Visit our Website at:

Ideas and Features For New Teachers
and Veterans with Class

Volume 7, Issue 18
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   What Do I Write About?   Building Positive Relationships with Your Cooks & Food Staff
NEW! Hank Kellner: 
"Using Photography to Inspire Writing"
Tech/21st Century Corner: 
Education Today: iPad - The Next Classroom Revolution
Understanding Mathematic Disability (part 1)
Science Activities for Any Setting   10 Days of Writing Prompts   10 Days of Math Problems
School Features:
Dyslexia (part 3)
New Teacher's Niche:
Writing Every Day In Class
Student Teachers' Lounge: Group Work in Class (part 2)
Book of the Month Club:
The First Year Teacher's Survival Guide
  Website of the Month: The Chronicle of Higher Education   Themes on Life: 
"Pumpkin Poetry"
Article of the Week: "Got Chocolate Milk?"   Autumn 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



GOPromos provides personalized items. 
Get pens, pencils and other teaching materials customized 
with any message you want for low prices!




What Do I Write About?

By: Chris Sura

Chris Sura, upon earning his Bachelor’s 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. 

“What Do I Write About?” This question surfaces with the deep thrumming of a tuba that usually accompanies a shark fin. It has also been known to be just as scary. The answer, to continue with the metaphor is simple, “We’re going to need a bigger boat.” Or should I just say a boatload of resources.

My primary resource for ideas of what to write in a composition or writing class is the journal. By having the students write journals daily or by the next class next week for my college class, I start building starts or pieces of starts that the student can choose from. For example, the journal entries leading up to a narrative essay include:

Tell about a childhood game you played
Write about a family vacation
What is a memory from kindergarten?
What event changed your life?

The list can go on with journal entries that ask or prompt the student to write about events that cover a wide spectrum of possibilities and emotions. This technique can continue for a descriptive essay.

The prompts can be about describing a vacation spot, a favorite place at home, their bedroom, or a doctor’s/dentist’s office.

With a journal, a collection of thoughts and ideas can be channeled and stored for future use. The student can develop an awareness or an ear for future writing if prompts are done and then revisited down the road. Take, for example, a journal entry or two focusing on pet peeves and life annoyances:

List five pet peeves. What really gets you mad? 

You may use this with a short story about anger or with a thematic unit about injustice. Later, in a writing unit, the class takes on persuasive or argumentative writing. If a student cannot find a topic, a visit to the above journal entries can be a launch point.

If you need help with journal entry prompts, visit your computer and Google it. I did and it came up with over four million hits. Talk about a bigger boat.

I have a small collection of writing prompts myself. I have them organized (somewhat) for a creative writing class, but I have pulled from them for various writing projects with my students. Here are three that I like to use:

List 5 sounds and smells that bother you.
Brag List: what are 5 things that you are proud of doing?
I am king/queen of the world, I am going to….(100 words)

The five sounds and smalls is great pre-writing for descriptive writing and for persuasive writing.

Many students are uncomfortable about bragging, so I have assigned bragging poems and essays. I focus on using them to show a stronger voice. The king/queen of the world is another avenue into persuasive essays. When the students write about being a ruler, they sometimes cross into things they would change or eliminate, which creates possibilities and topics for argument.

The journal is the bigger boat. It definitely can help in the dark waters of what to write about
because you are not jumping in naked.



A Great Offer to Our StarTeaching Readers
From Kim's Signing Solutions!

Star Teaching Readers Get a Special Discount on a set of
My 1st 50 Sight Words in Sign
Regularly 12.95, You Pay ONLY 9.95.
Click below to get your set of cards at this great discount, ONLY FOR STAR TEACHING READERS.  

Use the Discount Code:  STARTEACH  

http://www. kimssigningsolutions.com/

You must use the link above to receive your discount! 

Fully endorsed by Frank Holes Jr., editor of Starteaching




Have questions to pose to StarTeaching?
Submit your questions to Dr. Manute on Educational Issues!  Simply fill in the form below:



Type in your question or query below:



Join our Online Community!

