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Ideas and Features For New Teachers
and Veterans with Class

Volume 8, Issue 10
May 2012
StarTeaching Store Advertise with us Previous Articles Submit an Article FREE Reports Feature Writers Tech Center New Teacher's Niche

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

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

What's New @ StarTeaching   Accelerate Learning In Your Classroom   What is Homelessness? (part 1)
NEW! Hank Kellner: 
"Write What You See"
Tech/21st Century Corner: 
Project-Based Learning: Here to Stay
Challenges of Curriculum (part 2)
Science Activities for Any Setting   10 Days of Writing Prompts   10 Days of Math Problems
Interdisciplinary Teaching (part 2) New Teacher's Niche:
The Changing Face of the Traditional Book Report
Student Teachers' Lounge: Grading - What is our Motivation?
Book of the Month Club:
Teaching Reading in Small Groups
  Website of the Month:
End of the Year Planning
  Themes on Life: 
"When You Thought I Wasn't Looking"
Article of the Week: "Archaeology at Project Troia"   Spring 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



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Accelerate Learning in 
Your Classroom

By Susan Fitzell

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

While using station teaching or acceleration centers as an approach to co-teaching is often very successful for both teachers and students, it is important to use this approach correctly.  To help those co-teachers already using, or thinking about implementing, an acceleration center approach in their classroom, here are:

Tips for Successful Acceleration Centers

  • Reassign partners every four to five weeks.
  • Don’t change partners in response to student requests or complaints. Doing so opens up a Pandora’s box of potential problems.
  • Acceleration Center assignments must be able to be managed and completed independently. If students cannot manage the assignments by themselves they will often stop completely or interrupt the teachers and/or other small groups for help. The goal of the center is for students to be able to increase achievement but also for teachers to gain valuable conferencing time or small group work time uninterrupted. Teachers must be able to optimize Acceleration Center time.
  • Acceleration Centers are not thematic nor do they become obsolete at any point during school year. Avoid any seasonal connotation. They are set up for sustainability, requiring minimal prep work when prep for the centers is viewed in light of creating lesson plans suitable for an entire school year.
  • Use Acceleration Centers to support state standards or curriculum goals from basic to proficient.
  • Create procedures and rules for utilizing the Acceleration Centers with students as part of the process. By doing so, teachers engage students in the process they are more likely to buy into.
  • If setting up more than one center, start with the first one and practice the rules and procedures using the first one as a teaching tool.
  • As silly as it may sound to a secondary teacher, whether middle school, junior high, or high school, it is imperative to have students practice moving from their seats to the Acceleration Center to choose an activity and back to their seats or small groups until they can do it quietly and efficiently. This typically will take 10 or 15 minutes of practice, set up as a timed contest. Use a stopwatch and practice until students can run the procedure in three minutes or less. It may be beneficial to incorporate a reward system to maintain proper behavior and efficiency over the course of the school year.
  • Keep records of completed assignments and how those assignments align to state standards or curriculum goals.
  • Train one or two “student experts” on how the Acceleration Centers function. They do not need to know how to do the academic portion of the center; rather, they need to teach other students how to follow the instructions in the folders, how to keep the center organized, and how to explain the logistics of the center to other students. The “student expert” makes it possible for students to work without interrupting the teacher while the teacher is coaching others.
Susan Fitzell, M. Ed, is a dynamic, nationally recognized presenter and educational consultant specializing in special education topics, co-teaching, bullying prevention, adolescent anger management, and practical strategies to increase achievement of ALL students in ALL classrooms. Susan’s motto is, “Good for all, critical for students who learn differently.”

Learn more about Susan Fitzell at:  http://www.susanfitzell.com/


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Feature Writer

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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.


The Kiss I Got from You
By Hank Kellner

There’s a kiss that says I love you.
There's a kiss that says I care.
There's a kiss that proves our friendship.
There's a kiss that we can share.

There's a kiss that's not so honest,
And a kiss that's one too few.
But the kiss that I most treasure
Is the kiss I got from you.

Photo 27 by Hank Kellner

  “Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.” 
-  Albert Einstei



The Last Day
By Lisa Logsdon

As I watch the sun rising
Over the fencerow glistening
On the muscled backs of horses,
I marvel at its relentless hunger
For travel between seasons.
The garden spider, laboring in his web
Tells me I’m clumsy by comparison
While I stumble closer
To hear him whisper my name.
I listen to the katydids,
And later, the crickets,
Wishing I had the courage
To raise my voice in unison
With so many others
Just once.
Barefoot, I wade in the cool, dusty earth,
Knowing even nonliving things
Like fire and ice
Have a pulse
And an influence.
The heat of the sun
Soaks deep as my bones.
I know this welcome joy
Has been there every day of my life,
If only I had chosen to---embrace it.
I lie in the warm, waving grass,
The setting sun gleaming gold on the green,
This is proof:  Whitman was right
When he called them leaves.
As the moon rises,
I continue to lie in stillness
Amid the dronings of tree frogs
And winks of fireflies
In open conversation with the stars,
Waiting to fly.



