Visit our Website at:

Ideas and Features For New Teachers
and Veterans with Class

Volume 8, Issue 6
March 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   Constructive Ideas About Teaching Addition   Using American Sign Language Signs to Help your Struggling Learners in Science and Social Studies
NEW! Hank Kellner: 
"Write What You See"
Tech/21st Century Corner: 
Web 2.0 - What Can It Do For You?
Can Students Assess Their Own Learning? (part 2)
Science Activities for Any Setting   10 Days of Writing Prompts   10 Days of Math Problems
Critical Thinking (part 1) New Teacher's Niche:
Positive Parent Conferences
Student Teachers' Lounge: Teaching Listening Skills During Class
Book of the Month Club:
50 Writing Lessons That Work
  Website of the Month:
  Themes on Life: 
"Spring Has Sprung"
Article of the Week: "The Dangers of Artificial Food Colorings"   Winter 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



Constructive Ideas About Teaching Addition

By Sarah Currigan

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

The purpose of this article is to put forward some ideas to help with the teaching of addition.

Combining groups of physical objects: for many students, this is their most basic experience of adding up. This process normally involves collecting two sets of objects, then counting how many objects there are in total. (For example, by building two towers of cubes, and then counting up every single block.) For many, this method can be too involved, particularly for those students who present attention deficit disorder. If the child cannot hold their attention for the whole of the activity, blocks will be put awry, towers will end up with additional blocks, blocks will get mixed up, and at the end, the wrong answer is arrived at. The length of the process means that if your child does not master the concept quickly, they are not likely to make progress at all. In addition, it is difficult to extend this process into a calculation that can be approached mentally: for example, try to imagine two large sets of objects in your head, and then count them all up. Even for adults, this is nearly impossible.

Simple drawings: jottings are a more useful alternative to the process described above. Write out the addition problem on a sheet of paper, and next to the first number, jot down the appropriate number of tallies (for instance, for the number 4, draw 4 tallies). Ask your student to predict how many tallies you will need to draw by the other number in the problem. When they come to the correct answer, ask them to draw the tallies. To finish with, ask how many tallies they have drawn altogether. This method is a much easier way of bringing together 2 groups, is less likely to be subject to mechanical error, and is better suited to students with poor focus. It also encourages the child to associate between what the written sum actually says, and why they are drawing a certain number of tallies.

Counting on: this is a technique based around your student's capacity to say number names. When your child has reached a stage where they know how to count to five, start asking them questions like, "what number is 1 more than..." (eg. what comes after 2 when we count?) This is actually equivalent to answering an addition problem of the type 2+1, but helps to connect the ideas of counting and addition, which is very powerful. This technique gets your student ready to use number squares and gives them the confidence to answer problems in their mind. The method can also be made more difficult, by asking, "what number is 2 more than..." When your child can confidently respond to such problems out loud, show them the question written down, and explain that this is the same as the problem you had been doing before. This will help the child to see addition and counting as fundamentally related, and that this new problem is actually something they have met before.

Playing board games: this activity can be both a mathematical learning experience as well as a pleasant pastime. Games that require a counter to be moved around a board do a lot to encourage children to count on. If the board has numbers on it, the child is able to see that the action is similar to counting out numbers aloud, or using a number line. Make a point of remembering to draw attention to the relationship between using board games and addition.

Learning number facts: usually, we rely on number facts learnt by heart to help us answer addition problems. In a nutshell, we do not have to figure out the answer to 7 and 10, we simply remember it. Having the ability to recall addition facts allows us to tackle simple maths tasks confidently. Improve your student's knowledge of known number bonds by singing nursery songs that tell stories of number. Take part in the game of matching pairs with the student, where the point of the game is identify the location of the question (for instance, 7+8) and the corresponding answer from a set of cards all turned face down. Create a set of flashcards with simple addition facts written on them, look at the cards one at a time, and ask the student for the answer, giving a good deal of applause when they give the right answer. When they are confident, expand the number of facts. Games will prevent your child perceiving addition as dull, and will build confidence.