Receive weekly articles right in your email and 
discuss educational issues with other teachers from around the world.  

Check it all out and sign up through the following quick link:




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.


A Full Purple Crown
By Tim San Pedro

For the first time in my life
I saw an artichoke bloom.              
The heart, which we all crave,
Was pushed to the top 
Toward the sun like 
A hungry mouth to a bosom. 
All around, the once supple
Leaves with fleshy meat 
Were pushed outward as if humbly
Bowing to a crown.
A full purple crown
With jewels of bees and butterflies
And hummingbirds and water beads.

Too often, this plant's bloom is 
Never to be seen, 
By immaturity, plucked before
Its true beauty is revealed
To the world.

Too often we
Are plucked from the planet
Before our true potential is 
Squashed by money, greed, 
Competition, and selfishness.
Will we ever have the chance
To bloom? To have jewels of
Caring, compassion, selflessness and trust?

When will our crowns show?



Photo 17 By Timothy San Pedro



“You are built not to shrink down to less but to blossom into more.” - Oprah Winfrey



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

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:



Guest Writer

Understanding Mathematic Disability (Part 1)

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.

Mathematics is one of the most interesting subjects during the academic year for some of the students. But in contrary to that, this fact can’t be denied that most of the students dislike mathematics. I, myself was one of such students during my school who disliked mathematics very much.     

In order to find the reasons behind these negative feelings towards mathematics, I researched at my Learning Center. After evaluating all of my students, the following were the main reasons which I found relevant and authentic:

  • I dislike mathematics because it is too boring to spend time in solving sums.
  • This subject is the most complicated one.
  • I hate this subject because I never understand the methods to solve sums.
  • I don’t know why mathematics was added in our curriculum. I hate it because I never found anything interesting in it.
  • Mathematic wastes my time and energy because my end results are always 'nil' in maths.
  • Teachers don’t know how to teach mathematics. They just use their own methods and formulae, which shoots up our mind.

According to the research, approximately 6% of school-age children have significant math deficiencies, and among students classified as learning disabled, arithmetic difficulties are as pervasive as reading problems. This does not mean that all reading disabilities are accompanied by arithmetic learning problems, but it does mean that math deficiencies are widespread and in need of equivalent attention and concern.

Parents and teachers should keep in mind that such students in their classes are not burdens for them. They also need your attention as well as the others do. If the child is not getting a concept, try to give them extra time to clear their concepts rather than failing them in an examination.

Recently, increased attention has focused on students who demonstrate challenges learning mathematics skills and concepts that are taught in school across the grade levels. Most of the parents, educators, and researchers are noticing that some students seem perplexed learning simple math skills that many take for granted. Disliking mathematics and problem learning the skills related to mathematics do not lie in a same plane.

If a person dislikes math, then a teacher can use different strategies to their level of interest, but if a person is continuously getting low grades in math, then this problem might indicate that he/she may have mathematic disability.

Fortunately, researchers are now paying their valuable attention to help students who struggle learning basic mathematics skills, mastering more advance mathematics (e.g., algebra), and solving math problems. Before learning any thing, we should know that what Math Disability is.

If a child has difficulty making sufficient school progress in mathematics similar to that of her peer group despite the implementation of effective teaching practices over time.


If a child is not able to learn basic skills and concepts of math according to his/her age level, then a child is termed as “Math Disabled.”

Brain scans can also explain math problems in a child. In order to find Math Disability, the new research used scans of brain activity in the intraparietal sulcus - the area known to be involved in processing number information.

The scientific name for Math Disability is Dyscalculia. It means “a severe or complete inability to calculate”. Remember that the terms learning disabilities in mathematics, Math Disability and Dyscalculia are same.

People with Dyscalculia may have better than average language skills and be good at sciences, the creative arts and even some aspects of mathematics. But they tend to have difficulty visualizing number sequences and the passage of time.

Teachers, tutors, psychologists, master trainers, etc., can use different observant skills and testing to find out whether a child has Math Disability or not.

