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Ideas and Features For New Teachers
and Veterans with Class

Volume 7, Issue 6
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   The LEAST APPROACH to Classroom Discipline (part 5)   NEW! Science Selections: Rad Resources for Science Educators
NEW! Hank Kellner: 
"Write What You See"
Tech/21st Century Corner: 
Educational Networking
Voice, The Art of Poetry
Science Activities for Any Setting   10 Days of Writing Prompts   10 Days of Math Problems
School Features:
Education Vouchers
 (part 1)
New Teacher's Niche:
Enhancing Student Participation Through Practical Classroom Activities
Student Teachers' Lounge: Student Biographies and Interviewing
Book of the Month Club:
Common Core State Standards: Building a Solid Foundation
  Website of the Month:
  Themes on Life: 
"March Poetry"
Article of the Week: "March Madness"   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 5)


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.

Option #3:  Attend More Fully

When Should You Attend More Fully?

Attend more fully in any situation where, by virtue of its severity or complexity, you need to communicate to students your awareness and empathy and perhaps to get additional information from them about what is going on.  In general, a situation requiring you to end the action and then attend more fully will fulfill any one of the three conditions listed below:

1.  A high level of emotion is evident in a student's behavior and/or appearance.

2.  A student needs to know that you are really 'hearing' him or her.

3.  You need to hear more from the student about what is going on.

What does Attend More Fully Mean?

As treated here, attending more fully involves two related activities on your part: asking questions to get information from the student (or students), and chiefly, responding to what the student is doing and saying in order to show that you understand.  This responsive dimension to your questioning can make all the difference between whether a student volunteers helpful information or remains silent.   

Why Attend More Fully?

The purpose of attending more fully is to understand the situation and to determine the most appropriate thing to do.  Here is where you avoid making premature decisions and giving unrealistic directions to a particular student or group of students.  Use the responding action in order to communicate your attention and concern to the student(s).  In doing so, you may increase the likelihood that the student(s) will prsent more of the information you need. 

How Can You Attend More Fully?

As noted, there are two procedures for getting information from students: responding to action or statements and asking questions.

  1. Responding
    You can respond to the content of what a student expresses or to the feeling evident in his or her action or statements, or to both the content and feeling.  And you can do so both before and after posing questions.  The aim in responding is to show the student that you are paying attention, that you are aware of what the student is saying and feeling.  A teacher skilled in responding can do a great deal to make a student want to talk things out.
    A.  Responding to content: The content is what you see and hear -- no more and no less.  A response to content shows the student that you are paying full attention.  Formats to use in responding to content include, "You're (paraphrased version of behavior)," or, "You're saying (paraphrased version of expression)."  In the latter case, you'll need to rephrase the important part of the student's own expression in new words he or she can still understand.  It is important not to parrot a student's words.  Thus you might respond to a student who calls another a jerk by saying, "You really don't like him at all."
    B.  Responding to feeling:  Responding at this level shows the student that you understand what he or she is going through.  To respond to feeling, look at the student and listen carefully to both the tone and the content of his or her words.  Decide whether the student is feeling happy, sad, angry, scared, or confused, and whether these feelings are strong, moderate, or weak.  (Almost all feelings can e characterized in this way.)  Then respond by saying, "You look (feeling word)," or "You feel (feeling word)."  Thus to a red-faced boy who keeps clenching his fists and darting sharp glances at a classroom 'enemy,' you might initially respond, "You look really furious!"  (feeling = anger;  intensity = strong).
  2. Questioning
    There are two basic types of questions: "5WH" questions (who/what/when/where/why/how), or those designed to get student sto give a full factual account of a particular situation;  and yes/no questions, designed to let students give information through a monosyllabic answer.
    A. 5WH:  Who/what/when/where/why/how questions can be asked to get necessary facts from students on what is going on: "What did he say to you?" and so on.  While they are often more effective than yes/no questions, they do put more pressure on a student and in certain situations the student will clam up.  If the student seems to be especially nervous it might be well to ask yes/no questions in order to get communications going even though the information you get will be limited.  After you have obtained some yes/no responses, it will be easier to return to the 5WH question and get the information you need.
    B.  Yes/No:  Such questions allow a shy or troubled student to give the information you need with a minimum of pressure.  They can also reflect your awareness of the student's probable feelings as well as his or her situation.  A typical question might be, "Are you mad at Jimmy because he did something to you?"  The risk here, of course, is that you might accidently put an incorrect answer into a student's mind.  Jimmy may not have done something, but the "yes" answer is too tempting to pass up.

