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Posts Tagged ‘web-based learning’

The difference between regular school and online learning…….

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Online education represents a new kind of challenge for students. Each student’s and parent’s expectations differ widely, and the e-Tutor response may not always meet expectations. There are some things all students can expect. Students can expect to be challenged academically. They can expect to not understand everything they experience in an online educational program. They can expect to not always see the relevance of what they are asked to do. But, they also can expect that resources will be available to help them.

It may seem obvious, but it sometimes comes as a shock to students that online learning will require increased academic skill. Consider the following:

Traditional School

e-Tutor Online Education

  • Attendance is required
  • Attendance is not enforced
  • Teachers often test over clearly reviewed materials
  • Three forms of testing take place in each e-Tutor Lesson Module: Self Check (Problem Statement), Parent Review (Activities and Extended Learning), Quizzes and Exams are automatically scored by e-Tutor.  e-Tutor emphasizes critical thinking and problem solving skills
  • Students study an average of one hour per week per class
  • Students are expected to complete no more than four lesson modules each day and to spend one to one and a half hours on each lesson module.
  • Weeks are full of structured activities
  • Possibilities for family, individual and outside involvement are endless and sometimes overwhelming
  • Teachers often remind students of deadlines, overdue work, and their current grades
  • e-Tutor expects students, with parents assisting, to schedule their own learning program and to keep track of the number of lesson modules completed, as well as scores for quizzes and exams.
  • Class structure is discussed in detail at the beginning of the year
  • Recommended learning programs are spelled out in the original email that goes to parents.
  • Teachers can usually be found in their classrooms throughout the day
  • e-Tutor can be contacted anytime 24/7 via email.  Response is within twenty-four hours.

TEN Ways to Make the Most of STUDY TIME!

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

Relax a bit after school before doing homework. Then….

1. Find the best time to study

After school, after dinner…..homework should have a definite start and finish time. If the homework is finished early, the remaining time should be used to double-check and review.

2. The best place to study

Homework headquarters should be away from television,  phone, and other distractions. A writing surface and good light are necessities. A small table may be the best place for a young student, while a desk or table, even the floor or a bed, may work for an older student.

3. Be prepared

Have all the materials needed to complete assignments. Pencils, sharpener, eraser and paper for younger students, a pen, ruler, dictionary, thesaurus, and more may be necessary for older students.

4. Make a homework list

Make an easy two-part homework checklist:

______ List homework assignments in each class each day as they are made.

______ Check over the list at the end of the school day to make sure you have all the materials necessary to take home.

Show the assignment sheet to educators. They can help to see that you have everything to complete assignments at home.

5. Keep a homework calendar

Record due dates for major long-range assignments on a special calendar brings the task into focus. Work backwards, identifying all the steps along the way to completion of the assignment.

If a short paper is due on Friday, the last step is to write the final draft on Thursday.  The first step is to begin reading and note taking on Monday.

6. Study rhythms

Tackle the most difficult assignments when you are most alert and save easier tasks for off-peak times. Schedule several smaller segments of time for memorization. It is easier to learn in short stretches than at one long session. Try using an easier assignment as a break from something more difficult.

7. When you get stuck – Ask these questions…..

  • Have you read and followed directions carefully?
  • Are you taking short cuts that are confusing you?
  • Are you using your book properly?
  • Read the directions aloud….now do they make sense?
  • Have you tried making a picture, table, graph, or diagram to represent the known facts and relationships?
  • Have you tried to sold a similar, but less difficult problem?
  • Have you checked the glossaries, the table of contents or the indexes for help?
  • Did you copy the words or numbers correctly?
  • Are you trying to do too much of the work in your head?
  • Have you checked for careless mistakes?

Still stuck? Do other homework assignments for awhile. Go to learning program early and check with the educator. Remember…..educators want success from their students.

8. Ask for help

It is okay to ask for help. Ask parents, older brothers and sisters, just ask.

9. Take a break

Schedule one or more short breaks during the study time. Stretching the mind for an hour, calls for stretching the body for a few minutes. Do jumping jacks, play ping pong or the drums…..get up and move.

10. Book bag at bedtime

Create a fail-proof method for getting completed homework assignments to school on time. A good slogan is “homework goes in the book bag at bedtime.”

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.