When a child is identified as having a math disability, his difficulty may stem from problems in one or more of the following areas:


**Cognitive development

**Visual-spatial ability


Memory problem is one of the most common problems found among the school going children. Few of the students have a problem of memorizing things effectively, and they used to forget every thing in a short span of time. This problem may affect a child’s math performance in several ways.

A child might have memory problems that interfere with his ability to regain basic arithmetic facts quickly. In the upper grades, memory problems may influence a child’s ability to recall the steps needed to solve more difficult word problems and in solving algebraic equations, or to remember what specific symbols.

Look for more in the next issue!



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 Jerry Judge 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

Group Work in Class
(part 2)

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

Make sure that while the groups are working that you are filtering around the room listening in to what they are doing. This allows you to quickly help a group refocus back on the task at hand if they go astray.

Another important thing to do is to set time limits. If you leave it wide open as to when they need to complete the assignment you will find they take much longer to accomplish the goals. This leads to your frustration which leads to not wanting to use grouping. Set time limits for each part, and then check with the groups to see how they are doing. If you need to make adjustments feel free to, unless you find they are taking advantage of it.

One of the ways I assess how their group functioned is to grade each student on how they worked in the group. At the end of the project, I sit down with each group and have the students grade on a scale of 1-10 how each person participated. Then I average all the input by the students. I found that the students are very fair. Because I filtered through the groups, I already have a good idea how hard each person had worked.

You will find that students will enjoy doing collaboration far better then doing it individually and my observation has been that they learn more. I did some research with my classes on how it affected their learning. I provided questions dealing with a specific chapter and they had to find the answers all on their own with no help. The room was totally quiet. The next day I quizzed them from the paper and established a base point. I then had them meet in groups and answer a set of questions dealing with the next chapter. Both chapters were similar and had similar questions. The next day I quizzed them again and found a marked improvement, by a whole grade, in their learning.

Here are some examples of group projects your students can do in class.  As always, feel free to adjust these to make them fit your curriculum.

Social Studies - Tip of the Mitt Community Research:

This is a social studies project in which student groups research information on a local town, county, area, or region of their state to demonstrate and persuade others that it's a great place to live, work, or visit.  Students use the five themes of geography to find such information as population, demographics, employment, wildlife, environmental interaction, activities and recreation, and local attractions. Once finished, students create visual aides and give a presentation to their classmates.

Mythology - Hercules' Labors:

Student groups are assigned to research one or more of the Hercules' Labors, finding characters, events, places, unusual vocabulary, and major themes for that part of the myth. Then groups plan a re-enactment of the story through acting, storytelling, readers' theater, puppets, etc. Groups must include visual aides and music, and must stay accurate to the story.

Math - Weather

Student groups are responsible for measuring an aspect of local weather, such as temperature, barometric pressure, cloud cover, wind speed/direction, etc. These observations are recorded daily (several times) over the span of a week. Data is tabulated and organized, and graphed. Groups also print out weather forecasts online. They must then make predictions about the upcoming weather observations. These are then presented to the class as 'daily news weather forecasts' and can be video taped.

Science - Outdoors Observations:

Student groups are responsible for observing an area outdoors, making careful notes and sketches on plant and animal species, weather conditions, soil and rocks, and any human-environmental interactions. The group then combines their observations, formulates their results, supplements their data with info and graphics from the internet, and creates a Powerpoint, magazine, or newspaper to describe that natural area. They try to make predictions about what the area will be like in 10, 50, and 100 years.

Drama - Asia fables:

Student groups read various fables from different Asian cultures (Arabian, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Persian, Russian, etc.) and create study guides of vocab and questions for their fellow students. Groups then create a pay script from their fable, including a narrator if necessary, making sure every student in the group has at least one part. They then practice and perform (memorizing their lines) for the class.

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?

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


  TECH/21st Century CORNER

iPad: The Next Classroom Revolution

By Mark Benn, Instructional Technologist

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 the Mackinac State Historic Parks as a historical interpreter.

Articles abound on the Internet dealing with education testing the use of the iPad within
the classroom. Take a look at three articles and think about the how the iPad could be a
game changer in education.

