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Ideas and Features For New Teachers
and Veterans with Class

Volume 7, Issue 19
October 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   Tech Corner: Tech Blogs   Building Positive Relationships with Librarians
NEW! Tony Vincent's Blog: Myths about iOS, iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch Relation of Color with Child Psychology Themes on Life: "Old Jack - A Pumpkin Story"
Science Activities for Any Setting   10 Days of Writing Prompts   10 Days of Math Problems
School Features:
Dyslexia (part 2)
New Teacher's Niche:
The Writing Process: Class Paragraph Writings
Student Teachers' Lounge: Group Work in Class
 (part 1)
Book of the Month Club:
First Year Teacher's Survival Guide
  Website of the Month: The Chronicle of Higher Education   Article of the Week: "Big Fish in Troubled Waters"

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

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


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

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

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

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



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Featured Articles

Building Positive Relationships Around Your School:

This SPECIAL REPORT is from a series of articles on building positive relationships in your school. They include building relationships with your office secretaries, janitors, librarians, and cooks.  All of these people are vital to the running of the school, and its in your best interest to 'get in good' with them as soon as possible.

This third article describes why you should get in the good graces of your librarian.

A good librarian, or media specialist as they are being called in many schools, is certainly an asset to your district. 

The traditional librarian role has been changing rapidly, even over the past ten years.  With great changes in technology and communication, a media specialist must readily handle the tremendous variety of computer hardware, software, and all of those 'connective tissues' - the cables, wires, peripherals, and even the controls of every piece of equipment from vcrs to dvds to camcorders.

The internet has revolutionalized the world's communication and the way we research.  Libraries are moving away from thousands of tomes to computer terminals where entire buildings of information and texts can be found.  Many books and periodicals are now found on-line.  E-books, with their low cost and easily-updated versions, are quickly gaining both popularity and a share of the literary market.  Hand-held computers, which utilize E-books and downloadable text books, are being used around the country.

Your librarian / media specialist can help you with projects you may wish to have students do in class.  These can include basic book reports or research papers, or they may be elaborate multi-media presentations using PowerPoint or other computer programs.  In many cases, libraries are also school computer labs, and if you can get in good with your librarian, you may be able to schedule optimal times for your class. Librarians may also be the ones to check out tech materials, such as vcrs, dvds, and cameras. 

All in all, it is worth your time to get to know your local librarian, and build a positive relationship.  They can make your teaching life easier and more productive.


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Myths about iOS, iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch

By Tony Vincent

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

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

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

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

I have the pleasure of working with educators who get to use iPads and iPod touches with students. Wherever I facilitate workshops, I find there are some myths floating around about Apple's iOS devices, and I'd like to clear up some of the misinformation.

iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch do not have user manuals.

Gone are the days when you receive a thick printed user manual with your electronics purchase. Instead of an in-depth guide, Apple includes a glossy folded-up single sheet of paper called Finger Tips in the box. You can hardly call this a user manual. But, if you want a nearly 200 page user manual, you can download one online or in the iBooks app.

You have to have a credit card associated with your iTunes account.

A credit card is not required when you create an iTunes account. Apple would be delighted to get a credit card number from you, but they do provide a way to keep your credit card number to yourself.

First log out of any iTunes accounts you might be signed into. Then simply tap to download any free app in the App Store. When prompted to log into an account, choose Create New Account. When asked for a credit card, choose None. The None option only appears if you create an account by first trying to install a free app. If you try to create an account in any other manner, Apple will not present the None choice and will require a credit card number for the account. Read my previous post, iTunes Account Without a Credit Card

If you have already given iTunes a credit card number, you can log into your account and click to edit your payment information. You should be able to select None for Payment Type.

You can buy an app once and install it on all devices in the classroom or school.

While it is technically possible to purchase an app once and install it on an unlimited number of devices, Apple's Terms and Conditions states:

If you are a commercial enterprise or educational institution, you may download and sync an App Store Product for use by either (a) a single individual on one or more iOS Devices used by that individual that you own or control or (b) multiple individuals, on a single shared iOS Device you own or control. For example, a single employee may use an App Store Product on both the employee's iPhone and iPad, or multiple students may serially use an App Store Product on a single iPad located at a resource center or library. For the sake of clarity, each iOS Device used serially by multiple users requires a separate license.

