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Ideas and Features For New Teachers
and Veterans with Class

Volume 8, Issue 12
June 2012
StarTeaching Store Advertise with us Previous Articles Submit an Article FREE Reports Feature Writers Tech Center New Teacher's Niche

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

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

What's New @ StarTeaching   Gym Goes Online   Does Your Child Have A Great Teacher?  Here's How You Know
NEW! Hank Kellner: 
"Write What You See"
Tech/21st Century Corner: 
Evaluating the Use of Technology in the Classroom
Preparing For Your Student-Teaching Experience (part 1)
Science Activities for Any Setting   10 Days of Writing Prompts   10 Days of Math Problems
Instructional Methods For Teaching Reading (part 2) New Teacher's Niche:
Creative Writing Inspired by Foods
Student Teachers' Lounge: Building PowerPoint Presentations
Book of the Month Club:
The Heart of a Teacher
  Website of the Month:
Internet 101
  Themes on Life: 
"F16 and C130"
Article of the Week: "Americans' Growing Dependency on Food Stamps"   Summer Book Sale for Teachers      

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

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


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

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

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



Gym Goes Online

By Stacy Andell

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

The traditional view of gym class is changing all over the United States. While most of us remember the endless games of kick ball and calisthenics, students at all grade levels are having a very different experience in elementary schools, middle schools and high schools across the country. The traditional gym class is shifting from team sports and group oriented activities to more independent and individual activities to keep kids active all year round.

Reasons Behind the Change

Two factors most influence the change in the traditional gym class. On the one hand, the increasingly competitive standardized testing is taking class time away from physical education. Many schools recognize that the way to bolster test scores is to devote more time to core subjects, like math and reading, and often gym class is the place with the most room to cut from busy school schedules. This trend is taking place in schools in all areas, including urban and suburban schools.

The second issue behind the shift from traditional gym class is the focus on the obesity rates of children in the United States. Educators agree that traditional formats, particularly combined with large class sizes, don't give students the amount of exercise that they need to lead healthy lives. The average group oriented gym class usually only engages a child for a few minutes out of the average hour long gym class. Think about how much time a student stands around waiting for their turn in a game of kickball and you'll see how much time the student actually participates in physical activity during a traditional gym class.

Independent Physical Activity

Unlike the team sports that have traditionally dominated physical education, today's gym classes take advantage of the greater variety of individual activities that make the most use out of student exercise time. Activities like yoga, martial arts, bike riding, and jogging have come to the forefront in modern physical education where the new focus is on tailoring gym class to meet the needs of the students who take it and, hopefully, help them to develop lifelong habits of regular exercise.

While many students get embarrassed by their lack of coordination in team sports, there is a much greater variety of activities that students can participate in, taking the attention off of performing in a group and onto establishing strong personal exercise and fitness goals. By encouraging independent physical activities, physical education programs encourage more students to take responsibility for their personal fitness and feel better about themselves when they exercise.

Taking it Online

Many schools are taking the gym student completely out of the gym by making it an independent study class. In this way, students get credit for doing physical activities outside of school, such as taking a martial arts class or jogging a certain amount of time each day before school. Such programs take the pressure off of the student's class schedule, allowing them to focus more on academic areas in school and enjoying physical activity outside of school. Student and physical education teachers track progress and work together to set goals without using valuable academic time in school. Schools across the country have set up online monitoring programs where students can measure their individual activities while keeping everyone healthy and happy.


Stacy Andell is a staff writer for Schools K-12, providing free, in-depth reports on all U.S. public and private K-12 schools. Stacy has a nose for research and writes stimulating news and views on school issues. For more on schools visit http://www.schoolsk-12.com.



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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, Reflections, is to inspire student writing through the use of poetry and photography.  

Most of the poems and photos have been submitted by students, teachers, and others nationwide, though some are directly from Hank.  Although Reflections has not yet been published, all of its contents are copyrighted.  Teachers are free, however, to download selected contents for use in their classrooms.

Each selection will include a poem, a photograph, a direct quotation, and four trigger words.

We at StarTeaching kindly thank Hank for his permission to use the materials.