Addition printables and worksheets: Practise makes perfect - and the right style of practice also lends more confidence. By utilizing simple worksheets, aimed towards your student's ability and attention span, you are able to significantly improve your child's ability with addition, both orally and written down. There are plenty of free internet sites that offer worksheets that help with the teaching of adding up, but it does matter what adding up worksheets you use. Ensure that the worksheets are aimed at the right level, being neither too difficult nor too easy, and are of the correct length to maintain the student's interest. You should be attempting to present questions that foster their recollection of number facts, along with a scattering of sums involving some calculation. On the occasions that the student is successful, use the opportunity to give them a lot of praise; when they make a mistake, do not appear frustrated, but briefly explain their mistake. Using adding up worksheets in a considered way can really boost your student's ability.

Sarah Currigan is the co-author of http://www.worksheetgenius.com , a free website full of printable worksheets, puzzles and activities that can be differentiated and randomized at the touch of a button. Ideal for children at primary or elementary school. Readers may be interested to know that Worksheet Genius contains a comprehensive assortment of maths worksheets and printables.


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

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

Use the Discount Code:  STARTEACH  

http://www. kimssigningsolutions.com/

You must use the link above to receive your discount! 

Fully endorsed by Frank Holes Jr., editor of Starteaching




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



Type in your question or query below:



Join our Online Community!

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

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




Feature Writer

Using Photography To Inspire Writing

By Hank Kellner

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

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

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

The purpose of Hank's most recent work, Reflections, is to inspire student writing through the use of poetry and photography.  

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

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

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


A Snapshot Look
By Kym Sheehan

Fragile spindles lay at rest after years of toil.
I miss the snapshot look of left hand atop the right.
The yellowed, wrinkled mass became one.
Her hands were neatly trimmed, but no manicure here.
Each scar and wrinkle represented a day of hard work.
Her fragile hands rested upon the blue crocheted blanket that shrouded her knees.
For the most part they lay motionless
A twitch here, a slight movement there
Those long slender fingers lost their strength long ago.
Gone too is the skin's elasticity
Like the blanket, the skin drapes across its subject.
Those brittle hands - oh so cold!
Cold hands -warm heart
Movement toward the teacup is viewed as slow motion.
The clinking cup against the saucer highlights the lack of control.
Drops of tannic acid dot a trail from table to lap.
The cup shakes as if the earth were moving.
Another set of clinking sounds signals the end of activity.
The yellowed, wrinkled mass returns to stillness.

Photo 23 by Hank Kellner

  “It is autumn; not without/But within me is the cold./Youth and spring are all about;/It is I that have grown old.”   - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow



By Kym Sheehan

Intimacy in black and white

A momentary peace

A cacophony of silence

Amid wet boots, fear, friend, and foe.

A façade

Stares that say I know

Stares of disbelief

Shoelace strings~ties that bind

Intimacy in black and white.



Photo 24 Courtesy US Department of Defense 

“All men are brothers, like the seas throughout the world;
So why do winds and waves clash so fiercely everywhere?”   - Emperor Hirohito


Copyright 2009 Hank Kellner

These poem/photo combinations are from Hank Kellner's upcoming publication, Reflections: A Collection of Poetry, Photos, and More.


