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Ideas and Features For New Teachers
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Volume 8, Issue 7
April 2012
StarTeaching Store Advertise with us Previous Articles Submit an Article FREE Reports Feature Writers Tech Center New Teacher's Niche
   

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

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

What's New @ StarTeaching   Tech Corner: Slader.com: Can Pedagogy Keep Up With Mobile Devices?   School Band Fundraisers
NEW! Tony Vincent's Blog: QR Codes How Do We Jumpstart Early Literacy? Themes on Life: 
"Student Proverbs"
NEW! Science Activities for Any Setting   10 Days of Writing Prompts   10 Days of Math Problems
School Features:
Critical Thinking (part 2)
New Teacher's Niche:
Duties Of A Responsible Teacher
Student Teachers' Lounge: Creating A Class Rules Packet
Book of the Month Club:
50 Writing Lessons That Work
  Website of the Month:
CliffNotes Films
  Article of the Week: "Do Cell Phones Cause Cancer?"

Remember to bookmark this page and to visit our website for more great articles, tips, and techniques!
http://www.starteaching.com

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

FEATURE WRITER OPENINGS:

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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School Band Fundraisers

By Kimberly Reynolds

Talk about your hard workers! Band groups are awesome when it comes to putting forth the effort it takes for fundraising success. The key is making sure they have the right fundraiser that will leverage all that energy.


In this article, we'll consider three band fundraisers that:
*Take some effort
*Are perfect for medium-sized groups
*Produce excellent results
Citrus Fruit:
One band fundraiser that fits the easy fundraiser formula is selling cases of citrus fruit shipped direct from the Florida groves.

Here, the band members use an order-taker brochure to explain the offering to prospective supporters.

You really need to go door-to-door or sell from a merchant table to achieve the kind of numbers where you'll raise substantial funds. This is perfect for a band group with enough members to canvass entire neighborhoods by working in pairs.

Customers can choose from Navel Oranges, Tangelos, Tangerines, Red Grapefruits, and mixed cartons. Order sizes range from ten pounds all the way up to forty pounds.

A common size is 2/5 of a bushel or 20 pounds. Generally, you can expect to pay roughly $8 for this size and make a profit of $4 each. These are rough prices because citrus fruit can vary in price based on weather patterns and availability.

Citrus fruit is a wintertime offering with availability best between mid-November through mid-April. There are discounts for large orders and bonuses for ordering a whole truckload.
Christmas Wreaths:
Another band fundraiser that's a good fit is selling Christmas wreaths via an order-taker brochure.

It's another late fall fundraiser that takes advantage of a holiday "must have" decoration.

Since they're made fresh, you can get an early jump on the retail stores and conduct your fundraiser as an order taker before Thanksgiving.

There are a number of offerings in addition to the traditional door wreath.

Suppliers also offer door swags, mantelpieces, centerpieces, candle wreath packs, and fresh cut holly. Prices range from $17 up to $50.

Profits are approximately 40% of the selling price on most items, so it makes a great band fundraiser because the total revenue is high.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see how quickly your band profits can add up with an aggressive marketing campaign. You need to set some high goals for each band member, such as ten sales each before Thanksgiving.

Delivery is easy, with each wreath sealed in a plastic bag to preserve freshness. Get your orders in early and allow two weeks minimum for delivery.
Coffee Fundraiser:
A third band fundraiser that produces great results is a coffee sale. Like the other two fundraisers we've already discussed, a large selection of pre-bagged coffee products are sold via an order-taker brochure.

Your supporters can select from twenty or more flavors. Most suppliers have small "dollar bags" or the better selling half-pound package.

Usually, the cost for a half pound of quality coffee is $3, and the retail price is $5 or $6. You can offer a choice of whole bean, or ground varieties.

The idea here is to tap into the market for something that almost every household buys regularly, then expand upon it with multiple flavors.

Their names conjure up images of a cup of coffee wafting delicious aromas throughout the kitchen - flavors like Hazelnut, Toasted Almond, Hawaiian Coconut, Butterscotch, or Morning Glory.

Again, success is best achieved by presenting your offering to large numbers of prospective supporters. Set up a table at any event that draws a large crowd. Offer samples from tiny paper cups. Get the word out to as many people as you can.

Your band group works hard. Make sure you pick a band fundraiser that works just as hard by being impossible to resist.

Kimberly Reynolds writes about fundraising ideas and tips on band fundraisers on her website. Find hundreds of fundraiser ideas on her website:  http://www.fundraiserhelp.com/fundraiser-ideas.htm

 

 

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QR Codes

By Tony Vincent
www.learninginhand.com

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.