And to close this article out, realize I did it all on my iPad. It's the real mobile computer.









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:




 From our Special Reports  

Building Positive Relationships Around Your School 
Part 4 - Cooks & Food Staff

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 is the fourth in a series of articles on building positive relationships in your school. This article describes why you should 'get in good' with your school food service personnel.

School kitchens are great places to find boxes of all sizes and shapes, which have hundreds of uses in classrooms. We've used boxes simply for storage, for art supplies, for project centers. Cardboard is used in art projects, building sets and backdrops for plays. Large, sturdy boxes can also be useful for moving!

Food service companies typically drop off boxes and crates of bulk food items weekly. If your cooks know you're looking for boxes (or cardboard or cans), and you've developed good relationships with them, they will usually be more than happy to save these items for you.

There will also undoubtedly be times when class celebrations require plastic silverware, paper cups, or foam plates or bowls. Sometimes we know about such events, and other times they occur in relative spontaneity. Now, most kitchens keep a good record of their inventory, and will charge accordingly for the use of consumables. But, with a postive relationship built between you, the food service personnel will usually cut you a deal, or even find enough 'extra' items to help you out in a bind.

Middle school teachers may find their schedules changing at times to accommodate special events or programs. The Middle School Concept tends to do this a lot. Always let your kitchen staff know well ahead of time if your schedule change affects the food service even in the slightest. Most cooks will be accommodating if they have some advance notice. But this is only being polite and professional anyway!


Be Sure to Check Out 
Our Website Store for Specials:


(part 3)

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.

Treatment of Dyslexia

A few weeks of intense phonological training (breaking down and rearranging sounds to produce different words) can improve reading skills. Unlike normal adults, phonological training has shows an increase in activity in the right temporoparietal cortex.

This part of the brain works in tasks and is the main compensatory structure in phonological training. This is the region responsible for visual motion processing which is under active in dyslexics. The earlier taken the better the overall results. Brain scans can identify the problem before the children can even read, though simple tasks of balance can do the same. Early diagnosis & treatment can almost completely eliminate the symptoms of dyslexia.

The most important thing is to keep your child active with simple jobs such as cleaning around the house to help improve their concentration & motivational skills.

One hypothesis of the symptoms of dyslexia is overall short term memory. A dyslexic will not remember your name and will have trouble transcribing phone numbers, due to difficulty laying down short term memories.

It is not uncommon for dyslexics who have trained themselves to deal with this affliction to develop efficient visual memories to aid in reading and comprehending larger amounts of information faster than usual. Adversely, some dyslexics will show a dislike of reading and will compensate by developing verbal communication and leadership skills. Different people develop different strategies.

A hypothesis for reading difficulty is strabismus, which is difficulty in bringing both eyes into focus at the same time. This explains why dyslexics confused written letters or numbers, as one eye sees the beginning of the word and the other sees the end. Studies which young children wear an eye patch have shown promising results. This is based on the theory that because children can benefit from learning to read than being con focal, the former should take precedence over the latter

Several genetic regions on chromosomes 1 and 6 have been found possibly linked to dyslexia. Dyslexia being a conglomeration of disorders that affect all and similar areas of the cortex. In time studies will be able to identify and classify all individual suborders to help understand how low level genetics can affect writing of the brain and enhance or reduce a particular component of human mental capacity

Studies have concluded language whose orthography has a strong correspondence between letters and sounds (e.g. Italian) have much lower incidence of dyslexia than speakers of language with letters closely linked to the sound (e.g. English).

The main lesson of dyslexia is that minor genetic changes affecting the layering of the cortex in a minor area of the brain may create inborn limitations on the overall intellectual function. It also shows the brain exhibits a strong ability to compensate for its limitations, and intense training can result in turnabouts



Article courtesy of K12Academics.com




MythMichigan Books
Novels by Frank Holes, Jr.

Dogman’s Back!

 A masterful blend of science fiction, fantasy, and folklore, the DOGMAN EPOCH: SHADOW and FLAME 
is an epic tale in its own era, stretching from the present day to far beyond 
the history of humanity.