Hank Kellner is the author of Write What You See: 99 Photos To Inspire Writing. Published by Cottonwood Press ( I-800-864-4297) and distributed by Independent  Publishers Group, Write What You See includes a supplementary CD with photos. 8 ½ x11, 120 pages, perfect binding, ISBN 978-1-877-673-83-2, LCCN 2008938630. $24.95. Available at bookstores, from the publisher,  and on the Internet at www.amazon.com and other websites. Ask your school or local librarian to order it.Visit the author’s blog at http://hank-englisheducation.com. The author will contribute a portion of the royalties earned from the sale of this book to The Wounded Warriors Project.


iPod Touch

Order your own iPod Touch Today with the links below:



Mastering Basic Skills software:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click HERE to order your own copy today:



Feature Writer

Can Students Assess Their Own Learning?
(part 2)

By Yasameen Jumani

Yasmeen Jumani has been a teacher Educator for the past 11 years.  She has done her Masters in Islamic History from the University of Karachi.  She has a Master in Education from Hamdard University, Institute of Education and Social Sciences, A VT certificate from AKU-IED along with an advance diploma in (PTEP) Professional Teacher Education Program from IIS and AKU- IED. 

Can students assess their own learning? Action research is positive about it!

The article encompasses my action research that was done in the one of the schools in Karachi

The whole paradigm of teaching will shift if we initiate a discussion on the question of ‘Can students assess their own learning within and outside the classroom’? How can they be able to know whether they participate joyfully in learning and what are the other ways though which they assess themselves and also enhance their learning further? Besides, it is also vital to know why is it important for a child to know what s/he learns, unlearns or relearns as s/he moves across grades and levels of learning.

Gradually, through introducing various strategies students were able to find out the reason for every action, thought, or concept etc. I realized as a researcher that introducing the Portfolio was a successful strategy as it enabled them to link their daily learning and maintain a log about it. For instance, students are asking each other

          Why have I chosen this artifact?

          What standards does it meet and why?

          How has this helped in my learning?

          What did I do that hindered my learning?

          What am I going to do about it (next steps)?

As a researcher, I used the following methods that informed me about students' learning and also about how they measure their own improvement on a regular basis.



Oral reports on project or other investigative activities


Written work in which students try out ideas and arguments supported by evidence.

Group work

A variety of types of assessment done in groups to develop students’ teamwork skills and/or enable students to undertake larger tasks than could be done by an individual.


Verbal interaction between assessor and assessed

Learning Contract

A structured method whereby the student designs and implements manageable learning activities in consultation with a staff advisor/teacher

Practicum/Practical session

Assessment of practical skills in an authentic setting

Small Projects

In-depth exploration of a topic or field


Students’ log about their every day learning

Besides measuring their own learning, the entire process also facilitated improving students' attendance in the class, their participation level, and their willingness to engage in learning even at home as home-assignments. Furthermore, the class teacher worked closely and appreciated the worth of knowledge she had learned from the entire process. And finally this created an impact on the overall classroom environment that made it extremely positive. What is the important thing is if the teacher has planned and informed, then s/he can engage students, parents and community and bring any change that is desired.


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

Teaching Listening Skills During Class

Presentations are becoming ever more common as teachers change to student-centered classes. These may be students or possibly guest speakers addressing the class. Regardless of who is speaking, the remainder of the students are comprising an audience that must be informed of its expectations during a presentation.

We've developed a short, simple set of rules we call 'Expected Behaviors of a Good Listener'. All of our classrooms (each subject area) have posted these rules, and review them and utilize them whenever a presentation is given. They are easy to teach, remember, and monitor.

Rule 1: Look At The Speaker. This is a no-brainer. The audience is there to watch and listen to the speaker, and attention is mandatory.

Rule 2: Keep Your Hands Still. Free hands are unable to tap pencils, rustle paper, or drop spare change on a tile floor (one of my all- time greatest pet-peeves).

Rule 3: Never Talk When The Speaker Is Talking. This one again seems obvious. The audience is there to listen to the speaker, not to listen to another member of the audience.

Rule 4: Never Distract The Speaker. This is supported by the previous rules, but will also cover other situations. The audience should not make faces or body gestures that detract from the speaker's ability to present.

