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Ideas and Features For New Teachers
and Veterans with Class

Volume 7, Issue 10
May 2011
StarTeaching Store Advertise with us Previous Articles Submit an Article FREE Reports Feature Writers Tech Center New Teacher's Niche

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

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

What's New @ StarTeaching   Best Quotes From Summer Reading   NEW! Science Selections: Rad Resources for Science Educators
NEW! Hank Kellner: 
"Write What You See"
Tech/21st Century Corner: 
Enhancing Learning Through Great Websites
Building Respect With Students
Science Activities for Any Setting   10 Days of Writing Prompts   10 Days of Math Problems
School Features:
Year Round School (part 1)
New Teacher's Niche:
Challenges of Curriculum
 (part 2)
Student Teachers' Lounge: Change Lives!  Be a Mentor! (part 1)
Book of the Month Club:
Best Practices in Writing Instruction
  Website of the Month:
  Themes on Life: 
"Ode to the End of the Year"
Article of the Week: "Was There A Trojan War?"   Spring Book Sale for Teachers      

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

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


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

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

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



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Best Quotes From Summer Reading

By Janice Rozich 
Middle School Teacher
Lake Ridge Middle School, 
Schererville, IN

Having your own students advertising books can be a great way of getting more students to read.  The American Film Institute website is also a great place to find ideas for your classroom, including the "Best Quotes" idea presented below.

AFI’s recent tribute to movies in the form of developing a list of the top 100 quotes from movies got me thinking.  How many of us have lists of books for students’ summer reading?  How many of us ask that they write book reports on what they have read?  No matter what form these reports take in terms of length or comprehensiveness, can we agree that these reports often end up being less about how much fun the book was to read than they are about answering a list of forgettable questions about the book? 

So, here’s my idea.  When your students return to school this August, instead of that book report, ask them to find a phrase or sentence from the book that encapsulates the theme of the book or a memorable character from the book.  The student has to use critical thinking in order to select just the right phrase or sentence.  I think a great way to showcase this effort is to create a poster for the book that contains the selection; along with the title and author, the student could include a graphic of some kind.  Once the poster is complete, it can be hung in the media center, in the school hallway, or your own classroom.  What a great way to advertise a book!

To get you started, can you guess the book from which these quotes were taken:

1.  "Greasers will still be greasers and Socs will still be Socs. Sometimes I think it’s the ones in the middle that are really the lucky stiffs."
2.  "Have you seen this wizard? Approach with extreme caution! Do not attempt to use magic against this man!"
3.  "What does it mean that Germans despise me simply because I am a Jew?"


1.  The Outsiders, S, E, Hinton
2.  Harry Potter (Prisoner of Azkaban), J. K. Rowling
3.  The Diary of Anne Frank, Anne Frank

For more information on the American Film Institute, quick click the link below:




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Feature Writer

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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.


Soda Shop Stop
By Elizabeth Guy

It was a small soda shop
in a small little town
where we’d stopped to watch a fair—
a festival scene
on a grassy green—
a party in ginger-ale air.

In that small soda shop
with its bent iron chairs
sitting outside by the door
we stopped
in the heat of the moment
to rest a moment or more.

In the heat of the moment
we stopped
to share a cone
of chocolate ice cream
mounded round as a dream
and dripping its own
tongue-licking cool cream.

Which I licked with you
making swirls of my own
with my tongue glistening pink on that coldness—
for to lick your skin would be a sin sin
in public—
condemned for boldness.

