FEATURES  FOR   TEACHERS
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Ideas and Features For New Teachers
and Veterans with Class

Volume 8, Issue 16
August 2012
StarTeaching Store Advertise with us Previous Articles Submit an Article FREE Reports Feature Writers Tech Center New Teacher's Niche
   

WELCOME TO OUR BACK-TO-SCHOOL SPECIAL #1
Our Back-To-Back, Back-To-School Issues
Packed with excellent articles on getting yourself and your students back into school mode!

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

What's New @ StarTeaching   Visualization - An Essential Method For Teaching Modern Languages   The Apple iPod as a Great Learning  and Resource Tool
NEW! Hank Kellner: 
"Write What You See"
Tech/21st Century Corner: 
6 Great Platforms Where Students Share Book Reviews and Reading Recommendations
Building Positive Relationships Around Your School - School Secretaries
Science Activities for Any Setting   10 Days of Writing Prompts   10 Days of Math Problems
Homeless Education (part 1) New Teacher's Niche:
Second Day of Class Writing Assignment
Student Teachers' Lounge: Revisiting the SQ3R Reading Strategy
Book of the Month Club:
Teaching Kids To Spell
  Website of the Month:
Mastery Connect
  Themes on Life: 
"A Dog's Purpose"
Article of the Week: "Mission to Mars 1"   Summer Book Sale for Teachers      

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.

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

 

GUEST WRITER

Visualization- An Essential Method For Teaching Modern Languages

By Viorica Demici, MA American Studies

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

In order to make a language class successful one has to try to match its content with various methods aiming to make studying exciting and engaging. The usage of modern technological equipment ought to be taken in consideration when preparing teaching materials for a language course.

Needless to say, one has to always keep in mind the following objectives when teaching a language class:

1.      to develop the intellectual potential of the student

2.      to raise his/her interest towards the culture and the civilization of the country whose language one teaches

3.      to teach the student to decrypt the texts written in a foreign language

4.      to provide the student with procedures, means and methods that would make him/her be able to communicate orally and in writing with a native speaker

The last objective can be reached by using CDs, where voices of native speakers are recorded. It can be a vocabulary class, when a bingo game is used to have the student match the picture with the name pronounced by the virtual teacher; a grammar exercise where the sentence is built as a puzzle; or a movie with subtitles that help the student at the beginning level to better understand the language pronunciation. This visualization tool helps students with both visual and non-visual minds.

When teaching a language course using CDs, the teacher can easily find out that the students are more prone to join debates and discussions at the end of each activity. They try to recall what they just studied and often attempt to mimic the models observed on the CDs with other peers. In the process they often try to use the same pronunciation and imitate the voice. As a result, one can notice that individual and collective thinking become more developed. Consequently, one third of the work is done by the student itself. The student becomes not only a recipient of information, but also an active member of the group. He or she becomes his or her own co-participant of the studying process.

Here, one should also talk about the so-called programmed instruction, which is performed independently by the student, under the teacher’s supervision. The work in video and audio laboratories is a perfect example.  The student progresses in his/her own rhythm. He/she establishes his/her own objectives and reaches them in his/her own way. In case there are not enough computers, team work is useful. Moreover, when this is a movie that needs to be discussed at the end, the group or several small groups can be made up to achieve the objectives. In these cases the teacher is required to have a rich imagination and flexibility.

An article of the Romanian magazine “Computer World” argues that the benefits of computerized education are real: “We don’t have to ask ourselves if the teaching process gets better by means of computerized language methods utilization,” it claims. “It is obvious that the methods of teaching are unconquerable:  interactivity, operational precision, capacity to offer multiple and dynamic representations of different phenomenon. Also, there is a constant interaction with every student.”

G. de Landshere, a famous methodology expert, has been always pointing out that the educational process needs to be always intense and has to be inspired from the cognitive psychology. He has been striking the importance of suppression of the routine methods by the modern techniques. Speaking of this, it is opportune to affirm that the CDs ensure the active construction of the knowledge, significant contexts for learning, promoting reflection, absolving the student from routine activities, stimulating his intellectual activity.

Modern pedagogy has to research the experience of the European and American professionals and try to understand why the new methods of teaching modern languages using the software had such a great success there. The foreign languages professors struggle to study the educational system by formulating new problems that might appear at the social horizon and they consider this as their important mission to experimentally verify and prepare solutions for the moment when society reaches that horizon.