Rule 5: Keep Questions, Comments, And Laughter To Appropriate Times And Levels. Students will often have questions and comments about the presentations, and these are best posed at the end of the presentation. There will also be instances where funny things will happen or humor is used by the speaker. It is ok for the kids to laugh at these times (it's ok for the teacher to laugh too). We've had instances where puppet show stages and scenery props have fallen over. We've had tongue twisters gone awry. We've even had hilarious costumes and actions by characters. These and many others will happen as you present more often. That's ok, because these funny moments will help students remember the information better. Just remind students that laughter needs to be kept to an appropriate level, and not to carry on with it. Questions and comments can also be carried on too far. Don't let this time become an attack on the speaker (unless you're in a debate class!)

Ok, so what do we do about a student who chooses to not follow the expectations? We never give warnings, first of all. Once we've covered the rules, we expect immediate compliance. Many students have difficulty getting up in front of class without someone 'stealing their show' or causing them embarrassment.

Basically we take points away from that interrupter's presentation grade. The amount of the deduction is generally up to the individual teacher and weighted for the assignment. The first time it happens, we take off approximately 10% of the possible points. The second time is decreased up to 25% (we have little tolerance for disrupting a speaker). If it happens again, the student loses all credit and is removed from class for the remainder of the presentations.

Presentations are important for students, both as speaker and listener. Check out our website for a free printable copy of these rules that you can put on an overhead sheet or hand out to your students.


Using these simple rules (or adapting them to your class), you can teach your students to be respectful and pay close attention during class.

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

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



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

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


  TECH/21st Century CORNER

Web 2.0 - What Can It Do For You?

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

A while back I wrote about Web 2.0 and what it was all about. It's now time to revisit this issue and get more practical about its use. 
To refresh your memory, Web 1.0 was basically static. You went to the Internet to get written information or pictures. The only interaction you had with the Internet was the reading you did. Along came Web 2.0, and with it a move from static to interactive. Today, you are no longer just a consumer, but can become a producer as well. Students today see the Internet as a part of them and their daily lives as they interact with it. So how can we make it a part of the everyday classroom? 
1. Documents-In our school, a student opens up Microsoft Word and works on their document. When they save it, it goes into their network file until they need it later. The problem with this is, what if they want to work on it later at home? Sorry, it can't be done. Or what about the student that does work on a document at home and then emails it to school. Once at the school they can't open it up properly because of the application they used at home. How about moving from one system to another, meaning from Linux to Mac to PC? This causes plenty of headaches. What if I told you all this could be solved. We are beginning to shift our students to Web 2.0 applications. All my students have opened an iGoogle account. It's free and easy to do. 
step 1-open google 
step 2-choose Sign in at the upper right 
step 3-then choose Create an account now at the middle right 
Once you've opened an account, make sure you confirm the email. In your iGoogle account choose Add Stuff at the top right. Then type in google in the Search for Gadgets section. Choose Google Docs. Make sure you are using Foxfire, Internet Explorer, or Safari 3.0 for your browser. Once set up you are now ready to compose and save any documents you want. All the problems of before will be gone. A student can get to their work any time and print it from any computer. 
The account also has Spreadsheet and Presentation applications. These don't have all the bells and whistles of Microsoft Office, but they do the job. Another place to go is
www.zoho.com. Once again, it is free and has even more applications. Both Google and Zoho are continuing to improve their applications. 
2. Blogs-Blog is short for Web Log. The best way to describe it is an online journal. You, as the teacher could post and have students comment on it. Research has shown that students write better when they know others will see it. That has certainly been the case when I've done blogs. There are many sites out there, but the one I use is
www.classblogmeister.com.This site is designed for teachers. A student's blog is not published until you, the teacher, has approved it. You can make comments and then send it back for editing before it is published. The other thing is, you can teach students how to make good comments on other blogs. Once again, these comments don't go anywhere until you've approved them. 
3. Videos-Have students make videos on what they've learned and upload them to
www.teachertube.com. Make a How to video and make it available for your students to use. The good thing is the fact that this is not a site that's blocked in schools. 
4. Wiki-I know you are probably saying, what is that? A wiki is a collaborative tool where students can work together on the same project at the same time. Create a wiki and participants can go to the wiki at their convenience to add, change, and edit content. You can add images and web-links to the document. There are many sites available for this. I've used
http//voicethread.com/#home . This is a site for K-12 educators to use with their students. The difference that this site offers is voice. Check out the site to see examples of what can be done with the students. This is a site for even the younger students to use and be creative. 
We live in a different world where the Internet is a vital part of it. I've only touched on some of the possibilities.  We, as educators, need to bring real world application into our classrooms, instead of turning our students off to learning with our 20th century ways. Check it out and give it a chance, because your students will be more engaged, and with proper engagement comes learning.