By Gabrielle Lehmann

One day she met a charming man
Whose heart was made of paper
Beneath a latticed wooden cage
And skin as thin as vapor
With fingers wrapped in threads of red
And gold, no metal bands instead
Now taking hers in his he said         
“My dear you scant could fathom
How laurels sit atop the head
Of one who's never had them.”

“But follow me, my dear,” said he
“I will bestow you treasure
And it will be, quite certainly,
Beyond all hope of measure”
The darling dear allowed him near
For through his pane of cellophane
So certain was she his veneer
And self could only be the same

An aeon came and ages went
And though her love presented
A lavish wealth of great extent
His spouse was not contented

Beneath the strings his fingers bled
The plaster held no polish
No man beneath the ruby red
Which wind could not demolish
He held no secret in his breast
His ribcage rattled hollow
A heartless jest that proved at best
A liquor hard to swallow.

Photo 30 by Hank Kellner

  Love is blind, marriage is the eye-opener.” 
Pauline Thomason



By Cynthia Lee Katona

Pandas in London.
Polar bears sweating in Rome .
What were they thinking?


The beer is too warm.
The sphinx surprisingly small.
Might as well stay home.


Photo 29, 29A by Cynthia Katona

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 ˝ x11, 120 pages, perfect binding, ISBN 978-1-877-673-83-2, LCCN 2008938630. $24.95. Available at bookstores, from the publisher,  and on the Internet at www.amazon.com and other websites. Ask your school or local librarian to order it.Visit the author’s blog at http://hank-englisheducation.com. The author will contribute a portion of the royalties earned from the sale of this book to The Wounded Warriors Project.


iPod Touch

Order your own iPod Touch Today with the links below:



Mastering Basic Skills software:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click HERE to order your own copy today:



Feature Writer

Preparing For Your Student-Teaching 
Experience (part 1)

By Dr. Peter Manute

Your student teaching experience is a very important step in your teaching career.  In fact, your entire outlook on teaching and learning can be affected by your success during this period of your life.  This series of articles will help give you excellent 'insider information' on what they didn't teach you in your college classes.

There are many questions you'll want to pose to yourself far in advance of your student teaching experience. It is important to think carefully about them, as they will help to guide the actions and decisions you make. What kind of teacher do you want to become? Are there other teachers who have been a positive influence on you? Who have been your role models? Are there teachers you've had whose style you want to emulate? Are there teachers you know you don't want to be like? What has worked for some teachers that you want to implement in your own practice?

Who do you see yourself as? What style will you create for your own teaching? How will you balance the subject matter with the care for kids? How do you want the students to see you? How do you want your students to remember you five, ten, or twenty years later on? Will they remember you as a positive influence on them? Could you potentially change their lives?

Create a plan to become your dream. Do it now. Talk with teachers you admire and respect: those you want to model yourself after. Discuss the techniques and ideas that work for them, and use or adapt what you feel is useful. You can also check out the FREE teacher "Who I Want To Be" inventory available on our website. It gives ideas, provides guidance, and helps to create a plan for starting out on your teaching career.

Click here to see the "Who I Want To Be" teacher plan on our website.  

Meeting your mentor teacher as early as possible is very important. The two of you must form a bond, a cohesive unit in the classroom. Your co-op teacher will become the most important contact for this point in your career. They provide you not only with support, guidance, and structure, but also critique. Your co-op teacher's evaluation and recommendation is vital to your resume and to interviewing.

Planning will become very important to every aspect of your life, from school to your personal life. One huge difference is planning for class. Not anymore are you just setting up an activity or a day's lesson plan. Now you must think in terms of the long haul. It becomes a campaign where you must have an overall picture of what you'll cover with your students.

Also within this overall framework, you must have weekly and then daily plans. You'll also have to reflect daily and adjust and (re-adjust) your plans depending upon how each lesson or activity goes (or doesn't go!) The daily grind is often interrupted by school-wide activities, fire drills, and those 'teachable moments' that happen on the spur of the moment. You'll need to be flexible and able to adapt on a daily (or even hourly) basis. But that's a part of teaching!