Here are a few additional guidelines you may want to keep in mind:

  1. Once you decide to end the action and ask for information, don't take your eyes and ears off the student involved.  The more you see and hear, the better you'll understand that student's current situation.  And the better this understanding, the easier it will be to frame effective responses.
  2. It is almost always best to respond to a student in private rather than before the rest of the class.  This way he or she won't be needlessly embarrassed.
  3. Add new "feeling words" to your vocabulary.  Accurate responding is the key to effective questioning -- and responses to feeling are among the most powerful responses of all.
  4. Try not to weaken your effectiveness by sounding like a judge.  If you respond to content with, "So you're saying I'm not fair," for example, don't tack on, "But I'm really not."  Remember, your aim at this point is simply to show concern and get information by being responsive and asking questions.  


The example of the class wise guys is one in which the teacher should attend more fully -- after ending the action.  Here the teacher might end the action by walking down the aisle toward the wise-cracking students.  He or she could then attend more fully by responding to what the students have been doing and saying (e.g., "You guys really seem bored by what the rest of us are doing.") and then asking questions to get information about what the real problem is.

Another example: Class has been underway for about five minutes when Rita arrives and sees everyone hard at work on a writing assignment.  It is the first time she's ever been late.  The teacher notes her nervous expression and the agitated way in which she moves toward her seat.  The teacher's gut reaction is to say something which will let all the students know that tardiness will not be tolerated.  but Rita looks upset, so the teacher decides to get some further information.  She catches Rita's eyes and beckons her to her desk.

"You're late, Rita, and you look pretty worried," the teacher says, responding to both content and feeling.  Then she poses a simple yes/no question: "Did you last teacher keep you late?"

"Oh no, Ms. Larson, but I went to my locker and found that someone had broken into it and poured water all over everything!"

Wanting more information, the teacher resorts to a question of the 5WH variety: "What did you have in your locker?"

"My good coat, and all my books, and a book report -- just everything!"

The teacher responds again to Rita's feelings -- "So you're really upset because all your things got soaked" -- and then asks whether the girl has reported the incident.  The teacher's responsiveness and gentle questioning have served her, and Rita, well.

Now Its Your Turn

What situations can you think of where you might need or want to attend more fully to a student?  What would keep you from merely issuing instructions on the spot?  What might a student do to show particular feelings?  How might you respond?  What questions might you ask?  By coming up with a variety of different situations and then answering questions about each, you'll learn the steps you need to take to ask students for information in the most effective way possible. 

So You End the Action, What Then?

Once you've responded to and obtained all the information you need from a student, you may choose to stop there if everything seems to be under control.  Alternatively, you may decide that you can only regain full control of the classroom by spelling out directions for future activity.  (see Option #4)

Finally, of course, you will again want to track the progress of the student..  (See component #5)



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.


Why I Write
(Adapted from Why I Write by Tim Swain)

Ask me why I write.

I dibbled and dabbled,
But none were
Quite the same as home

Excuse me while I steal the sky;
Recapture my youth;
Make sense of life;
Sing so angelic;

Breathe soul into an education.

I write
Expressions of my individualism.
The eye, and the heart.


I cry at night.

I cry with my voice.
I cry with my pen.
I cry ink and tears and screams

Of fear and joy.

Ask me

Photo 5 Illustration Courtesy Lisa Blair

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.  ~William Wordsworth



Life Expectancy
By Elizabeth Guy

Growing old.
Privilege or curse?
Consider the latter.
Some say its much worse.

Weve all heard the saying
From which truth is wrung:
Better to grow old
Than to die while youre young.