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  

Using American Sign Language Signs to Help Your Struggling Learners in Social Studies and Science

By Kim Taylor-DiLeva
Kim's Signing Solutions

Kim Taylor-DiLeva is an educational trainer and owner of Kim’s Signing Solutions (www.kimssigningsolutions.com) .  

She conducts parent and teacher workshops throughout New York State and conducts sign language enrichment classes for daycares and preschools in the Albany, NY area. 

You can contact Kim at:

Science and Social Studies vocabulary are essential to the students’ understanding of that subject. If unfamiliar words hinder their understanding of sentences, they will not be able to learn anything about that specific topic. Therefore, learning new vocabulary is the most important step to learning the material in its entirety. Unfortunately, many students struggle with learning vocabulary, usually because they learn best visually or kinesthetically.  These struggling learners, as well as more advanced students, can better recall key Social Studies and Science terms more easily, if they are introduced to the American Sign Language signs that match those vocabulary words. 

Many American Sign Language signs are iconic in nature, meaning that the signs are a visual representation of their meaning. For example, the word “independence” is used often in Social Studies and History courses. In American Sign Language, you would use the sign for “free.”  To show this sign, begin with both hands in fists facing toward you, crossed, and locked at the wrists.  Then unlock your wrists, turn your fists around so they are out to the open and continue to open your arms so that they no longer touch and are separated from each other.  Visually, your hands appear tied or bound and when your arms open, it represents freedom because your hands are no longer locked as before. For those who learn best visually, this representation is helpful because they are physically presented with the word’s meaning.  For students who are kinesthetic learners, they are able to use their bodies to express the definition of a new vocabulary word.  Therefore, especially for these students, new words will be easier to understand than if you were to only say the new word and tell them what it means.  This method of incorporating American Sign Language signs into vocabulary lessons will help all of your learners, but will especially benefit your struggling learners. 

This example shows that as the teacher, you can create a more effective means of teaching to formulate better recall and recognition of new vocabulary words in your Social Studies and Science units, specifically among your visual and kinesthetic learners.  By simply teaching sign language signs in conjunction with your daily routine and curriculum, struggling learners will become more confident in their knowledge of the material, leading to further success.


Be Sure to Check Out 
Our Website Store for Specials:


Critical Thinking
(part 1)

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 thinkers can gather such information from observation, experience, reasoning, and/or communication. Critical thinking has its basis in intellectual values that go beyond subject-matter divisions and which include: clarity, accuracy, precision, evidence, thoroughness and fairness

Within the framework of scientific skepticism, the process of critical thinking involves acquiring information and evaluating it to reach a well-justified conclusion or answer. Part of critical thinking comprises informal logic. Given research in cognitive psychology, educators increasingly believe that schools should focus more on teaching their students critical thinking skills than on memorizing facts by rote learning.

Critical thinking is very important, as it allows information received to be evaluated, decreasing the risk of acting on a false premise. The loss of this faculty through injury, intoxication, denial or subversion can lead to a greater risk of one making a fatal Error.

However even with the use of critical thinking, mistakes can happen due to the thinker not being in possession of the full facts. Plus there is always the possibility of Human error.

The process of critical thinking responds to many subjects and situations, finding connections between them. It forms, therefore, a system of related modes of thought that cut across fields like science, mathematics, engineering, history, anthropology, economics, moral reasoning and philosophy.