Photo 28 by Hank Kellner

Keep your sense of proportion by regularly, preferably daily, visiting the natural world.”

Caitlin Matthews

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.


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Feature Writer

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Challenges of Curriculum
(part 2)

By Salima Moosa Sewani

Salima Moosa Sewani has been in the field of teaching for 8 years. She is running her own Learning Center and also working with the Exceptional People in Pakistan. She is a Master Trainer and has done many teaching certifications.

Teaching is indeed a much respected but a challenging profession. The knowledge and expertise of a teacher helps him/her to fight back the challenges, but a positive ‘learning’ attitude is also required. I believe that we all are in a learning process. Every day we learn something new by making mistakes.

This article is a continuation of the previous article from our second April issue.

The most challenging task for the religion teacher is to integrate and implement the curriculum of primary and secondary effectively. The primary curriculum is not fulfilling the needs of mentally challenged people. During my teaching experience at the Aga Khan special people religious school, I have deeply analyzed that most of the teachers could not teach the primary Ta’lim curriculum to them, because the Intellectual Quotient  of exceptional people is comparatively lower than normal children studying in religious education centre.  I am a proud of the challenged students, who wants to do every thing to fulfill their religious needs as well. I courageously took this challenge and participated in a master training program in inclusive education with few teachers. I also joined Pakistan association research in education to acquire continuous trainings. We developed few lessons plan resources and developed IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) which helped teachers to teach borderline children about faith Tariqah and basic ethics in a diluted form. 

I would suggest that there should be a same curriculum book for them in a more diluted form or there should be a permission granted to the teachers to amend curriculum according to their desires. 

I have one example of my student A. She is in class 7 in Religious Education Centre. She is borderline student. She shared the difficulties which she faced a month back with me. She told me that my class teacher had failed me in all the subjects and forced me to repeat the class; but I don’t want to sit in the same class for the third time. I asked but she refused, because this was third time teacher failed me. When I asked teacher, she told me that A doesn’t understand anything. Therefore, and we can’t promote her. When I asked few questions to A regarding the chapters of history, she was unable to reply even a single question due to typical curriculum for children with special needs.  

Before my teaching practicum, I observed the religious school for a few days, and I found a competitive atmosphere to teach secondary curriculum, given by ITREB for a time being. Teachers are planning lesson plans ineffectively and most of the teachers are not participating in the teacher training courses due to busy schedule. I hope that the future curriculum of secondary will provide adequate knowledge of the subjects to the students for leading a religious life in this progressive world. 

Challenging in the classroom is the most competitive part for teachers. Whether it’s a religious or a secular school, class room interaction is very important while teaching. If there will be no proper classroom interaction, then a child will not grow as per need. Classroom interaction plays a vital and crucial role in effective learning of the children. Teachers are facing lots of challenges during their classroom interaction.  

One of the most important challenges teachers are facing is favoritism. During my observation at the Government school, I saw teachers were giving value to those students which s/he likes a lot and appreciate those, who are extra ordinary brilliant in classroom. Those who are good at studies got the least marks in exams just because of the favoritism of a teacher.  Teachers aren’t motivating and encouraging those children who’re shy and feeble in studies. Their learning becomes stuck due to the wrong attitude of a teacher. I personally faced that challenge, when my supporting teacher was appreciating favoritism in class room. I saw one reserved child in my class, who was avoided by the teacher, most of the time. A was the shy child in my class. He didn’t speak a single sentence in class. I always supported him by praising him and inspiring all the time and tried my best to engage him in group activities. 

Another challenge of classroom interaction is communication. Teachers cannot teach the students in their cultural language, if s/he may find an exceptional case of different background student in his/her class. When I was teaching in Afghan camp back in 1999, the most important challenge I faced was the challenge of communication. They understood neither Urdu nor English. They only used to communicate in Persian. Whenever I taught in Urdu, they laughed which led to disciplinary problems. I took this challenge and worked hard to learn few foundational words and sentences of Persian language. After working hard, I was at least able to communicate them. I also was able to maintain discipline after that.  