Youth and wonder.
Promise and pleasure.
Dreams to be dreamt.
Eager to have all,
A life must be spent

Some spend theirs wisely.
Some waste theirs away
Some have them stolen too soon.

But oh!  What a great ride,
This life that Ive lived.

Ive seen many places.
Ive walked many miles.
Thats why when I pass on,
 Ill do so with smiles



Photo 10 by Hank Kellner

Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.              

-  Doug Larson


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:



Feature Writer

Voice, the Art of Poetry

By Chris Sura

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

You can visit Chris at his website www.surawordz.com

"Be gone J. Evans Pritchard, Ph.D!" says John Keating (played by Robin Williams) in the movie Dead Poets Society. Mr. Keating is having his students read the introduction to poetry in the textbook. For the purpose of the movie, the passage is dull and the analysis of poetry sounds, as Mr. Keating put it, as if one was "laying pipe." Mr. Keating makes a good point, in that poetry is from the soul and should be tasted and experienced. And I agree, yet the craft of poetry should not be dismissed. To write an analysis of poetry, one must look at the components of the science and the art of poetry.

The science of poetry is the technique and tools of the author to create the poem and the voice of the poem. This is where the literary terms taught in classes come in: simile, metaphor, musical devices, rhyme patterns, imagery and structure. These are characteristics that set forms of poetry apart from other forms. Yet in this paradox of rules, poetry can break the rules. E. E. Cummings and Emily Dickinson are prime examples.

Because there are many great works that in no way resemble each other in structure of technique, defining poetry is difficult. However, the tie that binds poetry together is the essence that speaks to the reader or listener. That essence is voice. A voice communicates the literal and underlying messages of the speaker; it contains the relevance, the theme, and the soul of the poem. Thus, voice is the art of poetry. 

Therefore, in writing an essay on poetry, the writer needs to build a thesis statement that reflects the art and/or science of poetry: Communication, Relevance, Voice, Imagery, Technique and Structure. The focus of the essay may depend on what the writer wants to write about or what has been assigned by an instructor. It can be just about the theme of the poem, it can be about the speaker and voice, or it can be about the literary devices the author uses. Whatever the case or combination, the writer needs to look at the component(s) and pull examples from the poem that illustrate it. To do this, I ask my students questions.

Communication. Does the poem communicate a subject? Does the poem communicate a theme? Jean Toomer wrote "Reaper". The subject of the poem is a reaper cutting grass that cuts a rat. The theme of the poem, upon looking into the tools of imagery suggests that death is mechanical and continual. These subject and theme can comprise the whole essay depending how detailed the analysis breaks down the words and phrases.

Relevance. Is the subject or theme relevant or important to the reader? Can the reader relate to it? Most high school students say that the subject of "Reaper" is not relevant to them because they do not cut grass or work on a farm, yet the theme can be identifiable to them because they have dealt with death in some form.

Voice. Who is the speaker? Based on the words, what can you tell me about the speaker? What is the speakers tone? What is the speakers attitude or emotions? As with communication and relevance, voice is a major component that makes up the art of poetry. The voice gives us insight into the character of the speaker and the message and motivation of the character.

Imagery. What pictures are drawn? What senses are given pictures? How does imagery illustrate and communicate the speaker's voice and message? What colors are used? How does the alliteration add to the sound of the poem? Imagery is the construction of pictures for any of the five senses These questions lead to metaphor, symbolism, concrete nouns, musical devices and word choice.

Technique and Structure. Does the chosen structure assist the poet in communicating the theme? How does the repetition of a line add to the voice of the speaker? In other words, what does the writer do to enhance the poem and make the above components work together? Technique and structure choice overlap. From this component comes the authors preferred style. It can take us from Dickinson s poetry of phrases to the metered rhyme pattern that adds a lyrical effect to Longfellow's "The Wreck of the Hesperus" and its tragic tale.

These six components work together in a good poem no matter the poet and the poem. So, when writing an essay on poetry, look at Communication, Relevance, Voice, Imagery, Technique and Structure to guide the construction of the thesis statement. This understanding of the art and science of poetry leads to infinite number of good essays where the essay can delve into the intricacies of what gave life to the body of work, what made the blood flow in the veins and what gave breath to the voice. In other words, what made it real. And one can write an essay that respects the soul of the poem and the mind of the poet.


