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Ideas and Features For New Teachers
and Veterans with Class

Volume 7, Issue 5
March 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   Grading - What is our Motivation?   Educational Research Project on Unemployment in Pakistan (part 2)
NEW! Tony Vincent's Blog: Four Student Response Systems Rad Resources for Science Educators: Wild About Wildlife! Themes on Life: 
"Happy St.Patrick's Day"
Science Activities for Any Setting   10 Days of Writing Prompts   10 Days of Math Problems
School Features:
Sociology of Education
 (part 4)
New Teacher's Niche:
The LEAST Approach to Classroom Discipline: (part 4)
Student Teachers' Lounge: The Effective Teacher
Book of the Month Club:
Common Core State Standards
  Website of the Month:
  Article of the Week: "Movie Piracy"

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

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


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

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

We are also looking for an administrator interested in sharing 21st century leadership skills and ideas in schools.  

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


Feature Writer

Educational Research Project on Unemployment in Pakistan
(part 2)

by Rozina Jumani

Rozina Jumani is a Development consultant associated with a number of Non governmenetal Organizations(NGO). Prior to this, she was with Aga Khan Education Services Pakistan for 10 years as a Professional Development Teacher and Counsellor. She has done her Masters in Islamic Studies and English from University of Karachi. She is a commonwealth scholar and completed her Masters in Education Planning, Economic and International Development from the institute of Education (IOE), University of London.

As the beginner in the study of economics, I have chosen to write upon general but analytical essay highlighting the causes of unemployment in Pakistan. I would also recommend few suggestions based on informed reasoning to overcome this issue in due course of years, as this issue is pertinent since the birth of Pakistan.

While reading about the issue, I have come across various researches that proved that this issue has implication on the overall economic, social and physical conditions of the People of Pakistan.  The real issue though it seem that there is enormous employment in all parts of country but the reality is we don’t get skilled labor for certain work thus there is less productivity in most of the areas and we don’t seek the desired results, thus the ratio of unemployment keep on increasing day by day.

Some recommendations for solution of unemployment conditions in Pakistan

Primarily solution to this issue is to increase opportunities for learning, training, as at present the illiteracy rate of Pakistan is 61.2%. This includes 50.0% male illiteracy and 75.6% female illiteracy in Pakistan.14 Usually women do not enter in the work force and work at home thus; they do not get opportunities of educating themselves.

The major challenge is only 38.8% people who are considerate literate that include people who only sign their names, how the limited literate population work for enormous illiterate population and for how long. This leads to the basic solution of providing them basic education that could also mean skilled based or vocational training etc so they can contribute and become productive for the country.

Government official including the heads of state and senators are required to control their luxurious style of living. The proper budgeting of government money is most important and government is required to control its spending on irrelevant commodities and intervene at the issues of the common people.

The huge debt is used to fight against India, in such miserable times when the country is at the verge of civil war, poor people and even middle class people do not have things to eat and if we spend on military assets and spending on fight with other country is not advisable. It is therefore required that government leaders develop good rapport with countries at their borders and invest that amount on the people and development projects.

Corruption is common disease spread around parliamentarians, their salaries are paid through taxes yet they create huge misuse in the funds kept for development projects for people. It is therefore require to put all corrupt parliamentarians and bureaucrats behind the bar and honesty and transparency to be opted.

The loan amount taken from World bank, IMF and other donor agencies could be returned if all people of Pakistan willing and honestly pay their taxes. According to the current media discussions and their reports, that president, prime minister, federal ministers and many opposition leaders are not paying their taxes. They are waiting, as their taxes could be written-of. If such selfish attitudes prevail among the appointees by people, then how can a country and its people survive?  In this regard, judiciary to intervene to make all people pay their taxes, that will help in bringing up the level of people and we will be able to return loans those were taken carelessly.

Though Pakistan government due to bad governance and corrupt politicians has lost its credibility in front of Overseas Pakistanis, but with sound planning and transparent process, we could invite the future investment for Pakistan, thus in this regard, honest people in bureaucracy are require to plan along with honest economist and finance ministry.