What are the chances that this method has the same success everywhere? The chances can be estimated only if the method is implemented in the core-curriculum of the specific classes. The method was used in a case study with one group of medical student form an University of Medicine and Pharmacy. The outcome was plausible. Students got more interested in the class, they shared their experience with the colleague from the other faculties, and they asked me to keep using this method in the next modules. The use of informatics tools and the use of the visualization in the modern languages courses is the horizon of today’s historical moment.  

There is an idea, entirely accepted by the specialists, that the educational soft is classified accordingly to the specific pedagogical function to have in the instruction process: exercise, interactive presentation of knowledge, simulation of models and phenomenon, testing the abilities, relaxation during the educational process due to game activities.

The studies made on the international lever lead to different important conclusions:

  1. the memorization time is reduced, the material is so interesting that the memorization happens in a shorter delay of time
  2. the attitude towards computer based education gets positively changed
  3. computer based education is more efficient as complementary instruction rather than an alternative form
  4. strategies base on the computer education are good enough for the elementary level of education as well as for the advanced one

Specialized shops exhibit a variety of CDs that make us study various conversational topics, new vocabulary, and dialogues, watch movies, and play games. And all this for one purpose: to easier and better speak a foreign language.  The final result would be a diversification of the intellectual abilities, gathering of a new reserve of words.  The software presents images, songs, game animation, business discussions, shopping and restaurant conversation situations, as well as maps of the country whose language is to be studied. The maps are also sounded. Pushing the image of a city the soft makes you listen to the pronunciation of that very topographic name. These multimedia CDs are a treasure and a condition sine qua non of a more productive and efficient language learning.

To sum up, let's point out that we have to keep insisting on the inclusion of this modern method in the curricula of every faculty and struggle against the unjustified fear towards new communication technologies in order not to limit or stop the creative spirit of the professor and the student.

 

 

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Feature Writer

Using Photography To Inspire Writing

By Hank Kellner

Hank Kellner is a retired teacher of English who has served as a department chair at the high school level and an adjunct associate professor of English at the community college level.

He is the former publisher of Moneygram, a marketing newsletter for photographer.  He is also the creator of many photographs and articles that have appeared in publications nationwide, the author of extensive reading comprehension materials for a publisher of educational materials, and a former contributor to Darkroom Photography magazine.  His self-syndicated series, Twelve Unknown Heroes of the American Revolution appeared in more than fifty newspapers and magazines nationwide.

Kellner's most recent publication, Write What You See: 99 Photos To Inspire Writing, is marked by Prufrock Press.  His blog appears regularly at hank-englisheducation.blogspot.com.

The purpose of Hank's most recent work, Reflect and Write: 270 Poems and Photographs to Inspire Writing, 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 Reflect and Write: 270 Poems and Photographs to Inspire Writing 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.

 

Jed

By Hank Kellner

There once was a pirate named Jed
Who preferred that his peppers be red.
So he ate fifteen dozen
That he got from his cousin,
And now poor old Jed is quite dead.

One Hot Pepper

By Elizabeth Guy

Some peppers are hot.

Some peppers are mild.

You’re one hot pepper.

‘Cause you drive me wild.

 

Photo # 32 by Hank Kellner
“I really was getting a bit bored with the piano…kind of like another spice…so I got into the red pepper.”       
-  Tori Amos
spice             limerick              pirate             relative

 

Scream
(after munch)
By Karen Topham

what rawness then
what orange blue intensity
what whirling winding nightmare
infests your soul
when like a man possessed
you turn your back on
the sweetness of the day—
the harbor rich with spreading sails
the sunset rolling waves across the sky—
and staring into empty space
or at some demon gnawing at your mind
you lift your hands to your face
hold tightly to your melting
frameless form
and wait to hear
the heavens
when they scream

 

Photo 31 The Scream
Painting by Edvard Munch
1893

 

“Anything, anything would be better than this agony of mind, this creeping pain that gnaws and fumbles and caresses one and never hurts quite enough.”    
 -
Jean-Paul Sartre
nightmare             space             horror             emotion

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:

NowAvailable! 

  

Mastering Basic Skills software:

$29.99

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click HERE to order your own copy today:

 

 

Feature Writer

Building Positive Relationships Around Your School (part 1):  Office Secretaries

By Dr. Peter Manute

This first article in the series describes why you should hold your school secretaries in the highest of regards.