Photo 6 By Hank Kellner

“Ice cream is exquisite.  What a pity it isn't illegal.”  -Voltaire



By Julie Brown

every year, it’s always the same
the brown, rough statues stand tall        
feet firmly planted in the ground
hoping to grow, reaching the sky
just out of grasp
then come the pesky green dots
spots of color – until mid-spring
then they are in full force
waving, swinging, attracting attention
the trees just sigh and stand
by autumn, they’ve had enough
they start to burn the leaves off
slowly, one by one
green to yellow to orange to red to brown
as they fall, the trees regret
winter’s here and they’ve lost their coats


Photo 7 by Hank Kellner

“I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do.”                               - Willa Cather


Copyright 2009 Hank Kellner

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


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


iPod Touch

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Mastering Basic Skills software:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click HERE to order your own copy today:



Guest Writer

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Building Respect With Students 

By Dave Hare

It has been said that, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care".  This is also true with kids.

Kids are people too and they deserve respect as people that you would give to any adult.  When I was a student, I was expected to respect my teachers and the adults of school by my parents, but today’s kids do not have that same expectation on them.  This means that we, the teachers, must swallow our pride and show respect to the kids first in order for the kids to respect us.  This seems backwards, but there is no use fighting that battle (maybe we can discuss this in a future article!)

As soon as you show respect to the kids, they become less defensive and open to your teaching, advice, ideas, and recommendations.  Word gets around the kids of the school that you are a fair person because you care.  I believe that you can show that you care for kids when you show them that they deserve to be respected as people.  This has allowed me to be able to manage my classroom more effectively too.  

"People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care" The kids know that I respect them and that I expect them to respect me back.  They know that the "lines have been drawn" in terms of proper behavior in class.  

So, I have set rules based on what I believe is respectful.  This goes over much easier when the kids feel respected by me, the teacher.  I only send kids to the office when a student has crossed too many lines and I just need him/her out to maintain my own composure.  This has not happened in a few years (Knock on wood).

Respect shows that you care and when the kids know you care, they will respect and listen to you, and you will have an easier time in your classroom management no matter what level you teach.




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

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Change Lives! Be a Mentor
(part 1)

by Jill Gurr
Create Now!

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


Half of the U.S. youth population (17.6 million kids to be exact) is considered to be “at-risk” of getting into trouble with the law, or “high-risk” and already in trouble. This isn’t a problem only in the United States. Street gangs, drug addiction, child prostitution, abuse and neglect are major concerns around the world.

Our children need help!

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


Tasha is another perfect example that proves mentoring makes a difference. She came from a poor community in South Central, Los Angeles. A bright girl with many talents, she didn’t get along with her family. When she was thirteen years old, Tasha began running away from home. She hung out with boys who got in trouble with the law. She was sent to detention camps and different institutions over the next few years.

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

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

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

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



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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

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  TECH/21st Century CORNER

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Enhancing Learning Through Great Websites

By Mark Benn, Middle School Teacher

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.

This article will touch on a number of great sites that will enhance what you are doing or send you into another great direction.

http://www.wikispaces.com/   Create simple web pages that groups, friends, & families can edit together. K-12 Teacher? We're giving away 100,000 free wikis for primary/secondary education.

http://www.jingproject.com/   Jing Project provides free screen capture and sharing software for Mac and Windows computers. Screenshots are very useful when making how-to handouts and slide shows. Videos of your desktop are great for how-tos and tours of web sites or software.

http://www.gizmoz.com/   Founded in 2003, Gizmoz offers consumers a new generation of character-based visual expression for use across their digital lives.
The Gizmoz service makes it easy and fun to create, customize, animate and share lifelike, 3D talking characters that
enable individuals to put a unique face and voice to their digital communications.

http://www.think.com/en/   Think.com connects schools, teachers, and students from around the world to collaborate on projects, share experiences, and build knowledge together. Teachers can easily integrate project learning into their curriculum, enabling students to develop critical skills for life and work in the 21st century. Teachers and students build their own webpages to share learning experiences. Simple publishing tools allow members to easily create content and engage one another in thoughtful online discussions.

http://www.teachertube.com  Free videos made by teachers for teachers to use in the classroom.

http://rvms.nbed.nb.ca/  Check out this school site that hosts a K-12 video and photography festival. Just imagine what your students could do. The International Student Film and Photography Festival is now accepting submissions until March 31st., 2008!

