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Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Getting the Most out of Your Day

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

Two weeks ago I wrote a bit about some of the places I work from – today I’ll talk a bit about the schedule that I work from and how it relates to how our students work with e-Tutor.

One of the best things about working from a home office is having the ability to match my energy level with different tasks and projects that I have to accomplish throughout the day.

Getting Things DoneHow I approach my work is influenced by David Allen’s Getting Things Done, a productivity system built on creating lists of small tasks that can be reviewed on the fly.  It allows me to choose what I want to work on next, just as e-Tutor allows students to choose what to learn next.

My choices depend on how much time and energy I have at a given moment, rather than on a preset schedule or regiment.  Similarly, e-Tutor students make choices throughout their day: “How many lesson modules should I complete?” and “What lesson modules should I work on next?”  It’s empowering making a choice about what’s next.

With that said, my schedule isn’t 100% “go with the flow”.  Many of my responsibilities need to be handled regularly, not just when I feel like it.  To be sure that I keep up with my work, I’ve got daily and weekly checklists that I consult several times a day.

Over time I’ve figured out the best times of the day to accomplish things:

  • Early mornings (as early as 4:00am, generally until 8:00am): For me, this is the most important time of day.  I’m an early riser, and have the most focus in the early morning.  My wife and daughter are still asleep, so these early hours are the most productive of my day.  These hours set the table for the rest of my day: I review and respond to e-mails, check on things that need my input, and set at least two goals for the day.  My goal is to have a solid idea of what needs to happen that day.
  • Late mornings (generally 9:30am – lunch): I try to accomplish one significant goal for my day before lunch.  Often times this is for something that requires a fair amount of brain power, including writing a blog post, solving a particular problem, or something else along those lines.
  • Afternoons (lunch – ?): I try to accomplish the second goal for the day shortly after lunch, and spend the rest of the time working on chores or other lightweight tasks.  Things that are time consuming but don’t require too much thought generally get done in the afternoon.  I still have energy, but usually not as much focus as the mornings.

We encourage our students to set a schedule of their own – we leave it up to our students and their parents to determine whether it should be a set schedule, a flexible schedule like mine, or some other system altogether.  Striking a balance between moving onto the next lesson module versus understanding the material thoroughly is a very personal thing for individual students.  Set your own pace – that’s what e-Tutor is all about.

A few things to keep in mind when you set your schedule:

  • Try to get your hardest work done when you have the most energy.
  • Keep your schedule flexible so you can “go with the flow” a bit.
  • Have a system to be sure that you’re still on track.

Do you have helpful scheduling tips for the rest of the  Tell us about them in the comments.

Professor James Gee Sees Gaming in Education

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Dr. Angulo recently forwarded me a video of Arizona State University Professor James Gee with the note “This video is just down my alley…Gee gets the problems in education today.”  After taking a look, I see why she feels this way: Professor Gee sees games in modern education, a conversation that we began internally some time ago in e-Tutor headquarters.

I’ve included the video below, along with a few notes to highlight some of the key points.  Clicking on any of them will jump the video to the particular clip that it summarizes.

For more on Professor Gee’s work in gaming and education, a recent ASU post outlines several of his accomplishments.  I’d also recommend Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World for a broad look at how game mechanics can be applied in a variety of situations, educational and otherwise.

We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Listen for the Spiritual Language

Friday, October 1st, 2010

Children are innately spiritual, and if you pay close attention they can speak to you about the subtle energies of another dimension; whether or not you believe, it can be intriguing to listen to what they have to say.  Children’s intuition is highly attuned, and frequently they hear and see things that we miss, as they aren’t so tightly immersed in “reality” yet.

Before about age six, children are highly attuned to the spiritual world and with thins unseen and unspoken, but they are more than likely to lose touch once they start school and are exposed to traditional thinking and logical reasoning.  Until then they are adept at tuning in to our thoughts.

Children have highly develop intuition…they can feel the energy and vibes of others.  Sometimes just seeing somebody will cause a child to start crying loudly she move to avoid that person and, although she can’t put into words why, she can feel the person’s energy and wants to stay away.  Trust this instinct in your child.

Some children already know profound spiritual truths without ever being taught.  Part of honoring your child’s divine nature is recognizing her spiritual language and respecting her special perceptions.

Wonderful Ways to Love a Child, Judy Fordt

Don’t Procrastinate

Monday, September 20th, 2010

To procrastinate means to put off doing a task…for no good reason.  The last phrase, “for no good reason,”  is the key, because there are sometimes excellent reasons for putting off a certain task.  In fact, deciding to do one thing before another is what prioritizing is all about.  However, if you have organized your “To Do” list and are having trouble working through it in priority order, then procrastination may be the problem.  If that’s the case, try these ideas.

  • Persuade yourself – Convince yourself that the task is worth doing.
  • Challenge your excuses – for putting the assignment off.
  • Counterattack – Forcing yourself to do something uncomfortable or frightening helps to prove that it wasn’t so bad after all.
  • Remove the reward -. Don’t let procrastination be a pleasant experience.
  • Write a contract – Make a written promise to yourself that states a goal and includes a reward for accomplishing the goal.
  • Jog your memory – Signify important items on your “to do” list with a red star.
  • Divide and conquer – Break big jobs into small pieces and complete on piece every day.
  • Discipline yourself – for five minutes.  If you really don’t want to do a project, promise yourself that you’ll work on it for five minutes.
  • Develop a routine – Schedule frequent tasks for regular times.
  • Post a chart – and make sure you can see it.  Give yourself a gold star for each task completed in priority order and a red minus for any you miss.

Adapted from Practical Supervision

Valedictorian on Education System: “I Was the Best Slave”

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

When Erica Goldson delivered her graduation speech condemning the education system that had just honored her as valedictorian, there were only 100 or so fellow students and their teachers, friends and families listening.   In the weeks since she first posted her speech online, the audience has multiplied thousands of times over.  The idea that has so many people talking?  She asks that we reconsider whether our education system really promotes learning.

In reflecting on her experience as a student, she describes herself as “a slave of the system”, and became valedictorian having “successfully shown that [she] was the best slave”.  Words worthy of the stir that they have created.  Reflecting on the opportunities lost during her years in that system, she quotes John Taylor Grotto:

“We could encourage the best qualities of youthfulness – curiosity, adventure, resilience, the capacity for surprising insight simply by being more flexible about time, texts, and tests, by introducing kids into truly competent adults, and by giving each student what autonomy he or she needs in order to take a risk every now and then.  But we don’t do that.”

She challenged those yet to graduate to break from the path that she had taken:

“You still have the opportunity to stand up, ask questions, be critical, and create your own perspective.  Demand a setting that will provide you with intellectual capabilities that allow you to expand your mind instead of directing it.  Demand that you be interested in class.  Demand that the excuse ‘You have to learn this for the test’ is not good enough for you.  Education is an excellent tool, if used properly, but focus more on learning rather than getting good grades.”

Her speech has been viewed over 100,000 times, has generated a healthy debate among commentors, and has been the genesis of a growing number of blog posts, each generating debates of their own.  I encourage you to take a few minutes to read Erica’s speech in its entirety.

While some are saying that she’s just naive or flat out wrong, her speech is working – thousands of people are challenging each other on the topic.

Where do you stand?