November 2007 - issue 11/07
DEVELOPING TEACHERS.COM NEWSLETTER
Welcome to the November Newsletter.
2. THE SITE
3. TEACHING LINKS
4. DAYS OF THE MONTH
6. WEEKLY TEACHING TIPS
7. PS - Internet/computer-related links
8. THE BIT AT THE END
Don’t Give Up - Motivating adult language learners to complete courses!
'Too many adult language learners drop-out of language courses, the Dont Give Up project offers language schools, course designers and students 101 ways to learn a foreign language successfully....This is a project funded by the European Community and carried out by experienced language experts from across Europe.'
Fill in the questionnaire & receive the results of the project. I found some of the questions difficult to answer, there was a lot of 'well, it depends, it's not as easy as that...' but it seems to be well worth contributing your thoughts.
'Putting it another way: blogs add to wealth of euphemisms'
On the Guardian website, in an article on one of their blogs, they discussed the amount of euphemisms that are coming through blog writing. Here are a few - see if you can match up the euphemisms with their definition:
Couldn't be reached
By mutual consent
Cut the pigtail
Face made for radio
Failure of memory
Negative patient care outcome
Personnel ceiling reduction
- was avoiding questioning
- office networking
- having an affair
- US Pacific H-bomb tests
- looking someone up and down
- quit before you're sacked
- the sack
- committee hastily summoned to deflect criticism
Now read the article & see if you were right:
An interesting article about the BBC & their approach to language. What do you think - descriptive or prescriptive?
Mind your language, critics warn BBC
Mistakes prompt a demand for grammar to be policed
The Observer, Sunday October 28 2007
The BBC is being urged to appoint a language chief by critics who claim that its reputation as a bastion of the Queen's English is fading fast.
They claim that presenters and correspondents on both television and radio routinely misuse words, make grammatical mistakes and use colloquialisms in place of standard English.
Sir Michael Lyons, chair of the BBC Trust, will receive an open letter tomorrow calling for a 'democratic airing' of the proposals, which advocate the creation of a new post to scrutinise 'the syntax, vocabulary and style' of thousands of staff heard on the air.
Although the BBC has a department dedicated to pronunciation, it has no equivalent for vocabulary or grammar.
Among the signatories are Professor Chris Woodhead, the former chief inspector of schools, Lord Charles Guthrie, the former chief of the defence staff, and MP Ann Widdecombe. 'We do so because language deeply affects all branches of society,' says the letter.
Widdecombe argued that the way in which language was used by broadcasters had a huge impact on society. 'I think promoting the proper use of language is important. Whereas the BBC is better than most, even it is starting to get a bit slack,' she said. 'Mass communication has a tremendous effect.'
She and others want managers at the BBC to consider the suggestion by Ian Bruton-Simmonds, a member of the Queen's English Society, that it appoint a head of grammar. Under the proposals, 100 unpaid 'monitors' working from home would note grammatical slips or badly chosen vocabulary. The checkers would then report to a central adviser, who would write to broadcasters outlining what was said and what should have been said.
According to Bruton-Simmonds, also author of Mend Your English or What We Should Have Been Taught at Primary School, regular mistakes by BBC correspondents spread fast through society.
He blamed the corporation for ruining a number of words, giving the example of the noun, replica. Correctly defined as a 'copy, duplicate or reproduction of a work of art', Bruton-Simmonds complained that it was now used in place of 'imitation', 'likeness' and 'model'. He first noticed the mistake when a Blue Peter presenter, standing by a railway engine, held up a model of it and said: 'It's an exact replica.' Radio 4 presenters such as Jim Naughtie and Carolyn Quinn have come under fire along with other young presenters across radio and television. Broadcasters are said to make mistakes such as mixing up singulars and plurals and using 'may' instead of 'might'. One of the most common mistakes cited by language campaigners is the incorrect use of the word refute. They point out that the word means to disprove, not deny. On one broadcast about the death of Pakistan cricket coach Bob Woolmer, the presenter said Woolmer's 'wife Gill refutes speculation that her husband may have taken his own life following Pakistan's exit from the World Cup'.