Government agencies and institutions should concentrate the effective supply of electricity and gas and petroleum products, so our agriculture, industrial sector could provide required output. In that manner, people will sustain their jobs and they will be able to feed their family the basic needs of lives.

Lastly, government officials are required to act sensibly at the foreign policy strand and do not compromise on the sovereignty of the country for their own personal stake. Honesty across country is essential to control the menace of unemployment, its just the willingness requires to improve the situation.



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Four Student Response Systems

By Tony Vincent

Learning in Hand is an educator's resource for using some of the coolest technologies with students.Tony Vincent

Learning in Hand is written by Tony Vincent. Tony taught fifth grade in Omaha, Nebraska for six years, and three of those years his students were pioneers in educational handheld computing. Then, as technology specialist at Willowdale Elementary, Tony brought the newest technologies into classrooms. Whether it was digital video, blogs, email, podcasts, or handhelds, Tony helped Willowdale teachers and students understand the usefulness of new technologies. Currently, Tony is self-employed as an education consultant. He conducts workshops, presents at conferences, and writes books based on his teaching experiences and passion for new technologies.

Always excited to share, Tony has documented much of what he knows about handheld computing and podcasting on his website, learninginhand.com. There you'll find useful software collections, the best webs links for handhelds, complete lesson plans, and an informative blog.

Tony is a teacher who wants to make education effective, relevant, and fun. He knows handhelds are small computers that can make a big difference in classrooms! He hopes Learning in Hand inspires and motivates teachers to use technology that students crave.

Class ClickersIf you've got a class set of computers or mobile devices, then you've got a student response system. Response systems sold to schools typically consist of a handheld remote, called a clicker, and software for managing students, questions, and answers. Rather than pay over $1,000 for a set of clickers, a WiFi-equipped classroom that already has iPod touches, iPads, netbooks, etc. (or invited students to bring their own) can turn those devices into a response system for much less.

Google Docs

Google Docs provides a free way to collect responses called Forms. The teacher creates a questionnaire for students to complete. Questions can be multiple choice, true/false, short answer, essay, or a scale. Once the form is completed, Google provides a very long URL that is much to long for anyone to manually type. So, forms can be linked from or embedded in a class web page. Alternatively, a URL shortener like j.mp, bit.ly, or tinyurl.com can be used to create a shorter web address that redirects to the obnoxiously long one. This way students can simply type the short URL in their device's browser to access the questions.

Google Form

The responses are collected in a spreadsheet the teacher accesses online. Google makes it easy to see responses in graphs by simply choosing Show summary of responses from the Form menu. With a Google Form, students are not required to respond at the same time. The questionnaire is online and ready for them any time they ready. For more information about using Google Docs as a student response system, view Radford University's video on YouTube.

Poll Everywhere

Another service that can be used as a student response system is Poll Everywhere. They have a nice Web interface that looks great on a laptop or mobile device. Poll Everywhere can also take responses through text messages. Students text in their answers to the teacher's question using identifying codes. Be aware that Poll Everywhere and Google Docs do not provide feedback to students since there is no way to indicate correct and incorrect answers. While there is a free Poll Everywhere plan for K-12 classrooms, the $50 per year plan gives teachers the ability to see individual student responses and to approve text-based responses before they appear for the whole class to see. Read more about Poll Everywhere.

Poll Everywhere


QuestionPress (formerly QuickieQ) is a 100% web-based audience and classroom response/assessment tool. This means that QuestionPress is accessible on any Internet connected device. Students can easily find and bookmark their teacher's QuestionPress URL. Alan Degener, QuestionPress' developer, writes more about the service:

QuestionPress is one of the few response web sites that allows you to offer a fully live session where you can control which questions are asked, when they are asked, in what order they are asked, and when and how results are sent to the responders’ screens. Questions can also be served at the responder’s pace with options that allow for the scores and correct answers being displayed upon completion.

