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Posts Tagged ‘teaching’

The Promise of Online Learning

Friday, April 24th, 2015

We ran across an article yesterday that forced us to realize what we have known but not admitted for several years now….the potential that online learning offers has not been realized.  While there are some interesting and valuable programs being used in a piece meal fashion….none has changed the dynamic in the classroom  Why?  There are no doubt many reasons.  But consider that the classroom today looks much like it did in the industrial era…a group of students with one adult directing instruction.  Traditional classroom learning is just not sustainable in a world of rapidly changing information and technology.

Unfortunately, to date, online educational programs are emulating the traditional teaching learning process.  There is no one best way….but the technology today offers an opportunity to provide students and those who work with them a world class education no matter the situation.  We can communicate with friends and experts around the world; we can use gaming to motivate and engage students; we can capture teachable moments with live video; we can monitor student engagement; we can provide interesting lessons that capture all curricular subjects; we can taylor instruction based on student achievement; we can give students and educators choices for learning and instruction;  we can continue to allow educators to create and change online programs for their own classes;  we can incorporate audio and video with all learning; we can give students and parents opportunities to create their own learning programs; we can use digital groups and one to one sessions to create community;  we can align everything to standards for learning;  we can provide instantaneous report results of student learning  for parents and educators; we can maintain a level of excellence that demonstrates the potential of technology; and we can overlap and connect activities when needed.

I envision a program that uses all that technology offers to transform the way students learn today.  A tapestry of online learning techniques that students can select from and participate in to develop their own instructional program.  There is every reason for schools and educators to use the same program.   There is nothing new here….all exists….but it is not filtering into education and if it is, the pieces are not connected.  Good programs make up the bits and pieces we see in education but they are not changing things for students in the classroom.  Teachers still walk around the classroom checking student work, asking for student responses, doling out information….we can do better for our students.  We need to supplant not supplement education as we know it.

If we continue to supplement what we have done in the classroom for well over one hundred years, we will continue to lose those students who do not have access to the very best in teaching.  If we wish to save education for all students, then major changes must be considered.  Technology was to have changed the paradigm.  It hasn’t.  Now, we must.  Traditional classroom learning is just not sustainable in a world of rapidly changing information and technology.  We owe it to our students to shirk the trappings of the past and move toward industry standards of technology for teaching and learning.

The Pilgrims Came

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

The Pilgrims came across the sea,
And never thought of you and me;
And yet it’s very strange the way

We think of them Thanksgiving day.

We tell their story, old and true
Of how they sailed across the blue,
And found a new land to be free
And built their homes quite near the sea.

Every child knows well the tale
Of how they bravely turned the sail
And journeyed many a day and night,
To worship God as they thought right.

Author Unknown

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Cost of Keeping the Status Quo

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

Decision-makers frequently underestimate the costs of doing nothing, of maintaining the status quo. The price of not changing is often less obvious and harder to quantify than the expense of change.  In an ideal world, improvement and new opportunity decisions are made on a rational basis: cost effectiveness – monetary and human. Accurate estimates of costs and benefits for each proposed alternative must be calculated. The costs are relatively easy to isolate.

But what about the alternative that doesn’t involve change, the status quo option? Underestimated costs of doing nothing include downtime, clinging to outgrown systems, incompatible mixes of old and new programs and procedures, or using outdated procedures.  An apt description of our educational system.

The demands on education have increased greatly in recent years. Student populations have changed, and community complexity has increased. Instead of adopting new methods and procedures, some organizations stretch their old systems to accommodate the change they have experienced. Eventually the organization slows down, becomes less efficient or effective, and gives poor service. The costs are public dissatisfaction, more complaints and pressure for privatization.

If an organization prefers to maintain the status quo, it will only change when forced to. This will result in a mishmash of new, old and totally obsolete practices. One way to be prepared for change is to have procedures to respond to new requirements and opportunities……built into the organization. There is no such thing as cost-free status quo.

Pressures on Children and Youth

Sunday, December 16th, 2012

As a parent, you want your child to learn from the experience of pressure as part of the process of growing up.  You also want to do whatever you can to help your child cope with the pressures in life and to prevent the pressures from becoming insurmountable.  Obviously, you cannot eliminate many of these pressures, even if you really wanted to.  But you can help your child face them and you can avoid adding to them to make them worse.