Learning in Hand Podcast Episode #25: QR Codes is all about those two-dimensional bar codes that are popping up everywhere. QR codes have lots of uses for education, especially in classrooms where students are equipped with mobile devices.

The video is fast paced. There are several QR codes you could scan during the video, but because of the pace, you will probably have to rewind and pause in order to scan.

View the 20 minute video on YouTube, on Vimeo, in iTunes, or download to see how QR codes can save time and and make classrooms a little more interactive and efficient.

 

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Transcript

This is the Learning in Hand podcast. I'm Tony Vincent and this is the show where I share tips, how-tos, and ideas for using today's digital tools for teaching and learning. Episode 25: QR Codes, recorded March 2012, happens now!

Here's a bar code that get scanned at the grocery store. A bar code like this contains numbers, up to about 20 digits. If you really want to, you can make your own barcodes.

Supermarkets, businesses, and libraries have used bar codes for years because it saves time and is more efficient than typing in the digits.

Here's a QR code. It's like a bar code, but can contain much more information. QR codes contain up to a few hundred characters, and it's not limited to just numbers.

Watch this. I simply launch an app and point my device's camera at the code. Instantly, the QR code is deciphered. The text from the QR code is displayed so fast, no wonder it's called a Quick Response code!

QR codes are not limited to being just text--they can be hyperlinks. When I scan this code, it opens to my website, learninginhand.com. Isn't that great?

You can find QR codes everywhere. They are on signs, coffee cups, business cards, t-shirts, cupcakes, and bananas. You can even get a QR code tattoo if you want. Scanning these codes instantly displays information or takes you to website.

QR codes have been around since 1994.  Why is it that they have recently become so popular

Why the surge in popularity? Well, I'd say it's because now people are carrying around tiny scanners with them all the time--their mobile phones! Most phones, laptops, tablets, and iPod touches now have cameras, and these devices can run apps that transform them into handheld scanners.

You know, it's so easy to make a mistake when typing a web address. It happens to me all the time, especially on a mobile device with a small keyboard. In classrooms with iPads, iPod touches, tablets, or phones, QR codes can save loads of time and headaches.

And what's really great is that there are loads of apps for scanning QR codes that are free. In fact, it won't even cost you any money to make your very own QR codes either.

Currently my favorite QR code scanning app is i-nigma. It's available for iOSAndroid, Windows Phone, and Blackberry. Go to i-nigma.mobi on your device to download it. 

While scanning works best on a mobile device, you can use software on Windows or Mac computers to scan codes. QRreader is free and uses a computer's webcam.  Simply hold up a QR code in front of the camera and it is scanned. QRreader can open URLs automatically in your web browser.

After you have a reader, it's time to get scanning. QR codes can be large or small. They can be printed or you can scan them on a computer screen. You just need to make sure that you are far enough away so the entire code is visible. A code cannot be scanned if it is obstructed. You need to be close enough so that the camera can see the detailing in the QR code.

Making a QR code is easier than you think and it won't cost you anything. Now, you'll most likely create the code on a laptop or desktop so that it can be pasted into a document, printed, or projected. There are apps and software that can do this, but I prefer using online QR code generators. Simply searching for "qr code generator" will give you lots to choose from.

 I like qrcode.kaywa.com because it is very basic. To make a code, first choose URL or text. Type or paste into the box and your code is created. Right-click to save or copy the image. Since the code is just like any other image, you can paste into documents like a PowerPoint slide, a Word document, or SMART Notebook file. Because it's an image, you can print the code out, save it for later, post it at a learning station, or show it your class right from the qr.kaywa.com page itself.

So, what can QR codes do for teaching and learning? Lots, especially in classrooms where each student has a mobile device.

Start Class

Students get their devices and scan a code with directions. Perhaps it's a writing prompt, survey, or web page to read. Scanning a code gets students to turn on their devices and get ready for learning.

Link to Your School or Class Website

Include a QR code that leads to your school or class website on your newsletter letterhead so students, parents, and community can be quickly transported to your website.

Distribute Files

The URL you use for a QR code can lead to a file that's stored online. Check this out. When I scan this code, it opens a PDF in my web browser. On iPad, I can open the PDF in an app like PaperPort Notes where I can annotate it. So QR codes are a great way to distribute files to students. Not just PDFs, but PowerPoint, Keynote, Pages, Excel, and more can be access through a QR code.

