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Archive for the ‘Learning Tools’ Category

Spring Cleaning

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

As spring brings out all that is fresh and new, thoughts turn to spring cleaning and packing away our winter hats and gloves. But as we look forward to getting ready for spring, we should not forget all of the progress we have made throughout the school year. It is important to look back so we can see how far we have come. Consider setting up a filing system for your student. These files can prove to be a rich source of inspiration and reflection for any student.

Grade school students may wish to save cherished artwork and see the progress they have made. With a quick flip through their file, they can see how their cursive writing has become neater, how they can read books with chapters, and how their artwork has improved.

Middle school students will be able to track the development of their skills. Simple addition and subtraction give way to geometry and pre-algebra. Essays extend beyond a page; science projects involve complex equations and chemicals.

As their studies become more complicated, students may find their files have grown dramatically in size, an indication of the increasing complexity of their knowledge. They may be surprised to learn how much material they have studied.

High school students may wish to save long English papers which can be revised and turned into college admissions essays. Favorite books can be a source of inspiration; an essay about The Great Gatsby from the 9th grade could be the source of an inspiring AP essay for college credit. Chemistry and biology experiments may be the basis for scholarship applications for science programs.

Over the long run, students can examine these saved files and see how their interests develop. A science fair project from the fifth grade could spark a lifelong interest in chemistry, reflected in more and more complicated projects throughout junior high and high school. History papers about the Civil War can spark an outside interest in re-enactments.

As they look back on these files, students can see how much they’ve improved year by year. The 3rd grade book report about Old MacDonald’s Farm may be a far cry from Animal Farm in 11th grade, but students will be able to see how they have developed into mature young adults with a broad range of knowledge. These learning files show students how they’ve grown and where they are heading.

Summer School Offers Critical Thinking – Problem Solving Activities + Extended Learning

Monday, May 6th, 2013

When it’s time to go beyond learning facts and to get into the grayer matter of a topic or skill, your student is ready for an inquiry activity that presents the student with a challenging task, provides access to online resources and scaffolds the learning process to prompt higher order thinking. The best online learning programs include both an activity and extended learning section. These are an important part of learning. Students will not fully comprehend the concept or skill being taught unless they can apply critical thinking and problem solving skill.

Activities:

These can include a worksheet, hands-on activity, project, problems, questions or sites relevant to the study guide. This is a chance for students to apply what they have learned.  e-Tutor does not grade or evaluate activities, but encourages tutors to review these with their students. They should be used as a springboard for discussion.  Questions asked of the student might be:  “What did you learn by doing this?”  “How could you have done this differently?”  “Explain this concept to me.”

Extended Learning:

This might consist of a critical thinking project, problem or discussion that goes beyond the scope of the lesson. e-Tutor does not grade or evaluate extended learning activities.   Rather, these are used to frame a discussion between the student, parent and tutor. We suggest that both Activity and Extended Learning  activities be kept in folders, one for each of the main curricular areas: Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies.

Students begin by learning background knowledge presented in the Study Guide, they are then given a specific task to complete. They synthesize their learning by presenting their interpretation of the Activity and Extended Learning to a parent or another adult..

Anything that requires evaluation or scientific hypothesizing will evoke a variety of interpretations. The reason the e-Tutor Activities and Extended Learning are so critical to the lesson is because they offer the breadth of perspectives and viewpoints that are usually needed to construct meaning on complex topics. Students benefit from completing these sections of each lesson so that they can explore and make sense of the concepts or skills introduced in the Study Guide.

Students are encouraged to keep track of the time they spend learning. They can jot down the time they start to study and the time they finish on a piece of paper or a calendar. Make sure and include time spent in physical development and the arts.

Tutors will quickly know which areas their students are struggling in and which topics they favor by frequently checking their portfolios. You might need to make recommendations to your students about trying new subjects or topics. New lesson modules are added frequently.