  • Provide guidance in dealing with pressure.  Your child could take one of three general approaches…retreat, capitulation or action…to reduce the stress.  You can help your child determine what action would be most effective in a given circumstance.
  • Let your child know you care.  Be available to help her or him work out difficulties.  When a child has the security of parental love and respect, pressure can be met with self-confidence.  Be supportive, not smothering.  The more children feel they have solved problems themselves, the more assurance they feel the next time.
  • Be a positive force in your child’s life, not a major pressure point.  Throughout school years, avoid making unrealistic demands.  It is fine to start education early, but don’t pressure children to learn or to read before they are ready.  Let them feel they are reaching for their own goals, not satisfying your needs.  Don’t push children into early social experiences…they will mature emotionally and physically at their own rate.
  • Teach your child to live with limitations.  No one excels in everything; no one is perfect.  It is not your child’s particula
  • r handicaps that are crucial, but his or her attitude toward them.  Children should know their limits and recognize their strengths.
  • Help your child find time to be alone….time to think, to dream,  to plan, to make decisions.
  • Ground your child in a system of values.  Even if pressures become overwhelming, you do not want your child to seek ethically unacceptable means of dealing with them.  Students who have cheated report a wish for more parental direction, firm rules and guidance in                        determining right and wrong.
  • Encourage your teenager to develop self-responsibility.  Volunteer service, such as community work, provides one of the few remaining outlets in adolescence for independence, cooperative rather than competitive activity and useful and socially necessary work.

Becoming an Online Tutor

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Make sure that the program you are considering offers the best in educational content, as well as services for educators and parents.  Another component that will provide the most innovative program is one that can be used anywhere there is Internet access without reliance on texts, workbooks or other ancillary materials or equipment.

Before you continue, can you answer the following questions?

  • Are you comfortable using the computer and internet applications?
  • Have you used internet-based templates in the past?
  • Are you creative and able to develop instructional content without aid?

To be considered for a tutoring position with most accredited and reliable online learning programs, applicants must provide the following:

Education

The best accredited programs require tutors to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Teacher certification is preferred, but not required.

Experience

Adequate experience in working with students of all ages in various capacities.

Writing Skills

Most online learning programs use templates to create assignments and or lessons for their students.  Therefore, applicants may be judged on their writing skills. You can practice using a template for writing lessons at Lesson Pro.  You may be asked to submit writing samples for different levels of students.

When using a template, make sure that all sections are complete.  You might find it helpful to write your sample in a text file or another document and then cut and past sections into the template.  Your writing sample may not guarantee a tutoring position.  Other qualifications are taken into consideration.  You can list your qualifications in a cover letter and most important in your resume.

The Showcase of Learning, A Portfolio Primer

Friday, August 31st, 2012

Portfolios are powerful because they help students learn about their learning.  They provide an opportunity for students to share the responsibility for collecting proof or evidence of learning.  Portfolios are worth doing well because they are a rich resource for reporting…they help student and parents see the results of student learning for themselves.

All portfolios are a collection of evidence of student learning.  They become powerful when they have a purpose.  There are three major purposes for portfolios:  to display student work around a theme or subject, to show the process of learning and to show growth or progress.

e-Tutor provides a portfolio for each student that the parent can access.  The portfolio gives a report of the lessons completed and the results of quizzes and exams.   We also encourage our students to keep their own  progress portfolio.  We suggest that the student create a folder for each one of the major curricular areas: Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies.  As the Activity and Extended Learning sections are completed for each lesson,  these are placed in the folders.  Parents know where to find their child’s work, they can review what their child has done,  the child can refer back to what has been achieved and they provide a basis for discussion.

As time goes by other things can be added to the portfolio, such as a time sheet to record the time the child began and ended a learning session.  Parents can add copies of the e-Tutor portfolio, so that comparisons can be made between accomplishments in  the two types of assessment.

Such a portfolio showcases the learner and his or her own learning, rather than who they could be by making comparisons with others.

101 Ways to Praise A Child

Monday, August 20th, 2012

Wow • Way to Go • Super • You’re Special • Outstanding • Excellent • Great • Good • Neat • Well Done • Remarkable • I Knew You Could Do it • I’m Proud of You • Fantastic • Super Star • Nice Work • Looking Good • You’re on Top of it • Beautiful • Now You’re Flying • You’re Catching on • Now You’ve Got it • You’re Incredible • Hot Dog • Dynamite • You’re Beautiful • You’re Unique • Nothing Can Stop You Now • Good For You • I like You • You’re a Winner • Remarkable Job • Beautiful Work • Spectacular • You’re Spectacular • You’re Darling • You’re Precious • Great Discovery • You’ve Discovered the Secret • You Figured it Out • Fantastic Job • Hip, Hip Hurray • Bingo • Magnificent • Marvelous • Terrific • You’re Important • Phenomenal • You’re Sensational • Super Work • Creative Job • Super Job • Fantastic Job • Exceptional Performance • You’re a Real Trooper • You Are Responsible • You Are Exciting • You Learned it Right • What an Imagination • What a Good Listener • You Are Fun • Beautiful Sharing • Outstanding Performance • You’re a Good Friend • I Trust You • You’re Important • You Mean a Lot to Me • You Make Me Happy • You Belong • You’ve Got a Friend • You Make Me Laugh • You Brighten My Day • I Respect You • You Mean the World to Me • That’s Correct • You’re a Joy • You’re a Treasure • You’re Wonderful • You’re Perfect • Awesome • A+ Job • You’re A-OK-my Buddy • You Made My Day • That’s the Best • a Big Hug • a Big Kiss • Say I Love You! •