One can regard critical thinking as involving two aspects:

1. a set of cognitive skills

2. the ability and intellectual commitment to use those skills to guide behavior.

Critical thinking does not include simply the acquisition and retention of information, or the possession of a skill-set which one does not use regularly; nor does critical thinking merely exercise skills without acceptance of the results.

To be a critical thinker, one has to initially catch as much information in as many subjects as possible, and to prevent over-specializing in a single topic. That's important. This is because the lack of a wide range of information, or worse, common sense, will limit your point of view when analyzing different situations or statements. As a result, you may draw a weak conclusion. Another reason is that the detailed information in a specific topic is useless when judging problems of different topics.

Are there any additional benefits given to critical thinkers? According to some philosophers, that's luck. But paradox may exist because luck, by critical thinking, is usually defined as fallacy.

Critical thinking is generally considered by the more esteemed philosophers as one of the backwaters of the subject.

Common Definitions Used in Critical Thinking Activities

Purpose for Thinking: goal, objective
Question at Issue: the problem
Concepts: theories, definitions, axioms, laws, principles, models
Assumptions: presuppositions, taken for granted
Information: data, facts, observations, experiences
Interpretations & Inferences: conclusions, solutions
Points of View: frame of reference, perspective, orientation
Consequences & Implications

See more in the 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

Positive Parent Conferences

It's parent-teacher conference time! Some are positive experiences where teachers are able to make great connections with parents. And yet other meetings are foretold by apprehension and met with strife. Over the years, you will encounter the gamut of positive and negative experiences, and everything in between. However, there are strategies you can use to make the best of any situation.

It is extremely important to make a good first impression (even if you already know the parents). Make eye contact with them, and greet the parents with a firm handshake. No weak grips! If you've never met the parents, stand up to introduce yourself. Welcome them with a smile. Remember that you are building relationships, and setting the tone for the conference.

A good way to open the conference is to ask how the student is doing in other classes. Ask about their other grades, and start building an overall picture. You will often find the student's strong and weak areas, and you may even find surprises. I've found students who were failing every class but mine. And I've found the opposite too. A good overall picture can really give you a new perspective on your students.

Always try to say something positive. Even in the cloudiest of situations, you should find some ray of sunshine. And if you do have bad news to share, opening with good news can help ease the transition.

Be objective with bad news. Give truthful and accurate facts, and keep from making speculations. Make sure you have your facts straight! Work with parents, and try to offer suggestions. Most parents will look to you for ideas. Plan what you'll say ahead of time. If you've taken the time to get to know your students well, you'll find the conferences easier.

Positive parents are what we all expect and hope for. They come in with an open mind, are pleasant, and are willing to both listen to your comments and help with solutions to problems that do occur.  These are often very short conferences at the middle and high school levels. The parents have heard the stories all before, and with good reason; students whose parents regularly attend conferences have higher grade averages and fewer instances of behavior problems than those students whose parents rarely interact with school personnel.

The truth be known, many parents are intimidated by teachers. Many do worry that their concerns and critiques will be turned around and used against their kids. Even though teachers find this entire concept laughable and preposterous, it does, nonetheless, cross many parents' minds.

So, what do you do with a hostile parent? Diffuse the situation by being patient and listening. Sometimes its hard to just listen while parents are going off on you. They may be right or wrong, misinformed or even plain out of line. It is only a mistake to interrupt them, especially if they are on a roll. Stop yourself, focus on what they're saying, even take notes to show you're listening, and let them burn themselves out. Sometimes the hostile parents are looking for an audience, and sometimes they just need to vent. By giving them the time to 'get it all out of their system', you allow them to calm down so you both can reasonably discuss the situation.

Be sure to stand when they leave, again this is being courteous and polite. Thank them for attending. And let them know you'll contact them if anything changes. Parents generally want to be kept informed about their kids, both the good and bad.