Your office secretary is vital to the running of your school. Not only does your secretary handle office duties including answering the phone, typing reports, memos, and newsletters, and keeping & organizing supplies, but also may have responsibility for handling minor discipline problems, watching students in the office, scheduling students & classes, first aid & nursing, attendance, and dealing with parents.

This is the first representative of your school to all visitors, and the secretary essentially sets the attitude of the office. To students, they can be a counselor or advisor; to parents, they can be a welcoming committee. To teachers, the secretary can be a helpful hand.

Your office secretary is the communications hub of the school, responsible in many cases for every detail in running a school. They often set up meetings, make the important phone calls, and schedule events.

It is very important for you as a teacher to develop and keep a positive relationship with your office secretaries.

They keep you up on events and important information around the school. Many times they will do office tasks for you if you ask them nicely.

Most secretaries do far more in a school than they could ever get paid for. They do their job with little thanks, and yet most don’t show they like the attention of appreciation. It is very important to remember them on holidays (such as Secretaries Day) and other special occasions.

 

Grand Valley offers a Masters in Educational Leadership in Boyne City and Cadillac. If you would like to find out more about our program feel free to contact me at: jjudge2935@charter.net  or call me at 231-258-2935.

Many of the topics we will present will be for teachers seeking and administration position and for recently appointed administration. I will also receive comments from those who have just completed their first year as administrators. Since the program in Northern began eleven years ago we have placed over 60 GVSU graduates in administration positions.

 

 

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

Revisiting the SQ3R Reading Strategy

Many teachers have used the SQ3R reading strategy successfully for years. For new teachers, this can have a positive impact on whatever class, grade, or subject you are teaching. Reading is a vital skill in every class and every subject area, and a strategy to improve students' reading while working on specific class material is extremely beneficial.

SQ3R is an instructional strategy for improving reading comprehension.  It is an acronym for Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review. Each of these activities focuses on a technique integral to the reading process. The uses in the language arts seem rather obvious, but SQ3R is great for other areas too. This can be used in social studies classes when reading through a new section of the textbook. Science teachers use it to kick off new units and in new labs. Math teachers can even use it to teach students to take notes from their books.  Possibilities are endless.

Like any other technique, you will want to teach this carefully to your students and discuss each part together in class. While there are many ways of interpreting and using the SQ3R strategy, in this article I'll be sharing how we use it in our classroom.

'Survey' refers to skimming the reading quickly. Students look for items that catch their eyes - titles, headlines, photos, pictures, graphs, bold-faced or italicized words. Sometimes I refer to them as 'sticky words' since the reader's eyes tend to stick to them. After the quick scan, students write down the first six items their eyes 'catch' upon. Just a word or short phrase is fine, as we want to keep this part short and sweet.

'Question' is the part where students make predictions and pose questions about what they've surveyed. We have students create and write down three questions in complete sentences based on what they surveyed.

Complete sentences requires students to think carefully about the info they skimmed, and put it into a logical organized form. Early on, students may pose rather simple questions. We do not allow easy yes/no questions, those with one word answers, or questions they already know the answers to. We even spend class time discussing what makes 'good' questions.

Once the pre-reading is finished, the 'Read' part is just that - the students now read carefully through the section, paying attention to everything on the page. It's important to find the answers to their questions. We have the students then answer their posed questions in complete sentences. Sometimes students may have posed questions that are unanswerable or not found in the reading. We do allow students to state that the answer was not found in the reading. That's ok, as long as they don't make a habit of it. If such a habit does form, simply require students to state where they could find the answer.

'Recite' refers to putting the data from the reading into a new use.  We often create short freewrites to discuss the implications of the reading, or its applications. You can also create writing topics for students to respond to.

'Review' is, again, self-explanatory, as students review the material.  We have students create quiz questions based on the reading, just as if they were the teacher. However, they are not allowed to use their questions posed previously! Students can create ten multiple choice or true/false questions. Sometimes we assign creating fill-in-the banks statements, or even have students make their own essay questions or writing topics. You could even have them create crosswords or other word puzzles.

To make the SQ3R technique easy to do and grade, we've created a form that is used through our school. It is specific enough to cover all of the areas, and yet general enough to allow individual teachers to adapt and customize this strategy to their class, students, or current assignments.

You can download a free copy of our SQ3R worksheet on our website by clicking the link below:
http://www.starteaching.com/free.htm

The SQ3R technique is easy to use and adapt yourself, once you and your students are comfortable with its components. We've used it as a warm-up activity, as a closing activity, and as a sponge. It is also useful when you need easy-to-follow plans for a substitute. Most importantly, this is a powerful, yet simple, tool you can use in any class to improve students' reading skills.


