"Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man."

-Rabindranath Tagore



Ethos, Logos, Pathos





(lan yaps')  n. 1. unexpected gifts.



 Gems for the Learner





Test Taking Hint

What Good Test Takers Do!

Read the directions carefully.

Study the title and picture.

Scan the selection for length.

Read the selection with care, highlighting any parts related to the questions.

Read all the choices.

Cross out the wrong answers.

Look for the best answer.

Don’t leave it blank!





Nutrition Hint


Eat A Peach!





"Amaturs talk tactics, professionals study logistics"

-Carl Von Clauswitz


Getting Nutritious Foods into the Schools is the First Priority



Watching students, in an enlightened school district, gobble down snacks which included raw cabbage, broccoli, grapes, cucumbers and watermelon got me to thinking. The insane practice of feeding students (particularly special ed children) a steady diet of Cocoa Puffs, M & M's, ice cream, chips, Banana Pops, waffles, jolly ranchers and other sugar-laden, bounce- them -off -the- wall foods should stop. Identifying the problem (I've already done this) is step one. Educating the powers that be (principals and school board members) is step two. Consider these apprisals as teachable moments. (Include the parents as well, in step two). The third stage is tricky. Redirecting or increasing funds for healthy foods. This may even involve delaying the acquisition of a new scoreboard by the athletic department (the fourth in six years). But these changes are necessary if we are to initiate dramatic improvements in student health and behavior.

"I've been on a few diets because I can't get enough to eat on just one."





General Teaching Potpourri

In the article “Brain Research and Education: Fad or Foundation”, Pat Wolfe explains that recent research has shown that learning is a matter of “making connections between brain cells.” This takes place through seeing, hearing, and most importantly, concrete experiences. The implication for the classroom teacher is to have the students perform the learning experience, rather than just listen or watch. A second point Wolfe raises concerns memory. Before the student attempts to recall information, he/she needs to reconstruct it. “The more ways students have the information represented in the brain, through hearing, seeing, being involved with, etc., the more paths there are for reconstruction” Wolfe (2003).






Beginning the Day Procedures



Read the morning message.

Hand in homework/folders.

Hand in notes for teacher/office.



Sharpen pencils.

Finish incomplete work.

Silently read, study spelling words, study math facts.



Have a terrific day.




New Student Orientation

New students are given a coupon book in which each page lists an adult who assists students in the school. Each new student takes the book around and has it signed by the adult. The adult tells students how he/she helps them and then gives each child a small gift.




             How to Handle Controversial Issues in the Classroom


The nuts and bolts of this approach is for the teacher to adopt the guise of unbiased facilitator (Clarke, 2005). The pertinent questions to be addressed to each student are: “What do you think?”, “Why do you think that way?”, and “Where will you go to find more information”? (Clarke, 2005). Lastly, “How can you determine whether that information is fact or opinion?” (Clarke, 2005).






Classroom Management Hint 1

Ultimate Classroom Rules

Treat Others Politely and with Respect

Treat Your School and Personal Property with Respect

Follow Teacher Requests

Be Prepared for Class

Make a Good Effort with Your Work and Request Help When You Need It.




Teaching Procedures

1. Explain

2. Provide Reason

3. Demonstrate

4. Give Cue

5. Practice

6. Provide Feedback

7. Reteach


List of Procedures

Room Area

Student desks, tables, storage areas

Learning Centers

Shared materials

Teacher's desk

Fountain, sink, bathroom, pencil sharpener

School Areas

Bathroom, fountain, office, library

Lining up



Whole class activities/seatwork

Student participation

Signals for student attention

Talk among students

Passing out books, etc.

Turning in work

Handing back assignmnets

Makeup work

Out of seat policies

Activities after work is finished

Small-Group Activities

Student movement in and out of group

Bringing materials to group

Expected behavior in groups

Expected behavior out of groups

Other Procedures

Beginning of school day

End of schoolday

Fire Drills

Housekeeping and student helpers

Work Requirements

Heading papers

Neatness, legibility

Incomplete papers

Late work

Due Dates

Makeup work

Monitoring Student Work

In class oral participation

Completion of homework

Completion of long-term assignments

Checking Assignments in Class

Students' exchanging papers

Marking and grading papers


Academic Feedback

Rewards and Incentives

Posting student work

Communication with parents









Classroom Management Hint 2

Mindful Speaking


THINK Before You Speak


Is what I say True?

Is what I say Helpful?

Am I the best one to say it?

Is it necessary to say it Now?

Is it Kind to this person or others?



Classroom Management Hint 3

Teacher Input

Grade 1


Hi! I teach in Colorado and we use a green, yellow and readlight system. I teach first grade. Every one begins on a green light. If they break rules, they turn their light to yellow. From there it goes red, a note goes home and they miss half the next day's recess. They would rather eat dirt than have to change that light!



Grade 2

Start the year off with every child's name written on the board. 
Give a tally mark when there is good behavior.  When someone is doing
something inappropriate, give all others a tally mark.  The children catch
on pretty quickly. You don't have to say a word and little time is
lost.  Do this a lot at the first of the year and less frequently as the
year progresses. At that point they have they internalized best behaviors. 
When they reach 10 tally marks, erase them and they get to pick
something out of a goodie box. Polished rocks, older books, left
over stickers, etc. comprise the goodies.  No one can tell where
anyone is in relationship to behavior because after 10 each child starts over.  It
works really well with no "feelings" involved--either yours or your



Grades 3 and 4

Here is another idea, very effective for third and fourth graders. The
focus is not on the negative behaviour and its consequence.
Rather a focus on doing the right thing all the time and
being rewarded for that .

I have little pieces of paper with "Caught you being good" on
them and a blank space.

I also include positive words to explain that behavior such as cooperative, responsible, etc. These I circle to describe the individual's behavior.

Children are awarded "caught you being good" papers. They can
write their name on and then place in a container. At the
end of each week we have a draw and three persons are rewarded with a prize.

Posted by Carol




Classroom Management Hints 3 & 4



Line Management

I did two things that solved my problems quick.

First, I put them in a line order, so that friends were not near each other, and the sneaky kids were in the middle of the line. If they have no one to talk to they can't say much!

Second, my class earns points for compliments from other teachers. The teachers on our normal routes are very good about saying positive things if my kids are doing well. The kids love it, and work very hard to get those points.

Simple, didn't have to be mean, and it worked wonders.

When we go out in the hallway, I ask them all to put their hands

A) Behind their backs
B) Folded in front of them
C) At their sides with fingers crossed.
D) One in front, one in back

It's different every day. They're so concentrating on doing the hands right, they don't touch the walls, and they don't talk, either. It's the best thing I've come up with yet.





Classroom Management Hint


New teachers often -

Have not figured out what exactly they want and don't want - a root cause of much of what follows.
Overpraise students for doing what is expected.
Don't know the difference between praise and acknowledgement and when each is appropriate.
Fail to do effective long-range and daily planning.
Spend too much time with one student or one group and not monitoring the entire class.
Begin a new activity before gaining the students' attention.
Talk too fast, and are sometimes shrill.
Use a voice level that is always either too loud or too soft.
Stand too long in one place (the feet of clay syndrome).
Sit too long while teaching (the posterior of clay syndrome).
Overemphasize the negative.
Do not require students to raise hands and be acknowledged before responding.
Are way too serious and not much fun.
Are way too much fun and not serious.
Fall into a rut by using the same teaching strategy or combination of strategies day after day.
Ineffectively use silence (wait time) after asking a content question.
Are ineffective when they use facial expressions and body language.
Tend to talk to and interact with only half the class (usually their favorites, and usually on the right)..
Collect and return student papers before assigning students something to do.
Interrupt students while they are on task.
Use "SHHHH" as a means of quieting students (one of the most annoying and ineffective behaviors).
Overuse verbal efforts to stop inappropriate student behavior - talk alone accomplishes little.
Settle for less rather than demand more.
Use threats to control the class (short term, produces results; long term, backfires).
Use global praise inappropriately.
Use color meaninglessly, even to the point of distraction (I know you've seen this happen).
Verbally reprimand students across the classroom (get close and personal if possible).
Interact with only a "chosen few" students rather than spreading interactions around to all students.
Do not intervene quickly enough during inappropriate student behavior.
Do not learn and use student names in an effective way (kids pick up quickly on this and respond in kind).
Read student papers only for correct answers and not for process and student thinking.
Ask global questions that nobody likely will answer.
Fail to do appropriate comprehension checks to see if students understand the content as it is taught.
Use poorly worded, ambiguous questions.
Try to talk over student noise (never, ever, do this, because when you do, you lose and they win).
Are consistently inconsistent.
Will do anything to be liked by students.
Permit students to be inattentive to an educationally useful media presentation (this happens a lot).
Introduce too many topics simultaneously (usually the result of poor planning).
Sound egocentric (if you have to get your jollies from your students, there might be a problem).
Take too much time to give verbal directions for an activity (an inability to focus and explain effectively).
Take too much time for an activity (usually the result of poor planning).
Are nervous, uptight, and anxious (if this is persistent, you need help).
Overuse punishment for classroom misbehavior - going to an extreme when other consequences work better






More Classroom Management Hints

Many of the things teachers do to promote, or inhibit, positive self-esteem, comes from unintended actions. There are obvious things teachers do, such as who is called on in the class, who's papers are posted on the bulletin boards...but there are less obvious things that are done; actions which directly affect the students positive self-esteem. The most frequent area where this is the case is with marking student papers.
The following are some quick tips which any teacher can immediately use in improving the positive self-esteem in the classroom:
  1. NEVER GRADE IN RED INK. Red is a "negative" color. Think: stop signs and lights, warning labels, poisen, etc. Our society has conditioned us to immediately view red as something negative. Subconsciously, (and often conscientiously), a paper that is handed back full of red marks tells the student that he or she is a "dummy". A "self-fulfilling prophesy" often results with these students!
  2. USE GREEN OR BLUE INK. Green, on the other hand, is a "positive" color, as is blue to a lesser extent. When green is used, corrections, or markings, become more of a "constructive criticism" type of comment.
  3. USE A SLASH "/" RATHER THAN AN "X" WHEN MARKING A WRONG ANSWER. Again, for the same reasons one does not use red ink. The "X" is a negative symbol.
  4. MARK NUMBER RIGHT OUT OF THE TOTAL, VERSUS MINUS THE NUMBER WRONG. Do you accentuate the positive, or the negative?



Even More Classroom Management Ideas



Wish upon a "Secret Star" for orderly lines

Submitted by Maria Morgan (Grade 1 teacher, FL)

In order to encourage my students to walk in a quiet and orderly line while in the hallways, I often pick a "Secret Star" when going somewhere (e.g. P.E., Art, lunch, etc.). I usually pick a boy and a girl "Secret Star". I don't tell who my "Secret Star" is and I tell the students that I am watching to see if my "Secret Star" is walking nicely and quietly. When we arrive back to our classroom I announce the "Secret Star" if and only if the "Secret Star" was successful in being a good walker. The "Secret Star" then gets a Starburst candy. Since nobody knows who the "Secret Star" is, everybody is usually very quiet and respectful in case it might be him or her. If the "Secret Star" is not quiet and respectful then I simply state that "My Secret Star did not make it this time." I don't tell who it was. This works wonders for getting the students to walk quietly in the hallways and it's also fun.

Have your people call their people for seamless student grouping

Submitted by Lisa Carney (Grade 4 teacher, TN)

Part of effectively managing the classroom is having an efficient way to put students into groups. Students love working in groups and this is a sure way to partner or group students with variety and inclusion of all students. To partner students, we make appointment clocks. I use a clock with the hour numbers and then a blank line by each hour. The students make an appointment with another student on each hour of the clock. If Sally is Jimmy's one o'clock appointment then Jimmy is also Sally's one o'clock appointment. When I need my students to pair up for activities or review skills, I simply say, "Go to your 2 o'clock appointment." To group my students, I place name labels on a deck of cards. I simply shuffle the cards and deal them out into stacks of the number of groups that I need and then call out the names. The cards are great to use for lots of things, selecting a student to do a special job, picking students to give presentations, etc.




Still More Classroom Management Hints



"I" Message

When confronting a student exhibiting disruptive behavior employ an "I" message

Use the personal pronoun I.

Describe the feeling the teacher is experiencing.

Relate the effect the student's behavior is having on the teacher.


"When you..."

"It makes me feel..."

"I need you to..."


Thomas Gordon, Teacher Effectiveness Training




Classroom Management Hints


Try these fresh classroom management tips and tricks with your class - they do work! Tell us about your experience with them in the comments, we would love to hear your thoughts!

Classroom Coupons

Why not create coupons to give as rewards for good behavior, special efforts, good work? Coupons could be for eating with the teacher, a night off from homework, having lunch with another class, moving one's desk to a preferred spot, etc. Coupons are a fun way to reward.

Compliment Box

Have a special box for just compliments. Encourage students to write a compliment when they catch a classmate doing something nice. At the end of each day, read each note aloud and then give the notes to each student who was complimented. This tactic can build up students' self-esteem. You might want to keep a list of those who receive notes in order to make sure that each student gets a note from time to time.


To make this technique work, you must have a pocket folder for each student. On the first day of a two-week period, students are given a set of homemade money, cut and stapled in a durable envelope with their names on the front. Students will, initially, write their names on the back of the money. Set up a system of values.
Students can lose money for the following reasons:

Students can earn money for the following reasons:

Adjust rules as you wish. Have an end-of-the-period sale. Provide small items that the students can purchase such as stickers, books, pencils, etc., or even a no-homework night.

Reward at No Cost

If you do not want to always buy things as rewards, here are a few reward ideas that do not cost anything.

Zip the Lips

Make a large set of lips, complete with zipper. Cue in your students that when you make a zip motion over the lips, the meaning is the following: "Zip your lips." In other words, get quiet!

Fishing on Friday

Want to have good behavior during the week? One way to encourage following rules is to have a special surprise. Obtain two small fish bowls. Label the bowls, one bowl for the girls and one bowl for the boys. At the end of the week, have a drawing for both the boys and girls. Place the students' names in the appropriate bowl if a student was good for the week and followed all the rules. Have some type of special treat for the week's winner.

Smile Face Reminder

Sometimes it is hard to remember to smile. Make a large smiley face and suspend it from the ceiling. When you notice it, it will be a great reminder to stay positive.

Be Human

Students need to know that teachers are human, too. Everyone makes mistakes, even the teacher. Sometimes it is effective to deliberately make a mistake in order to let the students react and correct! When using this approach, be careful that you do not let students get away with being disrespectful. Students respect is a necessary component of good teaching.

Silent Signals and Signs

Silent signaling to your class is always a plus. To silently signal to students that they should stop talking, create a signal light. Put up the red signal when they are too noisy and need to be quiet. Put up the yellow signal when they can talk and share in low voices. Use the green signal for saying talking is all right, if money is no problem, purchase a small stoplight through a teacher supply company.
Other proven methods involve using hand signals. A thumbs up can mean "excellent" or "I'm proud of you." Work with your students to develop signs. This can be a fun way to talk about people who are deaf and how they communicate with each other.