http://imbee.com/   imbee is a parent approved, teacher endorsed social networking site appropriate for kids and 'tweens.

http://www.lulu.com/  Lulu is fast, easy and free

Publish and sell easily within minutes.
No set-up fees. No minimum order.
Keep control of the rights.
Set your own price.
Each product is printed as it is ordered.
No excess inventory.

http://earth.google.com/  If you think this is the old Google Earth, think again. Check out Tony Vincent’s article at: http://tonyvincent.net/?q=node/30 to find out more.

http://voicethread.com/classroom.php  Quoting from the website: A VoiceThread allows every child in a class to record audio commentary about the ideas and experiences that are important to them. Whether an event, a project, or a milestone, children can tell their story in their own voice, and then share it with the world. For teachers, VoiceThreads offer a single vessel to capture and then share all the diverse personalities of an entire class.

There you have it. Ten assorted web sites that should provide something of interest for everyone.


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  

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Rad Resources for 
Science Educators
Summer Professional Development (part 1)

by Helen De La Maza

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

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

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

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

I’ll do the searching for you and highlight every couple weeks some Rad Resources for Science Educators. Feedback is appreciated! Email me at: delamazah@earthlink.net

Summer Professional Development & Training, Part I

Wildlife Conservation Society Teacher Academy Courses Website

Marine Biology for Elementary Educators: July 8 - August 29, 2011; Cost: $275
The ocean covers 75% of the earth’s surface and yet the animals that live here remain unfamiliar
to most of us. This course will submerse you in the biology of aquatic animals. You will increase
your knowledge about marine biology and be able to build a connection between your students
and the oceans while covering topics core to elementary education. This course combines
interactive activities, stories, literacy and math teaching with learning about sea creatures.
Participants will receive an electronic version of Elly Jelly Looks at Marine Animals student
book and teacher’s guide “Elly Jelly’s Surprise.”

Montana State University Online Courses

Classes June 13 - August 5, 2011 (individual course length and cost vary) include:
• BIOL 580 Plant Science: It Grows on You (1 cr)
• BIOL 519 Biology of Riparian Zones (2 cr)
• ERTH 591 Fundamentals of Oceanography (3 cr)
• EDCI 537 Contemporary Issues in Science Education (3 cr)
• EDCI 580 Teaching Inquiry in the Science Classroom (2 cr)
• MSSE 580 Web Tools for Science Teachers (3 cr)
• LRES 580 Streamside Science: Hands-on Approaches to Water Quality Education (3 cr)
• PHSX 511 Astronomy for Teachers (3 cr)

Seminars on Science

Summer Session 2: July 4 – August 14, 2011
Register by June 20, 2011; $50 discount until June 6. Each course $465.
Classes offered include:
• Earth: Inside and Out
• Genetics, Genomics, Genethics
• The Link Between Dinosaurs and Birds
• The Ocean System
• Sharks and Rays

Cornell Lab Birdsleuth Online Summer Course

Over 5 weeks, starting June 6, 2011, you’ll participate in lively discussions, test your own
hypothesis, conduct wiki-based peer review, and get feedback on your ideas for implementing
free inquiry-based curriculum with your students. You’ll have the opportunity to practice science
investigations just like the ones you’ll try with your students! Four CEU credits from Cornell
University are available for $10. Cost of course is $350. Registration: June 1, 2011.


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Be Sure to Check Out 
Our Website Store for Specials:


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Year Round School 
(part 1)

Courtesy of K12Academics.com

Year-Round School is the operation of educational institutions on a calendar-system that tracks students into class schedules throughout the entire calendar year. A primary motivation is that higher student throughput is accomplished via more effective scheduling of school resources. Funding considerations favor multi-tracking students, which allows more students to use the same number of classrooms - instead of constructing entirely new schools. Opponents cite higher costs due to utilities and the delay of building new facilities when they are needed, and ADM losses.