School Leadership



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

Student Biographies and Interviewing

Our biography project begins with careful planning long before the actual class implementation. The first step is to set up the access to information. We arrange our time with our local librarian so she's well aware of the project expectations. She always thinks of details we need, and she's really good about setting out autobiography/biography books and materials for us.

The students each check out an autobiography/biography book from the library. I require teacher's permission and approval before check out. I do allow students to use outside books, but they must still be brought in to be approved.

We allow students to 'test drive' the books for a one-week span. If the subject is just too boring or awful for the student, I do allow them to change books (though the due date stays the same!) The most important aspect to me is the reading of the book; we'll take time every day during the project to quiet read in the classroom. I want to stress the importance of the reading of biographical text, since it's much different than the fictional works they normally read.

You can also skip ahead of the reading of the book and move right into the fact finding session. If you have internet access and an updated encyclopedia you can find most or even all of the facts about your subject. But make sure your students are reading the books too.  This is important to get an overall, rounded-view of their character.  Be careful that your students have chosen biographies and not historical fiction or the various 'diary' books out there now!

This next step is to identify what information you want your students to find about their subject. We call this our 'fact-finding' stage.  We complete a note taking sheet which organizes the students' research. You can find a copy of our 'fact-finding' worksheet on our website. There are basic facts to find such as personal and family information, employment, and education.

Then there are the facts which must be uncovered, such as mentors they had, who they have influenced, their impact on society, and why they'll be remembered in history. Lastly, I'll have students complete several short writing assignments extending the new knowledge.  Sometimes students create interview questions and formulate fictional answers based on what they think the person would say. Another idea is to create a fictional conversation with that person which is held around a dinner table or around a campfire. There are many applications you can create to use the students' facts.

Finally, you need to consider what the students will do with their completed research. We have had students create PowerPoint documents and give in-class presentations. We have had them create posters to display their findings. This year we're putting our research onto each student's website along with any multi-media that is available to us (such as clip art, photos, audio and/or video clips).

Most years, we will have students pair up and interview each other.  Students find out personal information about each other, such as basic family and friends, schools and education, and where they've lived. They pose questions on likes/dislikes, favorites, and goals for the future. You can go ahead and create a short sheet of sample questions, then allow students to create their own as the interview goes on (also check out our website for a FREE printable copy of the interview sheet we use in class). Allow each student about 10-15 minutes to ask questions and write down answers, then have students trade roles.

Now you have enough information to create student biographies (or give the data sheets to the owners and have students create autobiographies). We will write these up in a narrative form to tell a life story, but we've also done projects like PowerPoints, web pages, and posters. One favorite is cutting out t-shirt shapes out of paper and having students write on them and decorate them with photos, drawings, and clip art. These are then presented to the class and hung in the hallways.

The biography project is not only required in our curriculum, but it is also fun for the students. It is also a great means of incorporating an informational text (non-fiction) into your class curriculum.


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

Educational Networking

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.

Ive talked about this before, but lets look at it again. Is your network working?  Have you expanded to a point that you are learning and sharing with others what you learn on a day-to-day basis?

For those Ive already lost, lets back up and look at what personal networking is all about. Networking comes from connecting and following others on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and many others. I have two Facebook accounts that Ive set up. One is for personal and the other is professional. The personal one is used for connecting to friends and family and seeing what they are doing in their lives. What I want to focus on is my professional Facebook page.

It is here that I connect to those that are in my profession as an educator and instructional technologist. On this account I can post many videos and blogs that I find on the Internet dealing with my profession. Likewise, my friends are doing the same things. From this, there is always so much to learn when you have many eyes scouring the Internet for news about educational change and whats going on. Sure, I still find out what is going on in their lives, and thats great, but it also helps me grow as a professional from the many things they post about our profession.

Also, as individualized learning keeps growing, we need to teach our students how to build their own learning network. We need to show them that learning can be fun by connecting to things that are of interest to them. The Internet opens the world to everyone.