Murano Glass




Math is like time,
it never stops


Mia, age 8

Math is a book 
you can't close it till it's done

Alec, Age 10

Math is a painting
you can't lose interest

Math is like eternity
it is never over


Math is a smile
it can be happy and evil


Math is a roller coaster
it's exciting

Aiden, Age 8


Math is like an alien
you don't know all about it

Tolah, Age 8


Math is like a sword
when you mess up it hurts


Alex, age 8

Math is a mother
it's always there when you need it

Sara, Age 8


Math is like a Christmas ornament
it's eye catching

Daria, Age 8


Math is like a rainbow
it has a treasure at the end of it


Lori, Age 10






Math Hint 1


When teaching math, let the children do the talking


 Long Division



Does McDonald's Sell Cheese Burgers and Shakes?

To Remember 

Order of operations for a long division problem:

Divide, Multiply, Subtract, Check that the divisor is larger than your remainder, Bring down the next number, and Start all over again.





Math Hint 2

Tell a child who is volunteering a disorganized answer: "Say it in your head, and I'll be right back."





Math Hint 3 and 4





Bigger Bottom, Better Borrow


 Remember to borrow from the ten's column before subtracting 7 from 4.

Change the 6 to 5 and make the 4 a 14. Then subtract.




                                                                         3  6  14

                                                                      -  2    7






1. Underline the number in the place value that is to be rounded.

2.Copy all numbers to the left.

3. The number to the immediate right is the "boss.'

4. If it is 5 or more raise the underlined number.

If it is four or less leave the number alone.

5. Fill in value places to the left with zeroes.

You can remember the value of Pi (3.1415926) by counting each word's letters in "May I have a large container of coffee?"





A great way to learn the times tables is to make a booklet at the beginning of the school year. Include each table, 1 through 12 and carry it with you throughout the year. Whenever you get a chance, study it or quiz a classmate. 




Math Hint 4




A number is divisible by 2 if the number in the one's place is even.

A number is divisible by 3 if the sum of all digits in the number is divisible by 3.

A number is divisible by 4 if the last two digits form a number that is divisible by 4.

A number is divisible by 5 if the number in the one's place is 5 or 0.

A number is divisible by 6 if it is divisible by both 2 and 3.

A number is divisible by 9 if the sum of all digits in the number is divisible by 9.

A number is divisible by 10 if its unit digit is 0.





Turn every answer a child volunteers into a positive response



Math Hint 5



(When the answer is a single digit)


Example  11 - 8 =


Step 1 - Say the lower number (8) with your fist closed.

Step 2 - Count up by ones, raising first your thumb then one finger at a time until you reach the higher number (11)

Step 3 - The number of fingers you have up when you reach the final number is the answer.

In this case you have 3 fingers up so 3 is the difference between 8 and 11.





First Grade Math Hint


For single digit addition


Hold up a a flashcard.

Have the child place his/her hand on head to indicate bigger number (they keep this number in mind).

They then count up from this number using the fingers on the same hand.





Math Hint 6

Multiplication is the opposite of Division

7 x 9 = 63 

63 / 9 = 7






The Antidote

for the

Everyday Math Program (or, as it is known by many teachers, "Twelve is the New Eleven")


Is your fourth grade classroom filled with children who cannot solve simple multiplication and division problems?

Here is the amazingly simple solution!


. . . . . . . . . . . .

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. . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . .



A simple array will give students kinesthetic, verbal and visual practice in concept forming multiplication and division exercises.


Use the concept of multiplication being repeated addition and fill out one line of the array (bold face the dots) with the number of dots equal to the smaller number of the two factors. Then repeat this in the number of rows equal to the larger of the two factors. Introduce the terms factors and products as you progress. Finally add each row together verbally.


For division, tell the students that we are going to find out how many equal shares of the divisor are found in the dividend. Then continually circle the number of dots that is equal to the divisor as the child skip counts by that number (3,6,9...) until the total reaches the number found in the dividend. The child then counts the number of circles and that is the quotient.







Another Antidote


Everyday Math


Concept Building Addition Practice

Use place value mats and flats, straights and cube manipulatives

Write (for instance)



Then write "Show 29 on your place value mat (with straights and cubes)

Next, add 12 to it

Then trade any ten cubes for a straight(s)

Count the total number of straights and cubes on the mat.

Fill in the answer on the line provided.

Show your work (slashes on a tally sheet that is divided into a ten's places and a one's place

Math Hint 7

If dividing 5 into 20 stops you in your tracks:

1. Draw 20 dots.

2. Circle groups of 5.

3. Count the circles.

4. Yep, 4 is your answer.



Draw number of circles first to indicate divisor. Then sequentially place one dot in each circle until total (dividend) have been have been accounted for. Count the dots in one circle. This is your quotient.








 Math Hint 8

  Mental Addition 

When adding two-digit numbers in your head, look for two numbers that make an even ten. To add 38 + 45 + 12 easily, group the numbers like this:


                                     38 + 45 + 12 = (38 + 12) + 45

                                                         =        50   + 45

                                                          =        95


Here's another method to help you with mental math. When you are adding a number that ends in 9, you can make it an even 10, and then subtract 1 from the final sum.

                              For instance, to add 47 + 39, think 39 = 40 - 1.

                               Therefore, 47 + 39 = 47 + 40 = 1 = 87 - 1 = 86.





Math Hint 9

 Mental Subtraction

This method will help you subtract numbers in your head. When you are subtracting a number that ends in 9, you can subtract an even 10 instead, and then add 1.

 For example, take 29 away from 64. Think: subtracting 29 is the same as    subtracting 30, then adding 1.


                                 Think:  64 - 29 = 64 - 30 + 1 = 34 + 1 = 35.




Math Hint 10

Mental Subtraction, Part 2


If you are given a 4 digit subtraction problem,

start on the right, as usual, and subtract the digits in the one's column.

Write down your answer.

Next, look at the remaining three digit numbers and subtract the bottom

 three from the top three in one step.

Write down the solution on the left side of your first answer.




Step 1


                                      Subtract the 2 (one's column) from the 8 (one's 

                                      column) and write down the answer,  6.



                                                                     - 1882



Step 2


                                     Next, look at the remaining 3 digit numbers on 

                                      both the  top and bottom line of the problem. Note,

                                      you need to subtract 188 from  200. 

                                      You should be able to perform this               

                                      operation in your head.

                                      Yes, the answer is 12. 

                                       Write down this number to the left of the 6.

                                       The correct answer is 126.











Math Hint 11


Can't determine which fraction is larger?


   5                                9
    ____            or          ____

        6                               11



Cross multiply the denominators by the numerators, starting at the bottom with the denominators.

           11 x 5 = 55      and        6 x 9 = 54 



  55                              54

   5                                9
    ____                         ____

       6                              11


Whichever fraction has the higher number over it is the larger fraction.




  is larger.


Sometimes You Can Eyeball It


If the denominators are the same, compare the numerators. The fraction with the larger numerator is greater.


If the numerators are the same, compare the denominators. The fraction with the smaller denominator is greater.














Math Hint 12 





Word Problem Power Pack








"For every complex problem there is a solution that is clear, simple, and wrong."

-H. L. Mencken

"Make things as simple as possible, but not simpler."

-Albert Einstein



To Solve Word Problems




Read the last question first.

Rewrite the problem in your own words.

Choose an operation  (add, subtract, multiply or divide). Look for Operation Clues to help you.

Ask, "Have I seen a problem like this before? How did I solve it?"

Try substituting simpler numbers in the problem.

Use drawings to help you make sense of the numbers.

Solve. Label your answer with the correct units.

Ask yourself, "Does my answer make sense?"

Check your work.

You get what you inspect!

"Went Back to the Fourth Problem for the Third Time and Gave Myself a Second Chance to Do a First Class Job!"



Operation Clues


Look for these "clue" words in the problem to help you decide which operation to use.


Addition Clues

Sum How may in all?
Total Combined

Multiplication Clues

Product At the rate of ( speed)
Times Double

Subtraction Clues

Difference How many remain?
Take away Fewer
How much more? Change
How much less? Decreased by
How much farther?  

Division Clues

Quotient Mean
Equal shares Percent
How many will each get? Half
Goes into Out of




"The most dangerous strategy is to jump over a chasm in two leaps."

-Benjamin Disreali

Use one strategy at a time!



If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there




Math Hint 13

The 3 Best Follow-up Questions a Teacher Can Ask:


1. How did you solve the problem?

2. Why do you think it is correct?

3. Has anyone else used a different strategy for arriving at the answer?




Faberge Egg



Math Hint 14

Subtracting by Counting Up

Think addition

For 38-19, the idea is to think, "How much do I add to 19 to get 39?"

Think addition and count up




Math Hint 15

When students make a systemic error in an algorithm, it will likely show up in the same way in repeated problems. To assess important background understanding for algorithms, it is important to do more than test skills. During class discussions, call on different students to explain individual steps. Keep track of the students' responses in a simple chart or other recording technique, indicating how well they understand the algorithm you are working on. For students experiencing trouble, you may want to conduct a 10 minute interview to further explore their level of understanding.

-John Van De Walle



Math Hint 16

Word Problem Strategy

Always link word problems with the expectation that the method of solution will be discussed. Challenge able students to find a second method, or solve a problem without models. Scaffold less able students with a variety of manipulatives and highlight key words. The  most important portion of the lesson comes when students explain their solution methods. Encourage students to ask questions of their classmates. When students find a particularly worthwhile idea, record it on a strategies chart.







Math Hints 17 and 18

When using a ruler, count spaces, not marks.

Multiply for area, add for perimeter.




Math Hint 19






Living Life in the Fast Lane




Students learn this timely twist on short division in a

 "New York Minute." 



Teaching a Strategy


  1. Name the strategy.
  2. Demonstrate the strategy as you explain the steps.
  3. Allow the students to define the strategy.
  4. Let the students develop a rationale for using the strategy.
  5. Allow the children teacher-guided practice using simple content so the focus is on learning the strategy.
  6. Use the strategy with more complex content.
  7. Provide opportunities for learners to use strategies independently.


Demonstration Problem  1

426 divided by 2


2  4 /   2 /   6 Separate each digit in the dividend with a line.
4 /    2 /   6 

Divide the divisor (2) into the first digit of the dividend (4). 

Place the appropriate answer above the 4.










2       1      3

4/     2/      6



Answer:    213

Divide the divisor into the next two digits of the dividend and place the answers above these digits.



Demonstration Problem  2

459 divided by 3

4 /   5 /   9 Separate each digit with a line.
4/   15/   9

Divide 3 into the first digit of the dividend.
Notice that 3 goes into 4 once.
Place the 1 above the 4 and the remainder, 1 in front of the next digit to form a new number, 15.

  1     5 
4/  15/    9  Divide 3 into 15. Place the correct answer 5  above the 15.
  1   5     3
4/  15/    9 Next, divide 3 into 9. Place the answer above the 9.
Answer:    153  



After the second demonstration problem, and a day or two of independent practice with less and less teacher support, student volunteers go to the board, four at a time, to solve division problems. In this activity they are racing the stopwatch. Two, Three and Four Minute Clubs are created. Those who qualify become "Stopwatch Legends."




Problems involving remainders should be addressed after a few days.


Demonstration Problem  3

40731 divided by 5



5 4 /  0 /  7/  3 /  1  Separate each digit with a line.
5 4/  0/  7/  3/  1

Divide 5 into the first digit, 4. Notice that it goes into 4 zero times. Place the 0 on top of 4.

5 4/  40/  7/  3/  1 Place the remainder of 4 in front of the next digit to form a new number, 40.
  0      8  
4/  40/  7/  3/  1 Divide 5 into 40 and place the answer above the 40.
  0     8   1  
4/  40/  7/  3/  1 Divide 5 into the next digit (7). It goes into it one time. Place the 1 above the 7.
  0      8    1  
5 4/  40/  7/  23/  1 Place the remainder (2) before the next digit to form a new number, 23.
  0      8    1      4  
5 4/  40/  7/  23/  31

Divide 5 into this number and place the remainder(3) in front of the next digit to form a new number, 31.

  0      8    1      4      6  
4/  40/  7/  23/  3 Divide 5 into this number (31). Put the answer  in the appropriate place.
There is a remainder of 1.
  0    8  1   4    6    1/5  
5 4/  40/  7/  23/  31 To complete your answer place the remainder of 1 over the divisor 5.
  Answer:     8146  1/5  



The Stopwatch Method


1. Write the division problem with the divisor on the left and the dividend on the right. Separate the two with a division symbol ( / ). 

2. Separate each digit in the dividend with a line.

3. Divide the divisor into the first digit of the dividend.

4. Place the answer in the space directly above that digit in the dividend.

5. If there is a remainder, place it in front of the next digit in the dividend, forming a new number. 

6. Continue until the divisor has been divided into the last digit in the dividend.

7. If there is a remainder at this point, place the remainder over the divisor



Patient on the teleophone: "Receptionist, tell the doctor I’ve only have 59 seconds to live."

Receptionist: "May I put you on hold for one minute, sir?"


Life’s Too Short for Long Division!





St. Wenceslas Crown



Math Hint 20


Modeling is a Great Teaching Device


Students in Kenya, which is located in northeast Africa, were building a bridge. While working under the bridge, Marissa could see only the legs of those walking by. She counted 10 legs in one group. What combination of Zebras and children could have been in that group?


Think Out Loud

"First, I'll reread the last question. This tells me that I need to find a combination of zebras and children with a total of 10 legs.

I'll Guess and Check.

First I'll try 3 children and 2 zebras

6 legs + 8 legs = 14 legs.

That’s too many legs.

Next I'll try 3 children and 1 zebra.

6 legs + 4 legs = 10 legs.

Correct! Marissa saw 10 legs."






Sarah works in Washington D.C., at the Library of Congress. The library has over 600 miles of bookshelves. While working at the library she arranged books on 6 shelves. She put 1 book on the top shelf, 3 books on the second shelf, and 5 books on the third shelf. If she continues this pattern, how many books will Sarah put on the 6th shelf?

"I'll reread the last question. I learned that I need to look for a pattern.

I'll make a table and look for a pattern.

I will create two rows, one for the shelves, and the other for the books.

Then I will return to the problem and dig out the information I need.

















I see the pattern. There are two more books on each shelf. I’ve completed the table to shelf 6.

Sarah put 11 books on shelf 6!"


The shoe, in sandal form, was first worn in 1600 B.C. in Mesopotamia.

To find a person’s shoe size we use the formula:

Shoe Size equals three times the length of the foot in inches, minus twenty-three.

The Problem: find Emily’s shoe size if her foot is 9 inches long.

"Rereading the problem, I discover that Emily’s foot is 9 inches long and that we need to find her shoe size.

In order to translate the English sentence, "shoe size equals three times the length of the foot in inches minus twenty-three" into an equation, I must first label the variables.

Let S= shoe size.

Let L= length of foot in inches.

Plugging in the corresponding values for the variables, and then evaluating the expression, we find:

S = 3 * L – 23

S = 3 * 9 – 23 Multiply first

S = 27 - 23 Subtract next

Answer: S = 4 "


The Navajo and Hopi tribes of Native Americans believe they can tell the outside temperature in Fahrenheit degrees by counting the number of times a cricket chirps in one minute. They then divide this number by four and add thirty-seven. If a cricket chirps one-hundred times in a minute, what is the outside temperature?