Credit Recovery – Guides and Directs Student Learning

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

e-Tutor students say that online credit recovery courses have characteristics their teachers do not offer.  The online program is always available.  The program has a “patient” character and is nonjudgmental.  e-Tutor allows students to be anonymous and allows them to do many things at the same time.  e-Tutor aligns online information to the student’s learning program.

Tutors are all teachers who have been trained in online learning.  Tutors are available at times that are convenient for both student and tutor.

e-Tutor Credit Recovery Program includes Online Tutoring

  • Effective one-to-one learning
  • Direct contact with your tutor a minimum of one hour each week
  • ‘Talk” to your tutor 24/7 via email
  • Includes expanded access to e-Tutor lesson modules
  • Tutors emphasize skill building and reinforcement of concepts
  • Assignments aligned to e-Tutor lesson modules
  • Online communication and completion of assignments through the e-Tutor bulletin board/chat room
  • Parents have access to and can view assignments and tutor comments and grades

Plus: All of the features from the Regular eTutor Independent Study Program

  • Complete K-12 accredited curriculum
  • Interactive online lesson modules
  • Access from anywhere, at any time:
    All you need is a web browser
  • Special parent login allows progress tracking and report card generation
  • Automatically graded quizzes and exams

A Balanced Approach to Teaching Reading

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

Consider the following two teaching methods in English Language Arts. Mr. Brown hands out a worksheet exercise to his first grade students on circling words that contain the same “ch” sound. This is an explicit exercise on phonics or basic skills instruction in reading. Mrs. Kato reads to the class and asks her first graders to write about the topic after the reading. Mrs. Kato was using the whole language approach to teaching reading. Which is a better method of teaching reading to children?

Research says that a combination of the two methods or balanced instruction may be the most effective way to teach the beginning reader. This balanced instruction involves teaching the relationship between letters and sounds in a systematic fashion, and at the same time, children are being read to and reading interesting stories and writing at the same time. Researchers claim that the combination method presents the best of both worlds in teaching reading.

Numbers Don’t Lie?

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013

Numbers don’t lie….or so we are told. It can pay to be skeptical when you are given statistics and data. Ones to watch include:

  • The everything’s-going-up statistic. It is typically found in reports showing more people than ever are employed, are on welfare, etc. That’s right because there are more people than ever. More useful: The actual employment rate or the portion of the population receiving welfare.
  • The everything-is average statistic. Example: Someone argues that women can’t be combat soldiers because the average woman can’t lift as much weight as the average man. But many women can lift more weight than many men.
  • The best-fit statistic. Here the best numbers to support a case are used. Example: This year’s sales are compared with those of three years ago to show a 25 percent increase. They aren’t compared to higher sales two years ago, which would show a 10 percent drop.

How to get it right: Ask to see all of the numbers and make your own calculations.

Victor Cohn, Iowa State University Press, Ames, IA

Innovation in Learning

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

On-Line Learning

E-Tutor - On-Line Tutoring for K-12

Does your child or someone you know need additional instruction or an alternative way of learning? At eTutor, there are over 3400 Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies lesson modules to stimulate the imagination of any child needing help in learning, or not. The lesson modules are fully integrated with the Internet. Students can use juried sites in order to enhance and reinforce concepts taught in the Study Guide.   Exercises, quizzes and exams accompany each lesson module. The ten part lesson modules are complete with pictures, diagrams, activities, worksheets and thought provoking assignments. Each lesson module has goals and standards that students will attain by fully completing the tasks.  Subscribe for your child today.

Special Help in Test Taking

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Many students will soon be preparing for those annual tests that have become so much a part of the public school experience.  Different types of tests are tackled in different ways.  It is important for your child to recognize what kind of test it is and plan the right strategy.   Here are some special helps for your child to remember:

  • In a true/false test
    Everything in the statement must be true for the correct answer to be “true.”
    Watch for key words.  Always, never and only frequently point to a false answer.

    Sometimes, usually and typically tend to point to a true answer.

