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Archive for the ‘Learning Activities’ 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.

Leisure-Time Reading

Saturday, May 4th, 2013

Leisure-time reading outside of educational activities is a key to superior learning performance, according to a study which examined the reading habits of 155 ten-year-olds. The most surprising finding was not the link between outside reading and educational proficiency, but rather the low amount of outside reading that is actually needed to improve instructional performance.

Astonishingly, ten minutes a day of outside book reading makes a vast difference, according to the study published in Reading Research Quarterly. Improvement tends to level off as outside reading time increases beyond twenty minutes a day.

Unfortunately most students read very little on their own. Therefore, the study suggests, parents and educators should make sure children have access to interesting books at a suitable vocabulary and comprehension level, and that adults read aloud to them and provide time for reading during each day.

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.

Your Child and Reading

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

The best way to prepare children for reading instruction is to read interesting books to them. Nearly any book that youngsters can understand and relate to will do. Nursery rhymes and books with repetitive patterns lend themselves to preparation for reading.

Children begin acquiring literacy (reading and writing) long before they enter school. Most school-age children have acquired a fairly extensive vocabulary and sophisticated language system. They have seen traffic signs and billboard advertising, printed messages on television, and printing on cereal boxes. They can tell a McDonald’s logo from that of Burger King and distinguish a box of Fruit Loops from a box of Captain Crunch.

They have seen their parents read books, magazines, newspapers, letters, or bills, and observed them writing notes or letters, filling out forms, and making lists. The children may also have imitated some of these activities. Their parents may have read books to them and provided them with crayons, pencils, and other tools of literacy. All youngsters, no matter how impoverished their environment, have begun the journey along the path that begins with language acquisition and ends in formal literacy.

Excerpts from Creating Reading Instruction For All Children by Thomas G. Gunning, Allyn and Bacon, 1992.

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

Motivating Your Child

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Sometimes a child doesn’t seem motivated to start a project because it appears overwhelming. You can help by teaching your child to break a large job down into smaller parts. Say, “First, we will plan a trip to the library to get the materials you will need. Then you will need to schedule some time each day for your research.”

As your child completes each step, he will gain confidence and motivation. That will keep him working until the job is finished.

The Trick of Nines

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

Is your child having trouble learning the “9″ times table? Here is a trick to help. Multiply any number by 9, and the answer will always add up to 9. Try it. 2 time 9 equals 18, and 1 plus 8 equals 9. 8 time 9 equals 72, and 7 plus 2 equals 9.

The trick works for very large numbers, as well, like this 8142 times 9 equals 73,278. 7 plus 3 plus 2 plus 7 plus 8 equals 27…and 2 plus 7 equals 9.

Give your child a calculator and let her try it for herself.

Face to Face Communicating

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

Listening

Recently at a large convention I had an opportunity to view first hand the good and bad in communicating. These tips are great for anyone to use:

  • Always remember that you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.
  • Every individual is a communicator and has credibility with someone.
  • Be genuine and honest. If you don’t know, don’t guess.
  • Be enthusiastic. A spark is essential if you want to motivate enthusiasm in others.
  • Identify key communicators.
  • Use every available means to get people to “witness” quality efforts in action.
  • Encourage visibility.
  • Make communications a part of your objectives each year.
  • Don’t “PR people to death” suddenly.
  • Above all, listen. Listening is a sign of caring, is basic to building responsiveness, and is the key to confidence.

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.