But it is not all bad news. According to signatory James Cochrane, whose book Between You and I, A Little Book of Bad English has an introduction by the broadcaster John Humphrys, one man never makes mistakes. 'You do not hear them on the Terry Wogan show because he is a well educated man of a certain age,' argued Cochrane. He said he was supporting the campaign because 'the BBC ought to be a defender of good English'.
It is likely to be a tough battle. A BBC spokeswoman admitted there was no regular monitoring of correspondents. 'Grammar guidance is currently available to our staff on the corporation's intranet,' she said. 'It is only there for guidance; there are no set rules on grammar.'
Others said the critics should accept language was fluid. 'Language evolves and we should evolve with it,' said Adam Jacot de Boinod, author of The Meaning of Tingo, which highlights the weaknesses of English by listing foreign words for which there is no English equivalent.
He said once people reached 40, they often felt nostalgic for what they were taught as children - and if the call for a language adviser was simply 'to be pedantic and yesteryear', he would oppose it.
And then there's a blog on the Guardian about it:
Have you downloaded your evaluation copy yet? Developing Teachers.com has teamed up with Tony
Buzan's website iMindMap. Tony Buzan invented mind maps & they have now entered the digital age with an excellent programme thatlets you design your own mind maps on your computer. To download a trial version & find out more, click on this link:
ARTICLES ON THE SITE
This month we welcome back Gabi Bonner with an article about her first year of teaching which is sure to ring a bell with everyone looking back on how we all began.
Azam Noora joins us from Iran with a study of learners, their needs & the role that language schools play. It's always interesting to learn about different teaching contexts.
And Michael Berman, the storyteller, provides us with some Sufi & Hasidic stories to use with our learners.
If you have any information you'd like to include in the Monthly Newsletter, please do email it with the subject: 'Monthly News addition'. Thanks.
As usual, thanks for reading.
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TO GET IN TOUCH
At Developing Teachers.com we occasionally carry out consultancy work. The different projects have included tutoring DELTA candidates by email, offering advice on curriculum design & materials choice & short training courses in person & by email. If you would like us to help in any way, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
2. THE SITE
ONLINE DEVELOPMENT COURSES
Time to develop your teaching from the comfort of your computer?
The online courses are hosted at one of our sister sites, DevelopingCourses.com (http://www.developingcourses.com ). The individual, personalised courses develop with the experience, needs & interests of each participant at their own rate.
We use Moodle, an excellent course management system, each course having its own password so only the individual participant plus the trainer can gain access. The central focus on the courses within Moodle is the forum & where there may be three or four different threads going on at the same time. Attached to these are a variety of resources. All are very easy to operate in Moodle. Choose between the full, seven-module course, & an elective four-module course.
For more information, to get in touch & check out:
Iranian Non-English Majors' Language Learning Preferences: The Role of Language Institutes by Azam Noora
For effective language learning and teaching , both learner skills and assumptions should be given due attention. In promoting this idea, students should be provided with the opportunity to clarify and assess their preferences and perspectives .The reality is that many Iranian non-English major university students, attend language institutes due to the deficiency of universities in satisfying their ever-increasing desire to learn English communicatively. To investigate whether the experience of attending language institutes has any role in shaping non-English majors' college language learning preferences, we asked 192 undergraduate non-English major students with or without the experience of attending language institutes, to state their views as to how they prefer learning English in the “General English “ class . By 28.3% of the subjects had the experience of attending language institutes . The results of the Chi-square test indicate that students with or without the experience of attending language institutes, are different regarding preferred teaching method, the most important language skill and their motivational orientations. The results have implications for syllabus and material design and classroom practice.
Insights from nearly two decades of research in second and foreign language development in natural as well as formal setting have made us aware that language learning is primarily a learner and learning -oriented activity ( Brown, 2001; Nunan, 1988; Wright, 1990). Consequently, in recent years there have been more emphases on the role of the learner in the language learning process. Learners' beliefs about language learning is one of the more recently discussed learner variables in the field.