"Rereading the last question, we are told the cricket chirps 100 times each minute and that we need to find the outside temperature.

Let’s start by labeling variables.

T = temperature

C = cricket chirps

Let’s translate the English sentences into an Algebraic equation.

T = C/4 + 37

Let’s plug in numbers for variables and solve.

T = 100/4 + 37 Divide first

T = 25 + 37 Add next

Answer: T = 62 degrees Fahrenheit."




Independent Problems


Warm Up Problem

  • The Riddler has left a clue for Batman to follow at the scene of each crime. These are the clues that Batman has found.
  • There is a one in the thousands place.
  • The digit in the tens place is nine times the digit in the thousands place
  • Multiply the digit in the thousands place by two.
  • The digit in the ones place is a hand without a thumb.
  • The digit in the hundreds place is two less than the number in the tens place.
  • The digit in the ten thousands place equals the number of quarters in two dollars.

           Solve the riddle to find the number and help Batman stop the Riddler.


  • Evan loves football, which was first played in Oneida New York in 1861. The length of the football field where Evan practices is 30 yards more than its width. If the length is 100 yards, what is the width?

          Hint: if W = width and L = length, then W = L – 30.

  • Hannah is X years old. In 13 more years she will be 25 years old. Write an algebraic equation that shows how old Hannah will be in 13 years. Then solve to find Hannah’s age now.

          Hint: an algebraic equation always has equal signs. Include your 
          variable X and your equal sign. Then solve to find the value of X.


  • Rick rode his Harley from Buffalo New York to Cleveland Ohio. He traveled at 60 miles per hour for 2 hours and then stopped for lunch.  After lunch, he rode  at 50 miles per hour for 3 hours. How many miles farther did he travel driving at 50 miles an hour than he did going 60 miles an hour?

         Hint: this is a multi-step problem. What operation does the clue word
         “at” tell you to use? Which operation do the clue words “how much 
          farther” indicate?

  • Sofie bought 2 CD’s at $17 each. One was “The Carnival of the Animals’ and the other was “Peter and the Wolf” She then purchased 3 video games that were priced at $20 each. What is the total amount Sofie spent?

         Hint: Let c = CD and v = video games. Plug in the numbers for c and d and
         then look for operation clues. Remember Aunt Sally.







Math Hint 21


View every lesson as an opportunity to expand the students' cross curricular knowledge.


Veronica and Jake are going to see the longest running play in the world, “The Mousetrap” which opened in 1952. In the first year of production, the play sold 11,572 tickets. In its second year it sold 11,753 tickets. In its third year it sold 152 less than in its second year. How many tickets were sold in three years?


Mattie lives in Savannah, the first capital of the state of Georgia. At Mattie’s party, strawberries, which are members of the rose family, were passed around. Before the party started, Mattie ate five strawberries and gave her friend Robert three. Eight girls attended the party. The first girl, Alexis, took one strawberry, the second girl took three strawberries, the third girl took five and so on. After the last girl took hers, the box was empty. How many strawberries were there in the beginning? 

Mrs. Wilson baked two - dozen cookies and put them in a cookie jar. Mrs. Wilson lives in the city of Bismarck, the capital of North Dakota. She gave two cookies to each of the three ladies she invited over for coffee. The next day her son Tanner took half dozen cookies to school and shared them with friends. Jade, the oldest daughter, ate half as many as her brother took to school. The next day, Mr. Wilson took seven cookies to work and Carli, the youngest daughter, ate half of what was left. When Mrs. Wilson looked in the cookie jar she was shocked. How many cookies were left for her?



Star of Africa Diamond


Math Hint 22


Learn to look at a problem from different angles. For instance...


On a baseball diamond, the distance from base to base is 90 feet. What is the distances Ted Kluzewski, who led the majors in homers in 1954 with 49, must run, if he chases a ball from second base to home plate?

Answer: A baseball diamond is actually a square. Ignore Big Klu's statistics, they are not relevant to the problem. The distance from base to base is the hypoteneuse of a triangle with sides that are both 90.This distance is then 90√2.  Since the diamond is in the middle, half that is the distance to home and half that is the distance to 2nd plate.  Half of 90√2 is 45√2.






During a part of the cold war (1956-1960) the Cincinnati franchise changed its name from "Reds" to "Redlegs" in an effort to shed any likeness or negative stigma in relation to communists, or "Reds". They changed the name back to "Reds" in 1961.





Math Hint 23


Face East

Why all the attention on Singapore math?

Singapore has been in the number-one international math spot since 1995


  • Singapore Math emphasizes the development of strong number sense, excellent mental-math skills, and a deep understanding of place value.
  • The curriculum is based on a progression from concrete experience—using manipulatives—to a pictorial stage and finally to the abstract level or algorithm. This sequence gives students a solid understanding of basic mathematical concepts and relationships before they start working at the abstract level.
  • Singapore Math includes a strong emphasis on model drawing, a visual approach to solving word problems that helps students organize information and solve problems in a step-by-step manner.
  • Concepts are taught to mastery, then later revisited but not re-taught. It is said the U.S. curriculum is a mile wide and an inch deep, whereas Singapore’s math curriculum is said to be just the opposite.
  • The Singapore approach focuses on developing students who are problem solvers.
  • Parental support for education is huge in Singapore.

Like all worthwile pursuits, hard work and long hours are required (teacher's unions may lose interest at this point).

  • Singaporean teachers get more training and have more prep time than most U.S. teachers. They also work longer hours, averaging 10- to 12-hour days.
  • Most Singaporean primary-school classes have 30–40 students.
  • Daily math classes in Singapore are usually 60 minutes in length.
  • Topics are never re-taught, just revisited. Students need the fundamental skills and strategies taught in the lower grades in order to understand the new skills and strategies taught in the upper grades
  • More and more schools in the U.S. are using Singapore Math as their core curriculum. Others are using it for pull-out gifted and special-needs programs or to supplement existing math programs. The fact that this approach is working well in such a wide range of applications certainly says something about the power of the program!

    For information on training and on products to be used with Singapore Math strategies, call SDE at 1-877-388-2054.


Retrieved from website: http://sde-dev.com/singapore-math/faq.asp




Math Hint 24

Hop, Skip and Jump

Here's a fun-filled, movement-based learning experience that will increase your students' numeracy through movement and play.

Devise a 40 foot long, two foot wide mat with 40 horizontal lines (each one foot apart) connecting each side of the width. Label the fourth marker with the number "4", then skip to the eighth marker and label it "8" and so on. Have each student hop to "4" then "8" and so on counting by 4 's as they hop.






Math Hint 25

How to Teach Fractions of Fractions

Draw five two inch by four inch rectangle shapes on your template paper. Label them A through E. Write 1/2 of 1/4 on the first rectangle, then on the next four write, in turn, 1/2 of 1/3, 1/2 of 1/5, 1/4 of 1/3, and 1/8 of 1/2. Draw two small hash marks on the length side of each rectangle (but not the first). The second rectangle will have two marks (to help students fold it in thirds), the next will have four (to help fold in fifths) etc.

After the students have cut out each of the five from the hand out ask the class to take the first rectangle (1/2 of 1/4) and fold it in half (hot dog style) and then fold it again. Let them count the four sections. Next, tell them they are going to find one half of the 1/4. Have them return the rectangle to its original four fold cocoon and then fold it in half. Have them count the eight sections and color in one. Ask them what portion the colored section represents (1/8).

After the third rectangle is finished substitute a times sign for the word "of" and explain that when we take a fraction of a fraction, we are multiplying the two. Ask them if the initial fraction gets larger or smaller after we multiply.

Later, for reinforcement, allow them to create their own rectangles.




Math Hint 26


Circles and Stars

Multiplication practice is fun as each partner rolls one die twice. The first number rolled indicates the number of large circles to draw. The second roll indicates the number of smaller stars to place in each circle. The other partner will then write down the answer which can be checked by counting the total number of stars.




Math Hint 26

Converting Fractions to Decimals





"Top Dog Gets the House"









Math Hint 27


Subtraction Mantras


More on top
Don’t stop
More on the floor
Go next door
And get 10 more
Numbers the same
Zeroes the game




Math Hint 28

Third Grade Math Review Page

Yse any three digit number and place it at the top of the page.

Then using boxes, circles or lines to divide up the page. Have the students perform the following operations.

Write number in Word Form

Write number in Expanded Form

Odd or Even ?

10 more

10 less

100 more

1,000 more


Round to nearest 10

Round to nearest 100

Represent with base-ten blocks

Represent using bills and coins

Sum of the digits

Write two equations to amke the number

Subract from ________

Comes between ___ ____ _____

Family fact using two of the digits





"I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy."

-Rabindranath Tagore




Classroom Philosophy 101



"The Lucky 13"


1. What the students learn is personally meaningful.

2. The material is appropriate to their developmental level.

3. The students are challenged by the curriculum.

4. The classroom provides a positive environment.

5. The children know the lesson objectives and evaluation criteria before  

    the lesson starts.

6. The children learn in their own way, have choices and feel in control.

7. The students interact with each other and the material.

8. They acquire and utilize strategies through hands-on, concept building activities.

9. They receive constructive feedback at each stage of the lesson.

10. They review learned materials at each stage of the lesson. 

11. They use what they learn, thereby constructing new knowledge.

12. The students are emboldened to take leadership roles.

13. The children are inspired to become lifelong learners.





Test Taking Hint


 Question: Whatís the best way to get an elephant out of a box of cereal?

 Answer:    Read the directions on the back of the box.






Swing Easy, Hit Hard




1. Read the DIRECTIONS carefully.

2. STUDY the map, chart or document.

3. Read the QUESTIONS carefully.

4. Read ALL the choices.

5. CROSS OUT the WRONG answers.

6. LOOK for the BEST answer.

7. DONíT leave it blank!




If you are asked to read a short selection and then respond to multiple choice questions about it, note the title, study the picture and determine the length of the passage.

Next, read the questions and scan the possible answers. Eliminate the “impossible choices” Keep these questions in mind as you read the text. When you come upon a word, phrase or sentence related to a question, highlight it. That will make for easier reference when you answer the question.











Classroom Hint

   The Lesson 

Before each lesson begins, the teacher knows:

            1. What the students will learn.

            2. Why the material is important.

            3. How they will learn it.

            4. How the students will demonstrate what they have learned.

            5. How the quality of their work will be evaluated.




Social Interaction Hint


Students should understand and practice


The Four Rungs Of Peer Assessment


Clarify - ask the presenter any questions you may have.

Value - point out positive aspects of the presenter's product.

Raise Concerns - ask the presenter to consider improving a particular aspect of the product.

Suggest - offer strategies to correct any weak points.

Comment Starters

It sounds like you...

You must feel...

I notice...

It must be...

It looks like you showed...

It's interesting how you...







Teaching Triad


Tell them what you're going to tell them.

Tell them.

Tell them what you told them.






Isabella of Austria.





Pencil Hint

At 2:45 each afternoon, students sharpen two pencils. 




Use X - Acto pencil sharpeners in the classroom; they purr like a finely-tuned  Rolls Royce








Science Hint

Have the students number their whiteboard one to ten. Then have them respond to ten review questions. After they have finished this, ask individual students to recall questions that match the answers.




Writing Hint 1

(Grades 1- 3)




Construct a four pocket folder for each student. The students can move their essays from one pocket to the next as they complete the steps.


First Pocket - Sloppy Copy - get ideas down on paper


Second Pocket - Revising


        Does the story make sense?


        Are the sentences in order?


        Are the ideas clear?


Third Pocket - Editing





O.K. Spacing






Fourth Pocket - Final Copy













Good Writers...

Plan stories before writing

Stretch out words

Write quietly

Work independently

Add details

Check for spelling

Ask, "Does it make sense?"

Have easy to read writing

Use Word Wall

Writing Hint 3

Proofreading (Editing)

      Proofread more than once. Each time, proofread for  a different 

      purpose  -spelling, word usage, or punctuation, etc. 

      Sliding a blank sheet of paper down the page, as you read, encourages 

      a detailed examination of capitals and punctuation marks.

      Reading out loud is helpful in looking for major grammatical errors You 

      get to use two senses -   seeing and hearing!

      To check your spelling, read your essay backwards.  Start at the end of 

      and work towards the beginning. 

* * * Editing (fixing up) and revising are two distint activities. Revising is the effort to make your writing clearer, more
interesting, more informative and more convincing. It should precede editing. Revision involoves adding, removing, replacing and rearranging.

Teachers can help the students become aware of the need to revise by asking two simple questions: "Will this make sense to the reader?" and "What do I need to add to help the reader make sense?"

"When you're done, you've just begun."





Writing Hint 3.5


The goal of a writer is to be a sponge. Carry a small notebook wherever you go. Pay attention to your world. Wherever you are, at all hours of the day, drink in your surroundings with your five senses. When something strikes you that you want to remember, make time to write a quick description in your notebook.

-Ralph Fletcher





Writing Hint 4


Short Form Organizer



Topic Title


Use 10 words or less to tell us about your topic.




Introductory Sentence

Reword the topic.




Middle of the Essay

Write a sentence about each of the following


1. Where the story takes place.

2. When the story takes place.

3. Who are the characters?

4. What is the problem?

5. Why is it a problem?

6. How did you solve the problem?



Concluding Sentence

Express a feeling about how the problem was solved and explain why you feel that way.


Concluding Sentence Starters

As you can see

It is clear that

Without a doubt


Most would agree

For all these reasons


When you think you are done, ask

"Does it look right, sound right and make sense?"





"I keep six honest serving men.
They taught me everything I knew.
Their names are
What and Why and When
How and Where and Who."

-Rudyard Kipling  from The Elephant's Child









Writing Hint 5


"Luck is the result of design."

-Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn Dodgers






The Essay Organizer


Topic Title


Use 10 words or less to describe your topic. Be sure it includes your main idea.


Introductory Sentence

Reword your topic. Grab the readers' attention with a surprise, a quotation, or a question.


Paragraph 1

Indent and include the setting and characters of your story.

Paragraph 2

Indent and introduce the problem or plot. Use lively describing words. Add details that support your topic sentence.

Paragraph 3

Indent and add character traits (characters doing or saying things that show who they are, and how they feel).

Concluding Paragraph

Describe how your problem was solved. Clear up any loose ends. Finish your essay by telling the readers how you or your characters feel about solving the problem. Give your audience a sense of completion.





The A B C's of  Successful Writing


Think Ink


Bring Your "A" Game

Always choose a topic that you are familiar with or that interests you.  Use your essay organizer to outline your thoughts.  


Be ready to identify your audience and custom-write the essay with those readers in mind.    


  "All speech, written or spoken, is a dead language,

until it finds a willing and prepared hearer."

-Robert Louis Stevenson



"The play was a great success, but the audience was a total failure."

-P. G. Wodehouse

Creatively visualize the scenes you are about to describe. Write what your mind's eye sees, hears, tastes, touches and smells.  

"The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense."

Describe your characters by having them do or say things in a way which shows us what they are like. For instance, if they are happy, describe their speech as bubbly, their faces as smiling, their actions as jaunty, and so on.     