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!

Now Available!

Click Here For
Dogman Epoch: Shadow and Flame Website


Now Available!

Year of the Dogman Website
Now Available!

Tales From Dogman Country Website
Now Available!

Nagual: Dawn of the Dogmen Website 
Now Available!
Now Available!
Now Available!

Haunting of Sigma Website
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

Writing Every Day in Class

For your students to be good at any skill, they must practice it on a daily basis. This is true for any skill, and writing is an excellent example. Regardless of whether your goal is to improve your students abilities, or to raise test scores, you need to structure and designate specific time to practice this skill every day. As the classroom instructor, it must be YOUR goal to have your students practice the skill daily.

Now, you don't have to spend your entire class period on writing. There are many activities you can use that take anywhere from five to ten minutes and will accomplish this goal of writing daily.

We should briefly describe the parts of the writing process, so we can then develop activities to improve each step. There are many different terms educators will use to name the parts of the writing process. Undoubtedly you have seen several different ways to name each step. Your school may even have a specific set of terminology you need to use. That's fine, especially if your students are hearing the same terms through different classes and grade levels. However you decide to designate each step of the writing process, there are several distinct parts.

The first is brainstorming and organizing information. This is the 'prewriting', thinking of topics and ideas about which the students will write. The second is drafting, writing out a first copy which we know will not be perfect but will need more work. The third is revising, adding in more information, changing information around, or removing information not pertinent to the topic. The fourth step is to proofread and edit for surface errors and mistakes. The last step is to rewrite the draft making the corrections from steps three and four. This last step may be another draft, or it may be a finished, published piece. Now, you may want to add more steps to these basic five, and that's up to you. You'll get no resistance from me. The important thing is to fully understand what you're teaching and to make sure your students understand it!

Before we get into activities, you will want to create a special, specific place for the students to keep their work. I choose to keep this work in class so I know it will ALWAYS be there. No more losing it in folders, at home, or in lockers. Each student is provided a hanging file in a cabinet drawer (each class gets its own drawer). If you do not have an extra file cabinet, you can pick up plastic storage crates or boxes fairy cheaply. When I want the students to work with previous writes, they simply need to grab one out of their file. And best of all, the work is already in class.

Ok, so lets examine a few exercises to practice at each step. First for brainstorming and organizing. This is one of the most important steps, and it can be practiced in any subject area. You are going to want to have your students practice this two to three times each week. Have your students brainstorm in lists, in graphic organizers, in webs/maps, and by freewriting. Give them topics and a time limit and turn them loose. Use ideas from your text, from reading activities, and from real life situations that involve your students. You can create games and contests to encourage them to generate long lists.

There are many ways to draft. We've covered several in past newsletters (see the links below for more information on each) including FREEWRITES, JOURNAL WRITES, and PARAGRAPHS. You will probably have other forms and styles to use too. Drafting does not have to take a long time, either. Give your students a specific time limit and the minimums you want them to write. Be very clear about your expectations and rules so the students will have clear understanding of what you're looking for. Feel free to impose minimums such as a time period, length of paper, or number of words. Remind yourself you are working with activities with shorter time slots. You want your students to really push themselves, and you may have to push them at the beginning to get them up to the speed you want!

Editing activities work well when your students already have several pieces finished to look over. You can have students edit their own, or peer edit by trading writings. I usually hold off for a month to collect enough drafts so students can choose their own writing to edit. Normally students like this step the least, and try to resist editing. So you will want to make this a fun activity, and be sure to give it a grade. I also try to give out extra credit so they will want to do these activities. We practice question writing with our SQ3R reading techniques, and we apply this to editing too. Some of the best editing is done by students posing questions, looking for more information, or needing clarification of ideas. This is not proofreading, remember! We use overheads (again so they can be re-used) with guiding questions and thoughts that will help students generate questions of the writing in front of them.