  • On a matching test
    Check first to see if you can use an answer more than once.  If not, be sure to mark off the answers as you use them.
  • On a multiple choice test
    Watch for qualifying phrases which can change the meaning such as:  the only, the last, which one is not an example of.
  • On an essay test
    Prepare for essay tests ahead of time by thinking of essay questions which might appear on the test.
  • Organize relevant information from the text that answers these questions.
  • Write out actual answers to your questions using as much detail as possible.
  • If your answers aren’t satisfactory, begin again.check.gif (1162 bytes)

Be sure you answer the specific question that is being asked.

Test Anxiety

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Spring traditionally signals test-taking time in many parts of the United States. Research shows that being “test wise” improves a student’s scores. To help your child become more comfortable with test taking:

  • Talk about the tests ahead of time with your child.
  • Build your child’s confidence through study and practice at home.
  • Show a positive attitude toward taking tests.

Tell you child:I know you will do the best you can, or

The world won’t end if you are not number one.

  • Encourage your child to listen carefully to spoken test instructions. You can provide practice by giving simple, then gradually more complex, instructions for things to be done at home.

Choosing Books for Your Children

Friday, January 18th, 2013

One of the best ways to encourage children’s reading is to give them books of their very own. With so many children’s books in print, however, making the best selections may seem like a formidable task.

Since all children should have books they can handle freely, durability is important, says the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Research and Improvement. Pick well-constructed board books for infants and toddlers, so they can help turn pages without damage. Consider paperbacks and plastic covers for older kids who are not quite ready for expensive hardbacks.

Next, let your children’s interests guide your selections, suggests the Department of Education. When children ask you endless questions about where they came from or why the sky is blue, chances are good there is a book with answers they can understand. If a child expresses an interest in cars, sports, computers or dinosaurs, find books on those topics. If you will be reading aloud together, remember to choose books you can enjoy too.

Quality is as important to children as it is to adults, according to the Library of congress Children’s Literature Center. Well-written fiction with a satisfying plot and strong characterization will motivate your children to keep reading. Good illustration and design are essential to picture-story books. Critical to non-fiction are accuracy, organization and clarity of presentation.

Also keep in mind your children’s reading ability. Books should be challenging enough to stimulate their thinking skills but not so difficult as to overwhelm them. The Department of Education suggests school-sponsored book fairs as an excellent source of offerings geared to your children’s ages and reading levels.

Is cost a factor in your selection? Many second-hand bookstores offer very reasonable prices. Some even allow you to bring in books your children have outgrown and trade them for others. Many public libraries also have periodic used-book sales. Ask a librarian for dates and details.

If you are still not sure what is appropriate, take advantage of available help. Teachers and children’s librarians can suggest books that are good for reading aloud and books of interest to a particular age group. Most libraries have book lists and journals that regularly review and recommend children’s books.

Five Reasons to Give a Gift of Art

Friday, December 14th, 2012

Using a little creativity when choosing gifts for school-age family members or friends can really pay off….with gifts that youngsters grow with rather than out grow.  Some expand children’s creativity and curiosity and encourage learning throughout the year.  They also can provide opportunities for family members to join in the learning process.

  • Art Supplies. Young artists will appreciate basic art supplies, like paper, paints, markers, pencils and crayons.  Avoid art kits that have pre-designed patterns, since children should be encourage to use their imaginations and creativity.
  • Framed Art. Have a piece of your child’s artwork matted and framed; this transforms a temporary “refrigerator door” piece of art into a beautiful wall piece that your child can treasure in adult years. Your child may also enjoy a work of art purchase at an art fair, gallery or museum shop.  Additionally, some libraries and art museums rent or loan art pieces.
  • Nontraditional Art. For students who do not express an interest in traditional art, select a gift in some other art form.  Architects, illustrators, filmmakers, fashion designers, cartoonists and industrial designers are also artists.
  • Photography. A digital camera of one’s own is a good gift idea for students who have an interest in art, as well as for students who have not yet acquired that interest.  Children can take pictures on family trips or can use photography to collect ideas for drawings and paintings.
  • Private Space. Provide your child a special place to work on art projects, such as an easel in a quiet corner with good lighting and a comfortable stool.