One way to distribute a file is to place it in your Dropbox public folder. Copy the Dropbox URL of that file and paste it into a QR code generator. Now students can scan that code and access the file from your Dropbox.

Similarly, TagMyDoc.com is a website where you upload a PDF, Office Document, or image and it will host that file and make a QR code so others can download it. In just a few steps, your file is online and accessibly through the code TagMyDoc.com provides.

Review Books

Walk into some school libraries and you might find a QR code pasted inside the covers of certain books. Scan the code and you are taken to a book review by a student at that school. That means when students are interested in reading a book, they can scan the code to see what their peers think of it. 

Keep in mind that book reviews are going to be longer than the 250 character limit of a QR code. So, the QR code for a book review would be a URL of a webpage, blog, or wiki with the review.

Play Audio

Maybe the book review isn't a written one. Perhaps it's a video or book trailer. Or maybe it's an audio recording of a book review. A QR code can link to any URL, so the URL can certainly be one that belongs to a video or audio file.

RecordMP3.org is an easy way to record and share audio. You simply use your laptop or desktop computer's microphone and record right from the web page. After recording, RecordMP3.org supplies you with a URL you can copy and paste into a QR code generator. When the code is scanned, the recorded audio is played in the web browser. Of course, audio can be used for more than book reviews.

A teacher can record instructions and give extra information using RecordMP3.org and a QR code. Or,RecordMP3.org can be used to record audio study guides, words of the day, interviews, reflections, skits--there are so many possibilities. And because RecordMP3.org supplies a URL, that URL can be made into a QR code.

Speak Text

QRvoice.netis a website that with one click, will turn what you type into audio and gives you a QR code. You've got to see this. I'll type something in and click the button. Instantly a QR code is generated. When scanned, the code takes me to a URL where a computer voice speaks what I typed. 

Point to Apps

If you scan this QR code, it will take iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch users to the App Store details page for the Evernote app. From this screen a user can download Evernote. I use QR codes for apps quite often in my workshops because it's so quick to flash the code on the screen so everyone can download the app without getting lost in App Store.

To make a QR code that goes to the App Store, go to the App's details page in iTunes. Click the arrow next to the app's price or install button and choose Copy Link. Then paste this link into a QR code generator to make your code.

Help & Tutorials

Place QR codes on worksheets that offer extra help. A worksheet of long division problems can have a code students can scan that shows them the steps for solving a problem like the ones on the sheet. Or, the QR code can go to a video detailing how to solve a similar problem. For instance, this code goes to a video by middle school student at Mathtrain.tv that reviews the order of operations. The code could be put on an assignment as a reference.

The iPad app ShowMe Interactive Whiteboard is a great app for teaching concepts through video. Everything you write and say are combined into a video that's uploaded online. After upload, the video has a URL. So, of course that URL can be copied and pasted into a QR code generator. Codes to teacher and student made videos can be a great tutorial, reference, or extension to an assignment.

DoTryThisAtHome.com has some free QR code enabled workshops. The code on this worksheet goes to a video on YouTube about improper fractions. This worksheet's QR code goes to a video about using apostrophes in contractions.

Update or Augment Text Books

Are your textbooks outdated?  Could they use a makeover? Paste QR codes in them! The codes can link to updated information, videos, and interactive websites to supplement and enhance the text.

Go to Google Forms

Google Forms, part of Google Docs, is a great way to collect information. However, the URL Google provides for your form is comically long. No one would ever type this. This URL can be copied and pasted into a QR Code generator. However, since the URL is so long, the QR code will be very dense. Dense codes don't scan as well as simple codes. I suggest using a URL shortener on long URLs before turning them into a QR code.

For example, this is a survey teachers might give parents at curriculum night. I'll copy the link. Then I'll go to bitly.com and paste the link into the box. Then I'll copy the shortened link and paste that into the QR code generator. Yes, it's an extra step, but it really will make scanning your code easier.  Plus, if you are logged into bitly.com when you shorten the URL, it will keep track of how many times that URL was accessed. There are alternatives to bitly.com, including Google's URL Shortener at goo.gl. Many of these shorteners can generate QR codes on their own.

Delivr.com is a QR code generating website that automatically shortens the URLs you input. If you sign into an account, Delivr provides detailed statistics about how many times the code was scanned, when, and where.

Point to a Bingo Card

Want to turn those devices and computers in your classroom into expensive Bingo boards? You can! Scan this code. It takes you to a Bingo board full of weather vocabulary. The squares are randomly positioned each time someone accesses the URL. In a classroom, I could have my students scan the QR code and tap the center Free space to mark it. Then I would say a definition and students would mark the word for that definition. Then I'd say another definition and so on until Bingo is called. It makes for a great review game.