Another concern many new teachers and student teachers have is becoming involved in extra-curricular activities. There are several ways to look at this. First, it is a good idea to become involved in extra-curriculars at your school. These are good resume' builders, and your involvement shows potential employers you are a team player and willing to go the extra mile for your school and job. Extra curriculars also set you up in a new and different relationship with those students. They are able to see you in a different role too, and many times you're able to create in-roads with students whom you might not otherwise make a connection. Of course, taking part in extra-curriculars means more time and efforts put in, especially when you're already pulled in all directions. However, it is in your best interest to find an activity you can join, even if just as an assistant.

You will also need to carefully plan your personal time while student teaching. In addition to the increased teaching and planning load, your time will be further divided by your college, which undoubtedly has course work or projects for you to accomplish. There are always hoops to jump through. If you have a family, you'll be pulled in even more directions as you find the new balance between home and work

Watch for more in the next issue!


Grand Valley offers a Masters in Educational Leadership in Boyne City and Cadillac. If you would like to find out more about our program feel free to contact 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

Building PowerPoint Presentations

PowerPoint is a fantastic program that can make your classroom presentations come alive. It is at a basic level an interactive slide show. For advanced users, it can include timed transitions, video clips, and audio elements. A digital projector and a computer can enliven your presentations and make note taking easier. The use of technology also captures and keeps the students (or your audience's) attention.

PowerPoint (or a comparable software product) allows information to be displayed in a fun, interactive manner. It ties text, graphics, and animation seamlessly in an easy to use format. You have total control, from choosing text sizes, fonts, and colors, to creating graphics of all shapes and colors, and even to adding pictures, clip art, sounds, and animations. You also determine the page layout by simply moving any item wherever you want on the slide.

You begin with a blank slide on which you will arrange your data, whether it be text or graphical elements.

Having used PowerPoint for many years, I have some suggestions for you.

1. Use at least size 16 font, and think seriously about size 20 or 24 font. This is so youw words and letters are large enough to see from everywhere in your room.
2. Be careful with color schemes. A creative slide may actually be hard to see when projected. Use light colored (white/yellow) text and graphics on a dark background, and use dark text and graphics on a light background. Avoid red/blue combinations, and others like these that tend to blend into each other. Always test your presentation before giving it so you can ensure it will be seen properly.
3. Don't bother using sound unless you have a good set of speakers. The audio will use up valuable memory and is useless unless you have speakers. And many times the novelty wears off and your audience will tire of the repetitive sounds.
4. When your students are using graphics and photos, check that the sizes are appropriate. Expanding (enlarging) a photo can reduce its resolution, making it grainy and hard to see clearly.
5. Animations and slide transitions are neat and fun, but don't overdo them. Choose one slide transition to use throughout the presentation so your audience knows the next slide is here. The same goes with animations: keep them simple and appropriate. You want to impress the audience with your information, not the 'gadgets' you use to soup up the PowerPoint.

The program also includes several templates where you can just click and insert the text or graphics you want. The best way of gaining proficiency is to play with the program. That's right, pretend you're a kid and try everything out. There's no way you can break it. Check out all of the menus and buttons. If you do become confused, find a third grader who can help you out (at that age, many kids are already proficient and still love to show you how to do it). There are many tricks, shortcuts, options, and neat ideas you can try. You'll find ones you like and that fit your personality or your presentation.

Most of the 'equivalent' programs for various platforms (Mac/Windows/Linux) are close enough for you or your students to be proficient on any machine. At our school, we regularly switch between Macs and Linux computers, and our students have quickly mastered both the basics and more advanced techniques. Remember, you as the teacher don't need to know exactly every detail of the program. You can rely on (or challenge) your students to find the little intricacies of the program. The big thing is for you to have your students use the program, and you'll learn alongside the kids.