Question Press Questions

You can use a prepared question set and/or create questions on-the-fly. Points can be assigned to all questions and QuestionPress can auto-score multiple choice, true/false, yes/no, short answer, fill in the blank, sorting, numeric, “images as answers”, and “check all that apply” problems. Other question types include essay, ranking, and file uploads. Dynamic questions with images can be created using a simple yet powerful WYSIWYG editor, which includes a math equation editor and grapher. Questions can be edited on-the-fly and questions created in a live session can be imported into question sets or used directly in future session. Question sets can be stored, organized and shared with others. Session results can be organized into folders and sessions can be reopened to help consolidate data.

Question Press Session

There are no responder accounts with QuestionPress, so students do not need to remember yet another login and password. Students can use student ids or other codes to protect privacy.

A standard QuestionPress license starts at 35-responders per session. Polling mode increases that limit 10 fold, allowing you to put polls up on your classroom web site. You can also use QuestionPress for homework since it is web-based and can run asynchronously. The email feature allows you to email results to responders when they finish the question set or you can add comments and annotations and send out emails later.

QuestionPress starts at just $24 for an annual 35-responder license. Larger license and multiple session licenses are optional. Group accounts are also available. For more information, a complete list of features, and to sign up for a free trial account go to questionpress.com.

eClicker Host

eClicker HostAn option for iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch using teachers is the eClicker Host app. Priced at $9.99, it's a very affordable solution because no subscription is required. Only the teacher needs the app; students can use any web browser or the free eClicker iOS app. Student devices need to be on the same WiFi network as the teacher's iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. The app provides a URL for students to type into their browsers. Devices running the optional and free eClicker app automatically detect the teacher's device on the network running eClicker Host. If eClicker Host is running on iPad, up 64 responders can connect. For iPhone and iPod touch, the maximum is 32 responders.

Like QuestionPress, the teacher can control what question is displayed on students' screens. When the teacher moves to the next question, everyone's screens change at the same time to display the next question.

Teachers can compose multiple choice or true false questions on their mobile device or at eClicker.com. Sadly, eClicker does not support short answer or open-ended responses. I don't mind composing the questions on my iPad. I can even include images from my Photo Library or draw one within the app. Alternatively, questions can be edited on a computer at editor.eclicker.com by first creating an account within the eClicker Host app. When done editing, syncing your account updates the on your device. Teachers can even share question sets with one another via Bluetooth.

eClicker on iPad

eClicker has worked well for me for informal assessment. However, it does not have a management system where I can track students over time. It's not a quiz or evaluation tool. If you use eClicker, you'll notice that each question has a timer. I have not found a way to turn off the timer, which can be a distraction. eClicker Host lacks options, especially compared to QuestionPress. But, with fewer features, eClicker Host is streamlined and simplistic. Find out more about eClicker.

Response systems can improve attentiveness, increase knowledge retention, inform instruction, and provide immediate feedback. It's nice to have affordable choices. I've only highlighted on the four systems I've used myself. There are certainly many more. Which one to choose? Fortunately Google Docs and Poll Everywhere can be used for free, and QuestionPress has a free trial. There is no free version or trial for the eClicker Host app. If you have a favorite, please tell us about it in the comments.

Four Student Response Systems

Classroom clicker photo licensed under Creative Commons by Flickr user Kentucky Country Day




iPod Touch

Order your own iPod Touch Today with the links below:



Mastering Basic Skills software:


There are six modules designed to test the basic ability of an individual in terms of Memory & Concentration. Needless to say this is the most important basic skill for not just to survive but also to thrive in this competitive environment. Each of the six modules tests the six variants of Memory & Concentration in an individual, namely: 1. Picture recognition
2. Paired Associate Learning
3. Immediate Recall
4. Serial processing
5. Parallel processing
6. Recognition and Recall
Each of these modules runs at three different levels, from easy to difficult.

At each level, the individual's performance is depicted as Scores Obtained.

A feedback has been built into the software for all these 18 levels depending on the marks one scores during the test. 