Watch this short YouTube video on this subject.

I hope this challenges you to get more connected as a professional. Youll be glad you did.


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

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



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

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

StarTeaching Featured Writer

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

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




 Science Selections  

Rad Resources for 
Science Educators
Green Technology /
Green Education Focus

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

Green Technology / Energy Education Focus:

Department of Energy: Energy Efficiency and Renewal Energy

Teach your students the importance of green energy while enhancing your required curriculum.
Here you'll find many creative lesson plans, labs, projects and other activities for grades K-12 on
energy-related topics. Incorporate them into your classroom. Prepare your students for a greener

U.S. Green Building Council

Downloadable free PowerPoint presentations on green homes, green schools, Leadership in
Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), and more.

National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project

NEED is reaching classrooms through workshops, school visits, inquiry-based curriculum
and the traditional ways, but also reaching students and teachers online with video segments
about the Science of Energy experiments, redesigned curriculum guides for ease of download,
and coming soon, the launch of lessons designed to be used with todays exciting classroom

U.S. Energy Information Administration: Energy Kids

Find energy related stories, hands-on activities, and research articles for your classroom! These
curriculum-based lessons are separated by age-grade.

Sustainable Building Lesson Plan and Video


Be Sure to Check Out 
Our Website Store for Specials:


Education Vouchers
(part 1)

Courtesy of K12Academics.com

An education voucher, commonly called a school voucher, is a certificate by which parents are given the ability to pay for the education of their children at a school of their choice, rather than the public school to which they were assigned.



Those who favor school choice argue that they should be permitted to spend their tax dollars at the educational facility of their choosing, allowing parents to be able to choose which school they want their children to attend. They assert that implementing a voucher system would promote competition among schools of all types. The logic of such capitalist competition, proponents say, would be a greater incentive to improve the education system as efficiently as possible. Poorly performing schools would face closing unless they improved themselves, thereby attracting more students and funding. Those schools that best used their resources to educate would theoretically draw more students. In that way, accountability would be localized and not imposed by government standards. Further, it is noted that school vouchers allow for a greater possibility of economic diversity because the poorunder that systemcan attend private schools that were previously inaccessible.

Some studies support the hypothesis of reduced racial and economic segregation through the abolishment of territorial-based school allocation in the public monopoly system (where students are assigned to schools according to territory, thus dividing students between richer and poorer neighborhoods), as well as greater free choice and quality improvement by forcing schools to compete among themselves by offering more diverse and interesting programs.

Critics of the voucher system note that, in some systems, it is possible to have choice between schools within the public school system without vouchers.

Furthermore, the choice exercised by parents within the voucher system often results in the selection of a religious school, so that public funds are given to a religious institution. Theoretically, a religious school which endorses extremism could be eligible to accept taxpayer funded vouchers. However, most legislation on vouchers would include a provision that public funds may only be spent on education, not other religious activities.

Many argue that given the limited budget for schools, a voucher system weakens public schools while at the same time not necessarily providing enough money for people to attend private schools. (The opponents assert a tendency of the costs of tuition to rise along with its demand, which would compound the problem.) Opponents also claim that the vouchers are tantamount to providing taxpayer-subsidized white flight from urban public schools, whose student bodies are predominantly non-white in most large cities. Proponents such as Milton Friedman respond that the poor have an incentive to support school choice, as their children attend substandard schools, and would thus benefit most from alternative schools. Consequently, minorities, especially blacks, would benefit and contribute to the diversity of private schooling. The rich on the other hand, already attend schools of remarkable quality in affluent suburbs and would have no incentive to switch schools. In short, the more decrepit the school one attends, the more incentive he has to switch schools and thus benefit from school vouchers.

Interestingly, some fundamentalist groups side with liberals in opposition to school vouchers, albeit on different grounds. The general fundamentalist opposition is based on the source of the vouchers, which would be the government. Fundamentalists (who strongly oppose any government oversight of their operations) state that, if a church-run school accepts a government voucher, they have thus allowed the government the "right" to dictate the school's operation and, by extension, the church's operation as well. Therefore, the government could order the church to stop speaking against practices such as abortion and homosexuality, since it now "controls" the church through its acceptance of government funds. Other liberals believe it is unconstitutional to provide government funding for church-run schools as it promotes the state sponsoring relegion.