PowerPoint is very easy to use. With just a little bit of computer familiarity, you can be creating professional and creative presentations

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

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



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

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


  TECH/21st Century CORNER

Evaluating the Use of Technology in Classrooms

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 thought-provoking article on evaluating the use of technology in the classroom.  Is technology just being used for its own sake, or does it really enhance the learning by providing new instruction?  Check out the link below:

Evaluating Technology Use in the Classroom

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:




 Guest Writer  

Does Your Kid Have a Great Teacher?  Here's How You Know

By Christina Riggan

Christina Riggan, a twenty-five year veteran of public schools, and a former teacher in a primary (K-5) school in Austin, Texas, has worked with a variety of grade levels from Kindergarten to adults. Her certifications include Kindergarten, Reading, ESOL, Language Arts, and she holds a Principal's Certificate and a Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instruction. She is currently a full-time writer, her chosen area of focus in writing books (fiction and nonfiction) and articles that might help parents, teachers, and students. She is married to David, her husband of thirty-eight years, has two happily married sons, and four wonderful grandchildren.

After meeting with your child's teacher spend some some time thinking about these ideas listed below to help you decide if you have a great teacher for your child. And even though most people make up their minds about whether they like others or not in a few seconds, give your child's teacher a fair shot and meet with her several times to learn enough about her to make a decision.  These may help serve as a guideline for you.

1. Does she care about your child in every way? A great teacher is a trained observer of children and looks out for signs of poor learning, social adjustment problems, poor vision, poor hearing, learning problems, and whether he/she is happy or not. These are documented and based on many observations and are not a subjective and momentary judgment.

2. Does she listen to your concerns and your child's concerns? Does she ask clarifying questions about your child's dreams, goals, desires? Does she make plans and set goals with this information?

3. Does she exhibit good values, is she moral and honest, and considered respectable? He/she may have different values than yours but they would not be considered a harmful influence or morally bankrupt. 

4. Does she respect your family and demonstrate that by being courteous and considerate? Examples of this would be: Answering your questions with courtesy, respecting your family situation- whatever that may be, returning phone calls or emails promptly, setting up conferences when requested or needed.

5. Great teachers respect the importance of good grades and test scores but also value the learning and growth that may have occurred that grades sometimes cannot measure.  She is able to demonstrate this growth through understandable and acceptable measures. Examples might be learning journals, performance tasks, benchmark tasks, essays, experiments, reports etc.

6. She communicates clearly, fairly and as frequently as is humanly possible and as much as that family may wish.  Examples of this may be: Newsletters, letters, phone calls, announcements of events. Others might include letting you know your child is failing in time for him/her to recover his/her grade before the end of the reporting period.
Or if your child has been sick for a week, he/she is not required to complete every worksheet he/she has missed but only the most important ones for learning.

7. She is equitable or fair with all students. Examples might include giving everyone a chance to redo a problem on the math exam because everyone failed that problem. She doesn't punish the whole class for the infractions of a few.

8. She values the immense possibilities from learning through taking risks, errors, and mistakes and sees learning as a journey. She encourages a low-risk environment in the classroom. Kids are encouraged to take risks and are not chastised for mistakes.

9. She is knowledgeable about and values cultural, racial, and religious differences, and teaches diversity in the classroom. This means it is an integrated part of her curriculum all year, not just for a holiday.

10. She is academically competent and thoroughly trained in all areas. She may have a certification of training for a special form of learning and that's okay. But she should be certified in the main area of her teaching. If she is teaching all the math for fifth grade, let's make sure she has a degree in math or the requisite educational hours (this could be 18 hours at the collegiate level).

I hope you have found this information helpful. Remember to give your child's teacher a chance and interact enough before making any judgments- just like you would like her to do for you!


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Instructional Methods for Teaching Reading
(part 2)

Courtesy of K12Academics.com

A variety of different methods of teaching reading have been advocated in English-speaking countries. In the United States, the debate is often more political than objective. Parties often divide into two camps which refuse to accept each others terminology or frame of reference. Despite this both camps often incorporate aspects of the other's methods. Both camps accuse the other of causing failure to learn to read and write.A variety of different methods of teaching reading have been advocated in English-speaking countries. In the United States, the debate is often more political than objective. Parties often divide into two camps which refuse to accept each others terminology or frame of reference. Despite this both camps often incorporate aspects of the other's methods. Both camps accuse the other of causing failure to learn to read and write.

"Whole Word", "Sight Word", or "Look (and) Say"

The "Sight Word" method is not synonymous with "Whole Language" approach, but is often considered to be part of it.