Employ an attention grabbing  first sentence that includes the topic.

    Snap! Crackle! And Pop!

Fuel the middle of your narrative by developing your topic with plenty of lively verbs, specific nouns,  and colorful adjectives and adverbs. Add more details about the characters, events, or problems in your story. 


 "You don't sell the steak. You sell the sizzle."

-Cosmo Kramer



  Generally, conclude your writing by rewording the first sentence, or issuing a challenge, or asking a question, or expressing a feeling. Leave your readers with a sense of completion by closing the door firmly.  

Grammar Glamour

Help lift your writing to professional heights by paying close attention to spelling, punctuation, paragraphing, capitalization, and word usage.    

Include your voice. An author's voice - point of view, attitude or personality, is like music to the reader's ears. 

Don't Rush Your Fences!



Mighty Red Pen

Junk in, junk out. Insure the perfect product by carefully revising and proofreading your draft copy until it's ready to publish.



To Transition Events in Your Essay, Choose: 


and then so on the other hand
or before and so against this
also after consequently at the same time
furthermore still often nevertheless
because similarly frequently in short
since likewise sometimes in the same way
for though at times finally
if another but in other words
indeed for instance yet last of all
in fact for example however first, second, etc.
all in all therefore although on the contrary
now thus despite this  



Even professional writers occasionally misstep. Here are a few real headlines that could be improved.

Iraqi Head Seeks Arms

Squad Helps Dog Bite Victim

Dealers Will Hear Car Talk at Noon

Two Sisters Reunite After Eighteen Years At Checkout Counter 

Two Convicts Evade Noose, Jury Hung

Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half

Hospitals are Sued by Seven Foot Doctors

Milk Drinkers are Turning to Powder

Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges



"There is no great writng, only great rewriting."

-Justice Brandeis


President Franklin D. Roosevelt's first draft about air raid preparations:

"Such preparations shall be made as will completely obscure all Federal Buildings
occupied by the Federal Government during an air raid for any period of time
from visibility by reason of internal or external illumination. Such obstruction
may be obtained either by blackout construction or by termination of illumination.
This will, of course, require that in building areas in which production must
continue during the blackout, construction must be provided that internal
illumination may continue. Other areas may be obscured by terminating the

President Roosevelt's revision:

"In buildings where you have to keep working, put something across the windows.
In buildings where you can let the work stop, turn off the lights




Berry Writing Group


"The present letter is a very long one, simply because I did not have the time to make it shorter." -Blaise Pascal



Some Final Thoughts


Change is Good!


Use a lot of variety in your sentence structure.

 Long, short and medium sized sentences add spice and rhythm to your writing and hold the readers' interest.

Writing Hint 6

After Publishing...


The Review Organizer


When you have completed your essay and have both the rough draft and the edited copy in your hands, study each one and compare the two pieces of writing. 

What is different between the two? Are some words changed, are the sentences in a different order, are words added or taken away, paragraphs changed, or information added?

Take 15 minutes to concentrate and see how your writing has changed.


Be a Sharp Looker!





And see what you can find. 


 Fill in the spaces below. 


What can you see that's different in each of these categories?









Adding or Taking Away






What will you do differently the next time you write an essay? What things do you need to improve?


Student Signature: _____________

Teacher Signature: _____________










Grades (8-12)

Simplicity is the key to literary and oratorical success


"Things never begin with Mr. Borthroy Turnbull; they always commence."

-George Elliot



Here are five literary devices which Winston Churchill regularly used:


1. Alliteration. Churchill astounded audiences with his amazing alliterative ability. To leave an even stronger impression, he would begin an alliterative pattern and then suddenly break it at an unexpected point. In a speech before a secret session of the House of Commons, for instance, Churchill declared: "We must be united, we must be undaunted, we must be inflexible."


2. The Contrapuntal Turnaround. This device, a favorite of writers, reverses the position of two words in a sentence to highlight a paradox. For an example, we have Churchill’s splendid juxtaposition of "beginning of the end" and "end of the beginning."


3. The Rule of Three. While in marriages two may be company and three a crowd, the opposite holds true in rhetoric. A sequence of three similar words or phrases has a spellbinding impact.  "Meanwhile, never flinch, never weary, never despair." This strategy is easy, eloquent, and effective.


4. Simple Sentence Structure. In thinking and in conversation, the most natural grammatical progression is: subject, verb, object. Churchill rarely deviated from this very elementary formula. This allowed listeners to concentrate on his message without sifting through convoluted syntax. 


5.The Antithesis Device. By linking apparent contradictions, Churchill produced powerful descriptive phrases.


"The government cannot make up their mind, or they cannot get the Prime Minister to make up his mind. So they go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all powerful to be impotent."



"Writing has laws of perspective, of light and shadow just as painting does, or music. If you are born knowing them, fine. If not, learn them. Then, rearrange the rules to suit yourself."

- Truman Capote


"History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it."

-Winston Churchill







Writing Hint 7

(Middle School and Up)




Use  Literature or Famous Speeches as your Writing Models


A Writing Sampler



Mentor Texts


When we write, we often model our style after authors we have read.

Notice how President Kennedy has adopted Churchill's antithesis device.

"We meet at a college noted for knowledge, in a city noted for progress, in a state noted for strength, and we stand in need of all three, for we meet in an hour of change and challenge, in a decade of hope and fear, in an age of both knowledge and ignorance. The greater our knowledge increases, the greater our ignorance unfolds."

-John Kennedy (We Choose to Go to the Moon Speech)

"This Was Their Finest Hour"

-Winston Churchill


Look at the contrasting phrases describing success and failure

"I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us.

Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.

Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, 'This was their finest hour.'"



"...but then music hasn't always been an open door. Others tried to open that door, unlock it, or force it, or jimmy it, or slide under it in the night. The Who kicked it open. And The Who was on the other side."

-Jay Cocks


"Men in colored shirts, and seersucker suits, women in slacks...moved in and out of the California Spanish shops and office buildings. Nobody looked at the mountains standing above the town, but the mountains were there making them all look silly."

-Ross McDonald


"He (a wealthy publisher) bought some kind of a Balkan throne for a penniless pretender whom he met in a speak-easy and never bothered to see afterward. He often referred to "my valet, my chauffer and my king."

-Ayn Rand



"I don’t want to achieve immortality through my writing. I want to achieve it by not dying."

- Woody Allen 



Movie Critics can offer pithy, epigramatic gems. The New York Times' Frank Nuggent offer this critique of the movie, "The Perfect Speciman."


Although, strictly speaking, the Strand's "The Perfect Specimen" is somewhat less than that, it has most of the attributes of light and unaffected romantic comedy. A refreshing awareness of its own unimportance is a major asset; so are the cheery performances of Errol Flynn, Joan Blondell and such Warner inveterates as Allen Jenkins, Hugh Herbert and Edward Everett Horton. Under Michael Curtiz's agile direction and the tickling touch of a five-man script, it has become a reasonably diverting little show, juvenile and school-girlish to be sure, yet deft enough and daft enough to slip beneath the critical guard.

Stemming from a Samuel Hopkins Adams novel, it considers the case of Gerald Beresford Wicks, who some day must assume control of Wicks Utilities ($30,000,000 and 10,000 employes) and who has been dedicated from babyhood by his eccentric grandmother to a program of mental, moral and physical perfection. Gerald, we quickly discover, has never been beyond the gates of Wickstead, is engaged—to their mutual dissatisfaction—to a girl named Alicia, studies Newton while swinging from a tree and is equally gifted at taking a motor apart or settling a problem in international law. It should be vaguely upsetting to hear that Gerald adds up to Errol Flynn.







"400,000 years after the Big Bang the cosmos went black. Here's what happened next."

- Michael Lemonick


"A miner is buried in Rough and Ready California. As shovels move, gold appears in his grave. Services continue while miners stake claims. So goes the story, dust to dust."

-John McPhee

"A couple of barks from his dog ahead of him on the trail was all the warning he got. An instant later he was fighting a black bear for his life."

-Associated Press Reporter


Au Contraire

Some of the worst analogies, metaphores and similes ever written...


"The little boat gently drifted across a pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't."

"He was a tall as a six foot-three inch tree."

"The politician was gone but unnoticed, like the period after the Dr on a Dr Pepper can."

"She grew on him like she was a colony of E. Coli, and he was room-temperature Canadian beef."

"Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever."

"He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant, and she was the East River."

"Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph."

"The ballerina rose gracefully en Pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant."

John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.












Writing Hint 8


Word Choice


No Uncertain Terms





Students find 5-10 worn out words in their rough draft and circle them. Then, using a thesaurus,  they discover more specific or powerful words to replace them.


"I told my doctor I broke my leg in two places. He told me to quit going to those places."
-Henny Youngman


"I went to a restaurant that serves 'Breakfast at any time'.
So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance."

-Steven Wright


Auto Repair Service Ad

"Free pick-up and delivery. Try us once, you'll never go anywhere again."


And Others...

"Mt. Kilimanjaro, the breathtaking backdrop for the Serena Lodge. Swim in the lovely pool while you drink it all in."


Two fathers and two sons sat down to eat eggs for breakfast. They ate exactly three eggs, each person had an egg. The riddle for you is to explain how.
Answer: One of the 'fathers' is also a grandfather. Therefore the other father is both a son and a father to the grandson.
In other words, the one father is both a son and a father



Words Put to Better Use


Cook, Books & Hyde • Accountants

Bank, Rupp & Baroque • Loans While You Wait

Dolittle and Dalley • Efficiency Consultants

Doctors Hakim & Stitch • Surgeons

Lewis N. Clark, Outdoor Adventures

White, Sands & Son, Cruise Agents







Opera Buffa Prelude




Opera Buffa Intermezzo


Great Rules of Writing


William Safire

and Others

1. Always avoid annoying alliteration.

2. Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.

3. Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies endlessly over and over again.

4. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.

5. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.

6. Remember to never split an infinite.

7. Contractions aren't necessary.

8. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.

9. One should never generalize.

10. Eliminate quotations.  As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "I hate quotations."

11. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.

12. Don't be redundant, don't use more words than necessary, its highly superfluous.

13. Be more or less specific.

14. Understatement is always the absolute best way to put forth earth-shaking ideas.

15. One-word sentences.  Eliminate.

16. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.

17. The passive voice is to be avoided.

18. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.

19. Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.

20. Who needs rhetorical questions?

21. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.

22. Don't never use a double negation.

24. Do not put statements in the negative form.

25. Verbs have to agree with their subjects.

26. Proofread very carefully to see if you words out.

27. If you reread your work you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition which can be avoided by  rereading and editing.

28. A writer must not shift your point of view.

29. And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.  (Remember, too, a preposition is a terrible word to end a sentence with).

30. Don't overuse exclamation marks!!!

31. Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.

32. Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.

33. If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a link verb is.

34. Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.

35. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.

36. Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.

37. Always pick on the correct idiom.

38. The adverb always follows the verb.

39. Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague.  They're old hat.

40. With a few exceptions, all grammar rules have exceptions.

41. Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all.

42. Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary. Parenthetical words however should be enclosed in commas.

43. Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.

44 If you've heard it once, you've heard it a billion times: Resist hyperbole; not one writer in a million can use it correctly. Besides, hyperbole is always overdone, anyway.

45. Puns are for children, not groan readers.

46. Avoid "buzz-words"; such integrated transitional scenarios complicate simplistic matters

47. People don’t spell "a lot" correctly alot of the time.

48. Each person should use their possessive pronouns correctly.

49. The dash – a sometimes useful punctuation mark – can often be overused – even though it’s a helpful tool some of the time.

50. Proofread carefully to make sure you don’t repeat repeat any words.

51. In writing, it’s important to remember that dangling sentences.

52. Unless you're a righteous expert don't try to be too cool with slang to which you're not hip.

53. If you must use slang, avoid out-of-date slang. Right on!

54. You'll look poorly if you misuse adverbs

55. Use brackets to indicate that you [ not Shakespeare, for example ] are giving people [ in your class ] information so that they [ the people in your class ] know about whom you are speaking. But do not use brackets excessively when making these references .

56. There are so many great grammar rules that I can't decide between them.

57. Between you and I, case is important.

58. About those sentence fragments.

59. Watch out for irregular verbs which have crope into English.

60. Don't use run-on sentences you got to punctuate them.

61. Its important to use apostrophes correctly in everyones writing.

62. Don't abbrev.

63. In the case of a report, check to see that jargonwise, it's A-OK.

64. As far as incomplete constructions, they are wrong.

65. About repetition, the repetition of a word might be real effective repetition - take, for instance the repetition of Abraham Lincoln.

66. In my opinion, I think that an author when he is writing should definitely not get into the habit of making use of too many unnecessary words that he does not really need in order to put his message across.

67. Use parallel construction not only to be concise but also clarify.

68. It behooves us all to avoid archaic expressions.

69. Consult the dictionery to avoid mispelings.

70. You should never use the second person.

71. Don't obfuscate your theses with extraneous verbiage.

72. Avoid tumbling off the cliff of triteness into the black abyss of overused metaphors.

73. Don’t overuse exclamation points!!!

74. Hyphenate only between syllables and avoid un-necessary hyphens.

75. Write all adverbial forms correct.

76. Don't use contractions.

77. Note: People just can't stomach too much use of the colon.


 Santa's elves are just a bunch of subordinate clauses!






Be careful with homophones!


You may be accused of punning without a license


A vulture boards an airplane, carrying two dead raccoons. The
stewardess looks at him and says, "I'm sorry, sir, only one carrion
allowed per passenger."

Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, so they lit a fire in
the craft. Unsurprisingly it sank, proving once again that you can't
have your kayak and heat it too.

Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused Novocain during a root
canal? His goal: transcend dental medication.

A group of chess enthusiasts checked into a hotel and were standing
in the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories. After about
an hour, the manager came out of the office and asked them to disperse.
"But why?" they asked, as they moved off. "Because", he said, "I can't
stand chess-nuts boasting in an open foyer."

When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds.










On Why It Is Sometimes Hard To Build Hospitals

When some doctors were told to contribute to the construction of a new hospital:
  • The allergists voted to scratch it;
  • The dermatologists preferred no rash moves;
  • The gastroenterologists had a gut feeling about it;
  • The micro surgeons were thinking along the same vein;
  • The neurologists thought the administration "had a lot of nerve";
  • The obstetricians stated they were laboring under a misconception;
  • The ophthalmologists considered the idea short-sighted;
  • The orthopedists issued a joint resolution;
  • The parasitologists said, "Well, if you encyst";
  • The pathologists yelled, "Over my dead body!";
  • The pediatricians said, "Grow up!";
  • The psychiatrists thought it was madness;
  • The radiologists could see right through it;
  • The internists thought it was a hard pill to swallow;
  • The plastic surgeons said, "This puts a whole new face on the matter";
  • The podiatrists thought it was a big step forward;
  • The physiotherapists thought they were being manipulated;
  • The urologists felt the scheme wouldn't hold water;
  • The anesthesiologists thought the whole idea was a gas;
  • The cardiologists didn't have the heart to say no;
  • The audiologists were deaf to the idea.
  • Finally, the surgeons decided to wash their hands of the whole thing.