In curricula based on a learner-centered approach, learners have greater roles in teaching/learning processes, and this can result in the promotion of their interests and preferences toward language learning (Makarova, 1997). Moreover, Rifkin (2000) asserts that learners' beliefs (including their preferences) about the learning process are "of critical importance to the success or failure of any student's efforts to master a foreign language" (p. 394). According to Nunan (1988, p. 177), "no curriculum can claim to be truly learner-centered unless the learner's subjective needs and perceptions relating to the processes of learning are taken into account." Unfortunately, as Allwright (1984) says, "very many teachers seem to find it difficult to accept their learners as people with a positive contribution to make to the instructional process" (p. 167).
Based on Bada and Okan (2000), many teachers acknowledge the need to understand learners' preferences, but they may not actually consult learners in conducting language activities. Teachers may believe that learners are not capable of expressing what they want or need to learn and how they want to learn. However researchers like Block (1994, 1996) claim that learners do have an awareness of what goes on in classes and that teachers should therefore make an attempt to align their task orientation to that of learners. Breen (cited in Block, 1996) showed that students were able to identify specific techniques adopted by the teacher that they preferred and believed that it helped them with understanding the new language. Nunan (1989) describes two Australian studies that show learners favor traditional learning activities over more communicative activity types. Some students want more opportunities to participate in free conversation, expressing their wish towards a more communicatively oriented approach. On the other hand, there are those who would prefer more emphasis on grammar teaching ( Bada and Okan, 2000).
To view the rest of the article:
'Lessons Taught and Lessons Learnt': Reflections on my First Year as a TEFL Teacher
by Gabi Bonner
August – 2007: So, here I am, teaching over summer, sharing the school with thirty enthusiastic CELTA trainees who are going through just what I went through almost a year ago.
'So what's it like being a teacher?', one of them asked me. I stopped to consider this for a moment, then smiled.
'It's the best job in the world', I replied, sincerely.
Watching them go through the ups and downs, stresses and successes of learning to be teachers has prompted me to reflect on my own experience of teaching. So, here I am, thinking that it might be a nice idea to share with anyone who wants to listen some of the experiences (good, bad and crazy!) of my first year teaching TEFL, and about why exactly I'm convinced it's the best job in the world.
First of all, to all you CELTA trainees, your true learning is going to begin after CELTA, as soon as you're thrown in the deep end and start teaching between twenty five and thirty hours a week. The course gives you what you need to be able to stand up in front of a class and not look like too much of a clueless idiot, but I think teaching is the kind of job where your learning and training never really end. I guess the transition into 'proper' teaching is probably smoother for some than for others. I think I was fairly lucky overall, despite a bit of a stressful first lesson. The students were a group of primary school teachers, there was no assigned course book, they were supposed to be pre-intermediate level. Yeah right! I got to the school and found the classroom after an embarrassing exchange of horrifically-pronounced Czech words (just on my part!) and gestures between myself and the receptionist. My students were waiting for me. 'Why do we keep changing teachers?' A woman asked, in English that was definitely NOT pre-intermediate level. After explaining that there had been some 'shuffling around' of teachers and that they'd have me for the rest of the semester, I quickly realised that my lesson on the past simple taken from New Headway Pre-Int was going to be a joke. Most of these students were at least upper-int. A teacher's worst nightmare: an obsolete lesson plan, and in my first ever lesson! I kind of managed to save the lesson though, after discovering that these teachers were desperate to complain about the recent changes in the Czech Education System; perfect material for a heated debate and some language feedback at the end. Lesson learnt: don't always expect students to be the level you're told they are, and make sure that your first lesson with a class can be modified/adjusted according to the students' level.