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

Summary of the World

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

This came to me many years ago from a fifth grade teacher in Illinois.  I think it bears repeating.  Interestingly, I wonder if the demographics are still the same after several years. 

If we could, at this time, shrink the Earth’s population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all existing human ratios remaining the same, it would look like this:

There would be 57 Asians, 21 Europeans, 14 from the Western Hemisphere (North and South) and 8 Africans.

1.         70 would be nonwhite; 30 white

2.         70 would be non-Christian; 30 Christian

3.         50% of the entire world wealth would be in the hands of only 6 people

4.         All 6 would be citizens of the United States

5.         70 would be unable to read

6.         50 would suffer from malnutrition

7.         80 would live in substandard housing

8.         Only 1 would have a college education

When one considers our world from such an incredibly compressed perspective, the need for both tolerance and understanding becomes glaringly apparent.

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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Overcoming Conventional Wisdom

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

TowerFor centuries, people believed that Aristotle was right when he said that the heavier an object, the faster it would fall to earth. Aristotle was regarded as the greatest thinker of all times and surely he could not be wrong. All it would have taken was for one brave person to take two objects, one heavy and one light, and drop them from a great height to see whether or not the heavier object landed first. But no one stepped forward until nearly 2000 years after Aristotle’s death. In 1589, Galileo summoned learned professors to the base of the leaning Tower of Pisa. Then he went to the top and pushed off a ten-pound and a one-pound weight. Both landed at the same time. But the power of belief in the conventional wisdom was so strong that the professors denied what they had seen. They continued to say Aristotle was right.

Considering the Best Measure for Quality Education

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

The other day a neighbor visited me while I was working in the garden. She wanted to talk about the changes occurring at the local school. Comparing the education she and her husband received with that her children were receiving, she had determined that they were getting an excellent education. Both parents were pleased their children were learning “so much more” than they had.

I had to agree with my friend, that, we most often use this standard of measurement for our children’s schooling. I certainly did when my children were young. But is this the best measure for quality in education? I asked the neighbor to consider how the world had changed, in the time since she was in school, and the amount of information we and our children have at our finger tips. It seems reasonable to assume that our children would, and should, be learning a great deal more of the information that took us years to assimilate. For the most part, our children begin school having access to more information than their parents had. By the time a child has completed one year of schooling that information has almost doubled. When I was in school it took many years for information to change. That provided me and those of my generation a certain consistency with learning information that is not available today. Therefore, I’m not certain that the same paradigms for learning, that served my neighbors and me, are adequate for today’s student.

Unfortunately, I do not have an easy answer for what should be or could be. I do know that when I hear about educators who continue to teach they way they have for many years, it concerns me. I have seen wonderful teachers who are very good with their students, but who are missing the mark in preparing their students for this fast paced world. That human aspect is so very important to teaching, but what of the child who does not receive adequate information to be successful in ensuing years. What a dilemma it raises for those of us who work with these well intentioned people on a daily basis. The tried and true paradigms of the past, that served us well, that prepared our youngster for a successful future, are not adequate today. We all have to try harder to challenge our own methods of educating and of evaluating schooling.

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)

Six Ways to Increase Oral Reading Skills

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

When reading orally, children must not only decode the printed words on a page, they must also communicate the author’s meaning to others by varying the voice volume, pitch, phrasing, pauses, tone and reading rate.  When reading orally, children must understand what they are reading in order to communicate the meaning successfully.  As a result, the regular practice of oral reading boosts children’s comprehension, producing gains that will transfer to their silent, independent reading of fiction or nonfiction.

Activities to increase oral reading skills:

  1. Reading Specific Sentences Aloud. Have your child read a passage silently.  Ask questions and direct him/her to locate and read the sentence that has the answer.
  2. Multimedia Models. Play records and tape recordings of poetry, prose and plays.  Encourage discussion of  the way the speakers use their voices to convey meaning.
  3. Reading Duets. Have your child choose a reading partner.  Alternate the partners as readers and listeners.
  4. One Minute or Less Oral Reading Fun. Provide daily opportunities for your child to read orally, such as reading notices, signs or advertisements.
  5. Choral Reading and Play-Reading. Select poems, dramatic scenes from stories or story description to rehearse for choral readings.  Model the chosen selection.  Have your child choose a part to practice reading orally.
  6. Recording Oral Reading. Tape or video record plays, choral readings or radio dramas that your child has prepared and practiced.