In addition to these systems, students enrolled in year-round classes often claim that their calendar schedule is more balanced. Advocates claim that year-round calendars help students achieve higher and allow teachers to provide more effective education. Reports from the California State Department Of Education show that standardized test scores increased an average of 9.5% in Grade 3 with an average increase of 13.3% in reading scores.

Conversely, Los Angeles Assistant Superintendent Gordon Wohlers stated, "In a sworn declaration, Assistant Superintendent Gordon Wohlers conceded that for years L.A. school officials have, in effect, perpetrated a fraud on the children of Los Angeles. Year-round education is not, in fact, a swell way to keep kids learning all year, as district officials originally claimed. Instead, the schedule, as practiced here, has hurt students badly, declared Wohlers. ". Lawsuits have even been filed against various school districts, citing year-round schools as being "harmful to students."

Track Scheduling

Organization of the school calendar redistributes time from the traditional summer vacation to other times throughout the year in the form of breaks called inter sessions.

Two forms of year-round education are common:

Single-Track calendars
As with traditional calendars (all single track calendars are modified traditional calendars), all students attend school during the same intervals, and share the same scheduled breaks. Single-track year-round calendars are known by many names; Balanced Calendar, Modified Calendar, Alternative Calendar. This list is not all inclusive. All year-round calendars are identified by their characteristics, not by what name has been chosen by the school district. These characteristics are shortened summer vacation, Fall breaks, extended Christmas and/or Easter breaks, and early school start dates. Typical school start dates are in late July/early August.

Multi-track scheme
Students are assigned different schedules called tracks. These tracks are also split up throughout the year, but a single student is not required to attend every single track in order to complete one full year of education. At all times during the year, students in the same school will be on vacation while others are schooling. Typical school start dates are in July.

Whether on a single- or multi-track schedule, students attend school for a prescribed length of time and then have a vacation. These breaks, whether vacation time or instruction time, are known as inter sessions. Common schedules are 7 to 12 weeks of school, followed by a 1-3 week break. Summer vacations are shortened to as little as 4 weeks in order to support the added breaks throughout the year.

Look for more on the advantages and disadvantages of Year Round School in upcoming issues!



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!


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

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Challenges of Curriculum
(part 2)

By Salima Moosa Sewani

Salima Moosa Sewani has been in the field of teaching for 8 years. She is running her own Learning Center and also working with the Exceptional People in Pakistan. She is a Master Trainer and has done many teaching certifications.

Teaching is indeed a much respected but a challenging profession. The knowledge and expertise of a teacher helps him/her to fight back the challenges, but a positive ‘learning’ attitude is also required. I believe that we all are in a learning process. Every day we learn something new by making mistakes. 

The most challenging task for the religion teacher is to integrate and implement the curriculum of primary and secondary effectively. The primary curriculum is not fulfilling the needs of mentally challenged people. During my teaching experience at the Aga Khan special people religious school, I have deeply analyzed that most of the teachers could not teach the primary Ta’lim curriculum to them, because the Intellectual Quotient  of exceptional people is comparatively lower than normal children studying in religious education centre.  I am a proud of the challenged students, who wants to do every thing to fulfill their religious needs as well. I courageously took this challenge and participated in a master training program in inclusive education with few teachers. I also joined Pakistan association research in education to acquire continuous trainings. We developed few lessons plan resources and developed IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) which helped teachers to teach borderline children about faith Tariqah and basic ethics in a diluted form. 

I would suggest that there should be a same curriculum book for them in a more diluted form or there should be a permission granted to the teachers to amend curriculum according to their desires. 

I have one example of my student A. She is in class 7 in Religious Education Centre. She is borderline student. She shared the difficulties which she faced a month back with me. She told me that my class teacher had failed me in all the subjects and forced me to repeat the class; but I don’t want to sit in the same class for the third time. I asked but she refused, because this was third time teacher failed me. When I asked teacher, she told me that A doesn’t understand anything. Therefore, and we can’t promote her. When I asked few questions to A regarding the chapters of history, she was unable to reply even a single question due to typical curriculum for children with special needs.  

