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Ideas and Features For New Teachers 
and Veterans with Class

Volume 2, Issue 3

February 2006



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We Wish A Warm Welcome 
to Mr. Holes' EDU 200 Class
from Spring Arbor College.

Thanks For Joining Us!  


Using Random Student Cards in Class

By Frank Holes, Jr.
Middle School Teacher


Much has been said and written lately about providing students with choices. I'm all about any methods which will improve student involvement in class, giving them ownership in their learning. There are many ways to give students choices, options, or just to provide random results and change up the monotony. This article will discuss how to use random results in typical class situations.

Ever wonder if you choose certain students more (or less) often in class than others? Or would you like to be able to completely call on students at random?

A great technique is to make and use an index card deck with your students' names on the cards. On the first day of any of my classes, I pass out blank lined index cards (we use the 3 x 5 size) to all the students. I then have them fill these out with information we can use later on in class. Then I collect them and keep them separated by class with a rubber band. Then I can quickly access the names of all of my students. This helps for learning their names quickly too.

The random calling technique will increase your students' attention, since any one of them could be chosen at any time without you playing favorites or ignoring anyone. Always try to choose several students each time you use the cards, and everyone will quickly understand that they may be the next person called. No student wants to be embarrassed, so they will all formulate some type of response to give in case their card is drawn next.

What information needs to be on the cards? That depends on what you want to know about your students. I ask for at least their names, parent's names, and phone contact numbers. "The random calling technique will increase your students' attention, since any one of them could be chosen at any time without you playing favorites or ignoring anyone."

In one upper corner, write in the student's hour (I also like to circle the number) so you can sort them out easily later. Other useful information could include text book or calculator numbers, birth dates, and even students' interests or hobbies.

How often do I use the cards? Several times each hour! We use the cards in warm ups so everyone has a random chance of being picked. The cards are used for choosing random teams or groups. They are great for class discussions, since students cannot just be quiet and disappear; every discussion question can be answered by several students in succession, who must either build on previous information given or generate a new line of thinking. I also use them to ask questions before students are dismissed. If the question is answered correctly, I let that student leave early.

The cards can be shuffled each time you use them, or you can leave the order and pick up there again later, ensuring you've called on every student before repeating.

"Always try to choose several students each time you use the cards, and everyone will quickly understand that they may be the next person called." Now, can you stack the deck? Of course! Because you hold the cards, only you know if you've chosen truly at random. This is useful when you just know a student isn't paying attention, or if you want to check understanding by a specific student.

Should you worry about students who still seem to never be called upon? That does happen, but it will even out as the year goes by. I've had the opposite happen too, where a student was actually chosen three times in a row, even though I shuffled the deck each time!

Student hobbies or activities can be great for making connections to class material. As a warm up or sponge activity, for example, use your cards to randomly call on students to state how what they learned in class could be applied to or connected to their hobby.

The cards are great for choosing students to read aloud in class. And as the teacher, you can still stack the deck to match up appropriate students with a paragraph's difficulty level. I also try to assess student's reading ability by choosing particular passages I want them to read aloud. Then I make sure the student's card is chosen.


A Happy New Year to you all from the staff at StarTeaching.  

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Valentines Writing Activity
Your Students Will Really 'Eat Up'

This is a great, easy activity to use in your classes during the week of Valentines Day.  Simply pick up a few bags of those colorful candy hearts (the ones with little messages on them), and you can have your students writing both sentences and paragraphs they can enjoy (and of course they can enjoy the candy afterward, too!) 

You first need to purchase a bag of the small candy hearts with the little messages on them ("I Love You", "You Are Special", etc.).  Drop them into a large mug, paper bag, or other holding container from which students can reach in and draw.  Make sure you have enough (I generally figure on five per student plus some extra because they almost always seem to disappear!) to pass out to all of the students in your classes.  

There are several different writing activities you can have your students do with these hearts once each student has selected their candies.  

Have your students each write TWO (or more if you wish) sentences incorporating the messages on each of their candy hearts.  The sentences must be different from each other, and must include the EXACT MESSAGE written on their hearts.  For example:

to your school.    When was your

Challenge your students to write sentences using as many of the candy heart messages in one sentence as possible.  The sentences must obviously make sense.

Have your students write a paragraph using all of the candy heart messages in proper context in the same paragraph.  The paragraph must make sense, must flow logically from idea to idea, and each sentence must fit properly.