Individual consumers can sync an app to multiple devices, but Apple expects schools to purchase an app for each and every devices upon which it is installed. In order to buy multiple licenses for apps, there's the App Store Volume Purchase Program. Not only can educational institutions buy in bulk, but the Volume Purchase Program often gives a 50% discount.

The Volume Purchase Program is only for paid apps. Free apps can still be downloaded one time and installed on as many devices as you'd like. If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I often share apps that have temporary become free. Simply document that you downloaded an app to a school account when it was free and you can treat it like any other free app (i.e. install it on class sets of devices). Read my blog post, Things to Know about Apps & Apple Devices, for more about apps in classrooms.

Once you fill 12 home screens of apps you cannot install any more.

It's true: you are limited to a dozen Home screens. You can fill those screen with apps, folders, and web page icons. However, once filled you can still install more apps. The catch is that the apps won't have icons on your Home screen. To launch an app that doesn't have a Home screen icon, you'll need to search for it. Access search by clicking the Home button (or swiping right) while you're on your first Home screen. Note: when you have filled all 12 screens, Safari no longer gives you the option to add a webpage to the Home screen.

You need a Mac to sync multiple devices.

For simplicity, I highly recommend syncing a class set of iPads or iPod touches to one computer. That computer's iTunes Library will have all apps, audio, video, playlists, podcasts, and iTunes U content in it. When you make a change to the iTunes Library, that change is mirrored onto all the devices upon the next sync. 

You can sync multiple devices simultaneously to one computer. There are cartstrays, and cases designed for this task. These syncing solutions all suggest using a Mac for syncing. The problem is that some schools don't allow Macs and some teachers are afraid they won't know how to use a Mac.

Yes, you can use a Windows PC to sync multiple devices. However, Windows computers tend to have problems syncing more than a few devices simultaneously. A Macintosh would be my syncing computer of choice because it does indeed work better (but a Mac can still choke on syncing 20 devices all at the same time). But if a Mac isn't an option for you, a Windows PC will be ok. You will have to babysit it more, perhaps by connecting just a few devices at a time instead of a whole cart at once.

I'm hopeful that syncing is less of an issue when iOS 5 comes out this fall. Wi-Fi Sync will work with Mac or Windows. Apple's website brags:

Wirelessly sync your iOS device to your Mac or PC over a shared Wi-Fi connection. Every time you connect your iOS device to a power source (say, overnight for charging), it automatically syncs and backs up any new content to iTunes. So you always have your movies, TV shows, home videos, and photo albums everywhere you want them.

Apps stay open after you leave them and this drains the battery and slows down the device.

You can view the most recently used apps by double-clicking the Home button. The apps appear at the bottom of the screen. You can flick left to see more apps. All of these apps are not actually running. They appear on the list simply because you launched them lately. Yes, some apps run in the background, like Pandora for playing music or Twitter for receiving notifications. But, most apps do not actually run in the background. They simply stay frozen until you switch back to using them. You can remove an app from the list by touching and holding the app icon until it begins to jiggle and then tapping the red minus button.

I met a media specialist who would manually go through and close all apps that appear in the recents list at the end of each school day. She thought that all of those apps in the list were running and therefore draining the batteries in her school's iPod touches. I can only imagine how much time it took her each day to accomplish this. Alternatively, she could have simply powered down the iPods. When powered back on, an iPod touch's (and iPhone's and iPad's) memory is completely cleared. However, the recent apps list is not cleared, which made this media specialist feel she had to do it manually.

In 2010 Apple's Scott Forstall was asked how you close applications when multitasking in iOS 4. He said, "You don't have to. The user just uses things and doesn't ever have to worry about it."

So, in theory you shouldn't ever have to close apps. One exception when I do close an app from the recents list is when an app is acting weird. Another is when I'm done using my TomTom GPS navigator app. TomTom runs in the background and constantly uses power to detect my GPS location. It will shut itself down after a while, but it can eat a lot of battery power before closing itself. But, most people should never have to worry about it. If your device seems to be slowing down or the battery is draining faster than usual, simply do a power off and power back on instead of worrying about apps that may or may not be running in the background.

For longer battery life you should occasionally drain the battery completely.