After my rather 'dubious' first lesson, I went through many ups and downs and way too many hours spent lesson planning before I began to feel semi-confident about what I was doing and what my students were doing. At the beginning I was absolutely petrified of my proficiency class. I'd try to anticipate every single possible question that could be asked and then stay awake the night before worrying about it. I remember one of my proficiency students asked me a random question out of the blue (it was actually during a lesson on future tenses). He wanted to know what the difference was between 'As soon as he finished his exams he went abroad' and 'As soon as he had finished his exams he went abroad'. I mean, both sentences sounded perfectly correct to me, and any difference in meaning wasn't apparently obvious. It wasn't until I went away and looked it up in Practical English Usage by the legendary Michael Swan that I discovered that using the past perfect emphasises slightly the independence of the first action from the second. Lesson learnt: It's impossible to anticipate every question you could possibly be asked, and if you get asked a question that you can't answer, it's okay to say 'I'll let you know next week'. It's better than getting yourself into a tizzy before or during the lesson, or guessing the answer, trust me!
To view the rest of the article:
More articles by Gabi:
“Silence is Golden“: Going to Extremes to Reduce TTT by Gabi Bonner
DEVELOPINGTHEWEB.COM - MOODLE HOSTING
You've probably heard lots about Moodle, the framework for providing online courses. Have you thought about having your own? At Developing TheWeb.com (a sister site of Developing Teachers.com) we provide you with your own Moodle for only $12/month or $60/seven months. Your Moodle installation comes with 300mb of space & 1gb/month of bandwidth.
We set it all up for you & you provide the courses. You don't need to provide the actual course, this can simply be an online presence, a way of keeping in touch with your students, a meeting place with individuals or whole classes, an extension of your lessons.
We like it so much that we run our own online development courses at Developing Courses.com with Moodle. For more information:
Reliable & affordable Web Hosting for the English Language Teaching Community!
Teaching Tales from the Sufi & Hasidic Traditions by Michael Berman
Teaching Tales have a long and honoured history for being a way to entertain and, at the same time, educate people. The earliest examples were probably chants or songs of praise for the natural world in pagan times. And since stories first began being told, one of the methods of passing on a culture’s teaching has involved a student sitting at his teachers feet and listening to the tales that teacher had to tell of times and people gone by. The stories of early India, the Greek fables, Taoist, Zen, Sufi and Hasidic tales are all examples of trying to pass on not just a cultural tale but a valuable lesson as well.
The author and Jesuit priest Anthony de Mello tells of a master who always gave his teachings in parables and stories, much to the frustration of his disciples who wanted straightforward answers to their questions. To their objections the master would answer, “You have yet to understand my dears, that the shortest distance between truth and a human being is a story.”
Wisdom tales can remind us of higher goals, and provide the inspiration to practise what we know on a daily basis. Spiritual and cultural traditions the world round have provided tales of how others have danced and stumbled along life's path for this very purpose. Stories offer us doorways into new ways of seeing and being in the world. The secret is that the story door opens inward. When we draw the stories deeply into our imaginations, and make connections from them to our own lives, they become a part of us, like a wise advisor ready to remind us of another way of seeing and responding to life. The shortest tales are especially good for this purpose as they are easily learned and shared spontaneously. It is not always possible to take the time to spin out an elaborate yarn to make a point and we are often called to offer stories in non-performance settings - responding to an immediate issue - with friends, or family or colleagues.
Author, and storyteller Clarrissa Pinkola Estes, described the phenomenon of story living in our psyches as “medicine” that serves us when we need it. This can happen just by hearing a tale. But for a story to be readily available to us, we often must help it to sink in, so that its imagery makes connections in our hearts, memories and imaginations, allowing new learning to arise.
Anthony de Mello (1986) suggests in the introduction to his collection One-Minute Wisdom, that we, “Take one story at a time.” Perhaps it would be a good idea to take his advice one step further and to read not more than one story per week. The hunger for the good story, and for spiritual inspiration, often drives us to plough through story collections like children in a sweetshop. We read one after the other, tasting the unique flavour of each, enough to say, “Mmm, I like that one, or so-so,” often bypassing altogether those that have already been tried. This way of tasting stories is like reading a description of the story on its door, rather than opening the door to be deeply touched by the tale. This is the way of our consumerist culture, but stories call us to be with them in a more time-honoured way.