One more challenge facing by the teachers is lack of planning in teaching, which I also faced in special night school.  Classroom interaction doesn’t mean within the class, it means to create classroom environment any where, especially for special students. When I joined religious school, I observed that the main focus of all the teachers was on theoretical learning. There was no interactive session in classroom. No indoor and outdoor activities were designed, which could help to create pleasant environment. I talked to my head and took instant action and prepared few activities for them which helped to develop their interest which they required the most rather than traditional classroom environment.                                                                    

Another issue in a class is of time management. Teachers mostly teach in the form of lecture without pre-planning. And when they feel that time is running out, few of the teachers end up their lesson by leaps and bounds, that the students sometimes feel as if their opinions are not being given enough priority. I believe, that a lesson should be pre- planned and if, incase, teachers will not be able to cover the course on time, even then, they should at least make the most out of their teaching.  

An important challenge in the classroom is classroom management as it’s very important to create and sustain healthy environment in the class through which child learning capability will be developed. When I started teaching in Karachi Kids University, I was given a room with no proper arrangement for children. There was very limited space; but the number of students was more due to which students were not feeling comfortable. I went to the administrator and asked her to divide students into two groups and allocate another class through which they can study at ease. After that initiative, children thoroughly enjoyed the studies. Our books also reflect that males are dominant in our society. 

Dr. Zaira Wahab expresses his opinion, 
“Gender inequality is a problem embedded in the fabric of Pakistan’s social structure. The problem emanates at the primary level, as low participation and high dropouts at this stage prevent females from reaching higher education and equitable opportunities for such furtherance do not become available to the female gender...…when both girls and boys are given opportunity to practice language in classroom activities, the girls will get lesser practice chances as their dialogues are shorter and fewer.”2 

I agree, because during my teaching practicum in Government school, the challenge that I faced was of gender biasness. I saw many teachers giving importance and lots of attention to boys rather than girls. Females were discouraged to participate in class room. Due to that gender biasness, girls showed lack of interest in studies and their grades were low as compared to boys. During my teaching practicum, I tried to assure females students of their equal importance in class participation.  I gave equal importance to both genders by which female students feel relaxed and their curiosity towards learning was developed. 

I must conclude,

“Sometimes struggle are exactly what we need in our life. If nature allowed us to go through our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us.”( anonymous)



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

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Grading: What is our Motivation?

Have you ever thought about why you take grades? I used to believe that it was important to grade every assignment that I had the students do. I felt I was doing a disservice to them if I didn't grade everything. This resulted in a lot of grades, but did it result in a lot of learning?

I believe it builds a wrong way of thinking in the students and causes them to see school as a place where they get a lot of grades, and not as a place of learning.  It also leads us, as teachers, to think the same way. Do you teach to get grades, or is your motivation to help children learn?

Grades are just a measure of what someone understands and their level of understanding. At least that's what they're suppose to be. We should be using formative assessment constantly to know where students are, but should these assessments be graded. Does this reflect where a student is at, or how they learn?

What do I mean by that? Think about how you learn. When something is new to you and you are just learning about it, do you truly understand it at first? Probably not at first. But as you deal with it over and over again you get better at whatever the skill is. Let's use math as an example. When I'm learning my multiplication facts, I don't learn them all at once. I also don't' learn them at the same speed as others. Maybe it takes me longer. Now let's factor in taking grades on everything a student does. Does the grade reflect whether they know the material, or how fast they can learn it? Is learning about speed, or understanding?

So why do we grade everything, when a student is just beginning to learn it? This makes no sense, unless our motivation is just to teach the students and get grades.

Let's raise the bar of our profession higher. Our motivation should be to teach in a way that helps everyone become a lifelong self motivated learner. Our grading should reflect that, and not hinder it with certain attitudes.

So what should we do as teachers do? Formative assessment should be a constant, and because of these assessments we should adjust our teaching to help those who aren't understanding it yet. Grades should only be taken when you feel the students have had enough experience in the skill. From this assessment, we have another chance to reassess whether our method of teaching is working, and if not, adjust again. All of this works towards that final summative assessment. 

In summing up, it's not about how many grades we get, but the quality of what our grading reflects.

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  TECH/21st Century CORNER

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Project-Based Learning:
Here to Stay

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 wonderful article on a Texas school that is finding success with project-based learning.  Check out the link below:

Project-Based Learning Article

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  

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What is Homelessness?

By Mary Ann Graziani

Mary Ann Graziani is a Michigan Certified Teacher with a Masters Degree in Elementary Education. She is married and has two sons.  She loves to read and write, and enjoys passing on that love to the children that she teaches.   Her philosophy is teaching and entertaining children at the same time.