Have a pair of students randomly choose THREE to FIVE hearts from a container and create a dialogue between them using the messages in their dialogue.  You could give them specific situations to follow, or allow them to create their own.  You could even allow students to trade their hearts before or even during the conversation.


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Website of the Month:

Kathy Schrock's 
Guide for Educators
at DiscoverySchool.com

Our February WEBSITE OF THE MONTH award is presented to Kathy Schrock's site, Guide for Educators, located at the DiscoverySchool website. This is an extremely useful site I have been utilizing for several years for teaching ideas and creating different types of puzzles for my students .   In 1999, Kathy Schrock, internet education guru, joined forces with DiscoverySchool and added her infamous lists of sites pertaining to schools, education, and teaching.

Kathy Schrock, internet guru and educator, is the Administrator for Technology for the Nauset Public Schools in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  Her site is designed to give teachers and educators a generous list of websites on educational topics.

Links on her page include specific sites for subject matter, resources for teachers and educators, evaluation tools, and the latest in technological advances.  These links are checked, added to, and edited daily, so you know Kathy is always up to date.  


The DiscoverySchool site also provides tremendous subject matter materials, as well as lesson plans, student researching, and teacher tools.  My class has been using the puzzle maker feature on the website for years now, creating word searches, crosswords, and other puzzles to practice important vocabulary terms from the literature we read.  The crossword puzzle feature is easy to use, and provides you with step-by-step directions for its creation.  

Check this site out, you'll be glad you did.  Simply click the link below:





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"Wealth, Success, and Love"
Author Unknown

Themes on Life

All the faces in the world are mirrors. What kind of reflections do you see in the faces of the people you meet?

A woman came out of her house and saw 3 old men with long white beards sitting in her front yard. She did not recognize them.

She said "I don't think I know you, but you must be hungry. Please come in and have something to eat." Is the man of the house home?", they asked.

"No", she said. "He's out." "Then we cannot come in," they replied.

In the evening when her husband came home, she told him what had happened. "Go tell them I am home and invite them in!" The woman went out and invited the men in.

"We do not go into a house together," they replied.

"Why is that?" she wanted to know.

One of the old men explained: "His name is Wealth," he said pointing to one of his friends, and said pointing to another one, "He is Success, and I am Love." Then he added, "Now go in and discuss with your husband which one of us you want in your home."

The woman went in and told her husband what was said. Her husband was overjoyed. "How nice!!," he said. "Since that is the case, let us invite Wealth. Let him come and fill our home with wealth!"

His wife disagreed. "My dear, why don't we invite Success?" Their daughter-in-law was listening from the other corner of the house. She jumped in with her own suggestion: "Would it not be better to invite Love? Our home will then be filled with love!"

"Let us heed our daughter-in-law's advice," said the husband to his wife. "Go out and invite Love to be our guest."

The woman went out and asked the 3 old men, "Which one of you is Love? Please come in and be our guest."

Love got up and started walking toward the house. The other 2 also got up and followed him. Surprised, the lady asked Wealth and Success:

"I only invited Love, Why are you coming in?" The old men replied together: "If you had invited Wealth or Success, the other two of us would've stayed out, but since you invited Love, wherever He goes, we go with him. Wherever there is Love, there is also Wealth and Success!"

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Using Random Student Cards in Class

Valentines Writing Activity Your Students Will Really 'Eat Up'

Website of the Month

Themes on Life:  
"Wealth, Success, and Love"

10 Days of Writing Prompts

Holiday Book Sale for Teachers

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10 Days Of


Why do we celebrate Valentines Day'?


Why is chocolate such an important part of Valentines Day?


What are THREE ways you can show your parents you love them?


Why is LOVE important in people's lives?.


Create a short, 5 question TRUE/FALSE quiz to cover today's class information.


What are THREE ways you can show your friends that you appreciate them?  


How can you show your teacher you appreciate him/her?.


What is the difference between a 'CRUSH' and 'LOVE'?.


What are FOUR excellent Valentines' gifts you could get for another person?


Write down 5 questions you could ask to gain more information about today's lesson.


10 days of writing prompts


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Getting To Yes,
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Roger Fisher, 
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Opening Activities for Class

Technology & Teaching: Setting up for Handhelds

Classroom Rules & Procedures

Creating Web Pages & PowerPoints 
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