Undoubtedly you'll have a handful of students who think their first draft is perfect and needs no additional work. And you may even agree that some of these students are very good writers. But don't fall into the trap of letting them avoid editing. Even professional writers go through many stages of editing (as of this time, I've already edited this article four times!). Keep your kids following the writing process - no short cuts! Allowing one or more students to cut corners will lead to more asking, and then hard feelings among classmates ("Why doesnt so-and-so have to edit?") None of your students will be experts, none are perfect, even if you have seniors. There are always things you can adjust, clarify, or add to writings. And all of the students will benefit from good editing activities, whether they like it or not.

Another issue you will deal with at this step is a fragile student ego. Some students will fear having criticism of their work. And there will also be students who fear writing criticism on their classmates' papers. You will have to have some heart-to-heart talks with your students and convince them (or persuade them) that they are helping their classmates and themselves when editing. They're not there to rip on each other, just make everyone better writers.

Having your students write on a daily basis may seem like a homework-checking nightmare waiting to happen. You will need to create an administrative plan to make your life simple. In our class I use the random choices technique (discussed in length in the September issue.) A white chip indicates we don't grade it, just file it. A blue chip is a peer check and immediate grade. And a red chip is a collection of the papers so I can read and score them. This keeps me from having to read and grade every paper every day. And for paragraph drafts, we use FCAs (focal correction areas) for grades (look for more on FCAs in an upcoming issue!) These administrative strategies help keep my sanity while allowing my students to practice a lot of writing on a daily basis.


Interested in FREE writing activities you can print out and use immediate
ly 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

Be sure to check out our website for more great information, tips, and techniques for new teachers, student-teachers, and interns in teacher prep programs. Also be sure to check out our Who-I-Want-To-Be teacher plan for preparing yourself to enter the educational profession.  Simply click the following link: http://www.starteaching.com/free.htm

Want to check out the articles in our Student-Teaching series?  Check out our special Student-Teaching page through the following link:  http://www.starteaching.com/studentteachers.htm



Click below to check out the NEW Amazon.com Kindle

Your favorite books, magazines, and newspapers on Kindle, instantly downloadable with 3G wireless.

Kindle weighs only 10 ounces and is 1/3 of an inch thick, yet it holds over 1500 books!

Order your very own Kindle by clicking the link below:


Are There Other Teachers in Your School or District Who Would Love to Receive Our Newsletter?

Be sure to pass along our website and newsletter!

"Pumpkin Poetry"
Themes on Life

Here's several odes to the pumpkin season...

October 2003

Pumpkin poem

One day I found two pumpkin seeds.
I planted one and pulled the weeds.
It sprouted roots and a big, long vine.
A pumpkin grew; I called it mine.
The pumpkin was quite round and fat.
(I really am quite proud of that.)
But there is something I'll admit
That has me worried just a bit.
I ate the other seed, you see.
Now will it grow inside of me?

(I'm so relieved since I have found
That pumpkins only grow in the ground!)

Pumpkin poem

When all the cows were sleeping
And the sun had gone to bed,
Up jumped the pumpkin,
And this is what he said:

I'm a dingle dangle pumpkin
With a flippy floppy hat.
I can shake my stem like this,
And shake my vine like that.

The above poems were taken from DLTK 's crafts and activities for kids.

Pumpkin song (tune: I'm a little teapot)

I'm a little pumpkin
Orange and round.
Here is my stem,
There is the ground.
When I get all cut up,
Don't you shout!
Just open me up
And scoop me out!

Five Little Pumpkins

Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate,
The first one said, Oh, my it's getting late!
The second one said, There are owls in the air!
The third one said, But we don't care!
The fourth one said, Let's run and run and run!
The fifth one said, I'm ready for some fun!
Then Woooo went the wind
And out (clap) went the lights
And the five little pumpkins rolled out of sight!


What's New @ StarTeaching?


Hello readers!  Welcome to your second October 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 feature a great set of resources for iPad by Mark Benn, more on the writing process in class, and a follow-up on group work in class.

You'll also find awesome articles from feature writers Chris Sura and Salima Moosa Sewani.