We all want healthy batteries in our precious devices. There are certain things we can do to make sure batteries live a long life. For instance, never store your device in a freezing cold or very hot vehicle. Furthermore, be sure to exercise the battery by occasionally discharging and charging it.

Before modern lithium-ion and lithium-polymer batteries, old-fashioned nickel-cadmium batteries experienced a "memory effect" where these batteries would lose capacity over time if they were recharged before they were completely drained. Batteries in your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch do not suffer from the memory effect. You can charge these devices at any battery percentage and it will not affect its charge capacity.

I have spoken with numerous teachers who have been stressed out trying to completely drain iPads batteries because Apple told them to. Indeed, Apple's page on batteries states, "For proper reporting of the batterys state of charge, be sure to go through at least one charge cycle per month (charging the battery to 100% and then completely running it down)." Notice that Apple doesn't claim this is for the battery's health; it's simply so the battery meter is more accurate. Personally, I never run down my batteries on purpose. It's great if it happens by normal usage, but I'm not going to drain my battery for the sole purpose of pleasing the battery meter. My meter seems to be pretty accurate even without a monthly drain. On top of that, batteries have a limited number of charge and discharge cycles. Repeatedly draining a battery uses up some of those cycles. 

The screen scratches easily.

Handhelds' screens used to be made of plastic that could scratch easily. Today's devices, including iPad, iPod touch, iPhone, and most Android handhelds, use glass screens. While glass sounds like it would be fragile, Apple uses a material like Gorilla Glass, which is designed to be resistant to scratches, drops, and bumps of everyday use. Watch a YouTube video where someone runs a metal key over an iPad's screen, and you'll see it causes no scratches. Certainly, your device's glass screen can scratch, but not very easily.

Keys and other objects you might think would scratch the screen don't because of the inability of softer material to scratch harder material. Glass falls between 6 and 7 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. In general, materials with a lower hardness will not scratch a material with a higher hardness. Most metal is less than 5 on the Mohs scale. But, be careful with all your diamonds around your touchscreen because diamond scores a 10 for hardness.

As a cat owner, this is exciting: Friskies makes Games for Cats. They are free web apps that work well on iPad and Android devices. Friskies says, "The bare glass screen on the iPad stands up to our cat's claws with no problems." That's because fingernails, horns, claws, and other keratins are below 3 on the Mohs scale (and remember that glass is 5). Friskies does warn that a cat's claws will damage add-on plastic film covers.

Some feel more protected by placing those stick-on screen covers over their touchscreens. Often those stickers have annoying bubbles and they make the screen less sensitive to touch. I find them to usually be ugly and a hindrance. Apple does too because in 2010 they removed all screen protectors from their retail and online stores. Now, if it's likely a device will be dropped, then a screen protector just might keep the glass from cracking because of an accident. Furthermore, I know some teachers who love anti-glare screen protectors, particularly when using a device under a document camera.

The bottom line is that I don't want you to feel guilty for not using screen protectors. Your devices' screens are most likely going to be A-ok.




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.

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

Group Work in Class
(part 1)

This is the first article in a series on using collaborative groups in class.

The business world tells us that they want people who are good at collaboration. Being that our job is to prepare the students for the future, this skill should become part of what we teach in the classroom.

Planning and preparation are key to getting your groups underway.  The first thing to do as you prepare to use group work as part of the learning process is to setup your groups. Never allow the students to set up the groups; you are only inviting disaster. There are many ways to set up groups. I like to spread the abilities out among the groups. The smartest student isnt always the one who can lead the group through to a conclusion. I also like to mix boys and girls up in the groups. They tackle problems from different ways, so it enhances the learning taking place. Also, change the groups after every section, so they learn to work with different people. This makes it a more real world experience.

"The smartest student isnt always the one who can lead the group through to a conclusion." Size of the group is another part of the equation. A lot depends on the lesson being used. Two person groups are fine for a short term group that lasts one day. If you are

going to have it go longer, the group should be at least three to four students. The reason for this is the fact that what is the group going to do if the next day one of the students isnt there? With three or four students you will at least have a group of two or three to continue on if someone is missing.