Anyone can make a Bingo board at BingoBaker.com. Simply type in all of your words and click Generate. You could print a set of cards, but even better is using the supplied URL to play online. Copy that URL and paste it into a QR code generator and you've got a QR code to leads to that Bingo board. And it's so cool that each time it's scanned, it generates a different board!

Enhance Field Trips

Teachers are making field trips more meaningful by placing QR codes around the location or on objects. The codes can link to information, give instructions, or even ask students to submit observations through a Google Form.

While on a field trip or at school, it's easy to make a QR code scavenger hunt. Or, you might like to pronounce it, SCANvenger hunt. Classtools.net has a QR Treasure Hunt Generator designed for inputing a series of questions and getting a QR code for each. 

Praise Students

Ok, this next idea is a stretch, but like many QR code uses, it brings some novelty and kinesthetics into the classroom. Instead of writing out feedback on student work, a teacher simply writes a number. That number corresponds to a QR code on a poster in the classroom. The student finds the matching QR code and scans it to receive the feedback. For example, I've got the number 51 written on my paper. So I'll scan QR code #51 on the poster and it tells me "Couldn't have done it better myself."

A teacher in North Carolina is offering her 75 Ways to Say a Good Job QR code enabled poster for free at teacherspayteachers.com.  

Email

QR codes are not limited to text and URLs. They can be used for other kinds of information. For example, if you scan this code it will start an email message from you to me. I created a code that contains my email address, the subject, and the beginning of the message. You can continue editing the message before sending.

I made this code at QRstuff.com. I selected Email Message as the data type and entered an email address, the subject, and body text. This can be handy for collecting student or parent feedback.

Update Twitter

QR codes can be used to post to Twitter. In fact, if you are a Twitter user, scan this code. It opens the Twitter website and fills in the tweet for you. All you have to do it tap Tweet! It's really fast if you are already logged into Twitter in your web browser. Like an email message, you can edit before you send off the message. 

I made the Twitter update QR code at QRstuff.com. I selected Twitter as the data type and chose Twitter Status Update for the Content and typed the text of the tweet.

Explore More Data Types

Check out the other data types that QRStuff.com supports, including Google Maps locations, calendar events, and contact details. Contact details is the one I used to make the QR code on my business card.

Customize QR Codes

QR Codes don't have to be black and white. Codes that are colorful can work just as well. QRstuff.com let you choose a foreground color before you generate a QR code.  

You can get fancier with code creation. Want a colorful QR code with maybe your school or classroom mascot or logo? Go to QRhacker.com. It doesn't have as many data types as QRStuff.com, but it does allow you to change the pixel roundness, foreground and background colors, and even add a logo or image to the middle of the code.

I've found that color coding QR codes can really help me as an educator manage all of the codes. Color can also be an indicator that there's a different QR code on you projector screen. This happens often in my workshops---QR codes I show on the screen all look alike. So I change the color so my audience knows there's a new code in front of them. 

I've shown you just a few of the many inventive ways teachers and students are using QR codes. It seems that every week there's a cool new QR code tool. No matter which tool you use, do test your QR codes before publishing them to make sure they work exactly as you intend. 

QR codes can save time and and make classrooms a little more interactive and efficient. Of course, QR codes are just one tool in a teacher's toolbox. QR codes themselves aren't magic, but how they connect students, teachers, and information can be magical.

That's it for Episode 25. For more about mobile learning, visit learninginahand.com. And please consider recommending me to facilitate a workshops at your school or speak at your favorite conference. Thank you for watching!

 

 

 

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Each of these modules runs at three different levels, from easy to difficult.

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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.  

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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

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Creating A Class Rules Packet

We've found that teaching your classroom rules and procedures right away at the beginning of the school year will tremendously improve your chances of a successful relationship with your students. This should include giving your students a hard copy to keep, look over, and even discuss with their parents.

Our seventh & eighth grade team accomplishes this by creating a course introduction pamphlet. This tri-fold pamphlet is given out on the first day of class and presented by each member of the teaching team.  That way we teachers are all on the same page, and students have consistency between their classes.