Most Famous Idiomatic Imperative



Writing Hint 9

"All American cars are basically Chevys."

-Herb Caen (1955)


Not really, Herb...




Stand out from the crowd! Add personality, attitude and a personal point of view to your writing style by expressing your VOICE!


Voice - the brand called you


Voice Song


"If you're happy and you know it that's your voice.

If you're thoughtful and you know it that's your voice.

If you're spunky and you know it,

then your words will surely show it.

If you're happy and you know it that's your voice."



Can you identify the voice of both these missives? The first is an actual letter from the MIT admissions department to a potential enrollee. The second is the student's reply to MIT.


April 18, 1994

Mr. John T. Mongan
123 Main Street
Smalltown, California 94123-4567

Dear John:

You've got the grades. You've certainly got the PSAT scores. And now you've got a letter from MIT. Maybe you're surprised. Most students would be.

But you're not most students. And that's exactly why I urge you to consider carefully one of the most selective universities in America.

The level of potential reflected in your performance is a powerful indicator that you might well be an excellent candidate for MIT. It certainly got my attention!

Engineering's not for you? No problem. It may surprise you to learn we offer more than 40 major fields of study, from architecture to brain and
cognitive sciences, from economics (perhaps the best program in the country) to writing.

What? Of course, you don't want to be bored. Who does? Life here is tough and demanding, but it's also fun. MIT students are imaginative and creative - inside and outside the classroom.

You're interested in athletics? Great! MIT has more varsity teams - 39 - than almost any other university, and a tremendous intramural program so
everybody can participate.

You think we're too expensive? Don't be too sure. We've got surprises for you there, too.

Why not send the enclosed Information Request to find out more about this unique institution? Why not do it right now?


Michael C. Benhke
Director of Admissions

P.S. If you'd like a copy of a fun-filled, fact-filled brochure, "Insight," just check the appropriate box on the form.

May 5, 1994

Michael C. Behnke
MIT Director of Admissions
Office of Admissions, Room 3-108
Cambridge MA 02139-4307

Dear Michael:

You've got the reputation. You've certainly got the pomposity. And now you've got a letter from John Mongan. Maybe you're surprised. Most
universities would be.

But you're not most universities. And that's exactly why I urge you to carefully consider one of the most selective students in America, so
selective that he will choose only one of the thousands of accredited universities in the country.

The level of pomposity and lack of tact reflected in your letter is a powerful indicator that your august institution might well be a possibility
for John Mongan's future education. It certainly got my attention!

Don't want Bio-Chem students? No problem. It may surprise you to learn that my interests cover over 400 fields of study, from semantics to
limnology, from object-oriented programming (perhaps one of the youngest professionals
in the country) to classical piano.

What? Of course you don't want egotistical jerks. Who does? I am self indulgent and over confident, but I'm also amusing. John Mongan is funny
and amusing - whether you're laughing with him or at him.

You're interested in athletes? Great! John Mongan has played more sports - 47 - than almost any other student, including oddball favorites such as

You think I can pay for your school? Don't be too sure. I've got surprises for you there, too.

Why not send a guaranteed admission and full scholarship to increase your chance of being selected by John Mongan? Why not do it right now?


John Mongan





Writing Hint 10


"Keeping all your details connected to the main idea is like herding cats. They want to run in every direction but you have to keep them on a straight and narrow path."

-Ruth Culham



Speaking of the importance of details...


Question:   Why is an elephant large, gray and wrinkled?


Answer:   Because if it were small, white and round it would be an aspirin.




Don't let the details get

 WESTERN on you!



The Higher the Hat, the Closer to God


Use the...









BUN   - Topic Sentence               
Pickles - Details __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Mustard and Ketchup - Details __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Hamburger - Middle __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Tomatoes - Details __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Lettuce - Details __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

BUN - Conclusion __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________








Intermezzo 1


Two trucks, loaded with thousands of copies of Roget's Thesauruses, collided as they left a New York publishing house last Thursday, according to the AP.

Witnesses were aghast, angered, astonished, astounded, bemused, benumbed, bewildered, confounded, confused, dazed, dazzled, disoriented, dumbfounded, electrified, flabbergasted, horrified, immobilized, incredulous, nonplussed, overwhelmed, paralyzed, perplexed, scared, shocked, startled, stunned, stupefied, surprised, taken aback, traumatized, and upset.


How to Use Vivid Language


Step 1

Understand why vivid language makes writing interesting so you'll know why you need to master this writing skill. Go to the bookstore and grab any novel on the bestseller list. Start reading the first page--chances are, if you're hooked, the book began with vivid language.

Step 2

Do some exercises to increase your vivid language writing skills. Find an object in your room to describe. Write a description so that someone who hasn't seen the object can envision it. Be as specific as possible. Rather than calling it a "brown shoe," call it a "creased chocolate brown leather loafer missing its laces."

Step 3

Use all five senses when you write. Describe the way things smell, feel, look, taste and sound. You don't have to do this for every single object you describe, but try to include each sense in a piece of writing.

Step 4

Edit your writing to make it more specific. Whenever you can add more details, sprinkle them in. Become aware of the difference between a small girl and a thin, willowy girl--of a watery blue sky and a bright blue cloudless sky.

Step 5

Read poetry and literature to become more aware of how famous writers use vivid language in their writing. Soon, it will become more natural for you to do the same.


Finally, kill which's wherever you find them.






Intermezzo 2


A Poem

By Joyce Armor


If I should list my favorite words they'd sound a lot like this:

Rumble, crash, snort, jingle, jangle,

Roar, fizzle, splat, moo, hiss.

Not to mention gobble, clang, 

Tweet, sputter, tick tock, growl;

Crackle, chirp, boom, whistle, wheeze,

Squawk, quack, scrunch,  thud, howl.

Then of course there's grunt, toot, cuckoo, 

Thunder, bang, pop, mush,

Rattle, splash, rip, ding-dong, and...






Writing Hint 11




What in the World is CHIASMUS?


CHIASMUS (ky-AZ-mus) a figure of speech by which the order of the terms in the first of two clauses is reversed in the second.


For instance:


"Don't ask what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

-John F. Kennedy


"I can write better than
anybody who can write faster,
and I can write faster
than anybody who can write better."

-New Yorker


"No man can be happy without a friend, nor be sure of his friend 'till he is unhappy."

-F. Scott Fitzgerald


"The value of marriage is not that adults produce children, but that children produce adults."

-Peter De Vries

"There's a boken heart for every light on Broadway and a broken light for every heart on Broadway."

-Diane Dickey

"While it may be true that gentlemen prefer blondes, is it possible that blondes also prefer gentlemen?"

-Mamie Van Duren

"A mind is a terrible thing to waste and a waist is a terrible thing to mind."


"I don't know how I can make this any clearer and I don't know how I can clear this with my maker"

-Bill Clinton

"In a democracy it's your vote that counts; in feudalism, it's your
Count that votes."

"Time flies when your having fun. Time's fun when you're having flies"



CHIASMUS lends rhythm and interest to your writing!



Writing Hint 12

Figurative Writing



Irony is unexpected
Wearing shorts, here comes snow.               
From tiny acorns - shady oaks
Contradictions grow and grow.                            

A simile is like a song;                                                                   
It’s easy to remember.                                     
A metaphor makes soft white snow
Sifted sugar in December.

 A little alliteration  
 Let’s the lessons linger longer.                                              
A rake that’s been personified
 Slips and hurts its fingers.
Hyperbole exaggerates                                 
“Her crying caused a flood!”
Onomatopoeia imitates nature.                                  
KaBOOM! KerPLUNK! KaTHUD!                 


Examples of Figurative Writing




“Uncommonly sensitive to her owner’s moods, Dr. Page’s rakish black roadster noted at a glance that this was one of those eventful mornings when she would be expected to steer her own course to Parkway Hospital.”    - Lloyd Douglas



“It wasn’t until I became engaged to Miss Piano that I began avoiding her.” – Oscar Wilde



“His car was not larger than a yacht, his cigar no longer than a rolled umbrella.” – Raymond Chandler

"He wore a blue uniform coat that fitted him the way a stall fits a horse.”-  Raymond Chandler

"Even on Central Avenue, not the quietest dressed street in the world, he looked about as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel food." - Raymond Chandler


“I left him laughing. The sound was like a hen having hiccups.” – Raymond Chandler

"I sneaked over to the side entrance and pressed a bell and somewhere a set of chimes made a deep mellow sound like church bells. A man in a striped vest and gilt buttons opened the door, bowed, took my hat and was through for the day."- Rymond Chandler




“There goes (Varoom! Varoom) that kandy - kolored (Thphhhhh) tangerine – flaked, streamline baby (Rahghhh) around the bend (Brummmmmmmmmmmmmmmm).”
- Tom Wolfe



"A world wide web of wholehearted wholesome wisdom and wit waits to wipe away worries." - Koyel Miltra







Writing Hint 13


Opening and Closing Lines of Essays


The first few lines of any story are the most important and often most difficult words you'll write. The next most challenging piece of writing is the ending. Once you draw your readers in and take them through your story, you need to leave them with a satisfying conclusion. Here are some tips for writing powerful endings:

Short stories:  the story must come to a natural, logical conclusion. The action should end at a definitive moment, with no plot points left hanging. The reader needs to be satisfied with the way the story ends; the main character (with whom the reader is identifying) must solve the conflict by the last paragraph. The conclusion cannot be implied or left open (unless it is purposely ambiguous); readers shouldn't have to choose between several possible outcomes (unless it is purposely ambiguous).

Some authors try to sum up the message of the book in the last paragraph. If your story is well-written, the reader will know what the character learned without your having to blatantly spell it out. Once the action is over and the conflict resolved, the story ends. Anything beyond that point dilutes the impact of all that's gone before.

Short stories, like picture books, must have a complete ending. Your character faces a problem  during the course of the tale, and once that problem is resolved the story ends quickly.

Endings are important. They are the final contact you'll have with your readers; your last chance to make an impression. Take time with your endings and write them carefully. A satisfying conclusion will not only make reading an enjoyable experience, but children will anxiously await your next work.

Ambiguous endings are tricky. Done badly, the reader is left feeling cheated and angry. Done well, the reader is challenged to attach his own personal meaning to the story, and to defend his interpretation. (The ending of The Giver, by Lois Lowry, and “The Lady, or the Tiger” by Frank Stockton asks the reader to choose between two futures).

-Laura Beck



The ending of a short story is the summation; the portion of the narrative where, what the characters have experienced in the story's events, lead to a conclusion that is logical and in a sense, inevitable.

The character's journey is done. He/she is a different person than  at the onset; stronger, wiser, or weaker  and broken. For better or for worse, the character is different, and that difference is a direct result of what the protagonist experienced in the novel.

Like the beginning and the middle of a short story, the ending has specific responsibilities — to the piece and to the reader. Here are some considerations of what should and should not be included.

The ending of the short story introduces no new characters. Any character depicted here should have been introduced earlier, if only briefly.

The end is the place where the writer ties up all loose ends. Threads created within the book should be resolved.

The end answers all questions, or the character determines there is no answer.

The end resolves all of the lesser conflicts before resolving the major conflict. You build conflicts through the tale. With each successive event, the conflict becomes stronger, more formidable, and more difficult to master.
You start out at ground zero and as you chart the conflict in each section, you move consistently higher into a spike. While you might grant time for the reader to "catch their breath," you don't introduce a lesser conflict than the preceding conflict. You build on the foundation. Little dips, for breathers, yes, but to lower the obstacles and/or the risks to the character, diminishes suspense and deflates the strength of the event—it weakens the tale.

Resolving the conflicts is done in reverse order. Little conflicts first, and then the largest, overall story conflict. The reason you do this is because once the major conflict is resolved, the story is over. If you resolve the "major" conflict and haven't yet resolved the minor ones, then you've got unanswered questions, unresolved issues, and nothing to sustain them because you've removed the spine supporting them.

At the conclusion, we want the readers satisfied, but wanting more. We want them to close the cover with that emotional sense of empowerment, savoring the victory.

- Vicki Hinze



The instructor can model great endings selected from mentor texts:

Mutt Dog by Stephen Michael King
The Sunsets of Miss Olivia Wiggins by Lester Laminack
Saturdays and Teacakes by Lester Laminack
Possum Magic by Mem Fox
The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Loyd
Owl Moon by Jane Yolan
My Secret Bully by Trudy Ludwig
Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe
Jumanji - Chris Van Alsburg
The Bunyans by Audrey Wood
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Wednesday Surprise by Eve Bunting


The teacher can also offer a minilesson on unsatisfying endings

Give students some unsatisfying endings (endings that are too predictable, trite, coincidental, or unbelievable as well as endings that feel too incomplete), and ask students to discuss how the endings could be made more satisfying.

Make Your Choice!

(Give a thumbs up or down on these endings)

Remember that the word “as”
is one way to start the closing sentence.


A. A story about a trip to the mountains

Then I went home.


As I traveled home, I thought about my exciting day at my favorite place, the mountains.


B.  A story about an embarrassing moment

 I was very, very embarrassed.


As long as I live I’ll never forget the most embarrassing moment of my entire life.


C. A story about a magic carpet ride

 I had fun.


That’s all folks!


 As I snuggled under my covers that night, I fell asleep thinking about my ride on the magic carpet.


D. A story about a fun day at school

It was the coolest day of my life.


 When I got home, I opened the Easter presents that my mom and dad gave me.


 I’m already looking forward to the next time we have a fun day at school. I hope I don’t have to wait too long!

-Laura Becks





Writing Hint 14


Status of the Class


A framework to help monitor and track student progress, as well as to encourage struggling writers stay on task.

The sheet is a six column grid with names in the first column and the days of the week as headings for the other five columns.

The teacher calls the roll and the students indicate the topic tiltle and in which stage of the writing process they are currently working (brainstorming, first draft, editing, revising, final draft, conferencing, or publishing).






Writing Hint 15

Research Organizer

Struggling writers especially fear research papers. Finding information, reading for understanding and organizing their writing can be intimidating.

Use the...

I Search Planning Sheet

This organizer contains four columns with the following headings: What I Know, What I Want to Find Out, How I Will Find Out, and What I Learned.

With this scaffold in place, the child can then begin the research process

Reference: Strickland, Ganske and Monroe, 2002.






Writing Hint 16

Box and Explode

Here's a solution for students who write stories in which every event is given equal weight. Consequently, the end product tends to resemble a laundry list. The object is to show the writers how they can slow the action down and draw the reader in at the most important part of the story. To do this they first draw a box around this event and then make this event "explode."

The children do not need to recopy. They just tape the revision to the rough draft where it can be added to the final copy.


Reference: Strickland, Ganske and Monroe, 2002.






Writing Hint 17

Peer editing should be done only after the author has done the initial edit, guided by a checklist.








Writing Hint 18


Assessing the Writing Product


Using Criteria Charts and Self - Evaluation T- Charts


Criteria Chart

(What good writers do)

Writing Process

Choose a good topic

Keep a journal

Confer with the teacher

Confer with other students

Use revision strategies

Make several drafts

Share what they write


Qualities of Good Writing

Include a beginning, middle and end

Start sentences in different ways

Use power verbs

Use different transition words (next, then, afterwards, later, finally, etc.)