Each individual can assess his/her performance any time by clicking on "history", which gives complete details of date and time of taking the tests, marks scored each time and even time taken to do the test. This builds the confidence level and encourages more participation to eventually culminate in improvement and enhancement of memory and concentration.

Essentially, this software is a SELF AWARENESS tool that surely motivates the individual to realize one's capability and seek or be receptive for improvement. Also, if repeatedly done over a period of time works as Training tool to enhance their capability.
This software package is specifically designed to help young children to learn basic skills that will help them in school.  Continued follow-up will give these young learners success as they mature.  

Three versions of the software exist: Individual Software on either CD or Online,   Family Version Software, and an Institutional Software package.

StarTeaching wholeheartedly supports and endorses this software.  It will make a difference with your child or student.

Click HERE to order your own copy today:



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

The Effective Teacher

by MaryAnn Graziani

The students of today are our future.  A teacher is an important part of making a better future through teaching their students.  What more rewarding career can there be than teaching?  

     A teacher has a tremendous amount of power over their students to either positively or negatively affect their students’ entire lives.  The effective teacher motivates students by creating a positive learning environment where students want to learn because they have a teacher who respects them as individuals.   They  help their students by recognizing each individual talent without favoritism or criticism.  An effective teacher has a genuine love and respect for children. They enjoy working with children and want to work with them to create a positive and nurturing learning environment.         

    An effective teacher will treat each student as an individual with unique personal experiences that they bring into the classroom community. The unique experiences each student brings can be used collaboratively and creatively in group work where all students will learn from each other through shared discussions and reflections of their personal experiences. Everyone is included and needed in the classroom community.  An effective teacher will encourage imagination and creativity through exploring, observation, and freedom of expression. Every student is involved in the decision making process that involves their classroom and encouraged to make choices that affects not only them but also their classroom community.  Diversity is embraced in the classroom and lesson planning is inclusive of everyone in the classroom. 

     An effective teacher believes that all children can learn and grow.  Every child is given choices and personal freedom of expression in order to promote their growth in learning.  The effective teacher knows that if children are shown respect, they will show respect in return.  They show respect by enabling children to assume responsibility for their own learning.  The effective teacher encourages their students to build meaningful relationships with them and their fellow classmates.

     The effective teacher knows that all children are unique in their learning style and that their understanding is based on their own unique experiences.  They understand that by catering to individual learning styles, teaching can be geared to develop the whole child.

     To truly learn what qualities it takes to be an effective teacher; perhaps it is best to look at what the students believe makes a great teacher. Brian Zkmund-Fisher, Coordinator of TA Support, Eberly Center for Teacher Excellence (1998) compiled information from numerous student evaluation forms to find out what students think. Here are some of the responses


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

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

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

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


  Tech / 21st Century Teaching Corner

Grading - What is Our Motivation?

by Mark Benn
Instructional Technologist

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

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

Have you ever thought about why you take grades? I used to believe that it was important to grade every assignment that I had the students do. I felt I was doing a disservice to them if I didn't grade everything. This resulted in a lot of grades, but did it result in a lot of learning?

I believe it builds a wrong way of thinking in the students and causes them to see school as a place where they get a lot of grades, and not as a place of learning.  It also leads us, as teachers, to think the same way. Do you teach to get grades, or is your motivation to help children learn?

Grades are just a measure of what someone understands and their level of understanding. At least that's what they're suppose to be. We should be using formative assessment constantly to know where students are, but should these assessments be graded. Does this reflect where a student is at, or how they learn?

What do I mean by that? Think about how you learn. When something is new to you and you are just learning about it, do you truly understand it at first? Probably not at first. But as you deal with it over and over again you get better at whatever the skill is. Let's use math as an example. When I'm learning my multiplication facts, I don't learn them all at once. I also don't' learn them at the same speed as others. Maybe it takes me longer. Now let's factor in taking grades on everything a student does. Does the grade reflect whether they know the material, or how fast they can learn it? Is learning about speed, or understanding?

So why do we grade everything, when a student is just beginning to learn it? This makes no sense, unless our motivation is just to teach the students and get grades.