Creating a pamphlet is relatively easy on a word processing program.  You will need to change your page setup from 'portrait' (normal 8.5 x 11 tall) to a 'landscape', the 8.5 x 11 long. You will also need to create two or three columns to type in (two if you are simply folding in half, or three if the pamphlet is a tri-fold). Your word processing program will automatically adjust your document's margins, though you might want to print it out and double check the margin space when you're finished (sometimes copy machines will 'slide' your original up to 1/2 inch, so try a sample). Once the paper is folded, this setup will make your pamphlet look professional. A bi-fold pamphlet is easy to create and fold, but a tri-fold looks so much nicer both to your students and parents.

You'll want a catchy cover with basic class or grade information.  Include a school graphic or clip art with the teachers' names, the classes, periods, room numbers, and other key info. We've added a place for both students and parents to sign, indicating that they have read through and understood these rules and procedures. This returned signature becomes the students' first assignment for your class. In fact, I like to allow three days to get them turned in, giving 10 extra credit points if it's two days early, and 5 extra credit points for one day early.

The next few pages display what we will cover in class this year. Its not in great detail, but simply an overview. In English, for example, a brief section is devoted to our main areas, writing, reading, literature, speech, technology, and presentations. In science, a brief section is devoted to the areas of ecosystems, matter, waves, rocks & minerals, and weather. The same is done for math and social studies and any other core classes.

The last few pages cover class rules and procedures. We always try to have just a few important rules that are general enough to cover most events that can happen in class. We like to include a rule about respecting all people and materials, since this is general enough to cover most poor behavior choices not specifically mentioned.

You'll want to include a section on your discipline procedures so students know exactly what punishments or consequences are due to them if they make poor behavior choices. Again, leave yourself room by adding a statement such as "Serious or continual problems may result in skipping one or more discipline steps." As always, follow your school or district's codes or policies in making up your class rules.

Procedures are different from rules in that these are desired behaviors you want your students to display at particular moments in class. Some procedures will include your class warm up or wrap up, passing in papers, raising hands, lining up, sharpening pencils, and even answering the telephone, among others. You'll want to spend some quality time thinking of what your students are going to DO in class, and the most effective way to accomplish these tasks. Be clear and simple when writing these down so the kids understand them.

The rules packer looks nice and professional. Students and parents alike will enjoy (and respect) the fact that you've taken the time to spell out exactly your expectations and to begin communicating with them. By having a section to sign and return, no one can claim they weren't aware of your rules or procedures.

 

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  Tech / 21st Century Teaching Corner

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Can Pedagogy Keep Up With Mobile Devices?

By Mark Benn, Instructional Technologist

Mark Benn is a Technology Integration Coach for VARtek Services, Inc. Having just completed almost 25 years as an educator for Inland Lakes Public Schools, and having received a Masters of Science in Educational Media Design and Technology from Full Sail University in 2010, he now works in a position that supports teachers of K-12 classrooms in the southwest Ohio region that are interested in integrating technology into their learning environments. VARtek Services mission is to be the best provider of managed technology solutions for enhanced learning in the KĖ12 marketplace. Our website is: www.vartek.com

I came across this blog recently, and I just had to share it. It examines the rise in mobile devices utilized in school compared to the pedagogy that can't keep up. Use this link to read about it, and then decide how you can change your teaching style to reflect the changes in the tools available to our kids:

http://blogs.kqed.org

 

 

 


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How Do We Jumpstart Early Literacy?

By Bruce D. Price

Article courtesy of EdArticle.com:   www.edarticle.com 

The more I studied reading, as it is taught in most public schools, the more I understood why we have 50 million functional illiterates. 

The schools say they are teaching children to read. It is often closer to the truth to say theyíre teaching children not to read. 

In one of the most famous books of the 20th century, ďWhy Johnny Canít read,Ē Rudolf Flesch explained that English, a phonetic language, had to be taught phonetically. Conversely, if you teach it with sight- words, you will create nonreaders. 

That was 55 years ago. Our Education Establishment went right on doing what Flesch said doesnít work. Despite changes in jargon and emphasis, reading instruction in many schools starts off much as it has for the past 70 years. Children are shown lists of Dolch words, sight-words, high-frequency words, whatever you want to call them, and told to memorize them as graphic shapes. This is the end of the road for many kids.

So, for the past few years, Iíve puzzled over this question: how do we work around the policies of our Education Establishment? The best answer I have is that parents should start early, when the kids are two, three or four. Teach the letters, and then the sounds, and then the blends. At that point, even if a child is shown a sight-word, the child will read it as a phonetic word. Presto! The kids have been inoculated.

I also became aware that there are charities giving books to poor families. I wondered what was given with the books. Apparently, in most cases, little is provided with the books. So here came a parallel or complementary question, and a fascinating challenge: what could you put into a disadvantaged home so that parents, not very literate themselves, could initiate the reading process? 