Interested in FREE writing activities you can print out and use immediately in your classroom? Simply click the following link to our writing page: http://www.starteaching.com/writing.htm

Be sure to check out our website for the FREE teacher Who-I-Want-To- Be plan and other great Freebies for new teachers. Simply click the following link: http://www.starteaching.com/free.htm

 

 

Do You Have Great Ideas, Tips, or Techniques to Share with Our Readers?  
Are You Looking To Be Published?

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  TECH/21st Century CORNER

6 Great Platforms Where Students Share Book Reviews and Reading Recommendations

Shared by Mark Benn

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 K–12 marketplace. Our website is: www.vartek.com

Today, I'm sharing a great article supporting student use of technology.  Check out the link below:

6 Great Platforms Where Students Share Book Reviews and Reading Recommendations

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 received his Masters of Science in Educational Media Design and Technology from Full Sail University in 2010.

Mark Benn earned his B.S. from Western Michigan University and his Elementary Certification from Northern Michigan University.  He is a 25 year teaching veteran of 5th and 6th grade students at Inland Lakes Middle School in Indian River, MI.

Prior to teaching, Mark spent 11 years as Department Manager for Sears, Roebuck and Co. dealing with emerging technologies.  He has been married to his wife Bonnietta for 32 years with one daughter and two sons.  

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:

http://www.starteaching.com/newsletter.htm


 

 

 Guest Writer  

The Apple iPod As A Great 
Learning and Resource Tool

By Ken Cheong

Ken Cheong / Katherine Xie have 4 iPods starting from the 2G model. Katherine runs a popular website, http://www.smart-ipod-ideas.com, that gives tips on iPods as well as showcase quality iPod accessories from Japan.

There is no doubt that the Apple iPod has become a common item amongst today's youth as a great music player. But is the iPod more than just a music player?

In fact, the iPod is more than a music player. It is also a great teaching and learning tool as well. And it is guaranteed to help you learn fast. 

Audio Books 

Besides music, the iPod also plays audio books. These are essentially books that has been converted into a audio format and saved as a MP3 file. From a technical angle, there is no difference in the file format between a music or a book and you can download and play the same audio book off your computer or your iPod. This opens you to a whole library of 'books' for your iPod. 

These can include many great books found in public domains and downloaded for free. There are also many good commercial 'books' that you can purchase for a small price. These audio books are great as you can play them over and over again in the car, on the train or even on the plane. It's a good way to kill time and gain knowledge at the same time. 

The best thing about audio books is that you do not need to read. Let the book read to you and this can be a great enhancement for learning while driving or while sitting in a shaky bus or train. 

Podcasting 

Have you also heard of podcasting? If you have not, these are simply audio files published by individuals or companies covering interest topics ranging from music, technology, current affairs, news, politics, cars, sales and marketing, electronics, fashion to many other interesting niche areas. 

They then put up these audio files in certain podcast stations on the internet. 

Most podcast are free and you can download and treat them just like audio books. Similarly, you can subscribe and organize these podcast on your computer iTunes and then synchronize them to your iPod. It's also a great way to gain knowledge while driving or taking transport to school or work. 

What is gaining fast popularity today is video podcast. Video podcast are essentially video files that can be downloaded and again, it covers a great genre of subject. (As a matter of fact, I am learning about designing my own podcast by watching a video podcast of this subject.) 

However, you can only watch a video podcast on your computer or on the latest iPod video model. All earlier models of iPod will not be capable of playing video. With the iPod video, you can also output the video signal to a normal TV and watch the entire podcast on TV as well. 

What's more, you can watch them, stop them, rewind them or repeat these audio or video podcasts as often as you like. What better way to learn? 

So who says that iPods are meant for music only?

 

Be Sure to Check Out 
Our Website Store for Specials:

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Homeless Education
(part 1)

Courtesy of K12Academics.com

Homelessness has a tremendous effect on a child's education. Education of homeless youth is thought to be essential in breaking the cycle of poverty. The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act mandates equal opportunity to a free public education to homeless students. This act is supposed to break down the barriers homeless students have to receiving an education. These barriers include residency restriction, medical record verification, and transportation issues. Once a student surpasses these barriers, they are still subject to the stigma of being homeless, and the humiliation they feel because of their situation. Some families do not report their homelessness, while others are unaware of the opportunities available to them. Many report that maintaining a stable school environment helps the students because it's the only thing that remains normal. Many homeless students fall behind their peers in school due to behavioral disorders, and lack of attendance in school.