Before my teaching practicum, I observed the religious school for a few days, and I found a competitive atmosphere to teach secondary curriculum, given by ITREB for a time being. Teachers are planning lesson plans ineffectively and most of the teachers are not participating in the teacher training courses due to busy schedule. I hope that the future curriculum of secondary will provide adequate knowledge of the subjects to the students for leading a religious life in this progressive world. 

Challenging in the classroom is the most competitive part for teachers. Whether it’s a religious or a secular school, class room interaction is very important while teaching. If there will be no proper classroom interaction, then a child will not grow as per need. Classroom interaction plays a vital and crucial role in effective learning of the children. Teachers are facing lots of challenges during their classroom interaction.  

One of the most important challenges teachers are facing is favoritism. During my observation at the Government school, I saw teachers were giving value to those students which s/he likes a lot and appreciate those, who are extra ordinary brilliant in classroom. Those who are good at studies got the least marks in exams just because of the favoritism of a teacher.  Teachers aren’t motivating and encouraging those children who’re shy and feeble in studies. Their learning becomes stuck due to the wrong attitude of a teacher. I personally faced that challenge, when my supporting teacher was appreciating favoritism in class room. I saw one reserved child in my class, who was avoided by the teacher, most of the time. A was the shy child in my class. He didn’t speak a single sentence in class. I always supported him by praising him and inspiring all the time and tried my best to engage him in group activities. 

Another challenge of classroom interaction is communication. Teachers cannot teach the students in their cultural language, if s/he may find an exceptional case of different background student in his/her class. When I was teaching in Afghan camp back in 1999, the most important challenge I faced was the challenge of communication. They understood neither Urdu nor English. They only used to communicate in Persian. Whenever I taught in Urdu, they laughed which led to disciplinary problems. I took this challenge and worked hard to learn few foundational words and sentences of Persian language. After working hard, I was at least able to communicate them. I also was able to maintain discipline after that.  

One more challenge facing by the teachers is lack of planning in teaching, which I also faced in special night school.  Classroom interaction doesn’t mean within the class, it means to create classroom environment any where, especially for special students. When I joined religious school, I observed that the main focus of all the teachers was on theoretical learning. There was no interactive session in classroom. No indoor and outdoor activities were designed, which could help to create pleasant environment. I talked to my head and took instant action and prepared few activities for them which helped to develop their interest which they required the most rather than traditional classroom environment.                                                                    

Another issue in a class is of time management. Teachers mostly teach in the form of lecture without pre-planning. And when they feel that time is running out, few of the teachers end up their lesson by leaps and bounds, that the students sometimes feel as if their opinions are not being given enough priority. I believe, that a lesson should be pre- planned and if, incase, teachers will not be able to cover the course on time, even then, they should at least make the most out of their teaching.  

An important challenge in the classroom is classroom management as it’s very important to create and sustain healthy environment in the class through which child learning capability will be developed. When I started teaching in Karachi Kids University, I was given a room with no proper arrangement for children. There was very limited space; but the number of students was more due to which students were not feeling comfortable. I went to the administrator and asked her to divide students into two groups and allocate another class through which they can study at ease. After that initiative, children thoroughly enjoyed the studies. Our books also reflect that males are dominant in our society. 

Dr. Zaira Wahab expresses his opinion, 
“Gender inequality is a problem embedded in the fabric of Pakistan’s social structure. The problem emanates at the primary level, as low participation and high dropouts at this stage prevent females from reaching higher education and equitable opportunities for such furtherance do not become available to the female gender...…when both girls and boys are given opportunity to practice language in classroom activities, the girls will get lesser practice chances as their dialogues are shorter and fewer.”2 

I agree, because during my teaching practicum in Government school, the challenge that I faced was of gender biasness. I saw many teachers giving importance and lots of attention to boys rather than girls. Females were discouraged to participate in class room. Due to that gender biasness, girls showed lack of interest in studies and their grades were low as compared to boys. During my teaching practicum, I tried to assure females students of their equal importance in class participation.  I gave equal importance to both genders by which female students feel relaxed and their curiosity towards learning was developed. 