The tales presented here are examples from the Hasidic tradition and the first three all have something to do with water. Sometimes a stretch of water can act as a barrier or a source of division, especially when the people involved in the matter have tunnel vision and walk around wearing blinkers over their eyes! Khelm in Yiddish folklore is the equivalent of Gotham in British tales – the place where stupid people are supposed to live:
A Bridge In Khelm
A river flowed right through the middle of Khelm. It occurred to several merchants that a bridge over it would be good for business on both sides of the river. But some of the younger people objected. They said: “Of course it would be nice to build a bridge, but let’s not do it because it would be good for business; we should build it solely for aesthetic reasons. We’d be glad to contribute towards the cost for beauty’s sake, but we won’t give a penny for the sake of trade.” Still others, even younger people, said, “A bridge! That’s a good idea, but not for the sake of trade or beauty but to have some place to stroll back and forth. We’d be glad to contribute money to build a bridge for strolling, but not for any other reason.” And so the three groups began to quarrel, and they are quarreling still. And to the present day Khelm still does not have a bridge.
Water Wouldn't Hurt
An exhausted disciple came running to his Holy Man. “Teacher, help. Take pity. My house is burning.”
The Holy Man calmed his disciple. Then, fetching his staff from a corner of the room, he said, “Here, take my staff. Run back to your house. Draw circles around it with my staff, each circle some seven handbreadths from the other. At the seventh circle, step back seven handbreadths, then lay my staff down at the east end of the fire.”
The disciple hurriedly noted the instructions down, grabbed the staff and started off. “Listen,” the Holy Man called after him, “on second thoughts, it wouldn’t hurt also to pour on water. Yes, in God’s name, pour on water. As much water as you bloody well can!”
Blood and Water
Once upon a time there was a King who went to a river to bathe. When he came to its bank, he saw that half of the stream was water but the other half was blood. And there was a man in the middle trying to cross over from the blood to the water.
The King was puzzled by this so he called together all the priests, rabbis, and other holy folk to ask them what it meant. But none of them could see anything in the river but water and they could only come to the conclusion that the King was seeing things and that perhaps he was suffering from stress.
But the King was not convinced. So he sent for the greatest rabbi in the city, and this rabbi saw exactly what the King had seen. And this was his interpretation:
“Half of the river is the blood that has been spilled,” said the rabbi, “And the other half is the tears that Jews have wept.” The man in the middle is your father, who is trying to cross from hell into paradise. But to do this he must wade out of the Jewish blood he has shed, and the river will not let him.”
The article continues at:
More articles by Michael:
Journeying, Storytelling & Spiritual Intelligence by Michael Berman
Making Use of Divination in the Classroom by Michael Berman
The Art Of Storytelling by Michael Berman
The Storyteller: Shaman and Healer by Michael Berman
Multiple Intelligences Revisited by Michael Berman
Storytelling for the Classroom by Michael Berman
Warrior, Settler or Nomad? by Michael Berman
Back to the index
3. TEACHING LINKS
Lots of listening materials from the British Council site.
Everyone connected with teaching has a favourite book in their lives. We asked hundreds of people to name the book that has most inspired them in their educational careers. They came up with an initial list of 40 books. Now it's your turn.
Firefox extension for your learners - 'A simple tool to help you to learn irregular verbs in English. This add-on scrolls irregular verbs in a random way on a tool bar.'
The Willis's have launched a new site: 'We have been working with task-based teaching (TBT) for over twenty years now. We have enjoyed it and we've seen it work in the classroom. So we are always trying to introduce others to TBT. If you are already familiar with TBT you may find these lesson plans useful. If you are new to TBT, or even if you haven't tried it at all, you can look at these lessons and the commentaries that go with them. You may decide to try them out with one of your classes.'
While at the above site I discovered that Dave Willis','The Lexical Syllabus' can be downloaded for free.
Excellent online sound activities from Cambridge English Online.
Manuel F. Lara Garrido - 'I want this platform to be a meeting place where we can share material, experiences, ideas, etc. in order to take shelter and where we can meet friends and where we can help others who are working on a similar project on bilingual education or CLIL.'