The "Sight Word" method also appears prominently in avowedly "Phonic" teaching such as the National Curriculum for England & Wales, where words that do not fit the rules of phonics are placed on a list of sight words for rote memorization.

Some advocates claim that it is the same method used to acquire literacy in languages such as Chinese, assumed by the advocates to be based on ideograms. The Chinese writing system is however a complex logographic system with many morphosyllabic elements particularly in phonetic markers for frequently used characters. Chinese characters.

Students learning English using this method memorize the appearance of words, or learn to recognize words by looking at the first and last letter from rigidly selected vocabularies in progressive texts (such as The Cat in the Hat). Often this method is taught by slides or cards with a picture next to a word, teaching children to associate the whole word with its meaning. Often preliminary results show children taught with this method have higher reading levels than children learning phonics, because they learn to automatically recognise a small selection of words. However later tests demonstrate that literacy development becomes stunted when hit with longer and more complex words later. However, they can learn the 5,000 most common words in roughly three years which is sufficient for basic literacy. This is disputed. Following almost a decade of hands-on research by Dr. Diane McGuinness’ and three associates and a study of the last 25 years of reported research on teaching methods, she reports (three times for her emphasis):

    “The average number of words in daily conversations on the streets of any town in the world today is about 50,000. . . . But when people are asked to memorize what word goes with which abstract visual symbol scribbled on clay, or papyrus, or paper, the upper limit is around 1,500 to 2,000, not enough for any language. Not even close. . . . There is a natural limit on human memory for memorizing codes with too many confusing symbols. This limit, from the evidence so far, is around 2,000 symbols. . . . What turns out to be “natural” is that ordinary people (including children) can only remember about 1,500 to 2,000 abstract visual symbols.”

Dr. Rudolf Flesch reported in his 1981 book Why Johnny Still Can’t Read:
    “And how does look-and-say [now called whole word] work? It works on the principle that children learn to read by reading. It starts with little “stories” containing the most-often-used words in English and gradually builds up a ‘sight vocabulary.’ The children learn to read by seeing those words over and over again. By the end of first grade they can recognize 349 words, by the end of second grade 1,094, by the end of third grade 1,216, and by the end of fourth grade 1,554. (I got those numbers from the Scott, Foresman series, but all look-and-say series teach about the same number of words.) . . . Now consider the look-and-say trained reader. The word rectitude is of course not among the 1,500 or 3,000 words he learns to recognize during his first three or four school years.”

Although the number of words taught by the whole word method may be different today, Dr. McGuinness’ studies shows that unless the students learn phonics (on their own or from help outside the classroom) in addition to their whole word training, they cannot learn more than about 2,000 words by sight alone. In any case, if the students know only 3,000 to 5,000 common words, they read so poorly that they do not like to read, seldom do so, and—-in most cases—-cannot hold an above-poverty-level wage job. The classic implementation of this approach was the McGill reading curriculum used to teach most baby boomers to read in the U.S.

The sight-word (whole language) method was invented by Rev. Thomas H. Gallaudet, the director of the American Asylum at Hartford in the 1830s. It was designed for the education of the Deaf by juxtaposing a word, with a picture. In 1830, Gallaudet provided a description of his method to the American Annals of Education which included teaching children to recognize a total of 50 sight words written on cards and by 1837 the method was adopted by the Boston Primary School Committee. Horace Mann the then Secretary of the Board of Education of Massachusetts, USA favored the method and it soon became the dominant method state wide. By 1844 the defects of the new method became so apparent to Boston schoolmasters that they issued an attack against it urging a return to an intensive, systematic phonics. Again Dr. Samuel Orton, a neuropathologist in Iowa in 1929 sought the cause of children's reading problems and concluded that their problems were being caused by the new sight method of teaching reading. (His results were published in the February 1929 issue of the Journal of Educational Psychology, “The Sight Reading Method of Teaching Reading as a Source of Reading Disability.”)

See more in our next issue!

Article courtesy of K12Academics.com




MythMichigan Books
Novels by Frank Holes, Jr.

Dogman’s Back!