Let's raise the bar of our profession higher. Our motivation should be to teach in a way that helps everyone become a lifelong self motivated learner. Our grading should reflect that, and not hinder it with certain attitudes.

So what should we do as teachers do? Formative assessment should be a constant, and because of these assessments we should adjust our teaching to help those who aren't understanding it yet. Grades should only be taken when you feel the students have had enough experience in the skill. From this assessment, we have another chance to reassess whether our method of teaching is working, and if not, adjust again. All of this works towards that final summative assessment. 

In summing up, it's not about how many grades we get, but the quality of what our grading reflects. 

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




  StarTeaching Feature Writer

Rad Resources for Science Educators

Wild About Wildlife

By Helen de la Maza

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

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

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

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

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

This week we are WILD ABOUT WILDLIFE!

National Wildlife Week “Wildlife That Move Us” – March 14-20, 2011

Lesson Plans for Educators: http://www.nwf.org/en/Wildlife/Activities/National-Wildlife-Week/

Studies show that children who spend time outside are more creative, have less stress and
perform better in school. Help your students appreciate wildlife, and unlock their learning and
imaginative potential during National Wildlife Week. Join together to celebrate our wildlife
friends—the unique ways that they move and how they move us to protect them.

Wildlife are all around us every day, from small insects and birds to large mammals like deer.
Each weekday of National Wildlife Week, National Wildlife Federation is featuring nine species
of wildlife – wildlife that fly, climb, dig, swim, hop, leap, run, and crawl.

Download special wildlife posters! A new poster will be revealed each weekday of National
Wildlife Week with trading cards of the nine featured wildlife species of the day so you and your
students can learn more about the species, where they live, and how you can identify them.

TeacherVision: Wildlife Teacher Resources

A compilation of cross-curricular printables, lesson plans, quizzes, and references for National
Wildlife Week.


eNature.com is a great site for information about the wild animals and plants of the United
States. The site's core content of wildlife information about almost 6,000 individual species is the
same data set used to create the printed Audubon Field Guides. All the data has been carefully
reviewed and vetted by leading biologists, zoologists and other natural history specialists.

Project WILD

Project WILD is one of the most widely-used conservation and environmental education
programs among educators of students in kindergarten through high school. A national network
of State Wildlife Agency Sponsors ensures that Project WILD is available nationwide—
training educators in the many facets of the program. Emphasizing wildlife because of its
intrinsic value, Project WILD addresses the need for human beings to develop as responsible
citizens of our planet. The organization offers these curricula: Project WILD K-12 Curriculum
and Activity Guide, Project WILD Aquatic K-12 Curriculum and Activity Guide, Science and
Civics: Sustaining Wildlife. The materials are not for sale; they are available to those who attend
instructional workshops offered by certified leaders. Visit the website to find local workshops.

neoK12: Animals & Wildlife Section

A collection of videos and photographs of wildlife. Other pages on the website include lessons
and games for K-12 school kids.




Be Sure to Check Out 
Our Website Store for Specials:


Sociology of Education

(part 4)

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 endeavor characterized 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

The sociology of education contains a number of theories. We'll give a description of each theory in each of the next newsletters, beginning with Structural Functionalism below.

Structure and Agency
Bourdieu and Cultural Capital

This theory of social reproduction has been significantly theorized by Pierre Bourdieu. However Bourdieu as a social theorist has always been concerned with the dichotomy between the objective and subjective, or to put it another way, between structure and agency. Bourdieu has therefore built his theoretical framework around the important concepts of habitus, field and cultural capital. These concepts are based on the idea that objective structures determine individuals' chances, through the mechanism of the habitus, where individuals internalize these structures. However, the habitus is also formed by, for example, an individual's position in various fields, their family and their everyday experiences. Therefore one's class position does not determine one's life chances, although it does play an important part, alongside other factors.