Some generally support school vouchers only coupled with standard tests, they reason that if there are not standard tests the schools in the school voucher system will give more students passing grades or "lower their bars" in order to attract students.

Further more criticism comes from various rich and poor people, assuming their vouchers will actually meet their taxes. Poor people believe that their vouchers will be worth less to schools and so selectivity in private schools will tend to be more biased against them, rendering their children with increasingly detoriating classmates and hence a slower learning curve ending in below average performance.

Logic dictates that the government might try to face this problem making rich people's vouchers equal to poor people's voucher and hence making the already rich school systems -and arguably better performing- (ex:Beverly Hills Unified School District) vulnerable to reduced funding.

Look for more in part 2 of this series!



Article courtesy of K12Academics.com




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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!


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Year of the Dogman Website
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Haunting of Sigma Website
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Nagual: Dawn of the Dogmen Website 
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The Longquist Adventures, written for elementary students, is excellent for teaching mythology and classic stories to young children.  




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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.

All teachers will surely agree on the reality of dealing with diverse learners ( who have different intelligence levels) in their day- to- day teaching: no doubt, it some times helps the facilitator to bring varieties in class to respond to various needs; on the other hand, it sometimes diverts the focus of the class as well.  

Educationists firmly believe when students dont get interaction and an environment of learning with fun, they usually get depressed and begin ill-behavior. A conscious teacher always keeps in mind the effective use of teaching which could be done through different teaching methods including a variety of teaching strategies. However these approaches bring out the learning environment as C.R.Christian and D.A Garvin mentioned, To teach is to engage students in learning.  Although the active engagement of learners is possible through various ways, all the suggested strategies have meaningful effects that facilitate students to take part in such activities and enjoy learning.  

Morally, teachers are responsible to engage their pupils in the learning experience, particularly in relation to the quality of the instructions and activities. No doubt, the ultimate purpose of any activity is learning, which can be obtained through doing. Hence it may be either Minds-on or Hands-on. Hands-on learning by doing is a powerful idea, and we know that engaging students actively and thoughtfully in their studies pays off in better learning. (Rutherford, 1993:5) Hand-on activities include arts & crafts, creative writing, role play, drama, problem solving.  Minds-on activities usually have students engaged in imagination, mind mapping, concept mapping, reflective thinking, brainstorming, higher order questioning, discussion, Think-PairShare, interviews, PMI, and analytical thinking. A qualified teacher may link these activities with proper lesson management and organization where learning takes place during the lesson to maintain pupil attention, interest and involvement. 

Having said that, the function of classroom activities is to maintain misbehavior at minimum level and sustain their interest. It also provides opportunities for children to explore & engage with the content in a creative and dynamic way. Furthermore, it encourages learners to express their thoughts, feelings, and responses. Jean Piaget (1896-1980) believed learning occurs by an active construction of meaning, rather than by receiving it passively. He states when we, as learners, encounter an experience or situation that conflicts with our current way of thinking, a state of imbalance is created. When a teacher allows learners to  construct their own knowledge, it automatically enhances their critical thinking which further leads him or her to take decisions  for their  self- development.  

No doubt this whole process makes learners motivated and active and takes them toward the constructivism where learners themselves partake in learning and make meaning.

This approach fosters in them the use of critical thinking; enabling students to learn through constructing their own understandings that make them active and motivated learners. 

Also, the constructivism theory suggests a simple and effective sequence called the 5 E Model where participants initiate their learning through personal Engagement, and Explore new knowledge through inquiry and experiences and connect their knowledge by Explanation. Moreover they practice and apply new context thorough Elaboration. Thus their understanding could be assessed through Evaluation even during the process or while getting the end result.

Here the most important question arises: Why do we need to do all such things in our classes?' The most suitable response is that our teaching should move around the holistic development of the child or learner who is the center of attraction and if in case, as teachers, we couldnt attract these children towards learning, then surely we ruin their natural instinct to learn and discover life.