Vocab game - for each word you get right, they donate 10 gains of rice.
If you've visited a site that you think would be beneficial for
all or would like your site to appear here, please get in touch.
Back to the index
4. DAYS OF THE MONTH
A few days, among many, to plan your lessons around in November:
5th - Bonfire Night
7th - Marie Curie's birth 1867
11th - Remembrance Day
16th - International Day for Tolerance
17th - World Peace Day
20th - Universal Childrens Day - UN
25th - Eid Al Fitr
28th - Buy Nothing Day (varies)
30th - St Andrew's Day, Scotland
US Thanksgiving Day - 4th Thurs. in month.
Buy Nothing Day in US - day after Thanksgiving.
To see the list of Days:
Wikipedia's excellent focus on days of the year:
Some holiday origins.
No new book reviews this month. The latest review is from Scott Shelton of 'English
Pronunciation in Use Elementary Book with Answers and 5 Audio CD Set' (English Pronunciation in Use) (Paperback) by Jonathan Marks (CUP) & also 'English Pronunciation in Use Advanced Book with Answers and 5 Audio CDs' (English Pronunciation in Use)(Paperback) by Martin Hewings(CUP)
To read the review;
And check out all the other reviews:
If you know of a useful book that we haven't looked at & that we should review, do let us know & we'll see if we can get a review together.
If you're going to Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.ca then please go through our Books page. You will pay the same & we will receive a few pennies to keep the site & newsletters free. Thanks.
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6. WEEKLY TEACHING TIPS
Free weekly practical teaching tips by e-mail.
Recent Tips have included:
- Spooky lessons - lesson ideas for Halloween.
- Writing diaries - students reflecting on the learning process.
- Chocolate tasting - lesson ideas
- Happy healthy teaching - dealing with stress
To see the Past Tips:
To sign up to receive them:
Back to the index
7. PS – General internet/computer-related links
A few computer use rules of thumb:
- make copies of all
- important files
- run scan disk & then defragment the hard drive
- use firewall software - use a virus scan & update the files
- install security patches that software providers offer
- update your DirectX files regularly
- don't open attachments without scanning for viruses first
- don't respond to spam
- just delete & forget
- don't send personal or bank information by email
- turn off your computer at night
At ReadItSwapIt, you can swap your old old old books for new ones. It is a free book exchange website that allows you to swap the books you don't want for the second-hand books that you do.
Enter a book you like and the site will analyse our database of real readers'
favourite books (over 32,000 and growing) to suggest what you could read next.
'The People History'.
100 down - a short film with a different scene from a well-known film for each number. How many films can you name?
Have you ever wondered 'Where did they film that?' Are you a ‘set-jetter’? The Worldwide Guide to Movie Locations is the essential travel guide to filming locations of Hollywood blockbusters, indie cult films and arthouse cinema throughout the world.
Top 100 Classic Web Sites & Top 100 Undiscovered Web Sites from PC Magazine.
'The Web Gallery of Art is a virtual museum and searchable database of European painting and sculpture from 12th to mid-19th centuries. It was started in 1996 as a topical site of the Renaissance art, originated in the Italian city-states of the 14th century and spread to other countries in the 15th and 16th centuries. Intending to present Renaissance art as comprehensively as possible, the scope of the collection was later extended to show its Medieval roots as well as its evolution to Baroque and Rococo via Mannerism. More recently the periods of Neoclassicism and Romanticism were also included.'
'Care and conservation of archaeological materials, architectural ironwork, books and family bibles, carpets and rugs, carved stone, ceramic and glass, clocks, costume and textiles, decorative schemes and surfaces, ethnographic objects, family documents and archives, fashion accessories, frames and gilding, furniture, jewellery, oil paintings, photographic materials, plastic materials, prints, drawing and watercolours, silver and plate, stained glass, care and preservation of removable digital and electronic media, & guidelines for the mounting and framing of works of art on paper.'
'I did not know that yesterday!' - lots of interesting & some useless, facts.
Games supposedly for the brain.
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8. THE BIT AT THE END
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