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

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

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

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



Click below to check out the NEW Amazon.com Kindle

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

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

Order your very own Kindle by clicking the link below:


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

Be sure to pass along our website and newsletter!

"Spring Has Sprung"

Themes on Life

Fun messages for spring...


We're camping out,
What a lucky group.
We're going to dine
On jelly bean soup.

We'll cook those beans
Till they're red hot.
Add M&Ms
To fill up the pot.

We'll eat that soup
And when we're through,
We'll have our tasty
Marshmallow stew.

We'll pick our teeth
With a Tootsie Roll.
Tomorrow it's
Chocolate casserole!

- Grandpa Tucker
Copyright ©1998 Bob Tucker

by Rowena Bennett, 1930

On Easter morn at early dawn
before the cocks were crowing
I met a bob-tail bunnykin
and asked where he was going.
"Tis in the house and out the house
a-tispy, tipsy-toeing,
Tis round the house and 'bout the house
a-lighlty I am going."
"But what is that of every hue
you carry in your basket?"
"Tis eggs of gold and eggs of blue;
I wonder that you ask it.

"Tis chocolate eggs and bonbon eggs
and eggs of red and gray,
For every child in every house
on bonny Easter day."
He perked his ears and winked his eye
and twitched his little nose;
He shook his tail -- what tail he had --
and stood up on his toes.
"I must be gone before the sun;
the east is growing gray;
Tis almost time for bells to chime." --
So he hippety-hopped away.


Isn't a hen meticulous,
To make those eggs without a muss?
She must be a careful strainer.
To get them in that neat container

Before you eat eggs, cook them well.
I found a raw one in its shell.
I opened it so I could see--
What do you know? The yoke's on me!

- Grandpa Tucker
Copyright ©1998 Bob Tucker

What's New @ StarTeaching?


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

This month, we bring another great poetry/photograph selection from Hank Kellner from his upcoming book, Reflections. We also have a follow-up article from our feature writer Yasmeen Jumani, as well as the next tech installment from Mark Benn.  

You'll also find great articles on critical thinking, teaching math, and using sign language in class.

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

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

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

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


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


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



Email us at editor@starteaching.com

Hit Counter

See us now on FACEBOOK!


Sign up for our 

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

Subscribe Now!

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


"It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed."

~Theodore Roosevelt

StarTeaching Links: 

(Click to access our website)

StarTeaching Newsletter Articles & Archives

Submit an Article for our Newsletter

Special, Limited-Time Offers

FREE Special Reports

Technology Center

Educational Links

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






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

Are you using an innovative TECHNIQUE in your class?

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

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

Submit an article to this newsletter by emailing:


Or click the following link:


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


Articles & Archives

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





Click to see over 1000 prompts

10 Days Of


What is a CHALLENGE?


Why do people enjoy a challenge?


Why is it important to rise to the level of a challenge?


How have you ever been challenged at school?


What is one way you've risen to a challenge at school this semester?


Describe a time you've failed in a challenge.  What happened?


How can challenging ourselves be a good thing?


Create an inspirational story that involves a challenge.


What does taking on a challenge say about a person's character?


 What has been the biggest challenge this year in school?

Click to see over 1000 prompts


10 days of writing prompts


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

YOU could qualify for FREE offers when referring others.

Click the quick link below for more information:

Teacher Referral


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

Griswold Mountain 
Brewing Company

Distinguished Products for 
Distinguished Handcrafters

Specializing in Homemade and Handcrafted products since 1996

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

Mastering Basic Skills software:


Year of the Dogman

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

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



Writing Process Articles

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




Be sure to check out our

50 Writing Lessons That Work

By Carol Rawlings Miller



Coming Soon:

Preparing for Student Teaching

Technology & Teaching: 21st Century Teaching and Learning

Writing Process and Programs

Article of the Week


Are You Looking For a Teaching Job?

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

Click here if you want to find that Teaching Job!