As you begin the groups, realize the students may not know how to work in a group. This is something that we as teachers shouldnt take for granted. Talk about using listening skills, the fact that only one person is speaking at a time. Explain that arguing doesnt solve anything. They must learn, when there are differences of opinion, to share why they feel the way they do and support it with reasons. We also talk about the importance that everyone be a participant in the group process. Another thing I tell the groups is that they are not to ask me, the teacher, a question until theyve talked about it in the group. If the group cant answer the question, then I will gladly help them out as a group. This fosters dependence on their group.

Focus is the most important part of using groups as a tool for learning. If you as a teacher dont provide a structure within the lesson, you will lose the students.  "As you begin the groups, realize the students may not know how to work in a group."

I like to call this the Driving Question. This is what they are to be focusing on as they work together. Decide what you want them to learn, set the goals, and then communicate to the students your expectations.

In conclusion, from observation and research that collaboration (group work) when used properly can be an excellent learning tool. I hope you will find using this learning tool as stimulating and rewarding as I have, both for the students and yourself.

The second part of this article will detail more of the 'nuts & bolts' of getting your groups underway, and describe a few example projects you can use in class.


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  Tech / 21st Century Teaching Corner

Tech Blogs
By Mark Benn,
Instructional Technologist

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

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

Here are a few great websites to check out on what's happening around the world in terms of integrating technology into schools and e-learning.  Click the web page to read the full article or blog.

This first article is from the Committed Sardines, an article on using cell phones in classrooms.

In this second article below, Steve Denning describes WHY the factory model of school management just doesn't work and why we need to find a new way to run our schools.


Your browser may not support display of this image.  

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




  StarTeaching Feature Writer

Relation of Color with Child Psychology
By Munir Moosa Sewani

Munir Moosa Sewani is one of the most famous, prominent and creative names in the field of Education for the past 10 years. He is a Master Trainer In Special Education, Post Graduate, Teacher Educator and a Teacher. He is a Freelance Writer and Photographer, in addition to his role as a featured writer for StarTeaching's newsletter for four and a half years now. He is an author of the famous self-published storybook for children titled "The MORAL STORIES FOR CHILDREN" and has also written a Biology book for Secondary Classes. He has written more than 100 articles dealing with social, health, educational and cultural issues, which are internationally recognized and published in famous world wide websites, newsletters, magazines and newspapers. 

He is also a Social worker, private tutor, career counselor, musician, lyrics writer and have multi- dimensional talents. His future plan is to write dozens of informative articles and to work for education and media, in order to explore hidden creativity.

You can contact Munir Moosa Sewani at: munirmoosa@yahoo.com

Children love color; in fact, we all love color. Color is the brightest site of childhood. Children love all types of colors and give an instant response to it. However, children's response differs from adults' reaction. If you are to communicate with children, color should become your ally. But you need to use the color language correctly. Children use a limited palette, which becomes wider as they grow up. 

Color is the first characteristic that children can distinguish. All of us have heard that very young children perceive only black and white colors (light and darkness). Some young parents will paint the nursery black-and-white, buy black-and-white toys and other stuff. But in the period from six weeks to two months, the situation undergoes radical changes. First, children start to distinguish the red color. Later they start to perceive other bright colors, and yellow among them. 

Little children are attracted to bright colors. Numerous academic research shows at what age children's preferences change. Many children under 10 call red (or pink) and yellow their favorite colors. But having grown beyond ten, they start preferring blue. We consider it to be with the process of growing up and the appearance of the ability to perceive different hues of mood. 

Color preferences are closely connected with the gender. Numerous researches show that most little girls prefer pink, lavender or violet. Little boys like black and other dark colors more than girls. The question has risen if those preferences are innate or acquired. Adults accustom little girls and boys to like certain colors by choosing their clothes and toys. It's hard to give the exact answer, but we are inclined to consider color preferences to be innate. It's a difficult problem to be solved later in the future. 

Do toys manufacturers know about it? Walk about a toy department - you'll see that they are quite well aware of children's color preferences and they use color to attract children's attention and to sell their products.  As a company working for adults, they use the same strategies - color characteristics of the trade mark, emphasizing certain features with the help of colors. 

Speaking about emphasizing certain characteristics by means of colors, gender identification is only one example. If you see some product in bright colorful packaging, then the manufacturer wants to affect children and means them to be the target audience. Some parents think that manufacturers too cynically play on children's feelings. But remember how many times color has motivated children to take some positive action. 

