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Archive for the ‘Learning Tools’ Category

The Power of Expectations

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

The effect of one person’s expectations on the behavior of another is another instance of the power of attitudes. People are always communicating their thoughts in a variety of subtle ways.  And others are responding…positively, negatively or passively.  Strong, positive attitudes about one’s self and others bring out the best in others; cause positive responses that accelerate growth and learning.

See all others as the potential vessels of your own treasured knowledge and ability, be willing to share yourself in a tolerant, loving manner, and your effort will be richly rewarded by the growth of those around you.

Twelve Tips to Encourage Reading at Home

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Learning to read is much like learning any other skill. It requires a combination of instruction, experimentation, and practice. But the first step must be motivation. The child must want to learn to read. Parents can encourage their children to read  by demonstrating that they think reading  is important. Parents can help their
children discover the benefits of reading:
new ideas…relaxation…adventure…fun.

  • Buy as many children’s books as you can afford.
  • Give books as gifts.
  • Visit the library regularly.
  • Allow your children to choose their own books.  Don’t rush them.
  • Show your children that you enjoy reading. Make sure they see you reading newspapers, magazines, and books.
  • Set up a special place for reading.
  • Encourage older children to read to younger children.
  • Surround your child with words; point out street signs; label objects in the house such as table, desk, and stove.
  • Play word games like Scrabble, Anagrams, and Ad Lib.
  • Watch educational TV programs together. Some stress reading development.
  • Read to your child, especially at bedtime. Reread favorite stories.
  • Ask you child to read to you.

Stress the things your children do well in reading rather than any mistakes they make. Remember: Success breeds success.

Seven Benefits of Music Education

Monday, February 6th, 2012

Music is important in the education of your child.  It is one of the real accomplishments of the human race and the Western world has developed it beyond that of any other people.  Music is one of your child’s richest heritages.  To share in this heritage your child should study music, for the casual contact alone will not unlock its deepest treasures.

Your child can benefit from a good music program in many ways.  It can:

  • Introduce him or her to one of the most significant cultural achievements of the human mind.
  • Be a disciplined emotional outlet for the release of tension.
  • Enlarge potential for creating and enjoying beauty.
  • Develop the skills and understandings needed for using music in leisure time.
  • Provide satisfying experiences with groups of peers.
  • Build the aesthetic and spiritual values that are so important in the overall development of both personality and character.
  • Enrich your child’s life for years to come.

Six Steps Online Students Need to Follow

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Online learning is gaining acceptance in school districts around the country.  However,  school districts want to know students are actually spending their time learning.  When asked about your online learning program,  if your student has taken the following steps, you will have evidence of a very strong program.

  1. Plan to spend approximately five hours learning each day.
  2. Keep track of when you start to study and when you stop each day.  Keep record of sport and art activity on your list, as well.
  3. Have a notebook, pencil, paper and any other necessary materials available before starting online learning each day.
  4. Establish a schedule for learning and start, as much as possible, the same time each day.
  5. Share with your parents or another adult the goals and time management plan you have established for yourself.
  6. Keep a record of activities, assignments, and testing completed. Include examples when possible.

Summer School Activities – Ninth Grade

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Good VRead new words.ocabulary Skills are Essential

Learning and using new vocabulary is an area of the curriculum that is often neglected by high school students using online learning programs such as eTutor.    Sometimes students and parents are not sure of how to use new vocabulary words or words they are not familiar with.  Practicing vocabulary and word usage skills  will  help students go far beyond the particular subject or topic they are working on.

Vocabulary is essential to comprehension.  Students need to apply strategies before, during and after reading to understand the written word.  New words should be reviewed and used in a variety of ways.   Students might use the following ideas to build and extend their vocabulary skills:

  • Use definitions of words to create word riddles.

    New words are important to learning.

  • Group words based on similarities and/or differences.
  • Draw pictures that illustrate the vocabulary word.
  • Play a variation of the card game, Go Fish.  Prepare a deck of word cards with five or more sets of four related words in each set.  Duplicate the cards so that at least each student has a deck for the game.   Try to build sets of like words, ie, antonyms, synonyms,  nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.
  • Go beyond definitions in the dictionary.  Explore ways to describe the associations that cluster around the word.
  • Choose a vocabulary word and then answer the following questions:  How would a scientist describe this word?  How would a judge describe this word?  How would a poet describe this word?  How would you describe this word?
  • Make new words.

    Organize a collection of words:

    • Reference Book:   Create vocabulary pages for a three-ring binder.
    • Word Wall: Display collected words and definitions on a bulletin board.
    • Word File: Record words, definitions, and context-rich sentences on index cards.  Place them in a recipe box that organizes the words alphabetically.