She has published an educational book for elementary school-aged children using high frequency sight words, and is in the process of publishing an entire set that goes with that book.   She has also written a math tale that teaches customary units of measurement to elementary school-aged children in an entertaining storybook tale.   You can  contact Mary Ann at: mgrazi@wowway.com

The word homelessness has different meanings to different people. For this article I will give a social definition, economic definition and a personal definition of homeless people in general and a definition of the homeless child. The Steward B. McKinney Act, 42 U.S.C. 11301 (1994) defines homelessness as a person who “lacks a fixed, regular, adequate night-time residence and has a night-time residency that is: 

1. Supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations. 

2. An institution that provides a temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized. 

3. A public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings. The term homeless individual does not include any individual imprisoned or otherwise detained pursuant to an Act of Congress or a state law. 

The National Coalition for Homelessness defines Homelessness as not having a place to sleep. Losing all contact with friends and family and uprooting your children from school. It means suffering the frustration and degradation of living hand to mouth, and depending on the generosity of strangers, or the efficiency of a government agency for your survival and for your children’s survival. 

My personal definition is that homeless is the deprivation of a personal place of solitude, comfort, and security to call your own. 

The National Coalition for the Homeless defines a homeless child as one who lacks a regular and adequate nighttime place of abode. Children or youth living in welfare hotels, transitional housing, shelters, the streets, cars, abandoned buildings, and other inadequate accommodations are considered homeless. For this paper I will use this last definition to study the impact of homelessness on a child or youth and education. 

My reflection on Homelessness 

The faces of the homeless people are a reflection of the problems of our nation. Thousands of Americans are eating out of trashcans and living on the streets. I see them on the street corner or rummaging through a trash bin looking for food and I cannot help but stare. I stare out of a combination of curiosity and compassion. The simple basic necessities of life that most of us take for granted, these people do not have. Being homeless is more than not having a home; it is the absence of security, dignity, and a place to put things that are a connection to the past. It is relying on strangers and government for survival and having no sense of stability and family roots. 

There is a real person behind the empty face with empty life. They have a past life behind them and hopefully a better future ahead of them. That hopeful future for the homeless can happen if we start with the homeless children. By creating opportunities for them to have options in their lives to choose from besides homelessness and hopelessness. Their parents have had to choose between limited, mostly unattractive alternatives that usually don’t do much to improve their lives. These limited options are what keep people trapped on the streets, frustrated, in crisis, trying to beat the odds. Sometimes after all the options seem exhausted, people just stop trying. If we give the children of these homeless adults an opportunity to achieve an education, they will have options to choose from and have hope to end the endless cycle of homelessness.

See more in part 2, coming next month!


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Interdisciplinary Teaching
(part 2)

Courtesy of K12Academics.com

Interdisciplinary teaching is a method, or set of methods, used to teach a unit across different curricular disciplines. For example, the seventh grade Language Arts, Science and Social Studies teachers might work together to form an interdisciplinary unit on rivers.

The local river system would be the unifying idea, but the English teacher would link it to Language Arts by studying river vocabulary and teaching students how to do a research report. The science teacher might teach children about the life systems that exist in the river, while the Social Studies teacher might help students research the local history and peoples who used the river for food and transport.

Implementation of Interdisciplinary Teaching

Heidi Hayes Jacobs presents a four-phase approach to curriculum integration planning. (1989, ASCD, Alexandria, Va) First, she suggests that a school conduct action research to learn more about how to implement curriculum integration. This should be done six months to a year ahead of when the school is going to attempt curriculum integration. Next, phase two calls for the development of a proposal. Phase three consists of implementing and monitoring the pilot unit; this should take place in the second year of the curriculum integration plan. Phase four takes place in the third year of the plan, and calls for staff adoption of the program based on the findings from phase three (1991).

Criticisms and Shortcomings of Interdisciplinary Teaching Methods

Scholars that advocate for curriculum integration argue that the topics studied should originate with students and their teachers, and not from district-imposed curriculum packages. This raises the important issue of accountability (Stevenson, 1998). As school districts often have decision-making panels that consist of stakeholders such as teachers, parents, and students, curriculum integration may take away their agency to make curricular choices. In addition to issues of local control, truly integrated curricula may or may not prepare students for the high-stakes tests that have become a reality for most high schools around the world, depending on whether they cover the same material. Finally, there is also concern that integrated teaching discounts the value of deep subject-specific knowledge, which is essential for specialization in areas such as medicine, law, and engineering (Gatewood, 1998).