Color is the great mean to manipulate children and teenagers. This mean is used differently and it brings different results. Not only sellers and manufacturers use children's interest towards colors. You also can use it to teach, motivate and inspire the new generation. 

Color language and children

First, let's consider how children get acquainted with colors. They learn to distinguish them long before they know the names of colors. The point out right objects before they are able to say 'red', 'yellow' or 'green'. Children learn colors' names at the age of 2-5. Girls usually memorize colors names earlier than boys. Of course, all children develop differently, as the process of growing up is connected with the state of nervous system. 

If you want to help children learn to distinguish colors, try to do so that children learn colors associating them with the subjects of corresponding color. Here are typical associations, understandable for an average child 

Yellow - bananas, lemons, sun 

Red - apples, tomatoes 

Blue - jeans, sky 

Green - peas, grass, leaves 

Grey - an elephant 

Brown - a bear, tree bark 

Researches show, that, for example when you show a blue apple to a child and ask him what it is, it takes him or her more time to recognize it. Sure if you happen to communicate with little children, you know what may happen. A blue apple may seem funny to them. It testifies that a child develops the sense of humor, ability to laugh at clumsy and wrong things. 

Once a child learns to recognize and name colors, it helps him or her to learn new information. Parents always want to teach children safety regulations. We discovered that emphasizing certain qualities by means of color helps children to remember what is dangerous. Remember that a human's eye notices the combination of yellow and black, and brain automatically perceives this as a sign of danger. Use these colors to mark the things that you don't want your children to play with. You may also mark those rooms in your house in which your children mustn't go, those that are dangerous - like stairs or the cellar. When your children grow, you still can use colors for teaching them. Certain research showed that children with attention problems cope with the task better when stimulated with colors. Improvement was as significant as when using drugs. It means the color can be used in medicine. Color can also be used in food if your child doesn't like to eat the same boring, dull food with the same golden brown color. But beware to use food color rather than an artificial one. 

I would also request teachers to add colors to their children life by giving them many more activities of coloring, and by decorating the class and the physical environment of the school with a lot of bright color. On this regard, I would also like to request the curriculum development authorities throughout the world to use color pictures in books so that children can read books with much more interest than many are now.


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(part 2)

Courtesy of K12Academics.com

Dyslexia is a neurological disorder with biochemical & genetic markers. It is a disability which a person reading and/or writing ability is lower than his or her grade level of intelligence. However, people may read and write perfectly and have dyslexia. They are diagnosed with the disorder when their problems can't be explained by a lack of intellectual ability, inadequate instruction or problems such as poor eyesight. Being as it is a complex mental process, it can have many potential causes. From a neurophysiological perspective, it can be diagnosed by closer inspection of the brain. It is associated with phonological problems.


Dyslexia a learning disorder can be neurological in nature. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (FMRI) is used to demonstrate the differences in dyslexic brain patterns, but much research still needs to be done. The disorder can be compensated with therapy. There are numerous related types of disorders related to Dyslexia.

Semantic Dyslexia: Unable to attach words to their meaning in reading and speech.

Scoptic Sensitivity Syndrome: Form of Dyslexia which makes it difficult to read black text on white paper, especially if the paper is shiny.

Dyspraxia: Difficulty in carrying out routine tasks involving balance, fine motor control & kinesthetic coordination.

Verbal Dyspraxia: Difficulty in the use of speech sounds, which is the result of immaturity in the speech production area of the brain/

Dysgraphia: Disorder characterized by distorted and incorrect writing.

Dyscalculia: Problem with learning fundamentals and basic numerical skills. Able to understand complex mathematical concepts but difficulty processing formulas and even basic addition & subtraction equations



Five to fifteen percent of the population is suffering from a form of Dyslexia. The learning disability can be compensated with proper therapy, training & equipment. The gender balance for dyslexia seems to be pretty even between males and females.

Dyslexia main manifestation is difficulty developing basic reading skills in elementary school children due to the ability to associate visual symbols with verbal sounds. While motivational factors must be determined in reviewing poor performance, dyslexia is considered an inborn trait and rarely arises from environmental factors after the brain has matured beyond infancy.

Other believe while it may be inborn, it can also be the lack of phonic training when learning to read, and the preponderance of the whole language system

Studies have shown whole performing reading tasks, those with Dyslexia show reduced activity in the left parietal cortex


Look for more in part 3!