Just think of the things that are commonplace in upper-class homes. Children there play with alphabet blocks. They see toys, games, posters, furniture, etc. with the alphabet brightly displayed. How can we cheaply replicate that environment?  

One idea that came to mind was a laminated place mat with the alphabet on it. Many designs are available on the Internet, at about three dollars each. If a large organization ordered in quantity, maybe with a corporate sponsor, the price would be trivial. Then you have a child at the age of two, letís say, who is seeing the alphabet three or four times a day. 

I also started working on the Bouncing Ball Project, where the goal is to create videos of nursery rhymes with the bouncing ball indicating direction and syllables. 

Additionally, there is a vast amount of wonderful material on YouTube, which might be called early literacy assists. 

I created a new page on my education site, ď61: Early Literacy Pack,Ē which chronicles these projects, shows some of the YouTube videos, and links to the Bouncing Ball Project. 

All of these efforts are in permanent R&D, you might say. Iím trying to encourage everyone to come up with their own solutions, to find better videos, to devise cheaper, more ingenious ways to accelerate the literacy process. 

The goal is very clear to me. We want simple, foolproof tools that can help a child (or older illiterate) make progress. Who knows what that might be in any given situation? The good news is that lots of material is available. Parents can experiment and show a different video every day if they want to. 

Bottom line, there is no need to let a child show up in K-1 without some basic reading ability. Frankly, if all schools were teaching a good phonics program, parents wouldnít have to worry about any of this. But if children are going to encounter lists of high-frequency words that first year (which will wire their brains the wrong way), then taking these early steps is essential. Not to mention, easy and cheap. 

Itís one of those situations where the so-called experts donít seem to have the right answers. In consequence, people need to take the matter into their own hands. Teach the children early.

Bruce Deitrick Price is an author, artist, poet and education activist. He founded Improve-Education.org in 2005. This site now has 60 articles. Some are academic/intellectual; others deal with theories and methods used in public schools. 

Price's fifth book is THE EDUCATION ENIGMA--What Happened To American Education....He has 250 education articles, videos, and book reviews on the web. His main message is: Join my education crusade, or start your own, but let's get serious about improving education.

 

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Critical Thinking
(part 2)

Courtesy of K12Academics.com

Critical thinking consists of a mental process of analyzing or evaluating information, particularly statements or propositions that people have offered as true. It forms a process of reflecting upon the meaning of statements, examining the offered evidence and reasoning, and forming judgments about the facts.

Critical thinking has a useful sequence to follow:

1. Itemize opinion(s) from all relevant sides of an issue and collect Logical argument(s) supporting each.

2. Break the arguments into their constituent statements and draw out various additional implication(s) from these statements.

3. Examine these statements and implications for internal contradictions.

4. Locate opposing claims between the various arguments and assign relative weightings to opposing claims:

* Increase the weighting when the claims have strong support especially distinct chains of reasoning or different news sources, decrease the weighting when the claims have contradictions.

* Adjust weighting depending on relevance of information to central issue.

* Require sufficient support to justify any incredible claims; otherwise, ignore these claims when forming a judgment.

5. Assess the weights of the various claims.

Mind maps provide an effective tool for organizing and evaluating this information; in the final stages, one can assign numeric weights to various branches of the mind map.

Critical thinking does not assure that one will reach either the truth or correct conclusions. First, one may not have all the relevant information; indeed, important information may remain undiscovered, or the information may not even be knowable. Second, one's bias(es) may prevent effective gathering and evaluation of the available information.

Critical thinking may be distinguished, but not separated, from feeling. Refusal to recognize their interaction in real life leads to various forms of self-deception, individually and socially; and at the left, right, and mainstream of economic, political, and religious issues.

See more in our next issue!

Article courtesy of K12Academics.com

K12Academics.com

 

MythMichigan Books
Novels by Frank Holes, Jr.

Dogmanís Back!

  The legends of the Michigan Dogman come alive in six haunting tales by folklore author, Frank Holes, Jr.  Based upon both mythology and alleged real stories of the beast, this collection is sure to fire the imagination!

  Spanning the decades and the geography of the Great Lakes State , Frank weaves:

  A mysterious police report of an unsolvable death in Manistee County

A terrifying encounter in the U.P.ís remote Dickinson County

A BLOG, begun as one manís therapy, becomes a chronicle of sightings from around Michigan

A secret governmental agent investigates the grisly aftermath of Sigma

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

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

Welcome to Dogman Country!