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

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

  A mysterious police report of an unsolvable death in Manistee County

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

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

A secret governmental agent investigates the grisly aftermath of Sigma

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

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

Welcome to Dogman Country!


Click Here For The
Tales From Dogman Country Website


Now Available!

Year of the Dogman Website
Now Available!

Haunting of Sigma Website
Now Available!

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




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





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

Creative Writing Inspired by Foods

A great way to start your students off on creative writing is to use inspiration from foods they are familiar with. Two foods we use are pizza and ice cream sundaes. All of our students are intimately familiar with these two kid foods, and it is easy to discuss and write about them. Generally we partner these writings with our teaching of adjectives and other descriptive words and phrases. These two assignments are for students to practice using (and overusing and even abusing) adjectives.

We first discuss the role of adjectives and their job in writing. Adjectives add much of the description and details for the people, places, and objects your students are writing about. These help to describe shapes and sizes, colors and textures, tones and amounts, among many other details. Especially when students begin creative writing, you should encourage them to try new techniques and to overuse their descriptions. From my experience, believe me, its much easier to 'tone down' the students writing later on than it is to try and pull more out of them.

The first assignment the students complete is the pizza description. We start by discussing how pizzas are made. We talk about crusts, sauces, cheeses, and different meat or vegetable toppings. We try to get the kids thinking about their favorite toppings, and we list these triggers on the board as students write them down. Then next to each ingredient we will list five or more adjectives for details. We'd like to get students with a list of 50 or more triggers to work with when they start writing. We will also discuss methods of cooking, so our discussion is educationally good for the kids too. We will organize our brainstorming these triggers in the order we build the pizza, from crust to the final topping.

Once the brainstorming and organizing is complete, the students start writing the description. We make it competitive, seeing which students can provide the best (and possibly the most outrageous) descriptions of each ingredient, and the pizza as a whole. These are read aloud in class, much to the delight of the kids. We will proofread and peer-edit the writings, and then either type or print them carefully in ink before hanging them in he hallway outside our lunchroom. As a related art project, students create slices of pizza out of construction paper, with toppings to match their written descriptions. We hang these along with the writings, giving students something fun to read while in the lunch line.

The second writing we do a few days later builds on the same concepts as the first, only we now write about ice cream sundaes. We like this second because after doing the leg work in teaching the pizza description, students are much more ready to creatively write on their own. And the sundae description lends to more details and description, since there are more choices students can make concerning ice cream flavors, sauces, and a myriad of toppings. We will up the triggers to 75 total, thus stretching the kids a bit more.

Again, start at the bottom and build upwards. We first talk about ice cream flavors and describe each in great detail. Kids are allowed any types or flavor combinations for the ice cream. Then we discuss sauces and toppings. Hot fudge, caramel, butterscotch, and fruit sauces or preserves are added. Lastly, describe the details of the various toppings, whether they are the old classics or exotic and unusual ones. Possibilities are endless. After organizing these ingredients, students write out the description.

Now if you want to take the writing to the next step, have students create a story that uses their food description. Give it a day or so to rest, then bring back out the kids' descriptions to revise and edit. We have had students write about space aliens trying these foods for the first time. We've had these foods taken back in time and given to pilgrims, vikings, and pharaohs. I think you could be really creative in the story ideas, and even let the students create situations.

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"F16 and C130"

Themes on Life

Age and experience...

A C-130 was flying on a mission when a cocky F-16 pilot flew up next to him.

The fighter jock told the C-130 pilot, "watch this !" and promptly went into a barrel roll followed by a steep climb. He then finished with a sonic boom as he broke the sound barrier.

The F-16 pilot asked the C-130 pilot what he thought of that. The C-130 pilot said, "That was impressive, but watch this!"

The C-130 droned along for about 5 minutes, and then the C-130 pilot came back on and said "What did you think of that?"  Puzzled, the F-16 pilot asked, "What did you do?"

The C-130 pilot chuckled, "I stood up, stretched my legs, went to the back, relieved myself, then got a cup of coffee and a sweet roll."

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Hello readers!  Welcome to your second June issue of Features For Teachers for 2012!   

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