Bourdieu used the idea of cultural capital to explore the differences in outcomes for students from different classes in the French educational system. He explored the tension between the conservative reproduction and the innovative production of knowledge and experience. He found that this tension is intensified by considerations of which particular cultural past and present is to be conserved and reproduced in schools. Bourdieu argues that it is the culture of the dominant groups, and therefore their cultural capital, which is embodied in schools, and that this leads to social reproduction.

The cultural capital of the dominant group, in the form of practices and relation to culture, is assumed by the school to be the natural and only proper type of cultural capital and is therefore legitimated. It demands “uniformly of all its students that they should have what it does not give”. This legitimate cultural capital allows students who possess it to gain educational capital in the form of qualifications. Those lower-class students are therefore disadvantaged. To gain qualifications they must acquire legitimate cultural capital, by exchanging their own (usually working-class) cultural capital. This exchange is not a straight forward one, due to the class ethos of the lower-class students. Class ethos is described as the particular dispositions towards, and subjective expectations of, school and culture. It is in part determined by the objective chances of that class. This means that not only do children find success harder in school due to the fact that they must learn a new way of ‘being’, or relating to the world, and especially, a new way of relating to and using language, but they must also act against their instincts and expectations. The subjective expectations influenced by the objective structures found in the school, perpetuate social reproduction by encouraging less-privileged students to eliminate themselves from the system, so that fewer and fewer are to be found as one journeys through the levels of the system. The process of social reproduction is neither perfect nor complete, but still, only a small number of less-privileged students achieve success. For the majority of these students who do succeed at school, they have had to internalize the values of the dominant classes and use them as their own, to the detriment of their original habitus and cultural values.

Therefore Bourdieu's perspective reveals how objective structures play an important role in determining individual achievement in school, but allows for the exercise of an individual's agency to overcome these barriers, although this choice is not without its penalties.




Article courtesy of K12Academics.com



MythMichigan Books
Novels by Frank Holes, Jr.

Dogman’s 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 man’s therapy, becomes a chronicle of sightings from around Michigan

A secret governmental agent investigates the grisly aftermath of Sigma

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

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

Welcome to Dogman Country!

Now Available!

Click Here For The
Tales From Dogman Country Website


Now Available!

Year of the Dogman Website
Now Available!

Haunting of Sigma Website
Now Available!

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




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





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

The LEAST Approach to Classroom Discipline:
(Part 4)


Robert R. Carkhuff

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.


When Should You End the Action Indirectly?

End the action whenever, in your judgment, a true disciplinary problem exists.  This will generally be the case in a situation that fulfills any one or more of the following conditions:

  1. The problem-related behavior is disrupting individual and/or group learning activities.
  2. The situation will, if left alone, deteriorate rather than improve.
  3. Someone may get hurt.

If the situation is only a minor disturbance which does not threaten your overall control of events, simply end the action and then track the progress of the students involved.  If the situation seems more severe, go on to exercise other options within the LEAST sequence.

What does “End the Action Indirectly” Mean?

The phrase is largely self-explanatory.  When you elect to end the action, you act to stop a problem at once; when you take action indirectly, you do so without telling the student explicitly what you want him or her to start or stop doing.  It is important to note that if what you do does end the action, you have accomplished what was needed.  Don’t criticize the student or outline consequences.  Simply nip matters in the bud by ending the action.  Again as with Option #1, you should ‘track’ what happened and what you did about it. 

Why End The Action Indirectly?

Whether a behavior problem in the classroom is fairly minor or quite serious, it is necessary to bring the disruption to a halt before you can chart the course you wish students to take.  Doing so in an indirect manner involves less chance of confrontation and resulting anger or hostility.

How Can You End the Action Indirectly?

There are three progressive steps you might take to end any disruptive classroom behavior indirectly.  In keeping with the LEAST principle of disciplinary action, the progression is from the simplest to the most demanding.