As always, we have free activities (from Mary Ann Graziani and Frank Holes Jr.) and articles with practical ideas and techniques to be applied directly into your classroom.   

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

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

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


See more of our Freebies as well as Special Reports on our website by clicking the quick link below:


Make sure to BOOKMARK our website so you can keep up with more changes and additions through the year.  And feel free to share our site by EMAILING it to a friend.



Email us at editor@starteaching.com

Hit Counter

See us now on FACEBOOK!


Sign up for our 

Don’t be just a Guest! Sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter, delivered right to your inbox! FREE tips, ideas, and articles.

Subscribe Now!

Check out our collection of FREE online resources, including the NEW! Book Report Organizer, as well as the SQ3R sheet for reading and the Paragraph Graphic Organizer for writing.  These are forms you can fill in online and print, or have your students fill them in and print them for class!
SQ3R sheet
Paragraph Graphic Organizer
NEW!  Book Report Organizer



"If you would know the road ahead, ask someone who has traveled it."

~Chinese Proverb

StarTeaching Links: 

(Click to access our website)

StarTeaching Newsletter Articles & Archives

Submit an Article for our Newsletter

Special, Limited-Time Offers

FREE Special Reports

Technology Center

Educational Links

Feature Writers
Mark Benn:
Educational Technology
Mary Ann Graziani:
Mathematics Education
Munir Moosa Sewani:
World Education
Hank Kellner:
Poetry and Photography
Helen de la Maza:
Science Education
Chris Sura:
English-Language Arts Education
Yasmeen Jumani:
World Education
Rozina Jumani:
World Education
Salima Moosa Sewani:
World Education
Dr. Peter Manute:
Student Teachers and 
Job Finding
Kim Taylor-DiLeva:
Sign Language
Christina Riggan:
School Features
Michael Kett: 
Magic in the Classroom






Do you have a great TEACHING TIP or ACTIVITY to share?

Are you using an innovative TECHNIQUE in your class?

Have you created WRITING PROMPTS that you’d like to add to our WEEKLY CALENDAR?

We welcome, and are always looking for teachers to share successes, stories, and ideas with our readers.

Submit an article to this newsletter by emailing:


Or click the following link:


All articles will be proofread, and may be edited for content and/or length.


Articles & Archives

* 5 Years of bi-monthly Newsletters
* Feature Writers
* Guest Writers
* FREE Special Reports





Click to see over 1000 prompts

10 Days Of


What does it mean to be 'SCARY'?


Why is Halloween a time to be SCARED?


Do people like to be SCARED?  Why or why not?


Describe a time when you've been really SCARED.


What is something you are SCARED of at school?


Why do people like to watch SCARY movies?


Describe a time when you SCARED someone else.


Why do we wear SCARY costumes at Halloween?


Who are you the most SCARED of?  Why?


 What has been the SCARIEST moment at school so far this year?

Click to see over 1000 prompts


10 days of writing prompts


Are there other teachers in your district who would enjoy this FREE newsletter delivered to them bi-weekly? 

YOU could qualify for FREE offers when referring others.

Click the quick link below for more information:

Teacher Referral


is brought to you FREE 
by the support of our sponsors:

Griswold Mountain 
Brewing Company

Distinguished Products for 
Distinguished Handcrafters

Specializing in Homemade and Handcrafted products since 1996

Check out our selection of homebrew recipes, ingredients, and equipment on our website:

Mastering Basic Skills software:


Year of the Dogman

A Terrifying Novel by Frank Holes, Jr.
Now Available!
click here for more info

Are you interested in advertising with us?
Want to reach an audience of thousands each month?  The StarTeaching newsletter is sent out twice a month, and advertising is available on our website.
Click the link below for more information:
Advertise with Us!



Writing Process Articles

Check out the entire collection of writing articles, including:
* Paragraph Writing
* Essay Writing
* Journaling
* FREE printables you can use!




Be sure to check out our

The First Year Teacher's Survival Guide

by Julie G. Thompson



Coming Soon:

Preparing for Student Teaching

Technology & Teaching: 21st Century Teaching and Learning

Writing Process and Programs

Article of the Week


Are You Looking For a Teaching Job?