I must conclude,

“Sometimes struggle are exactly what we need in our life. If nature allowed us to go through our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us.”( anonymous) 



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"Ode to the End of the Year"

By Heather Skipworth Craven
Themes on Life

Happy thoughts as the school year comes to a close...

Roses are rare,
Violets need care.
My desk is a chaotic mess.
The bulletin boards are holey and worn,
How many more assessment tests???

Folders are creased,
Pencils are chewed and nubby,
My file cabinet bulges and bends,
And if I get one more apple thing for teacher appreciation
I will definitely go off the deep end.

Roses are magic
Violets are fragile
And so is my classroom control
Spring fever has descended...
My expectations up ended
And my schedule is taking its toll...

But ah, there are the moments
That are now etched in deep
Of trust and the awe of discovery,
The laughter, and tension
Ideas…too many to mention,
Friendships to savor and keep.

Roses all too soon fade
Violets are delicate as glass
My students will move on
Their lives a learning song,
My hope and daily prayer
Is for my touch on each child to last.

Roses are treasured,
Violets are nurtured
Students grow, blossom and transcend,
Oh that I can be that teacher they remember
As a life gardener and a friend


What's New @ StarTeaching?


Hello readers!  Welcome to your second May 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 also have a great set of science resources by Helen de la Maza, organized around Professional Development for the summer.  

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Day 1 How many years are in a decade?
Day 2 Lucy’s class took a field trip to the science museum. They left school at 7:30 A.M. It took them 30 minutes to drive to the museum. They stayed at the museum for 2 hours and it took them 30 minutes to drive back to the school. What time was it when Lucy's class got
back to school?
Day 3 For basketball practice, Daniel’s team practiced defense for 1 hour and 30 minutes and offense for 30 minutes. If the practice ended at 5:30 P.M., what time did it start?
Day 4 Rose starting playing video games as soon as she got home from school. She played video games for 1 hour. Then, it took Rose 1 hour and 30 minutes to finish her homework. When Rose finished her homework, it was 5:00 P.M. What time did Rose get home from school?
Day 5 Joshy's soccer practice started at 7:00 A.M. on Saturday morning. The team practiced dribbling for 1 hour and practiced shooting for 30 minutes. Then they played a scrimmage game for 30 minutes before practice ended. What time was it when Joshy's soccer practice ended?
Day 6 Chase went to the playground at 11:30 A.M. He played on the slide for 30 minutes and the swings for 30 minutes, then went home. What time was it when Chase left the playground?
Day 7 John toured San Francisco with his family. They started their tour at 1:00 P.M. at the Golden Gate Bridge, where they spent 1 hour and 30 minutes. They spent 3 hours on a tour of
Alcatraz and 30 minutes in Chinatown before dinner. What time did John and his family go to dinner?
Day 8 Patricia went camping with her family. They left their house at 4:00 P.M. It took 1 hour to drive to the campground. When they arrived, they spent 30 minutes setting up the campsite and 30 minutes cooking dinner. What time was it when Patricia and her family finally ate dinner?
Day 9 Maria flew from Boston to Orlando with a stop in Atlanta to switch planes. The flight from Boston to Atlanta was 3 hours long. Maria was in Atlanta for 1 hour and 30 minutes, and
her flight from Atlanta to Orlando was 1 hour long. Maria landed in Orlando at 1:30 P.M. What time did Maria's first flight leave Boston?
Day 10 Before art class, Mary Ann has a spelling test that lasts 30 minutes. Art class lasts for 1 hour and 30 minutes and ends at 12:30 P.M. What time does Mary Ann start the spelling test?


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