  1. You can ‘eyeball’ the student.  Let’s say a student in the back of the room is whispering to a friend while you’re presenting some important material.  The simplest way to end this action is to look right at the student, making eye contact if possible.  This often halts the disruption without the need to speak.
  2. You can reduce the distance between yourself and the student.  Disruptive behavior in the classroom often stops when the teacher approaches.  This is particularly true of minor disturbances.  Try ending the action by approaching the student involved while continuing your presentation to the class, or combine your approach with the eyeballing technique.  You could also have the student approach you, perhaps by calling him/her to your desk.  In coming forward, the student necessarily stops the problem behavior.  This is often the best approach in any situation where you feel it is important to speak privately to the student or for the rest of the class to keep working while you deal with the problem.
  3. You can call the student by name and perhaps specify the problem.  This does not have to be done in a thunderous voice that can be heard over all other noise in the room.  Like the rest of us, students can pick the sound of their own names out of a considerable amount of background noise.  Try ending the action simply by calling the involved student by name – “Harry” – in a quite voice, perhaps making eye contact as he looks up.  Extending this approach, you might call the student by name and indicate what the problem is: “Rose, your pencil-tapping is disturbing the class.” (note the difference between this and the direct, “Rose, stop tapping your pencil,” which may be too dictatorial.)  This approach is often the best when there is a chance the student is unaware of being involved in any troublesome behavior.

There isn’t a teacher in the world who hasn’t used these tested and effective techniques.  The only thing unique to the LEAST approach is that the teacher uses it in an orderly and planned fashion and does not ‘waste’ steps in cases where they are not needed or are apt to be ineffective.  The progression here is from simple to more complex, with verbal involvement being considered more active than nonverbal involvement.  Remember the LEAST principle and do no more than absolutely necessary to stop what is going on.  In other words, don’t approach a troublesome student if eyeballing him or her is enough; don’t specify the problem if calling the student’s name ends the action.

A word of caution about eyeballing and moving closer: These techniques will generally stop any behavior, so be sure you want to stop it.  When misused, they will disrupt good behavior – reading, test-taking, discussion, etc. – as quickly as they do bad behavior. 

Here are a few additional guidelines you may want to keep in mind as you exercise Option #2 and end the action indirectly:

  1. It is rarely if ever a good idea to embarrass a student.  In ending the action, therefore, try not to do anything that will highlight the disruptive student since this will probably make him/her feel you are being unfair.
  2. Be sure to focus action-ending attention on the right party or parties.  Avoid scapegoating or singling out one student when several are involved – and don’t spread the blame when only one individual is at fault.


The situation in which one student interrupts another is an example of one that is best served if the teacher simply ends the action.  A student butting into another student’s commentary is certainly disruptive and such behavior cannot be tolerated.  At the same time, the teacher who chooses to do more than end the action indirectly may create a worse problem than existed originally by blowing the whole matter out of proportion.

Another example: Jim is a student who has a particularly grating voice.  It’s not too bad when he talks quietly, but if he raises his voice, it sets everyone’s nerves on edge!  Today Jim’s teacher has told the students they can work quietly together on a science project.  Everything is fine until Jim, excited about some phase of the project, begins talking more and more loudly to his partner.  Finally the teacher decides that he must end the action.  He does so by catching Jim’s eye and then beckoning him to the front of the room.

Again, this is an excellent way to end the disruptive action.  The majority of the class does not even notice the interaction between Jim and the teacher.  The teacher can speak to Jim privately at the front of the room without fear of embarrassing him before the class.  How much better this is than, for example, “Jim can’t you keep your voice down?”  As in the earlier example, the LEAST approach to in-class discipline turns out to be the best.

Now It’s Your Turn

Once again, take a few minutes to write down some in-class situations where you would want to end the action indirectly.  What would be your reason for acting instead of leaving matters alone?  What would be the simplest way you could end the action in each case?  Try to be as concrete and specific as you can in dealing with these related questions.  Remember, your aim is to develop ‘end the action indirectly’ as your second option is maintaining classroom discipline. 

So You End the Action, What Then?

There are several further options you will want to consider once you have ended a particular problem behavior in class. 