Thematic units can also fall short of teaching in-depth content to students. Often a theme, such as apples, is used to link unrelated subjects, with little deference to students’ prior knowledge or interests. This superficial coverage of a topic can give students the wrong idea about school, perhaps missing the idea of curriculum integration in the first place (Barton & Smith, 2000). Thematic units can contain pointless busywork and activities created solely to create a link to a theme; for example, the alphabetizing of state capitals in a social studies unit, attempting to integrate it with language arts (Brophy & Alleman, 1991).


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!


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




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

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The Changing Face of the
Traditional Book Report

Are your students bored with your old book reports? Looking to jazz up your old presentations? There are a number of great ideas to change your old assignments and bring them into the modern day. 

We want our students to enjoy reading, and to read outside of class, but we dont want to bore students with the same old reports they've been doing for years.

Don't get me wrong, I like my students to find some specific pieces of information. They will always be required to find info on characters, setting, and plot. And I like to have them include their evaluation of the book, what they learned and to whom they'd recommend this book.

Beyond the basic fact-finding is the presentation. There are many ways to jazz these up too. Your students could make commercials or infomercials trying to sell their books. These could be live in class, online, or recorded on video. Include music and graphics or special effects.

Students could create a project to represent a scene from their story. This might be a model, a diorama box, posters, banners, or other art projects using various art class media.

You might allow students to take an important scene from the book and bring it to life. Reader's theater, puppet shows, and skits can be performed in class or videotaped earlier.

Students can vary the old display 'poster' by showing off artifacts in a shadow box. Find items around the house that represent the story's character, setting, or events and set them up in an interesting display.

Another idea is to use presentation software such as PowerPoint. Have your students create different slides detailing what they learned about characters, plot, setting, mood, and other literary devices from their books.

Another neat program we started using this year is the GarageBand from Macintosh. This enables students to create their own music using basic templates of different sounds, instruments, beats, and rhythms. Students have created short songs that impart the mood and tone of their books, and we can then present these to class or add them to web pages or PowerPoints.

If you've assigned a biography or autobiography, you might have students make a website describing the life and beliefs of the individual character. You could have students create a 'mock' interview with their character, writing in the answers that person might have given.

There are many ways to change your old book reports so they're more interesting. And you can incorporate technology easily in these projects. Don't be afraid to try out something new. You can often rely on your students to help you when it comes to technology. And you'll be making class much more interesting for your students.

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"When You Thought I Wasn't Looking"

Themes on Life

Someone's always watching the little things you do...

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator, and I wanted to paint another one.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you feed a stray cat, and I thought it was good to be kind to animals.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you make my favorite cake just for me, and I knew little things are special things.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I heard you say a prayer, and I believed there is a God that I can always talk to.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I felt you kiss me goodnight, and I felt loved.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw tears come from your eyes, and I learned that sometimes things hurt, but it's okay to cry.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw that you cared, and I wanted to be everything that I could be.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I looked - - and wanted to say thanks for all the things I saw when you thought I wasn't looking.

What's New @ StarTeaching?


Hello readers!  Welcome to your second May 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 articles on Interdisciplinary Teaching and the Challenges of Curriculum, as well as a shared article on project-based learning from Mark Benn.  

You'll also find great articles on book reports, grades, and homelessness.

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 

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Teaching Reading in Small Groups:
Differentiated Instruction for Building Strategic, Independent Readers

By Jennifer Serravallo



Coming Soon:

Preparing for Student Teaching

Technology & Teaching: 21st Century Teaching and Learning

Writing Process and Programs

Article of the Week


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10 Days of 
Math Problems
by Mary Ann Graziani

Day 1 Find the Elapsed time:

Start: 11:30 A.M.
End: 12:00 P.M.

Day 2 Find the Elapsed time:

Start: 4:00 A.M.
End: 5:00 A.M.

Day 3 Find the Elapsed time:

Start: 12:00 A.M.
End: 5:30 A.M.

Day 4 Find the Elapsed time:

Start: 6:00 A.M.
End: 6:30 P.M.

Day 5 Find the Elapsed time:

Start: 6:30 A.M.
End: 9:30 A.M.

Day 6 How many seconds are in a minute?
Day 7 How many years are in a decade?
Day 8 How many days are in a week?
Day 9 How many whole weeks are in a year?
Day 10 How many months are in one year?


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Science Activities For Any Setting
By Helen de la Maza
Air Pollution Experiment
(click for PDF)

Habitat Lesson
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Habitat PowerPoint
slide show

Habitat PowerPoint slides
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Helen's Science Activities


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Inspirational Quotes
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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.


End of the Year Planning




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Using Photography To Inspire Writing
By Hank Kellner

Visit his blog at: hank-englisheducation.



Article of the Week
"Archaeology at Project Troia"
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"Where Do The Names of the Days of the Week Come From?"
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