Use plenty of details

Be sure it makes sense.


Grammar, Mechanics and Spelling

Check the accuracy of spelling

Check for capitals at the beginning of sentences and proper nouns

Write neatly


Self - Evaluation T - Chart

Just two columns headed with "What I Am Doing Well in Writing" and "One Thing I Need to Work On"









Writing Hint 19


For multilevel follow-up writing assignments consider alternative text writing (spin-offs based on a work the students have read and discussed).






Writing Hint 20

Writer’s Checklist

(Fifth Grade)


1. Stick to the topic

2. Think about your audience

3. Give details and examples

4. Put things in order

5. Include an opening and closing

6. Use a variety of words and sentences (long and short)


“Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass”
  ~Anton Chekhov







Writing Hint


Reading Like A Writer


"Everything we know as writers we knew as readers first."

-Katie Wood Ray

Nothing studied about writing has made more of an impact than learning to read like a writer.

Whenever you go to a bookstore or book fair and look at books, notice the author's intentional craft.

Reading like a writer develops the craft of writing. When we notice what another author has done intentionally for us the reader, we have a whole new window into the thinking this author wanted to share. By studying authors (published and student authors), we can show children how to use the craft techniques of others in their own writing.

Here are just a few things you may begin to notice as you read:

The Power of Three- three words used in a row to create emphasis.

A Repeating Line- a phrase or sentence that repeats itself throughout a book.

Big and Bold- text written in bold, capital letters to express an idea. We teach kids that when we see big, bold text we should read with a big, bold voice.

Interesting Punctuation-we started noticing ellipses through our punctuation study. Using…to stretch out an idea, to help the reader know there’s something more to come
intentional writing.

"Don't confuse platitudes with epigrams"

-E.M. Foster




Writing Hint


Stylistic Devices


A statement that is deliberately weakened to sound ironical or softened to sound more polite.


I know a little about running a company. (A successful businessman might modestly say).

I think we have slightly different opinions on this topic. (Instead of: I don't agree with you at all).






Other Stylistic Devices




This devise  is used to explain or clarify a complex problem. Note that allusion works best if you keep it short and refer to something the reader / audience is familiar with, such as:

  • famous people
  • history
  • (Greek) mythology
  • literature
  • the bible


  • The Scrooge Syndrome (allusion on the rich, grieve and mean Ebeneezer Scrooge from Charles Dicken’s “Christmas Carol”)
  • The software included a Trojan Horse. (allusion on the Trojan horse from Greek mythology)
  • Plan ahead. It was not raining when Noah built the Ark. (Richard Cushing) (allusion on the biblical Ark of Noah)

Many allusions on historic events, mythology or the bible have become famous idioms.


  • to meet one’s Waterloo (allusion on Napoleons defeat in the Battle of Waterloo)
  • to wash one’s hands of it. (allusion on Pontius Pilatus, who sentenced Jesus to death, but washed his hands afterwards to demonstrate that he was not to blame for it).
  • to be as old as Methusaleh (allusion on Joseph’s grandfather, who was 969 years old according to the Old Testament)
  • to guard with Argus’s eyes (allusion on the giant Argus from Greek mythology, who watched over Zeus’ lover Io.)



A contrasting relationship between two ideas
Antithesis emphasizes the contrast between two ideas. The structure of the phrases / clauses is usually similar in order to draw the reader's / listener's attention directly to the contrast.


  • That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind. (Neil Armstrong)
  • To err is human; to forgive, divine. (Pope)
  • It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a real father. (Pope)






Writing Hint


Active, not passive

Be direct. A saw B describes the event more concisely than B was seen by A.





Writing Hint


Unnecessary Words

Some words add nothing but length to your prose. Use adjectives to make your meaning more precise and be cautious of those you find yourself using to make it more emphatic. The word very is a case in point. If it occurs in a sentence you have written, try leaving it out and see whether the meaning is changed. The omens were good may have more force than The omens were very good.

Avoid strike action (strike will do), cutbacks (cuts), track record (record), wilderness area (usually either a wilderness or a wild area), large-scale (big), the policymaking process (policymaking), weather conditions (weather), etc. This time around just means This time.

Shoot off, or rather shoot, as many prepositions after verbs as possible. Thus people can meet rather than meet with; companies can be bought and sold rather than bought up and sold off; budgets can be cut rather than cut back; plots can be hatched but not hatched up; organisations should be headed by rather than headed up by chairmen, just as markets should be freed, rather than freed up. And children can be sent to bed rather than sent off to bed—though if they are to sit up they must first sit down.

This advice you are given free, or for nothing, but not for free.

Certain words are often redundant. The leader of the so-called Front for a Free Freedonia is the leader of the Front for a Free Freedonia. A top politician or top priority is usually just a politician or a priority, and a major speech usually just a speech. A safe haven is a haven. Most probably and most especially are probably and especially. The fact that can often be shortened to That (That I did not do so was a self-indulgence). Loans to the industrial and agricultural sectors are just loans to industry and farming.








Writing Hint


Expository Writing


Part 1

Use lego-type building blocks and have groups build structures and write detailed descriptions of how it was built. Next, take a picture of the structure, have the group dismantle it, put the pieces in a plastic bag along with the description. Then give each bag to a different group and have them reconstruct the building using the directions. Last, compare the rebuilt structures to the pictures.

Part 2

Give each child a card that had a picture of a monster. They have to describe the monster well enough so that another student can draw it. Next, collect the monster cards and have the kids trade descriptions. The partner has to draw the monster described. The next day compare the drawings to the cards and vote to see who has the best drawings. Both the artist and the person who had given the directions win a prize.





Writing Hint


Have the students describe how to get to their house from school - but they couldn't use street names!






Writing Hint


Evaluate Students' Blog Communications


The student uses words and emoticons to express emotion about the subject.

The student expresses himself concisely.

In responding to a prior blog, the student includes sections of the original blog and enters the response directly after each section.

The student takes steps to not assume the reader remembers something from a previous blog.

The student reads beyond the blog to infer how the writer feels.

The student responds to the writer's feelings as well as to words and ideas.

The student uses phrases where appropriate to eliminate redundancy and unnecessary words.

The student uses ellipses, dashes, and blank lines to create pauses in thought or transitions to new thoughts.








At-Home Reading Buddy


Please make sure that your child reads each night for at least twenty minutes. After reading, you may wish to do the following:

Have your child retell what was read.

Discuss what was read with your child.

Have the child read selected parts aloud to you.

Encourage your child to use sticky notes to indicate words or sections of the material that were difficult and needed further explaining.




Study Hint 1

Sleep On It

Scientists conducted a study in which half a group of students 

memorized 20 words at 9 a.m. while the other half memorized the words at 9 p.m.

Those who memorized the words at night recalled 12% more.

Researchers found that the mind strengthens connectors between bits of information as we sleep.






Study Hint 2

Rave Review

Here's a great way to review material with your study group. One member researches the chapter being studied and prepares ten questions. The rest of the group write the numbers one to ten on a whiteboard. The researcher then reads the questions to the group, one at a time, and the students record their answers. 

As a group review, the researcher asks individuals for the answers. After all ten questions have been reviewed, the researcher asks the group, "For number one, what was the question? And so on.

This activity really makes the students think.




Study Hint 3




Prioritize the tasks you have to do.

bulletMake a schedule and stick to it.

Find a good time and place to study.


Eliminate distractions.

bulletDecide whether to work with a study group or by yourself.
bulletWork on demanding and/or unpleasant tasks first.
bulletBreak large tasks into small manageable parts.

Use acronyms, acrostics, or rhyme and rhythm to help you remember important facts.

bulletTake breaks when working so that you do not wear down.
bulletReward yourself whenever you complete an assignment.




Study Hint

Write 15 sentences about science or social studies. Some may be true, others false. Each group selects four that are true. One group picks another group and they decide on the best four of their eight total selections. And so on until the best four sentences in the class are selected. Each groups then writes a paragraph about these four truisms. Used as an anticipatory device before studying the chapter.




Teacher Hint

When asking children to identify the main idea in a story, phrase the question "This book is mostly about...?" This is how it is asked on standardized tests.









Spelling Hint  1


Make up memory aids 


I am very independent at putting up my tent.

I'll have two scoops of ice cream on my dessert.

We eat CC's and m&m's at our accommodation.

We separate things into parts.

He is a desperate person.

I suffer from nausea at sea. 





Spelling Hint 2

(Grade 4 and Up)

507 Commonly Misspelled Words

absence    abundance    accessible    accidentally    acclaim    accommodate    accomplish    accordion    accumulate    achievement    acquaintance    acquire    acquitted    across    address    advertisement    advice    advise    affect    alleged    amateur    analysis    analyze    annual    apartment    apparatus    apparent    appearance    arctic    argument    ascend    atheist    athletic    attendance    auxiliary

balloon    barbecue    bargain    basically    beggar    beginning    belief    believe    beneficial    benefit    biscuit    boundaries    business

calendar    camouflage    candidate    Caribbean    category    cemetery    challenge    changeable    changing    characteristic    chief    choose    chose    cigarette    climbed    clothes    clothing    cloth    collectible    colonel    column    coming    commission    committee    commitment    comparative    competent    completely    concede    conceivable    conceive    condemn    condescend    conscience    conscientious    conscious    consistent    continuous    controlled    controversial    controversy    convenient    correlate    correspondence    counselor    courteous    courtesy    criticize    criticism

deceive    defendant    deferred    definitely    definition    dependent    descend    describe    description    desirable    despair    desperate    develop    dictionary    difference    dilemma    dining    disappearance    disappoint    disastrous    discipline    disease    dispensable    dissatisfied    dominant    drunkenness

easily    ecstasy    effect    efficiency    eighth    either    eligible    eliminate    embarrass    emperor    encouragement    enemy    encouraging    entirely    environment    equipped    equivalent    especially    exaggerate    exceed    excellence    exhaust    existence    existent    expense    experience    experiment    explanation    extremely    exuberance

facsimile    fallacious    fallacy    familiar    fascinating    feasible    February    fictitious    fiery    finally    financially    fluorescent    forcibly    foreign    forfeit    formerly    foresee    forty    fourth    fuelling    fulfill    fundamentally

gauge    generally    genius    government    governor    grammar    grievous    guarantee    guardian    guerrilla    guidance

handkerchief    happily    harass    height    heinous    hemorrhage    heroes    hesitancy    hindrance    hoarse    hoping    humorous    hygiene    hypocrisy    hypocrite

ideally    idiosyncrasy    ignorance    imaginary    immediately    implement    incidentally    incredible    independence    independent    indicted    indispensable    inevitable    influential    information    inoculate    insurance    intelligence    interference    interrupt    introduce    irrelevant    irresistible    island

jealousy    judicial


laboratory    laid    later    latter    legitimate    leisure    length    license    lieutenant    lightning    likelihood    likely    loneliness    loose    lose    losing    lovely    luxury

magazine    maintain    maintenance    manageable    maneuver    manufacture    marriage    mathematics    medicine    millennium    millionaire    miniature    minuscule    minutes    miscellaneous    mischievous    missile    misspelled    mortgage    mosquito    mosquitoes    murmur    muscle    mysterious

narrative    naturally    necessary    necessity    neighbor    neutron    ninety    ninth    noticeable    nowadays    nuisance

obedience    obstacle    occasion    occasionally    occurred    occurrence    official    omission    omit    omitted    opinion    opponent    opportunity    oppression    optimism    optimistic    orchestra    ordinarily    origin    outrageous    overrun

pamphlets    parallel    particular    pavilion    peaceable    peculiar    penetrate    perceive    performance    performance    permanent    permissible    permissible    permitted    perseverance    persistence    personal    personnel    perspiration    physical    physician    piece    pilgrimage    pitiful    planning    pleasant    portray    possess    possession    possessive    potato    potatoes    possibility    possible    practically    prairie    precede    precedence    preceding    preference    preferred    prejudice    preparation    prescription    prevalent    primitive    principal    principle    privilege    probably    procedure    proceed    profession    professor    prominent    pronounce    pronunciation    propaganda    psychology    publicly    pursue

quantity    quarantine    questionnaire    quizzes

realistically    realize    really    recede    receipt    receive    recognize    recommend    reference    referring    relevant    relieving    religious    remembrance    reminiscence    repetition    representative    resemblance    reservoir    resistance    restaurant    rheumatism    rhythm    rhythmical    ridiculous    roommate

sacrilegious    sacrifice    safety    salary    satellite    scary    scenery    schedule    secede    secretary    seize    sense    sentence    separate    separation    sergeant    several    severely    shepherd    shining    siege    similar    simile    simply    simultaneous    sincerely    skiing    sophomore    souvenir    specifically    specimen    sponsor    spontaneous    statistics    stopped    strategy    strength    strenuous    stubbornness    studying    subordinate    subtle    succeed    success    succession    sufficient    supersede    suppress    surprise    surround    susceptible    suspicious    syllable    symmetrical    synonymous

tangible    technical    technique    temperamental    temperature    tendency    themselves    theories    therefore    thorough    though    through    tomorrow    tournament    towards    tragedy    transferring    tries    truly    twelfth    tyranny

unanimous    undoubtedly    unforgettable    unique    unnecessary    until    usable    usage    usually    utilization

vacuum    valuable    vengeance    vigilant    village    villain    violence    visible    vision    virtue    volume

warrant    warriors    weather    Wednesday    weird    wherever    whether    which    wholly    withdrawal    woman    women    worthwhile    writing

yacht    yield    young





Spelling Hint 3


Study Strategy a

1. Look at the word and say it to yourself.

2. Say each letter of the word.

3. Close your eyes and spell the word.

4. Write the word, and check that you spelled it correctly.


Study Strategy b.

Rainbow Spelling

Pick out eight words. Write the word first in pencil and then go over the word three times, each time using a different colored pencil.

Study Strategy c.

Across and Down

Write 10 spelling words across and down using the first letter as a common starting place.





Study Strategy d.

Paw Print Spelling




Send home a spelling sheet. On it write the following: "Please ask you caregiver to give you a practice spelling test. Write the words on the lines provided after they are dictated to you. Kindly ask the tester to check your paper. Please write all misspelled words 5x each on the back of this paper."

Tester's Signature





Spelling Hints 4 and 5

(All Grades)

When you are writing an essay, or whatever, and you want to spell a word, but you don't know how to spell it, do this: Say the word slowly. Stretch it out. Write down all the sounds you hear and feel when you say the word, and then go on. You can access a dictionary, the  Internet, or a teacher later on, to check on your accuracy.


Write, Cover, Spell, Check, Write

Fold a hot dog stylled piece of paper into 5 columns for each day of the week.

On Monday copy the spelling words in the first column.

On Tuesday cover each spelling word in turn, spelling it, checking the spelling and then writing it in Tuesday's column. And so forth.






Butterflies and Soap Bubbles

Grade Level 1




Cross Curricular Activities

for the 

Emergent Reader



Reading a story with your students presents opportunities to discover and explore many subject areas: art, math, science, and language arts. When reading with the youngsters focus on a few of the following ideas.



Have the students name certain objects in the illustrations.