If ending the immediate action has also ended the entire problem for the foreseeable future, you may need to do no more than track the progress of the student involved. (See component #5)

If the problem has been fairly severe, representing a potential threat to your overall control of the classroom, you probably will want to attend more fully. (See Option #3)

Finally, if the problem has actually cost you control of the classroom, however briefly, after assessing the situation and communicating your awareness, spell out directions for the students involved.  (See Option #4)


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"Happy St.Patrick's Day"

Themes on Life

St. Patrick - The Patron Saint of Ireland


St. Patrick was a Christian missionary credited with the conversion of Ireland from paganism. He lived from the late 4th century A.D. to the mid 5th century A.D., so long ago that it's difficult to separate fact from legend.

St. Patrick was born in either Scotland or Wales, the son of Roman parents living in Britain. When he was about fifteen or sixteen, he was captured and enslaved by an Irish chieftain during a raiding party across the sea. He spent several years enslaved in Ireland, herding and tending sheep and swine. It was during his captivity that St. Patrick dedicated his life to God. Legend has it that St. Patrick escaped captivity and Ireland after a dream in which God instructed him to journey to the Irish coast where he found a ship that returned him to his family.

After years of religious study, he became a priest. In a document attributed to him known as "The Confession", St. Patrick heard the voice of the Irish in his dreams, "crying to thee, come hither and walk with us once more." Eventually, Pope Clemens commissioned St. Patrick as bishop to preach the gospel to the Celtic people. Arriving back in Ireland, he commenced an incredible mission, travelling across the country, preaching and baptizing, ordaining priests and bishops, erecting churches and establishing places of learning and worship, despite constant threats to his life. It has been said that he and his disciples were responsible for converting almost all the population of Ireland to Christianity.


The most famous legend about St. Patrick is that he miraculously drove snakes and all venomous beasts from Ireland by banging a drum. Even to touch Irish soil was purported to be instant death for any such creature. However, this legend is probably a metaphor for his driving the pagans from Ireland, as snakes were often associated with pagan worship.


Finding that the pagan Irish had great difficulty comprehending the doctrine of the Trinity, St. Patrick held up a shamrock (similar to a three-leaf clover) to show how the three leaves combined to make a single plant, just as the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost combined to make the holy Trinity. The Irish understood at once, and from that time the shamrock has been the symbol of the land. Irishmen wear it in their hats on the saint's day.


It is the death of Saint Patrick, and his recognition as the patron saint of Ireland, that led to the celebration of March 17th as Saint Patrick's Day. In Ireland, St. Patrick's Day is a holy, religious time with praying, singing and dance. Outside Ireland, St. Patrick's Day is primarily a secular celebration of all things Irish.

There are conflicting versions of the first North American celebration. One source says it was held in Boston in 1737 by the Irish Charitable Society, and later in Philadelphia and New York by the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick and the Ancient Order of Hibernians. Another source states that on March 17, 1762, a group of Irish-born soldiers, en route to the local tavern of renown to honor their patron saint, staged the first parade in colonial New York, complete with marching bands and colorful banners. Bystanders and passerby's joined the promenade, singing Irish ballads and dancing down the cobblestones. The event was so popular it has been repeated annually since then.


Ireland's nickname is "The Emerald Isle" because the grass on the hills is so green. Everyone wears the color green on St. Patrick's Day to honor The Emerald Isle. If someone forgets to wear green on St. Patrick's Day, those who are wearing green are allowed to give the offender a pinch as a reminder. However, if you pinch someone who is wearing green, that person gets to pinch you back ten times! Some of the biggest St. Patrick's Day parades are in Chicago, Illinois, New York City, and Savannah, Georgia. The city of Chicago goes so far to celebrate that they dye their river green!

For more Great St. Patrick's Day fun, facts and links visit http://www.blackdog.net/holiday/pat/

What's New @ StarTeaching?


Welcome to our first March issue.  This month we have some great articles to share!  Our web partner Tony Vincent shares four different student-response systems you can use in your classroom.  Mark Benn features an article and video on grading.  Our Featured Writer Rozina Jumani wraps up her series on an Educational Research she's done in Pakistan.

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Day 2 What is the reciprocal of 22?
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