P.S.  Remember, a Smile Is Worth 1000 Words!

Don’t Pop Our Balloon!

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

Over the years we have met with many skeptics. We find the following helpful when someone has tried to “pop our balloon.” It is far better to give an idea a chance….or at least to not immediately shoot it down….than to be one of those who always says “Won’t work,” “Bad idea,” or “Too risky;” and so, never doing anything great!

  • This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.” Western Union internal memo, 1876
  • “The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?” David Sarnoff’s associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920’s.
  • “The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C’, the idea must be feasible.” A Yale management professor in response to Fred Smith’s proposal for an overnight delivery service. Smith is the founder of Federal Express Corporation.
  • “A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make.” Response to Debbi Field’s idea about starting Little Debbi Cookies.
  • “We didn’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.” Decca Recording Company rejection of the Beatles, 1962.
  • “If had thought about it, I wouldn’t have done the experiment. The literature was full of examples that said you can’t do this.” Spencer Silver on his invention of the Post-It Notes
  • “So we went to Atari and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or, we’ll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary; we’ll come work for you.’ And they said, ‘No.’ So, then we went to Hewlett-Packard and they said, ‘Hey, we don’t need you. You haven’t gotten through college yet.’ ” Apple Computer Inc. Founders, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.
  • “Professor Goddard does not know the relation between action and reaction and the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react. He seems to lack the basic knowledge ladled out daily in high schools.” 1921 New York Times on Goddard’s revolutionary rocket work.
  • “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” Charles H. Duell, Commissioner of the U.S. Office of patents, 1899.

From Phi Delta Kappa

The Value of Play

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Everyone senses on some level that the ability to be spontaneous and to play is a basic need and an important characteristic of healthy human beings.  However, not everyone can channel this force for ultimate health and happiness.  Unfortunately, learning to play is something we must do as children; if we do not learn how to play as a youngster, often it is a skill that cannot be learned as an adult.  Teach your child how to use her brain, body, emotions and imagination as vehicles for celebrating her higher self.  When you teach your child to play, you are showing her the path of intellectual, social and emotional transformation…a path which ultimately leads to self-actualization!

For our young children, everything they do is learning.  Adding fun to the doing and learning will make even the tedious seem like a game.  The more your child plays and does, the more opportunities, she has for finding favorites.  Imagine if you will, what would have happened if Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s family had never set him on a piano bench and place his little hands on the keys?  Nothing.  What a loss that would have been for the world.  One of your most important jobs as a parent is to find out what natural talents lie within your child.

When a child is born, he has over a hundred billion brain cells.  Through play, trillions of synapses develop connecting these hundred billion cells in the brain.  Each time your preschooler plays a game, listens to music or stories from picture books and interacts with you, new synapses develop and the child’s intellect is enhanced.  Play, although it sounds simple, must be taken seriously.  Play is your child’s work!

Are There Different Kinds of Smart?

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Not long ago, most viewed intelligence as a single quantity …an immutable, monolithic construct known as “intelligence quotient” or “IQ.”

Today we’re pretty sure that is wrong.  Thanks to Howard Gardner’s groundbreaking work and to corresponding developments in neurobiology, most experts now suspect there are at least several different kinds of intelligence.  Rather than a single quantity, intelligence is now largely seen as a grouping of capacities, each defined by Gardner as “an ability to solve a problem or fashion a product that is valued in one or more cultural settings.”

How many are there?  At last count, Gardner list 8 1/2 … Linguistic, Logical-Mathematical, Visual-Spatial, Musical, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Naturalist and half for Comedic Intelligence.

How many are likely to emerge?  Nobody really knows, but ultimately the question of precise numbers misses the point:  a more important question may be, “How do we use our many skills most effectively?”  And the answer seems to be.  “Use them often.”

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