Have them name objects that begin or end with certain letters or sounds.

On a more advanced level, ask the to look for blends or digraphs such as dr, bl, ch, or th.


Language Arts

Ask the children to find specific letters, in lowercase as well as uppercase form.

Have the students discover words that begin with a certain letter.

Have them locate certain words.



Ask your students to describe the weather in the story or picture. What season is it? Etc.

Have them categorize objects as animal, vegetable, or mineral.

Have them contrast solid, liquid or gas forms.



Ask the children to count the objects on a page - how many soap bubbles or butterflies, etc.

Ask them to compare quantities - are there more cats, or cars?

Have your children find  and name shapes in the illustrations.






Reading Hint 1

There should be one main idea per paragraph.

As you read, mentally summarize each paragraph in one sentence.





Reading Hint 2

The best strategy for finding the meaning of an unfamiliar word is working out what it is from context.

 In certain situations, an equally good strategy is to ask someone the definition.




Reading Hint 3

(Grade 1)

As you are presenting a read aloud to the students, assign two children to be Visualizers - drawing on the white board, in front of the class, what they are visualizing in the story.






Reading Hints 4 and 5

(All Grades)

Vocabulary Hint

Use "Goldilocks" words in teacher read-alouds.

Before reading the book, choose three words appearing in the story that are not too easy and not too hard - words that are "just right" for children. Consider the usefulness and appeal of the words, as well as how well the words are defined by the context and pictures in the book. Place these words in a prominent place, and refer to them often during multiple readings of the story.

Reader's Theater Hint

Social Studies Theme

Students write short skits that interpret events or they can depict possible conversations among the people of that era.

Science Theme

Students write interviews between reporters and people on the scene at a cataclysmic natural event (earthquakes, tornados) or at the scene of a great scientific discovery.

Mathematics Theme

Students record the dialogue between a teacher and students as he/she teaches them how to solve a problem, etc.


Strickland, Ganske and Monroe, 2006




Reading Hint 6

Expository (informational) text structures contain structures that include description, sequence, compare and contrast, cause and effect and problem and solution. Students need to be aware of these structures in order to fit them into their mental organizational schemas. Teachers need to model examples of these descriptors numerous times to help the struggling reader master content-oriented material.


Sampling of Clue Words


Descriptive: for example, characteristics are, includes, such as, for instance.

Sequence: first, second, third, finally, next, before, after, then, later, now.

Compare and Contrast: similarly, by contrast, same, different, however, but, instead, although, on the other hand, more than, less than, least, most, other.

Cause and Effect and Problem and Solution: because, as a result of, therefore, since, reasons why, if, then, nevertheless, thus.


Reference: Strickland, D., Ganske, K., & Monroe, J. Supporting Struggling Readers and Writers.




Five Finger Test

Open the book in the middle.

Read the first page.

Raise one finger for each word you don't understand or can't pronounce.

Use this strategy to see if the book is right for you.

One finger - this book is too easy.

Two fingers - this book is okay.

Three fingers - This book is still good.

Four fingers - this book is a bit too hard to understand.

Five fingers - Choose another book.



The Daily Five

Listen to Reading

Read to Self

Read to Someone

Work on Writing

Word Work




Reading Hint 7


When brainstorming Science or Social Studies ideas, list the general topic on a pocket chart. Hand out cards to each group of four students. The students have five minutes to share information on the topic. The teacher then asks them to write any noteworthy word or concept on the card. At the end of five minutes, the instructor draws attention to the pocket chart, and invites the students to talk about their words - what the word is, and why it is important. The cards are then placed on the chart as a permanent word bank resource.


Reference: Strickland, D., Ganske, K., & Monroe, J. Supporting Struggling Readers and Writers.




Reading Hint 8

Three Color Plan

This activity will improve word recognition, expressivenss, attention to punctuation, fluency and comprehension abilities through self-monitring.

Materials: reading passage, tape recorder, four color pen.

The child reads and records the recitation. He/she then rewinds the tape, and with the red pen marks the errors. Next, the learner reads the passage again. This time, he/she uses a blue pen to check the mistakes. The student reads the story for a third time, and afterwards marks the miscues with green ink. Because the exercise encourages thinking about reading, the child will continue to improve the recitation as the sequence progresses. At the conclusion, he/she can draw a bar graph and chart the performance in red, blue and green ink.




Reading Hint 9


An efficacious remedial activity to improve fluency is thePaired Repeated Readings” method. (Strickland, Ganske & Monroe, 2002).  In initiating this activity the teacher models the role of the reader, and then the role of the listener. Subsequently, the students begin the process under teacher guidance.
To further describe this methodology, while one child reads, the partner listens attentively, helping out with words, expression or pauses when requested. The reader self-monitors his/her first rendition on the values of speed, smoothness, expression, and attention to punctuation. These qualities are then recorded on a checklist on scale from one to four
Following a second reading by the same student, the partner assesses the performance for smoothness, expression, word knowledge and stopping for punctuation. The reader also renders a second self-evaluation, comparing this performance with the first. The listener provides peer assessment by telling him/her a way that the second reading showed improvement over the first.  Following this, the reader reads the passage a third time and renders a final self-assessment. The listener again provides positive feedback. Following this, they switch roles.




Reading Hint 10


An approach that will improve prosody is the use of slash marks for phrase pauses. Utilizing this method, the teacher offers a short reading passage and replaces commas with slanted slash mark and periods with upright slash marks. This lends visual reinforcement to the punctuation scheme. The reader is expected to respond to these larger delineations with greater attention and will consequently develop the habit of making appropriate pauses as he/she reads (Strickland, Ganske & Monroe, 2002).






Reading Hint 11


Older students need to learn to decode larger (polysyllabic) words. Since English is very complex, students need to learn a core vocabulary that will help them figure out what unfamiliar words in text mean. The Nifty Thrifty Fifty store of words contain common roots, prefixes and suffixes. To help students learn a system for decoding and spelling big words, they will learn to read, spell and understand common spelling patterns of the following 50 words. Once students know the spelling patterns of these words, they can apply that knowledge to help them to spell and build meaning for many other words.

Each month,  focus on 8-10 Nifty Thrifty Fifty words. These will be posted in the classroom and used in our writing. We will look for examples in our reading. Students are encouraged to send in examples they find on their own to post on our bulletin board.






















































Cunningham, Patricia.







Reading Hint 12


Use SQ3R before you begin reading and when you are studying for a test.



*Preview the text/words
*Read words in bold print and look for their definitions
*Look at the pictures and read the captions
*Read the title, legend, and caption for maps
*Read charts, tables and diagrams


*Turn chapter headings and words in bold print into questions and you can read the questions placed through the text and at the end of the chapter in the review section


*Read slowly & carefully - take notes!
*Look for answers to your questions


*Repeat to yourself the main points of what you read
*Reread to clarify


*Immediately after finishing, review the entire section you read
  Does what you read make sense?
  Do your notes make sense?




Reading Hint 13


To introduce key vocabulary before a reading lesson, use the Word Detective. This is simply a cardboard with a rectangle shape cut out of the middle.

The children locate the word on the page and then place the Word Detective over it so that the word is singled out in the cutout portion.




Reading Hint 14


One way to insure that the students return to the text is to ask them to supply the page number for specifc information that they used to respond to a question.




Reading Hint 15


Bookmarks are great for student note taking. They also improve comprehension, "seven league boot style." A piece of white lined paper is folded, hamburger style, into four sections. Each face of the bookmark is labeled with a phrase related to one of the reading objectives. These may include words that confuse, or connections to self, other books, questions the teacher might ask, inferences, visualizations, or summarizing. For fiction they can use the bbokmarks to list and explain the settings, characterss, problems, events,and resolution. For non fiction, students can compare and contrast, identify cause and effect, sequence (by creating time-lines), identify main ideas, headings, sub-headings and supply supporting details. Having the children apply sticky notes to the specific line or paragraph that the information is found, as well as noting its page number, can be helpful.




Reading Hint 16


Small Group Instruction


I chose to observe a talented, regular classroom  teacher as she engaged in  small group instruction. These flexible grouping can be worked into a daily schedule with proper planning. While they are in progress the remainder of the class can work on stamina building sustained reading, content- area projects or literacy centers.

The teacher, Mrs. K, demonstrated her expertise throughout the activity. As she conducted this   intense, savvy lesson for three struggling readers, it was obvious that her frequent assessments and attention to detail had resulted in a deep understanding of her pupils.  This instructor, however, is not one to rest on her laurels. Throughout the twenty-five minute unit, she enquires, models strategies, encourages her charges to make connections, reassures the youngsters, and varies activities, as she attends to their very different needs.  There was an overarching plan for the lesson, but the needs of the children dictated the pace, the emphasis, and even the choice of material. In this sense, the informality, or “go with the flow” aspect of her instruction encourages the fomenting of many teachable moments. These she addresses with her imposing repertoire of corrective strategies, as well as her innate knowledge of the individual student. You can almost sense the ongoing mental assessments she is formulating as the lesson progresses.   

More specifically, she began with a warm-up exercise in which the learners use letters to construct words. Immediately knowing that Noel would find the work frustrating,  she offered the child more explicit guidance, encouraging her to chunk and blend the syllable sounds. After the warm-up, she transitioned into a review of the last book they had read. Based on the students’ solid understanding of it, she was able to begin her activity  on a new text, which was the centerpiece of the activity.

I particularly liked the way her initial picture walk was followed by the introduction of key vocabulary words through the “Word Detective” devise. This is simply a cardboard with a rectangle shaped window cut out of the middle. The children locate the word on the page and then place the Word Detective over it so that the word is singled out in the window.  This accommodation seemed to keep the pupils focused on the word being discussed.

She then used a chart to review strategies that good readers exploit while making sure each child was given the opportunity to respond. Next, she assigned each child a pre selected page to first read silently and then read orally for the group. After evaluating the performances, based on fluency and comprehension, a decision was made by the instructor that the reading matter was, indeed, at a suitable instructional level for the students

Following this, the teacher attended to each child as she/he read. As she listened attentively, and questioned them selectively, she jotted down her informal observations.
 Based on their performances, she gave the most attention to Noel, stressing the need for her to chunk and break down high frequency words. At this juncture, she also decided that Noel would probably need one-on-one tutorials in the near future.  Subsequently, she came to the conclusion that Eric was doing fine and could work independently. Lastly, it was apparent that she was already plotting future learning objectives for Alex – more self-reliance in monitoring and to continually revisit the text to improve her comprehension and pronunciation.

I greatly appreciated the way she concluded the lesson. After her numerous, but positively - phrased corrections, she showcased for the group a strategy that Noel had successfully executed. I am sure the child was inwardly beaming. As a closing remark, she reminded them to use the strategies not only in small group activities, but in class as well.

All in all, this teacher’s performance was a workshop demonstration on how small group reading instruction should be executed. All teachers should strive to emulate her skills, knowledge, empathy and seamless group management.






Reading Hint 17


Another accommodation that will help struggling readers, and particularly English Language Learners, is to make an audiotape of a teacher read aloud. Place this tape in a learning center. In this manner, the students can listen to the tape as many times as they wish, as they read along with the book.





Reading Hint 18



Generating Interaction Between Schemata and Text.

Summarizing Paragraphs for Informational Reading

In groups of four or five, one person is selected as scribe. Each child silently reads the same paragraph. They then agree on the main points. The scribe lists these, and the group uses the list to write one sentence.The teachers clarifies the difference between main points and details.



Reading & Writing Hint


Technology to help the struggling reader interact with interesting, relevant and challenging texts is improving, seemingly every day. The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) which provide  flexible digital textbooks and curricular materials in which to give all students access to the general curriculum, was established under the guidance of the following premise. Since the abilities of struggling learners vary so greatly in every classroom, technological advances might be utilized to accommodate these differences. The UDL program addresses three learning regions of the brain: recognition (letters, decoding sound, words, objects), strategies (spelling, playing a musical instrument, using sequential steps to solve a problem, comprehension, etc.), and the affective system which produces a feeling in response to engaging in those patterns. UDL also addresses multiple learning styles and the inherent modalities included in the programs help dyslexic students as well as those with   low vision.

Specifically, as a program unfolds, and the child begins to read the text, the computer highlights each word on a screen as it simultaneously reads it aloud. The definition of each word is only a click of the mouse away. Interactive prompts urge them to summarize, predict, question and clarify. An electronic journal is located at the bottom of the screen. This will help the teacher assess the learning. As the student interacts with the computer program the teacher circulates, lending support to their endeavors. Afterwards the students will meet with the teacher off-line and take turns leading the group in a discussion of the book.

Some of the more interesting iterations of the UDL include:  Write Outloud, a talking word processor that gives immediate speech feedback as the student types. The bells and whistles include a spell check, as well as an audio component that reads the written text aloud to the child. This is a magnificent opportunity for children with visual impairments to reach their optimize their level of writing.

Another innovative program is Draft Builder. This format enables the student to organize ideas through a variety of visual graphic organizers and story maps embedded in the program in order to connect and expand their ideas. Audio scaffolding accompanies the visuals.





Reading Hint 19

Instant Active Readers

Create the activater as a cross-shaped cardboard devise with all four arms of the cross pointed at the end. Label each arm , in turn, Reader, Questioner, Helper, and Answerer.

As groups of four students read, round robin style , they each are assigned a role. The devise is then rotated, so that every child has a turn at all the tasks by the end of the session.





Language Arts Hint

Letter Actions (Cunningham, and Allington, 2007) is an effective phonics activity that teaches the children various letters in a manner that is fun and meaningful to them. It also uses different modalities (auditory, visual, and kinesthetic) to enhance the learning process.  Letter Actions is an explicit phonics lesson, since it is a teacher directed activity

For the initial step in the lesson, the teacher introduces a letter by holding up an index cards with the letter written on it, and names the letter. The children echo the letter name. The teacher then identifies a common action word that begins with that letter. This word is printed on the back of the card. The children immediately associate the letter with the word-depicting action. As he/she introduces the letter, the teacher uses props associated with the action, (i.e. rhythm sticks and music for MARCHING). Having seen, heard, and pronounced the letter, the children proceed to model the action (kinesthetic modality). This can be done either on the playground, or in the classroom.

Brain research has validated Letter Action's multi-modality approach to teaching phonics. Research in that field has informed us that the more ways we are taught something, the greater chance we have of learning it.


Cunningham, P. M., & Allington, R. L. (2007). Classrooms that work: They can all read
and write (4th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon



Are Something Else


Sobriquets provide interesting word twists to help students grasp the humorous reflections of societal mores


  1. Grateful Bread-bakery
  2. Jonathan Livingston Seafood
  3. Tequilla Mockingbird-Mexican restaurant
  4. Aroma Borealis-coffee shop
  5. Brew Ha Ha -cofee shop
  6. Pony Expresso-coffee shop
  7. Puppy Love-hot dogs
  8. Relish the Thought-hot dogs
  9. The Codfather - fish and chips
  10. Buy One Get One Free - shoes
  11. Thistle Do Nicely - kilts
  12. Carter, Whey & Tippet - rubbish collections
  13. Paws & Think - pet shop
  14. Wheelie Serious - bike shop



Common Grounds
Gotta Hava Java
Grounds for Divorce
Higher Grounds
Latte Da
Some Things Brewing


Bobs Barkers
Dog House
Dog Day Afternoon
Franks A Lot
Franks for the Memories
Frank n Stein
Hot Diggity Dawgs
Three Dog Nite


Wok n Roll


Lawrence of Oregano
Auntie Pastos


Bread Line

My Darling Lemon Thyme

The Gouda Life

A Taste of Greece???
Let Them Eat Cake
Lox, Stock and Bagel
The Melting Pot, (a fondue chain restaurant)
Off the Eaten Path
Pasta La Vista

Pita Pan

Counter Culture
Great Eggs Pectations
Sub Contractor
Upper Crust
Boogie Woogie Bagel Boy
Grill from Ipanema


The Boston Sea Party
Wholly Mackerel


Lettuce Deliver


Epithets, like pepper,

Give zest to what you write.