Article courtesy of K12Academics.com



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Dogmans Back!

 A masterful blend of science fiction, fantasy, and folklore, the DOGMAN EPOCH: SHADOW and FLAME 
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Tying the Dogman legend to the 2012 Mayan doomsday prophesy, a secret governmental agency races to solve 
the ancient puzzle and save the world 
from destruction, all the while 
dodging a hidden enemy


10,000 years in the past, the Nagual and their sorcerer chieftain begin their conquest of the native civilizations. Can the great Guardians stand against the evil onslaught, or will the looming end of the Third Age of the Sun prove the downfall of humanity?

Welcome to Dogman Country!

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Haunting of Sigma Website
The Longquist Adventures, written for elementary students, is excellent for teaching mythology and classic stories to young children.  




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

Class Paragraph Writings

The beauty of our class Paragraph system is its administration and management.  It is designed so that the teacher is NOT spending hours out of school grading every minor and major detail.

Writing paragraphs in our school's program means following a specific rubric. We teach the students to use the same format and steps. Paragraph writing for us means drafting, which will be full of mistakes and correctible areas. When first introduced, students will be practicing writing paragraphs every day until they master the format we use.

The first step is brainstorming. We require a specific number of 'triggers' for each topic. Students generally choose between making a web or a list to visually show their brainstorming. For example, our 7th graders must include eight triggers, while seniors must have at least fifteen. You and your school will decide what is appropriate. Then all triggers are ORGANIZED by order of importance, chronological order, etc. Students are asked to number the triggers 1-8. Of course, students are always encouraged to write down more triggers (sometimes we even offer extra credit for more triggers!). We also encourage students to freewrite as brainstorming. Students look over their prewriting and start using their organized triggers to form the ideas presented in the paragraph.

Students then create a topic sentence (T.S.). This is an introductory sentence which captures the reader's attention and gives the reader an idea of what the paragraph is about. We require students to restate the topic in the T. S. This begins to create flow (the connectedness of ideas and transitions) by using several words in the topic.

At least three body sentences follow (we require six in the 7th grade). These will include details and examples, as well as data in the form of facts or statistics. Make sure these all support the topic sentence. The body sentences also will include a personal life experience (PLE) which connects the topic to the writer's life or to a real-life situation (7th graders must have two sentences for each PLE). The body sentences must connect to the topic sentences, and be sure their details flow in a logical manner.

Finally, wrap up the paragraph with a CLINCHER STATEMENT. This again restates the topic, brings closure to the paragraph, and summarizes the ideas presented.


Q: How much time do we give students to write out a paragraph?

A: The paragraph structure was developed in response to the demands of the MEAP test (Michigan's high takes test) as well as to our own school's curriculum and class needs. We wanted a structure that could be easily learned and remembered (by both students and staff). It had to be versatile enough to use at any grade level or course. And it needed to allow for students to make it their own - we believe it promotes students' creativity, writing style, and voice while giving them a structure that nearly guarantees success. Thus, it had to be written in a fairly short span of time to allow for students to proof and edit. Brainstorming & organizing should take no more than five minutes (most of our students can do it in under a minute with practice!). The whole paragraph can be written in fifteen minutes or less (again with practice). We NEVER let these go home, and they're always due in class. Students cannot take their MEAP tests home to finish, remember! Time frames start out longer at first, but then we shorten the time as they become more proficient.

Q: How much do you worry about mistakes in spelling, grammar, mechanics, etc.?

A: Remember, this is drafting. We always encourage the students to be careful about what they write. However, we want them focusing on the structure and the logical flow of ideas. Corrections can be made if/when we revise and proof for a final copy.

Q: Does the PLE have to come at the end of the paragraph?

A: Certainly not! It should be inserted where it makes the most sense in the paragraph. Think about how that story will fit in the flow of ideas in the paragraph. PLEs can even occur in the beginning of the paragraph; we call these LEADS.

Q: Can a topic sentence or clincher be more than one sentence in length?

A: We try to keep these at one sentence in our younger grades, but as students become more mature writers, it is expected that they will attempt and experiment with developing their own personal style. If a middle school student asked about this, I'd ask back, "Why do you need more than one sentence?" If there is a compelling reason, I wouldn't have a problem.