Since the housing market fall out there has been a rise is homeless students. NAEHCY or the National Association for the Education of Homeless for Children and Youth, has reported that there has been a rise in homeless student as much as 99% within a three month period.

Of 1,636 schools, 330 reported no increase, 847 reported an increase of half, and 459 reported an increase of 25% or more. Due to the provisions of the McKinney-Vento Act many school districts are struggling to provide the necessary services, such as rising transportation needs and the greater severity of services.

One of the biggest challenges our district faces is providing transportation to students who are experiencing homelessness. There are few approaches that our district can utilize to provide transportation for these students. Our city has only one taxi cab service and no public bus system. Our cab company is small and simply cannot fulfill all of our transportation requests. When it's possible, we add students to existing bus routes or set up a contractual agreement with the student's parent/guardian. However, there have been many situations where none of these options have worked. Another challenge our district faces is providing proper outer-wear for students who are homeless. Being that we live in central Wisconsin and have long, cold winters, all students need proper outerwear to go outside. Proper outerwear includes snow boots, hat, mittens, snow pants, and a winter jacket that has a working zipper or buttons on it. This expense adds up quickly and is hard to provide to the increasing number of homeless students.

This is especially worrisome since homeless students are 1) 1.5 times more likely to perform below grade level in reading; 2)1.5 times more likely to perform below grade level in spelling; and 3) 2.5 times more likely to perform below grade level in math.

 

Article courtesy of K12Academics.com

K12Academics.com

 

 

MythMichigan Books
Novels by Frank Holes, Jr.

Dogman’s Back!

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

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

  A mysterious police report of an unsolvable death in Manistee County

A terrifying encounter in the U.P.’s remote Dickinson County

A BLOG, begun as one man’s therapy, becomes a chronicle of sightings from around Michigan

A secret governmental agent investigates the grisly aftermath of Sigma

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

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

Welcome to Dogman Country!

NOW AVAILABLE!

Click Here For The
Tales From Dogman Country Website

 

Now Available!

Year of the Dogman Website
Now Available!

Haunting of Sigma Website
Now Available!

Nagual: Dawn of the Dogmen Website 
     
Now Available!
Now Available!
 
The Longquist Adventures, written for elementary students, is excellent for teaching mythology and classic stories to young children.  

http://www.longquist.com

 

 

Teachers:
We now have special offers on Classroom Sets of our Novel.  Click here for more information:

ORDER A CLASS SET 

 

 

 

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

Second Day of Class Writing Assignment

Once the hectic pace of the first day of school is over, you'll want to get your students off and writing 'on the right foot'. We begin the second day of class with a writing assignment / activity that will give me an idea of where the students are in terms of their understanding of the writing process.

Our school uses a common writing program that increases in complexity at each grade level. The teachers use common terminology and formats for paragraphs which are the basis of our drafting. Thus, I know they will have a bit of familiarity with the process. However, even if you are teaching 'on an island' without any class or grade continuity, this activity will allow you to assess your students understanding of the writing process and set them up for the teaching of your expectations for writing paragraphs.

I've put this activity onto an overhead sheet so I can use it each year. At the top are the writing directions: "Write a paragraph describing one of the most important things you learned over the summer. No talking, and no questions." The directions are specific enough that I want a paragraph written, not a page or a few sentences. And the topic is broad enough that everyone can think of something to write about. However, it is just vague enough that students must use their best judgment to decide exactly HOW to structure the writing and how long it should be.

I tell the kids there is no right or wrong way to do this assignment, and there is no right or wrong response to the prompt. In fact, the only wrong thing that can be done is just to NOT write anything at all. This explanation will help most of your students get started right away. If a student is sitting idle for more than a minute, I'll remind them that this is a writing activity, not a thinking activity. They need to get started writing, or I'll assign them a disciplinary paragraph to copy. That's usually enough to get them going.

Undoubtedly you will have some students who seem stumped on this, or will want to ask questions of you. Stand firm on the 'no questions', and let them figure it out for themselves. If you give in now, these same students will rely on you the entire year. You want them to become good thinkers and problem solvers. Let them do it!

We usually give students about ten minutes to write. Although this is less than normal, it's just enough to get them on the right track and enough for you to see if they have any idea what they're doing.