And if you strew them sparely

They whet the appetitie:

But if you lay them on too thick

You spoil the matter quite.

-Charles Dodgson







Reading Hint 20


Five Lane Highway


Reading Success


Identify the main ideas and important details

Visualize scenes by making a mental movie

Connect the book to what you know from your own experiences, another text, or the world outside the classroom

Infer by connecting information from the book with what you already know

Apply what you have learned to another medium






Reading Hint 21




White out the original words in a comic strip and run off copies. Then the kids make their own dialogue using the scenes as hints (inference).







Reading Comprehension Questions


Thin Questions

Right There

Where? Who? When? How many?

Thick Questions

What would happen if...?

What character traits describe...?

Why is...?

Why did...?

What might...?

How did...?

What caused...?

How would you feel if you...?

Why do you think...?




Listening Hints 1 & 2

Don't worry if you can't understand everything you hear.
Concentrate instead on what you DO understand.

Paraphrasing Passports

Prior to providing a response an individual must first paraphrase the statement made by the previous speaker.





Social Studies Hint


Concept Mapping








   There is more to history than just dates. History is about people and how they interact with each other. It is also about the events that result from this interaction. To understand the connection between human actions and events we need to ask three questions:

           What problems or events were caused by the interactions of people?

           How were these problems solved?

           What changes occurred because of the solutions? 

   As we answer these questions in the squares below, and see how each square is linked to the others, a framework for seeing the "big picture" will emerge. We can hang additional information, such as places and dates on this framework which will put it in context and make understanding, as well as remembering it, a much simpler task.



Interlinking Concept Map



            Students will work with a partner.

         Science   Students use a Concept Map for one important event or person  found in the chapter or selection.




Key Event or Person

List an important person, group of persons or event found in the selection or chapter.



Define or describe these key people or events.



What problems are connected with the key event or person?



What steps were taken to solve these problems or deal with the events?



What changes occurred as a result of these steps?




Student Answering the Classroom Phone Hint


Tape this sign to the wall above the telephone:


This is _____________'s room.

How may I help you?

May I ask who is calling?

Hold on please.






Transition Hint

(Grades1 and 2)

To get the children's attention quickly and quietly when changing subjects, construct a hand out of cardboard.  Make sure the the fingers are distinct and separate. On the fingers, beginning with the thumb, write on each finger:





 Hands - on head

 Feet - not moving





Self Esteem Hint

Equity Challenge

Think about the students in your classroom who are the least successful. What are the particular learning styles that benefit each of these students? What are some of their unique interests and experiences?

     During the next two weeks, intentionally use teaching strategies and methods that will address these learning styles, interests and experiences. 

     After two weeks, look at the work turned in and reflect on what you noticed. Were they successful? Did the strategies and methods have a positive impact on the other students? Share your findings with other teachers.

















Listening Hint


Sit Up Straight

Lean Forward

Activate Thinking

Note Key Ideas

Track the Talker




Bathroom Break, Drink of Water Hint

Send one child out. Explain to the rest of the class that if they too need to leave the room, they can place their thumb between the index finger and middle finger, while leaving their hand on the desk. When the first child returns to the classroom, he/she will silently touch a thumb, and that child will go on break, etc.




Whiteboard Activity Hint

When any lesson involves the students using a whiteboard, it is a great idea for them to have a white cotton sock handy.  They can place on the sock on their non-writing hand. This serves as an eraser, and eliminates the necessity of leaving the seat for Kleenex or other erasing materials.





Matching Column Hint

(9 items)

(All Grades)

Magic Squares

An activity sheet has two columns, one for the terms and the other for the definitions.

The students proceed to match the definitions ( letters)  with the terms (numbers), placing the number of the terms in the proper space in the magic square answer box. If their answers are correct they will form a magic square. This means that their numerical total will be the same for each row across and each column up and down. Students need to add up the rows and columns to check if they are coming up with the same number each time.

Magic Square Answer Box









Magic Square Correct Answer Combinations

7 3 5
2 4 9
6 8 1

15 is the magic number!







Directions Hint

(All Grades)

Think about putting directions on audio or video tape so students can revisit them as needed.




Vocabulary Hint

(Grades 3 and Up)

Select some students in the classroom as dictionary checkers: The students keep dictionaries on their desks, and they are consulted whenever questions concerning spelling, word meaning, or word usage materializes.




Computer Hint


Create laminated log - in tickets for all your primary school students.  Include their password and user ID . This will help to speed things up when they reach the computer lab.



Diversity Hints

A school-wide program that mandates students to study one culture each year (on-line) will result in high school graduates with broad perspectives.





Computer Hints


1. Great Interactive Graph Templates

Go to...

Website: Learning With NSES Kids’ Zone – Create a Graph



Concept Maps - Spider Scribes

More Blogs - Kid Blogs


2. To determine a student's learning preference ( visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile, etc.)


Go to...



3. We use a game online which allows us to interact with other third graders on the hall. “They can be in constant contact with dozens of their friends and participate in multiplayer games online” (Edutopia 2010B).

Go to...




Free Rice.com


Raz - Kids.com



  • Educating the Digital Tribe


    What to learn: 'core knowledge' or '21st-century skills'?


    By Greg Toppo, USA TODAY

    WASHINGTON — If someone told you that kids need to think critically and creatively, be technologically savvy and work well with others, you'd nod in agreement, right?

    At least 10 states have committed to helping students develop these "21st-century skills" in schools, the workplace and beyond. Most recently, officials in Massachusetts committed to working with the Arizona-based Partnership for 21st Century Skills, or P21, the movement's main advocacy group.

    But a small group of outspoken education scholars is challenging that assumption, saying the push for 21st-century skills is taking a dangerous bite out of precious classroom time that could be better spent learning deep, essential content. For the first time since the P21 push began seven years ago, they're pushing back. In a forum here last week sponsored by Common Core, a non-profit group that promotes "a full core curriculum," they squared off with education consultant Ken Kay, co-founder of the P21 movement.

    "It's an ineffectual use of school time," says E.D. Hirsch Jr., founder of the Core Knowledge Foundation and author of a series of books on what students should learn year-by-year in school. He calls the P21 movement "a fragmented approach with uncertain cognitive goals" that could most profoundly hurt disadvantaged children: At home, he says, they don't get as much background as middle-class students in history, science, literature and the like.

    Core Knowledge holds that an explicit, grade-by-grade "core of common learning" is necessary for a good education. So, for instance, when fifth-graders learn about Galileo's role in astronomy, they study Italian history and geography as well.

    Kay calls criticisms by Hirsch and others "a sideshow that distracts people from the issue at hand: that our kids need world-class skills and world-class content."

    Kay notes that virtually all of the industrialized countries the USA is competing with "are pursuing both content and skills."

    His seven-year effort has earned enviable support — not only from lawmakers and policy wonks but also from a wide range of corporate backers. His non-profit board of directors boasts members from Intel, Apple, Dell, Adobe, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and Cisco Systems, among others, and recent IRS filings show more than $1 million in revenue.

    In November, a Massachusetts task force concluded that straight academic content "is no longer enough" to help students compete: It urged state education commissioner Mitchell Chester to add 21st-century skills to curriculum guides and teacher training. That drew a rebuke from The Boston Globe, which editorialized last week that it's "not clear that the approach can be implemented without de-emphasizing academic content."

    At its heart, say Hirsch and others, the conflict is about what should happen in a school day: Do kids learn to think by reading great literature, doing difficult math and learning history, philosophy and science? Or can they tackle those subjects on their own if schools simply teach them to problem-solve, communicate, use technology and think creatively?

    If you pursue the latter, says University of Virginia cognitive psychologist Daniel Willingham, the rich content you're after inevitably "falls by the wayside." While kids may enjoy working together on projects, for instance, the amount of knowledge they get often ends up being shallow. Furthermore, he says, research shows that many teachers find it difficult to actually teach children to think creatively or collaborate. In the end, they rarely get better at the very skills that P21 advocates.

    "If we want our kids to learn how to be better collaborators, we're going to need to teach that," says Willingham, author of the new book Why Don't Students Like School?.

    Kay says P21 critics miss the point, offering "a false choice" that won't help U.S. students. He says he hopes to work with critics on incorporating both thinking skills and content into future P21 work.




    The 40 Assets Approach

    Research by Search Institute has identified 40 concrete, positive experiences and qualities – “developmental assets” – that have a tremendous influence on young people’s lives.  And they are things that people from all walks of life can help to nurture.  Research shows that the 40 developmental assets help young people make wise decisions, choose positive paths, and grow up competent, caring, and responsible.  The assets are grouped into eight categories:

    Support: Young people need to experience support, care, and love from their families and many others.  They need organizations and institutions that provide positive, supportive environments.

    Empowerment: Young people need to be valued by their community and have opportunities to contribute to others.  For this to occur, they must be safe and feel secure.

    Boundaries and Expectations: Young people need to know what is expected of them and whether activities and behaviors are “in bounds” or “out of bounds”.

    Constructive use of time:  Young people need constructive, enriching opportunities for growth through creative activities, youth programs, congregational involvement, and quality time at home.

    Commitment to learning:  Young people need to develop a lifelong commitment to education and learning.

    Positive Values:  Youth need to develop strong values that guide their choices.

    Social Competencies:  Young people need skills and competencies that equip them to make positive choices, to build relationships, and to succeed in life.

    Positive Identity:  Young people need a strong sense of their own power, purpose, worth, and promise.




    Cluster of 9

    Top 9 Instructional Strategies in Order of Effectiveness

    1. Identifying Similarities and Differences

    2. Summarizing and Notetaking

    3. Reinforcing Effort and Providing Recognition

    4. Assigning Homework and Practice

    5.Creating Non Linguistic Representations

    6. Using Cooperative Learning

    7. Setting Objectives and Providing Feedback

    8. Generating & Testing Hypothesis

    9. Using Cues, Questions and Advance Organizers

    -Laureate Education





    Million Dollar Backpack

    On the first day of school include...

    TI 34 II Explorer Calculator
    The Pocket Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus
    Two hard-cover library books
    Flash drive
    Spacemaker School Box
    Scissors (blunt end)
    Colored Pencils
    Duo-tang folders
    Plastic pocket folders
    Plastic sleeves
    White erasures
    One Five Star Binder
    College Rule Paper
    Composition book
    Dividers with at least 7 tabs
    12" ruler with centimeters and inches
    Assignment notebook
    Blue, black, and red ballpoint pens
    Map pencil
    Non-locking carabineer
     Page Reinforcements
    Family Size Kleenex
    Ziplock Sandwich baggies
    3x5 Index Cards




    Teaching Hint

    It is often desirable that we initiate a higher percentage of our academic contacts with students who are low achieving during small group instruction. Similarly, especially when introducing new material to younger students, we should maximize the percentage of correct responses so that students do not become confused by competing, inaccurate information.

    Reference: Jones & Jones




    Teaching Hint 2

    If a child fails to respond to a question immediately or accurately

    Provide adequate wait time

    Rephrase the question

    Ask if another student would like to assist

    Allow the student to request assistance from a classmate

    Offer hints and clues

    Break the question into smaller parts

    Provide some or all of the answer

    Allow the student to pass

    Reference: Jones & Jones




    Teaching Hint 3

    For Praise to Be Effective:

    Contingency - praise must immediately follow desired behavior

    Specificity - praise should describe the specific behavior being reinforced

    Credibility - praise should be appropriate for the situation




    Teaching Hint 4


    Simple Structure Activities


    Activities to stimulate discussion and review materials



    Teacher asks a question that has numerous possible answers (causes of World War I, etc.)

    Students make a list on a piece of paper with each student adding one answerand then passing it on.


    Study groups of three or four students of mixed abilities are formed. Each group develops five questions related to the material and provides the answer. Each member of the group makes a copy. The following day new groups are formed with students from different study groups. Each person reads a question and the rest write down what they believe to be the correct answer. The questioner then provides the answer.

    Reference: Jones & Jones

    Always keep the unfinished work folders handy!




    Teaching Hint 5

    Peer Tutoring

    Provide students with red and green square cards to attach to their desks, so that they can be displayed in front of the desks.

    Students who need help during seatwork display a red card, and students who understand the material display a green card.




    Teaching Hint 6

    Getting to Know You

    Blue Ribbon Kids

    Before starting this activity, I would write a note to the parents or guardians to let them know what this activity includes and what they need to do to help the students with this assignment. This activity starts on a Friday. A student's name is drawn, and this student takes a white butcher paper home with him/her. Over the weekend, the student’s parents helps trace their body outline and then this student collects information about him/herself to hang on the paper to share with the class. This sharing takes place on Monday. Throughout the week, other students in the class write positive comments about this student on the white butcher paper. This is a great activity to help students get to know everyone in the class.



    Handling Controversial Issues

    There is no shortage of hot button issues in society as a whole and this predilection carries over to the classroom.  Consequently, we were presented with schemas for handling controversial topics in the classroom.  The first premise is that a safe and secure environment for discussing these issues should already be in place.  Next, the educator should adopt the role of unbiased facilitator (Clarke, 2005).  As such, the teacher remains neutral while guiding the discussion with such prompts as “What do you think?”, “Why do you think that way?”, and “Where can you find more information on the subject”? (Clarke, 2005). Most importantly, the teacher should ask, “How can you determine whether that information is fact or opinion?” (Clarke, 2005).



    Clarke, P. (2005). Teaching controversial issues: A four-step classroom strategy for clear
                      thinking on controversial issues. Retrieved from the website:




    Review Hint

    • This activity is based on a popular TV show.

    • Write a number of multiple choice review questions on a transparency.

    • Hand out six cards to each group of students.

    • These will include one for each of the letters A, B, C and D (each on different color paper), as well as a telephone card (lifeline) and a 50/50 card (the teacher will cross out two wrong choices).

    • Write on the board the classroom phone numbers of four teachers .

    • Write the following telephone message starter on the board: "Hello, I'm ___________. "We are playing a (science, social studies, etc.) review game. We need help answering this question. Can you assist us?"

    • Groups will all respond to each answer. After being given thirty seconds to discuss the solution, they will be asked to hold up the letter cards at the same time.

    • Scores can be kept.

    • After a lifeline or 50/50 card is played, it is collected.



      Ingredients For Life


            Curiosity Quotient    +   Passion Quotient    >   Intelligence Quotient










      Cadillac Couch