Students should not skip this important skill work.   Learning new vocabulary is essential to learning.

a) Kindle b) iPad c) None of the Above

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

The Kindle: simple, light, and pays for itself.

I’ve spent most of my life as a gadget geek, and recently bought a Kindle, opting to pass on the iPad. I thought I’d write about it since some of our e-Tutor students may be thinking through whether one of these gadgets would be useful for themselves.

First things first. I understand the difference between wants and needs. Owning a Kindle or an iPad falls firmly into the wants category for me. I’m fortunate enough to be able to indulge my wants every now and then, which was definitely the case this time around.

In a logical comparison between the Kindle and the iPad, the Kindle was the obvious choice from the beginning:

  • I already have internet access on my laptop and smartphone; being able to surf or check e-mail on the new device would be optional, and maybe even overkill.  The fact that the Kindle only lets you read books didn’t hurt it during my decision making process.
  • I have a hard time with eye strain on most days because I spend so much time in front of a computer.  The Kindle’s simple black and white screen is much easier on the eyes than a computer screen because it’s not backlit.  The iPad, on the other hand, has the same type of screen as my laptop.  It wouldn’t give my eyes a break, and is impossible to read in direct sunlight, more than offsetting the advantage of having a color touchscreen.
  • The Kindle is lighter, more comfortable to hold, and cheaper (though the iPad is sexier).  This still holds true even with the lighter iPad 2 that was just released (I had a chance to look at a couple of them this morning – very cool, but still overkill for me).

With that said, I still dragged out the debate in my head (that’s what gadget geeks do).  As the owner of four Apple products already (iPod, iPhone, Macbook Pro, and Apple TV), the allure of the iPad was and still is strong.  Like other Apple products, the iPad is simple and fun to use.  I borrowed Dr. Angulo’s iPad for a week, and was very tempted to buy one.  Ultimately I passed because I didn’t want to spend $499 for something that duplicates two other devices that I already own, leaving long form reading (books) as the unmet want that would be filled by a new device.

e-Tutor students don’t need a Kindle or iPad any more than I do, but may want one just as much as I do.  The e-Tutor curriculum is set up so that no extra devices (also no workbooks, texts, or downloads) are required to complete a lesson module.  For students who read quite a bit, however, having a Kindle may make sense as an optional tool.  Stepping away from a backlit screen to read on a Kindle is a great way to break up your day a bit, especially if you’re trying to be as productive as possible with your schedule.

These days I read quite a bit, spending maybe an hour a day on books.  This is on top of the hours I spend reading blog posts, e-mail, news stories, etc. on my computer throughout my work day.  For long form reading, the Kindle is tough to beat:

  • I don’t have to chase down books any more.  I used to research books online, drive to a local bookstore, and track them down on a bookshelf.  I’d repeat this until I found the book in stock.  Since I look for technical books (HTML, CSS, PHP, Ruby on Rails, and other fun stuff) a lot, this can be very time consuming.  I’m rarely patient enough to wait for a book to arrive in the mail.  Downloading a book is right up there with the best in instant gratification.
  • I can carry multiple books on a single device instead of overloading my backpack.  Many of the books I buy become reference books after I’ve finished my first read.  Carrying them around is impractical (most of these technical books are 400+ pages) but useful.  I also have PDF versions of owners’ manuals I need occasionally and other reading that is in my “To Be Read” queue.
  • I look up words I wouldn’t otherwise look up.  Having the dictionary built in lets me look up new words quickly, which is a great habit for me and for e-Tutor students.  I never used to do this – I’m glad I do now.
  • I make a lot of notes and highlights.  With paper books, I have a hang-up about marking the pages in any way.  I don’t underline, write, highlight, or dog ear.  For some reason I don’t have that hang-up with the Kindle.  I frequently note passages that I want to revisit later.  You can also see what other Kindle users are highlighting, which can be handy too.
  • I read more.  The Kindle makes the reading experience better for me for all the reasons above, which makes me read more.  This is a good thing.

At a price of $139, the Kindle has been a great addition to my library, especially when you factor in that it will pay for itself.  At the rate that I’m buying books right now, the savings of buying lower priced Kindle editions of books rather than paper editions (plus shipping), the Kindle will have paid for itself by the end of the year.  A great bargain when you like the Kindle reading experience better than the traditional one.

If any of you have a better reading option, I’m all ears – see you in the comments.

The iPad in the Hands of a 4 Year Old

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

This morning I came across a short write-up in TechCrunch about a video of a 4 year old using an iPad entitled Could There Be A Better Advertisement For The iPad? It’s a reminder of how quickly children adapt to new technology and how quickly new technology is adapting to make interaction more intuitive.

Are you using an iPad or something similar with your children?  If so, let us know about your favorite apps in the comments below.