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"Old Jack - A Pumpkin Story"
By Debbie Williamson
Themes on Life

Can you see something special in the most unusual places?

Once upon a very long time ago, there lived a great big pumpkin. I can remember walking down that old country road and seeing that poor old pumpkin just sitting in the pumpkin patch. Nobody else wanted him because he was just too big and it would have been too much work to clean and carve him. Ah, old Jack. He sure was a handsome pumpkin.

I decided right then and there, that I just had to have that pumpkin. I picked up that pumpkin and I carried him all the way home, all by myself. He was a very heavy pumpkin and I just about broke my back getting him home but, I made it safely.

I lived in an old log cabin all by myself. I was a lonely old fellow, way back then. It was just me and my old black cat, Bumpkins. Me and Bumpkins go way back. He was just a tiny kitten when he showed up at my doorstep one Halloween night, many years ago. And, do you want to know something? Bumpkins was the only one that has turned up at my doorstep since.

Over the years, I bought bags and bags of candy. No-one came. I was sad to see all that candy go to waste, but more than anything else, I had wanted to see some happy faces around here. I had all but given up on Halloween this one year. I had decided that I wasn't going to carve a pumpkin that year! I had also decided that I wasn't going to shell out any candy. I was bound and determined that I wasn't going to celebrate Halloween that year. That was until I had spotted Old Jack in that pumpkin patch.

I couldn't believe no one had picked that huge pumpkin from the patch. As soon as I had spotted Old Jack, I knew that this Halloween was going to be the best ever.
Old Bumpkins quite approved of my choice for that year's jack-o-lantern. As soon as Bumpkins laid eyes on Jack, he let out a loud happy meow. It was love at first sight.
Bumpkins and I tenderly carved Old Jack out with care. He turned out perfectly. His teethy smile radiated a special glow when I set him outside on my front porch and lit his candle. I had no sooner lit the candle and there, right on my front doorstep were all kinds of happy faces around me. I was so happy myself that I had tears coming out of my eyes as I shelled out the candy to them.

Old Jack saved my Halloween that year. I kept the seeds from that there pumpkin and the following spring I planted them in my garden. Every year now, all my jack-o-lanterns are a part of Old Jack and I've never had a lonely Halloween since.

Written by Debbie Williamson
(published in the EMC Record News, Smiths Falls, Ontario - October 25, 1992)


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Welcome to our first September issue, the second in our Back-To-School series, getting you energized into the new school year.

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10 Days of 
Math Problems
by Mary Ann Graziani

Day 1 A city has $18,000 to buy new light bulbs for the street lamps. If each light bulb costs $6, how many new light bulbs will the city be able to buy?
Day 2 A group of tourists needs rental cars to get around the city. There are 4,200 tourists in the group. If each rental car holds 7 people, how many cars will the group need?
Day 3 Bowers Office Supplies received an order for 18,000 tacks. If each box in the shipment contains
200 tacks, how many boxes do they need to include in the shipment?
Day 4

It takes 9,000 pounds of steel to make one steel beam. How many beams can be made from 72,000 pounds of steel?

Day 5

A printing press needs to ship 1,500 new textbooks to the publishing company. If each box can hold 500 textbooks, how many boxes will the printing press need?

Day 6 A company has $2,100 to send its employees to a conference. The conference costs $70 for
each employee who attends. How many employees can the company send to the conference?
Day 7 A printing company needs to ship 3,000 team calendars to the city's basketball team. The
printing company can fit 1,000 calendars in each box. How many boxes will the printing company need to use?
Day 8 Talia's Printing needs to ship 400 programs to the Middletown baseball team. The printing company can fit 10 programs in each box. How many boxes will the printing company need to use?
Day 9 A car dealership needs to transport 2,800 cars to an island. If the ferry can hold 4 cars, how many trips will the ferry need to make?
Day 10 A new television network is going to give away free TVs as a nationwide promotion. The network can spend up to $18,000 to buy the TVs. If each TV costs the company $2,000, how many TVs will they be able to give away?


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Science Activities For Any Setting
By Helen de la Maza
Soil Percolation
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Using Photography To Inspire Writing
By Hank Kellner

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


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"Big Fish in Troubled Waters"
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"Rotator Cuff Surgery"
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