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

http://www.longquist.com

 

 

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Duties Of A Responsible Teacher

By: Munir Moosa Sewani

The benefits of classroom reading are many. Children (especially young children) have a natural love of reading. However, we at the middle school often see students who either struggle with texts or are turned off to reading. A great way of regenerating that interest is through sustained silent reading in your classroom.

This topic has been hotly debated recently in the International Reading Association newsletter. I'm not trying to enter this debate.  This article will simply describe what we in our school have observed and detail what we've done in our classes that has worked for our students.

First off, let your students choose what they read, whether it is a book, magazine, or whatever. It makes a huge difference in peaking their interest. Teachers already give (and require) plenty of specific readings through activities, literature, and in textbooks.  Students need the opportunity to read about what interests them, and this can occur when you allow them to choose what they want to read.  By all means, continue with your regular activities, but find a way to give your students time (in class is best) to read on their own.

It is very important for you as the teacher to model reading to your students. Read the entire time your students are reading too. Don't let this time be wasted on grading papers, checking email, or doing any other administrivia. If you want your students to take the time seriously, show them you are taking the time yourself and are enjoying the activity. Regardless of what the kids may say to you, they will imitate your behaviors in your class. You have this great opportunity to be a positive role model!

Just as in practicing writing and their skills through the week, you as the teacher need to schedule in time for sustained silent reading.  When I'm covering a piece of literature, for example, my class may read in a variety of ways. We may read aloud, I may read to the class, or we may play 'popcorn' around the room as students choose others. You probably have other out-loud reading activities you use too. These are great, and I always recommend them. But you should always give students time to read silently too. It doesn't have to be a lot, but I do recommend at least ten minutes, though not more than twenty. Think in terms of attention spans: plenty of time to become engaged in the text, read for a bit, and yet stay focused. Obviously some students could lose themselves in a book for hours on end, but not all kids have such a long attention span. Start with ten minutes and work upward, adding a few minutes each time.

In addition to literature we all cover in class, I also set up a regular library time so students can select their own books. We'll stay in the library for, again, about twenty minutes. I give students between ten and fifteen minutes to look over the shelves and 'try on' a book. Its like trying on clothing. This trial version is very important so students can start deciding if this is the book for them.  If it doesn't hook them in the first ten minutes, I suggest they try again. I'll try to make suggestions based on what I think the students' interests are. Sometimes we talk about what they like, what their interests are. Students are not required to check out a book, but they must 'try out' at least one book at each visit.

We designate each Friday after our vocabulary quiz for sustained silent reading. Students may read their library book, another book of their choice, or even a magazine from the rack in my room (I typically collect old magazines from everywhere and keep them in a large rack in class). Old magazines include the old stand bys - Reader's Digest, National Geographic, and Sports Illustrated. But I also gather Teen magazines, food and cooking, gardening, hunting and fishing, and video game magazines, among others. This way there are a large variety of topics for students to choose from.

The bookshelves in my room also have old reference materials and some outdated textbooks I've scrounged from other teachers. Some of your students will enjoy looking through drafting texts, recipe books, or science books, and you'd be surprised at the number of kids who love maps in social studies, history, or geography text books.

I've noticed a difference, especially in the attitudes of my students toward reading. Students given choices through the year were more engaged in the assigned readings through the year. Often, students (especially struggling students or low readers) have told me they enjoy reading, or they've found a topic or author they want to read more about, or the readings I did assign were some of the only ones they actually read (that year or in several years). Comments like that last one are bittersweet, because though I'm glad the student has regained the interest in reading, I'm sorry it took so long and the student was turned off in the first place. Sustained silent reading and allowing students to choose their own texts can be very powerful and beneficial to your students. You can be the teacher who makes a difference to your students.

 

Use this link to access this writing assignment on our website for your own classroom use:

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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

 


 

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"Student Proverbs"

Themes on Life

Out of the mouths of babes...

A first grade teacher collected well known proverbs. She gave each child in her class the first half of a proverb and asked them to come up with the remainder of the proverb. It's hard to believe these were actually done by first graders, but there are some good ones. Nonetheless, their insight may surprise you.
Better to be safe than.......................................................

Strike while the................................................................

It's always darkest before.................................................

Never underestimate the power of....................................

You can lead a horse to water but....................................

Don't bite the hand that....................................................

No news is......................................................................

A miss is as good as a......................................................

You can't teach an old dog new........................................

If you lie down with dogs, you'll........................................