Need a position in a K-12 school, administration, or a coaching job?  Our website has just gained access to a specialized service just for our members and newsletter readers.  Job listings, application and interviewing tips, and priceless information, at your fingertips!

Click here if you want to find that Teaching Job!


See All Weekly Math Problems from 2007-2009!

click here for the math archives!

10 Days of 
Math Problems
by Mary Ann Graziani

Day 1 There are 690 silver necklaces at the jewelry store. Dustin and his sisters buy 499 of them for a present. About how many silver necklaces are left at the jewelry store?
Day 2 There are 89,249 short words and 74,499 long words in Tamara's mystery novel. About how many words are there in all?
Day 3 553 of the 855 buses in the bus storage garage leave on their morning routes. About how many are left?
Day 4 Audrey and her classmates went on a trivia quiz show. They earned 817 points in the music category and 164 points in the literature category. About how many points did they earn in all?
Day 5 Kevin bought 4 packs of red bouncy balls and 2 packs of yellow bouncy balls. Each package contained 18 bouncy balls. How many more red bouncy balls than yellow bouncy balls did Kevin buy?
Day 6 Diane has an orange rope and a blue rope. The orange rope is 11 meters shorter than the blue rope. Diane also has 3 meters of duct tape. The blue rope is 17 meters long. How many meters of rope does Diane have in all?
Day 7 Latoiya's Pizza sells small, medium, and large pizzas. Yesterday, they sold 10 small pizzas. They sold 11 more medium pizzas than large pizzas. How many total pizzas did Latoiya's Pizza sell yesterday?
Day 8 The school cafeteria has 10 round tables and 13 rectangular tables. Each round table has 8 chairs, and each rectangular table has 4 chairs. How many chairs are there in all?
Day 9 Marc took a train from Chesterton to Riverside by way of Watertown and Salem . The train went 4 kilometers from Chesterton to Watertown . It was 15 kilometers from Watertown to Salem and 10 kilometers from Salem to Riverside . How many kilometers was Marc's train ride?
Day 10 There are 4 red pens in Kylie's desk drawer. There are 4 more black pens than red pens. There are also 8 more blue pens than red pens. How many pens are there in all?


Be sure to visit Mary Ann Graziani's website to pick up a copy of any of her THREE books for sale




Tech-Ed Articles

Check out our entire collection of technology articles, including:
* 21st Century Learning
* Integrating Technology
* Computer Literacy
* REAL activities you can use!




Science Activities For Any Setting
By Helen de la Maza
Sound Mapping
(click for PDF)

Soil Percolation
(click for PDF)

Click HERE to see all of 
Helen's Science Activities


Sign up for our 

Don’t be just a Guest! Sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter, delivered right to your inbox! FREE tips, ideas, and articles.

Subscribe Now!



Inspirational Quotes
& Photos

Check out our entire collection of inspirational quotes and photos from our 5 years of newsletters.  





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


The Chronicle of 
Higher Education




A Great Offer to Our StarTeaching Readers
From Kim's Signing Solutions!

Star Teaching Readers Get a Special Discount on a set of
My 1st 50 Sight Words in Sign
Regularly 12.95,
You Pay ONLY 9.95.

Click below to get your set of cards at this great discount, ONLY FOR STAR TEACHING READERS.

Use the Discount Code:  STARTEACH  

http://www. kimssigningsolutions.com/

You must use the link above to receive your discount!  

Fully endorsed by Frank Holes Jr., editor of Starteaching




Using Photography To Inspire Writing
By Hank Kellner

Visit his blog at: hank-englisheducation.



Article of the Week
"Got Chocolate Milk?"
Click here to download the PDF
"Big Fish in Troubled Waters"
Click here to download the PDF





Autumn Specials!
Books for Sale!

(Affiliated with Amazon.com)




Home | Newsletter Articles & Archives | FREE Special Reports | Special, Limited Time Offers | Submit An Article For Our Newsletter

Website design by Carrie's Creations Inc. ©2005