See All Weekly Math Problems from 2007-2009!

click here for the math archives!

10 Days of 
Math Problems
by Mary Ann Graziani

Day 1 This equation shows how the total number of appetizer recipes Ellie knows depends on the number of weeks she attends culinary school.

a = 4w

The variable w represents the number of weeks she has attended culinary school, and the variable a represents the total number of appetizer recipes she knows. After 2 weeks of culinary school, how many total appetizer recipes will Ellie know?
Day 2 12. This equation shows how the amount of tape Marcos has used is related to the number of presents he has wrapped.

t = 5p

The variable p represents the number of presents wrapped, and the variable t represents the amount of tape used in centimeters. How much tape will Marcos need in all if he he has to wrap 1 present?
Day 3 This equation shows how the distance Cole has cycled depends on the number of trips he has taken to work.

d = 8t

The variable t represents the number of trips he has made, and the variable d represents the total distance cycled in kilometers. After 2 trips to work, how many kilometers will Cole have cycled in total?
Day 4 This equation shows how a maple tree's height depends on its age.

h = 2a

The variable a represents the age of the tree in years, and the variable h represents the height of the tree in inches. How tall was the maple tree when it was 7 years old?
Day 5 This equation shows how the total number of pieces Raven knows how to sing depends on the number of weeks she takes voice lessons.

p = w

The variable w represents the number of weeks she has taken voice lessons, and the variable p represents the total number of pieces she has learned. After 4 weeks of voice lessons, how many pieces will Raven be able to sing, in total?

Day 6 This equation shows how the total number of hair bands Esmerelda owns is related to the amount of money she spends on additional hair bands.

h = 5d

The variable d represents the amount of money she spends on additional hair bands, and the variable h represents the total number of hair bands she owns. With $3 to spend on new hair bands, how many total hair bands can Esmerelda own?
Day 7 This equation shows how the time required to ring up a customer is related to the number of items being purchased.

t = 6i

The variable i represents the number of items, and the variable t represents the time required to ring up the customer. How long does it take to ring up a customer with 1 item?

Day 8 This equation shows how the amount of dough Marcus has prepared is related to the number of hours he has spent working at the bakery.

k = 7d

The variable d represents the number of hours worked, and the variable k represents the amount of dough prepared. How much dough did Marcus prepare if he worked for 1 hour?
Day 9 This equation shows how the total number of necklaces Paulina owns is related to the amount of money she spends on additional necklaces.


The variable d represents the amount of money she spends on additional necklaces, and the variable n represents the total number of necklaces she owns. With $13 to spend on new necklaces, how many total necklaces can Paulina own?
Day 10 This equation shows how the total amount of paper Akiva's office has recycled depends on the number of weeks since they started the new recycling plan.

p = 9w

The variable w represents the number of weeks the office has been on the new recycling plan, and the variable p represents the total kilograms of paper recycled. After 2 weeks, how many kilograms of paper will Akiva's office have recycled?


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




Tech-Ed Articles

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




Science Activities For Any Setting
By Helen de la Maza
Photosynthesis Game
(click for PDF)

Insect Life Cycle
Scavenger Hunt
(click for PDF)

Click HERE to see all of 
Helen's Science Activities


Sign up for our 

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

Subscribe Now!



Inspirational Quotes
& Photos

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





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






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

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

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

Use the Discount Code:  STARTEACH  

http://www. kimssigningsolutions.com/

You must use the link above to receive your discount!  

Fully endorsed by Frank Holes Jr., editor of Starteaching




Using Photography To Inspire Writing
By Hank Kellner

Visit his blog at: hank-englisheducation.



Article of the Week
"The Dangers of Artificial
Food Colorings"
Click here to download the PDF
"Daylight Saving Time"
Click here to download the PDF





Winter Specials!
Books for Sale!

(Affiliated with Amazon.com)




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

Website design by Carrie's Creations Inc. ©2005