Love all, trust....................................................................

The pen is mightier than the...............................................

An idle mind is..................................................................

Where there's smoke there's.............................................

Happy the bride who.......................................................

A penny saved is..............................................................

Two's company, three's....................................................

Don't put off till tomorrow what........................................

Laugh and the whole world laughs with you, cry and.........

There are none so blind as................................................

Children should be seen and not........................................

If at first you don't succeed..............................................

You get out of something only what you............................

When the blind leadeth the blind........................................
punch a 5th grader

bug is close

Daylight Savings Time

termites

how?

looks dirty

impossible

Mr.

math

stink in the morning

me

pigs

the best way to relax

pollution

gets all the presents

not much

the Musketeers

you put on to go to bed

you have to blow your nose

Stevie Wonder

spanked or grounded

get new batteries

see in the picture on the box

get out of the way

- Submitted by Lauren and Karen

What's New @ StarTeaching?

 

Welcome to our first April issue. This month, our web partner Tony Vincent shares great uses for QR Codes, and tech writer Mark Benn shares an awesome blog discussing the contrast between modern mobile device implementation in schools and the pedagogy used in classrooms.

We are also featuring excellent articles to address critical thinking skills and early literacy.

Look for more real math problems from Mary Ann Graziani, science activities from Helen De la Maza, and the Article of the Week from Frank Holes, Jr.  Be sure to join up on our FACEBOOK page for StarTeaching for more reader interaction as well as constant, updated streams of educational information.  

Of course, you should also check our website for a number of updates and re-designed pages.  We're starting to collect quite a few articles from educational experts all over the world.  See these archives on our website: www.starteaching.com

 

 


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STARTEACHING WRITING PROMPT COLLECTION - 
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10 Days Of
Writing 
Prompts 

Day
1

What does it mean to be 'priceless'?

Day
2

Why are some things 'priceless' to some people, yet not worth much to others?

Day
3

What would you consider to be 'priceless' in your life?  Why is it?

Day
4

How do you compare something that is 'priceless' to you but not necessarily to someone else?

Day
5

How will you finish the school year in a strong fashion?

Day
6

What does it mean to be assertive?

Day
7

How do people show their assertiveness?

Day
8

Describe a time when you were assertive.  What happened? 

Day
9

Do you like people who are assertive?  Why or why not?

Day
10

 Why is it important to be assertive at school?

STARTEACHING WRITING PROMPT COLLECTION - 
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10 days of writing prompts

 

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Coming Soon:

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Technology & Teaching: Seamless Integration into Curriculum

Writing Process and Programs

Classroom Management


 

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10 Days of 
Math Problems
by Mary Ann Graziani

Day 1 Duncan surveyed 852 business owners in the city. Is this sample of the people in the city likely to be biased?
Day 2 Patrick surveyed the 237 employees at the company who worked in Marketing. Is this sample of the employees at the company in general likely to be representative?
Day 3 Emmanuel has the following data: 14 6 18 W 10. If the median is 14, which number could W be?
Day 4 Gary has the following data: 14, 13, 13, 12, s

If the mean is 12, which number could s be?
Day 5 Zachary has the following data: 6 20 d 5

If the mode is 5, which number could d be?
Day 6 Blake has the following data: 9 9 z 19

If the mean is 12, which number could z be?
Day 7 Chase has the following data: 19 20 15 p 5 9

If the mode is 5, which number could p be?
Day 8 Nate has the following data: 6 6 7 7 y

If the range is 1, which number could y be?
Day 9 John has the following data: h 6 9 19 16
If the median is 9, which number could h be?
Day 10 Amelia has the following data: 18 6 15 s 8

If the range is 13, which number could s be?

 

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

www.wishingstarchildrensbooks.com

 

 

 

STARTEACHING
Tech-Ed Articles

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* 21st Century Learning
* Integrating Technology
* Computer Literacy
* REAL activities you can use!

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Science Activities For Any Setting
By Helen de la Maza
Experimenting With Ants
(click for PDF)

 

Photosynthesis Game
(click for PDF)

 

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WEBSITE OF THE MONTH
CliffsNotes Films
http://www.cambio.com/cliffnotes-films/

 

 

 

Using Photography To Inspire Writing
By Hank Kellner

Visit his blog at: hank-englisheducation.
blogspot.com
.

 

 

TONY VINCENT
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.
learninginhand.com

 

Article of the Week
"Do Cell Phones Cause Cancer?"
Click here to download the PDF
"The Dangers of Artificial
Food Colorings"
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