your support as a mentor, you can introduce them to a larger world where theyre a contributor instead of just another statistic.


No matter where you live or what you do for a living, you can impact a childs life. To learn about mentoring opportunities in your community, visit the National Mentoring Partnership at http://www.mentoring.org

If you live in Southern California and have a creative skill that youd like to share with at-risk or high-risk youth, please contact me at (213) 484-8500 or through email at info@createnow.org

Youll make a big difference in your community, and the world!

Use this link to access this writing assignment on our website for your own classroom use:



Part 6 of this series will discuss commonly asked questions regarding the writing process and paragraph/essay writing.


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"Recipe for a Happy New Year"
From "Leaves of Gold"

Themes on Life

How will we approach the new year...

Take 12 fine, full-grown months; see that these are thoroughly cleansed from all old memories of bitterness, rancor, hate, and jealousy.

Cut these months into 30 or 31 equal parts. (This batch will keep for one year. Do not attempt to make more than one batch at a time-many people spoil the entire lot in this way.)

Prepare one day at a time as follows: Into each day, put 12 parts of faith, 11 of patience, 10 of courage, nine of work (some people omit this ingredient and spoil the flavor of the rest), eight of hope, seven of fidelity, six of open-mindedness, five of kindness, four of rest (leaving this out is like leaving the oil out of the salad-don't do it), three of prayer, two of meditation, and one of well-selected resolution.

If you have no conscientious scruples, add a teaspoonful of good spirits, a dash of fun, a pinch of folly, a sprinkling of play, and a heaping cupful of good humor.

Pour love liberally into the whole, and mix with vim. Cook thoroughly in a fervent heat. Garnish with a few smiles and a sprig of joy; then serve with quietness, unselfishness, and cheerfulness-and a Happy New Year is a certainty.


What's New @ StarTeaching?


Hello readers!  Welcome to your second January issue of Features For Teachers for 2011!   

This month, we are pleased to offer you two new columns which will continue through the new year.  Hank Kellner has generously given us permission to use the poetry/photograph selections from his upcoming book, Reflections.  Now each month, we will provide teachers with inspirational photographs, poems, quotes, and key words to use in writing classrooms.  

Our second column is by Helen de la Maza, our science correspondent.  She's going to now include super science resources to use in classrooms.  

You'll also find great articles from  Jerry Judge and Mark Benn, as well as guest writers Jill Gurr and Robert Carkhuff.

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.   

And be sure to check out our article archives on our website: www.starteaching.com 

And be sure to check out our FACEBOOK page for StarTeaching for more reader interaction and constant, updated streams of educational information.  

Thanks again for your continued support!  ~Frank Holes, Jr.


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What is your favorite food?


What are the THREE best times in the week to eat your favorite food?


How can you persuade your parents to make your favorite food?


Describe how to make your favorite food.  Tell all of the steps.


Would you eat your favorite food every day?  Why or why not?


If you could design the school lunch menu for a day, what would you have?


Why is it important to have a variety of items for a school lunch?


Describe FIVE foods your friends like.  Would you include these in your menu?.


How can looking at food make you more hungry?


 Describe a food you like that someone in your family doesn't like.  Why is that?

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Sandwich Bag Science

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Preparing for Student Teaching

Technology & Teaching: 21st Century Teaching and Learning

Writing Process and Programs

Article of the Week


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10 Days of 
Math Problems
by Mary Ann Graziani

Day 1 Joshua has the following 4 coins:  1 dime, 1 quarter, and two others.

If the total value of the coins is 61, what are the missing coins?
Day 2 Christian has 6 coins worth $0.50. If the coins are all dimes and nickels, how many dimes and nickels
does he have?
Day 3 John has 80 in quarters and dimes. He has 5 coins altogether. How many coins of each kind does
he have?
Day 4 $920.00 + $905.00 = $
Day 5 $778 $220 = $
Day 6 $699 + $530 = $
Day 7 Mary Ann had $609 in her savings account. Then, she spent $112 on a new video game system. How
much money does Mary Ann have left in her savings account?
Day 8 Maria went shopping for a Mother's Day present. At a jewelry store, she bought a beaded necklace
for $550 and a matching bracelet for $467. How much did Maria spend in all on the present?
Day 9 Daniel and Josh decided to start their own babysitting business. Daniel earned $618.00 babysitting

for his cousins, and Josh earned $318.00 babysitting for family friends. How much money did they
earn in all?
Day 10 10. $968 0.1 =$


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Tech-Ed Articles

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Science Activities For Any Setting
By Helen de la Maza
Pennies and Surface Tension
(click for PDF)

Pennies and Surface Tension PDF

Boat Buoyancy
(click for PDF)

Boat Buoyancy PDF

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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.  





Learning in Hand is an educator's resource for using some of the coolest technologies with students. Tony Vincent
Tony is a teacher who wants to make education effective, relevant, and fun. He knows handhelds are small computers that can make a big difference in classrooms!  He hopes Learning in Hand inspires and motivates teachers to use technology that students crave.






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Using Photography To Inspire Writing
By Hank Kellner

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Article of the Week
"Proper Grammar"
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"Civil Rights"
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