Once the time is up, each student draws a line across his/her paper right under the paragraph. I then uncover the second part of the activity. Students must now "write down THREE rules, guidelines, or expectations they have learned about writing paragraphs." After these are written down, the students prioritize them, the most important labeled #1, and so forth. These provide excellent prompts for class discussions, which is next. We look to affirm correct ideas, and dispel the wrong ones. Then the students draw another line across the page.

Lastly, the students number their page #1-5, and write in their responses to four questions I pose for them. We then discuss their answers, and I'm able to evaluate what they know and what they think they know about paragraph writing.

Again, these help me to see what knowledge the students bring to class, and how closely they are to our class's writing expectations.

The last thing we do is a bit of self-editing. The students are to underline their topic sentences and clincher statements and number their three supporting statements (just imagine their surprise if any realize they didn't write these down!) This also makes for great conversation.

Now they're ready to learn the rules, procedures, and expectations for the formatting of a paragraph in this class. I have these on an overhead sheet and also on a PowerPoint presentation. Both have a note sheet so students can write down the information as it is presented. They quickly learn the rules and expectations I have for the formatting and writing of their paragraphs.


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A Dog's Purpose - 
Through the Eyes of a 6 Year Old Child

Themes on Life

Life seen through the eyes of a child...

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife, Lisa, and their little boy, Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn't do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker's family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any
difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker's
death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.

Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, 'I know why.'

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation.

He said, 'People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life -- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?' 

The six-year-old continued, 'Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long.'

What's New @ StarTeaching?

 

Hello readers!  Welcome to the first Back-To-School Issue of Features for Teachers in 2012!   

This month, we bring another great poetry/photograph selection from Hank Kellner from his upcoming book, Reflect and Write. We also have a new series on Homeless Education, as well as articles on reading strategy, visualization for languages, and building positive relationships.

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.

 


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StarTeaching
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Hank Kellner:
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Chris Sura:
English-Language Arts Education
Yasmeen Jumani:
World Education
Rozina Jumani:
World Education
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Dr. Peter Manute:
Student Teachers and 
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Sign Language
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School Features
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Magic in the Classroom

 

 

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STARTEACHING WRITING PROMPT COLLECTION - 
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10 Days Of
Writing 
Prompts 

Day
1

What is an imitation?

Day
2

How is an imitation created?

Day
3

Why do people create imitations of things?

Day
4

Tell a story that involves someone creating an imitation of something.

Day
5

How can an imitation be dangerous?

Day
6

What is the opposite of an imitation?

Day
7

Can an imitation be helpful? Why or why not?

Day
8

What are THREE imitations that are useful?

Day
9

How does technology influence imitations?

Day
10

 What are your goals for this new semester?

STARTEACHING WRITING PROMPT COLLECTION - 
Click to see over 1000 prompts

 

10 days of writing prompts

 

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BOOK of the MONTH

Teaching Kids to Spell

By J. Richard Gentry

 

 

Coming Soon:

Preparing for Student Teaching

Technology & Teaching: 21st Century Teaching and Learning

Writing Process and Programs

Article of the Week


 

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See All Weekly Math Problems from 2007-2009!

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10 Days of 
Math Problems
by Mary Ann Graziani

Day 1 How do you write 2.3 × 104 in standard form?
Day 2 How do you write 350 in scientific notation?
Day 3 How do you write 2.77 × 105 in standard form?
Day 4 How do you write 51.8 in scientific notation?
Day 5 How do you write 557 in scientific notation?
Day 6 How do you write 8.22 × 103 in standard form?
Day 7 How do you write 62,000 in scientific notation?
Day 8 How do you write 3.28 × 101 in standard form
Day 9 How do you write 3.66 × 10-1 in standard form?
Day 10 How do you write 4.64 × 104 in standard form?

 

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Tech-Ed Articles

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* 21st Century Learning
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* REAL activities you can use!

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Science Activities For Any Setting
By Helen de la Maza
Playing With Punnett Squares
(click for PDF)

Punnett Square Creature Parents PDF (supplement)

Pennies and Surface Tension
(click for PDF)

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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

 

WEBSITE OF THE MONTH
Mastery Connect
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A Great Offer to Our StarTeaching Readers
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My 1st 50 Sight Words in Sign
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Using Photography To Inspire Writing
By Hank Kellner

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

 

 

Article of the Week
"Mission To Mars 1"
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"Rotator Cuff Surgery"
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