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Posts Tagged ‘k-12’

Where Are The Basic Math Facts?

Monday, June 18th, 2012

eTutor’s curriculum calls for the quick recall of basic facts by children at the end of third grade.  Learning of these skills is done best by teaching students about numbers in relation to everyday life activities and not exclusively by rote drills and memorization.  Their math horizons are expanding to include problem-solving skills, ratio and proportions, algebra, geometry, measurement, data collection, analysis and estimation.  eTutor challenges students to balance a strong knowledge of basic skills with the ability to solve day-to-day math problems with confidence.

It is appropriate for students to struggle once in a while with math problems.  This helps them learn from mistakes, practice persistence and accept challenges.

Numbers and operations on numbers play fundamental roles in helping us make sense of the world around us.  Operations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, as well as the ability to find powers and roots, extend the notion of numbers to create tools to model situations and solve problems in our everyday lives.  Discussing and solving problems related to budgets, comparing prices on merchandise, understanding the nature of interest charges, measuring fuel consumption and calculating the trajectory for space travel would all be impossible without a sense of numbers and numerical operations.  All people must develop this sense of numbers and operations and be able to use it to solve problems using mental computation, paper-and-pencil algorithms, calculators and computers. (from eTutor Goals for Mathematics)

Seven Questions for Your Child’s Reading

Monday, April 30th, 2012

In choosing books for children the following was recently found in a book of poetry.  Although aimed at boys of the period the guidelines are worthy  today of consideration by all parents:

Read your children’s books yourself.  Or better still, get your child to read them aloud to you.  Ask yourself during the reading:

  • Does this book lay stress on villainy, deception or treachery?
  • Are all the incidents wholesome, probable and true to life?
  • Does it show young people contemptuous toward their elders and successfully opposing them?
  • Do the young characters in the book show respect for teachers and others in authority?
  • Are these characters the kind of young people you wish your children to associate with?
  • Does the book speak of and describe pranks, practical jokes and pieces of thoughtless and cruel mischief as though they were funny and worthy of imitation.
  • Is the English good and is the story written in good style?

Adapted from One Hundred and One Famous Poems (1958)

Mutual Trust Starts With Total Honesty

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

A judge in a large mid-western city was describing the causes of juvenile delinquency speaking from personal experience with thousands of young people: “Children want to be honest. They do not want to cheat.  They look to their parents and teacher to teach them honesty. They are confused, letdown, and disappointed when they hear one parent on the telephone saying the other parent is not at home.  But they are both in the living room watching television,  it is these little white lies that tear down the trust and confidence children want to have in their parents.  Children cannot tell the difference between little dishonesty and big dishonesty.” Can anyone? Don’t you have a feeling of insecurity in someone you know does not respect absolute truthfulness and honesty?

Mutual trust starts with your total honesty, even at your expense.  No exaggerations, no cover-ups, no distortions, no little white lies…just complete honesty.  It is a contagious characteristic that will spread to others.

Virtual Learning Takes A Boat Ride

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

It was early summer when Mrs. Blakely called to talk with me about her son, Jared.  They had subscribed to eTutor Virtual Learning Program over the winter months.  Jared was the computer expert in the family and enjoyed studying over the Internet.

Mrs. Blakely and her family lived on a small island in Washington State.  On this day she was looking at the geese and goats in her yard as Jared got in his rowboat for the short distance to the mainland.  With warmer weather he chose to go to the library to access eTutor from the computers there.  The access was faster and he was showing others at the library about the program.

Jared is not unlike other students from around the world who are using eTutor as part of their learning experience.  The virtual learning program has over 3200 lessons in the four major curricular areas of English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies.

Jared logs on whenever he wants to, in order to study, while other students have a set time to log on each day.  Each lesson has nine parts and takes between 45 minutes to an hour to complete.  The extended learning section can increase the time to complete a lesson.

Mrs. Blakely checks Jared’s student portfolio each day to see what lessons he has completed and how he has don on the quizzes and exams.  “It has been hard to get Jared to focus on studying, but he loves logging on to eTutor.  He finally is enjoying learning!”

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.

Three Features Identify Outstanding Online Learning

Friday, August 5th, 2011

All online courses of study should be accredited and designed according to national and state standards.  Content will include:

  • Technology-based curriculum activities to enliven and enrich learning
  • Online communication, collaboration and reference tools
  • Community-based activities

The outstanding online instructional program will deliver broad, engaging curriculum content in major curricular areas that include many different subjects.  Subscribers will have access to all curricular areas at their level. Each time a student enters the program he will choose the curricular area he wishes to study:  Language Arts, Mathematics, Science or Social Science.   Within the curricular area the student will select subjects based on a recommended course of study.

No plug-ins, software or additional components will be needed.  Teachers from across the United States will be able to create the interactive instructional modules.  The amount of instructional material will be increased regularly.  Instructional modules will be aligned to state and national goals and standards in the four core curriculum areas.  The program will be fully accessible through the Internet,  with no peripherals or ancillary material, allowing registered users to access the program from any location.

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.

Homework – When is Enough, Enough?

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

According to a national survey, kids are spending twice as much time on homework as they did in 1981. And elementary school children account for the brunt of that jump. It is controversial as to whether this is good or bad and whether there is such a thing as an ideal amount of homework.

Alfie Kohn, author of “The Homework Myth,” thinks giving homework is a tradition based in folk wisdom and that, in reality, it does more harm than good. “The amount of homework is increasing, at least for younger children at precisely the same time that more research is failing to show any benefit whatsoever.” He believes there is no evidence showing that homework is beneficial academically, but it may be the single greatest extinguisher of children’s curiosity yet invented. “It’s all pain, no gain,” he says.

On the other hand, Harris Cooper of Duke University defends the worth of homework in measured doses and for certain grade levels. He used available research showing the success of homework to frame what is called “The 10 Minute Rule.” It stipulates 10 minutes of homework per night, per grade level beginning in 1st grade. So 1st graders should get no more than 10 minutes of homework each night, 2nd graders 20 minutes, etc.

For parents who see homework eroding their child’s sleep, affecting their health or eliminating their free time, experts encourage them to take the issue back to the school or pulling in like-minded parents. The idea is to help parents and educators advocate for saner homework practices.

Adapted from Chicago Tribune

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?

Homeschooling

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

We have many friends and associates who are homeschooling their children. Although we value public schooling, we also place value in the need to have alternatives. Parents can then choose the most appropriate learning approach for their child or children.

The number of homeschoolers is bigger than the nation’s largest public school system in New York City and may be as high as approximately 2.2 million. The number of homeschoolers is difficult to quantify, because there is no clear definition of what is ‘homeschooling.’ We believe that homeschooling embraces any student who participates in consistent learning activities in the home. So, that could mean a student who completes a full curriculum at home or one who does supplemental instructional work at home. In other words, any student who participates in a course of study on a regular and consistent basis at home is a homeschooled students. Before we can count these children, we all need to agree on what homeschooling means.

Although critics of homeschool argue that it can’t replace the social and educational tools offered in traditional schools, Patricia Lines, a senior research analyst for the U.S. Department of Education argues homeschooling is instead “reinventing the idea of school.” Homeschoolers use tools such as the Internet and educational software to provide new avenues of learning. Homeschooling can provide a wealth of opportunities for all students including those with special needs such as gifted or learning disabled students.