Fortunately or unfortunately, there is no single magical formula to motivate learners or students towards learning. Many external and internal actors affected student's motivation and they were willing to work and to learn (Bligh, 1971; Sass, 1989); their interest in the subject matter, perception of its usefulness, their desire for greater achievement, self-confidence and self-esteem, as well as patience and persistence. Moreover, not all students are motivated by the same values, needs, desires, or wants; some students will be motivated by trial and error, other influenced by case studies, etc.

Researchers have begun to identify those aspects of the teaching situation that enhance students' self-motivation (Lowman, 1984; Lucas, 1990; Weinert and Kluwe, 1987; Bligh, 1971). To encourage students to become self-motivated independent learners, instructors can do the following:

    • Give frequent, early, positive feedback that supports students' beliefs that they can do well.

    • Ensure opportunities for students' success by assigning tasks that are neither too easy nor too difficult.

    • Help students find personal meaning and value in the material.

    • Create an atmosphere that is open and positive.

    • Help students feel that they are valued members of a learning community.

     Keeping in mind the milestones of every physical and cognitive age, it is also important how learners participate in learning within and outside classroom.  Also important are the types of tasks assigned to make their learning more meaningful. Vygotsky has discussed two types of students development in his thesis, "Zone of Proximal Development as cited by Crowl, Kaminsky & Poldell (1997:71), The level of actual development is the level at which an individual can function independently, whereas the level of potential development is the level at which the person can perform when working with a teacher or a group of students

As a teacher and learner myself, it is my conviction and experience that when we perform teaching as a conscious act, we not only enjoy but also become satisfied. It all depends upon the teacher who could be motivated intrinsically and/or extrinsically and can MAKE A DIFFERENCE in students' lives and their own lives as well.  


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"March Poetry"

Themes on Life

Wonderful thoughts as we transition into spring...


March wind upon my face,
Nubby lambs, shamrock lace,
Dancing kites soaring high,
Bold sunlight in azure sky -
Ah, yes, now I remember...
Spring awakening the world.

A Haiku
Graciously donated by Judith A. Lindberg

angry wind blowing
kite soars higher, higher, higher
hold tight, small daughter

St. Patricks Day...
by Jenny Smith

Well, what can I say?
Today is St. Patricks Day!!!!

I observe everyone that I've seen,
Just to see if they're wearing green.

If your not wearing it, and it's you I see...
When someone pinches you, It's probably me!

I love this holiday,
for it's alot of fun.
If you're not wearing green,
You better run!

I will pinch you,
I won't think twice.
Who said on this Holiday,
That I'd have to be nice?

This holiday gives us a right,
A right to be mean!
So if you're not wearing the color...
I'd advise you not to be seen!!!

What can I say?
It's St. Patricks Day!

What's New @ StarTeaching?


Hello readers!  Welcome to your first March issue of Features For Teachers for 2011!   

This month, we bring another great poetry/photograph selection from Hank Kellner from his upcoming book, Reflections. We are also pleased to showcase another set of super science resources by Helen de la Maza, these ones themed by Green Technology, .  

You'll also find great articles from  Chris Sura and Mark Benn, as well as from guest writers Rozina Jumani 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 

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Common Core State Standards - Building a Solid Foundation

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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
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Day 1 If the diameter of a circle is 14, what is the radius?
Day 2 If the diameter of a circle is 56, what is the radius?
Day 3 If the radius of a circle is 41, what is the diameter?
Day 4 If the radius of a circle is 33.7, what is the diameter?
Day 5 If the diameter of a circle is 70, what is its circumference?
Day 6 If the diameter of a circle is 4, what is its circumference?
Day 7 If the radius of a circle is 12, what is its circumference?
Day 8 If the radius of a circle is 100, what is its circumference?
Day 9 If the circumference of a circle is 28, what is its diameter?
Day 10 If the circumference of a circle is 40, what is its radius?


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Looking At Leaves
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Seed Science
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Using Photography To Inspire Writing
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"History of March Madness"
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