In The News
                        January 2006   Vol. 9-1

President’s Message

We are going into our ninth year of offering online learning.  It is hard to believe.  As the years go by and we watch our newsletter volumes increase, I am truly amazed.  When we started I wasn't sure how the concept would take hold.  I remember deciding on the name e-Tutor.  I envisioned an electronic teacher when we coined the name.  There were certain standards that were important, in my mind, when creating a distance education program for the Internet. 
  • Instructional lesson format needs to be consistent
  • Immediate feedback is necessary for both student and parent
  • Instruction should be customized to student progress
  • Parents need to be part of the teaching-learning program
  • Instruction should be linked to National and State Learning Goals
  • Appropriate Internet links need to be an integral part of each instructional lesson
  • Instructional lessons should be available to students from grades K – 12
  • Students should learn the value and appropriate use of the Internet while completing instructional lessons

Over the years we have maintained integrity to those important standards.  There are many companies offering online educational programming today and the market will continue to grow.  As always parents and often students need to do their 'homework' to determine the best program for their immediate needs.  We are proud of the recognition and accolades we have received over the years.  But, we are most proud of the successes of the students we have served.  They have gone on to graduate from colleges and universities,  received scholarships, joined the armed services, returned to public and private schools or found jobs.  The standards we established early on have served students, parent and us well. 

This is a planning month for us.  We have been busy making plans for expansion and growth.  It is fun to dream about possibilities but it is important also to keep our feet firmly on the ground.  Nevertheless, over the years some of our dreams have taken root and are growing.  Early on, we thought it would be advantageous to have a learning center where we could actually observe and learn from students who were using the program.  We have that now and we are learning new things every day.  So, one is never completely sure, but as I've often told my own children, "If you don't have a road map, you won't know where you are going."  Planning, goals and even dreams can provide that 'road map.'

Enjoy this winter month.  

Homeschooling Corner

Are you thinking about homeschooling?  Find help here.

Are you beginning to homeschool your child?  Find resources here.

Are you an old hand at homeschooling?  Check us out.

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One is not rich by what one owns, but more by what one is able to do without with dignity.

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), Philosopher 

Learning with e-Tutor

                   Lesson Modules

The e-Tutor Virtual Learning Program consists of lesson modules.  The Lesson Library contains nearly 1900 lesson modules.  Each lesson module has several important sections that are included at each of four levels, Primary, Intermediate, Middle/Junior High and High School.  Each section is important to learning and maintaining the skill or concept taught in the Study Guide.   Lesson modules focus on relevant and interesting topics emphasizing basic skills.  The content applies to real-life situations that students can relate to, such as creating a budget or reviewing a movie.

Each e-Tutor lesson module, consists of nine parts followed by an assessment section, which contains quizzes and an exam.

1.       Introduction – a brief statement explaining the topic of the lesson.

2.       Grade Level – e-Tutor lessons are cross-aged at Primary, Intermediate, Middle/Jr. High, and High School.

3.       Lesson Goals – goals and objectives are correlate to national and state learning standards in the major subject areas.

4.       Resources – links to quality education web sites where students can find information to reinforce or expand upon the information given in the Study Guide. We suggest that the student write a paragraph or two describing each of the resource links.  Younger students might draw pictures to tell what they have learned.

5.       Lesson Problem – setting the stage for learning by posing a question(s) to be answered in completing the lesson.  Students should respond in writing to the lesson problem before and after completing each lesson module.  This provides an excellent opportunity for students to self-check what they have learned. 

6.       Vocabulary – enriched vocabulary words new to students are hyper-linked to dictionaries on the Internet.  Students are encouraged to use these as spelling words, for writing sentences or creating word games and puzzles.

7.       Study Guide – the main body of each lesson contains information on basic skills and concepts that students need to be successful learners.  Internet links are embedded into each study guide.  These are provided to clarify and extend information about the skill or concept being taught.  Quizzes and exams may reflect information from these resources. 

8.       Activities – worksheets, experiments, projects that give the student practice in what s/he has learned.  These are completed off line and we request that parents review this with the student.  Grading is not necessary.

9.       Extended Learning – additional thought provoking activities that stimulate logical thinking, creative reasoning and critical thinking. These are also completed off line.  Parent should use these as a springboard for discussion, i.e., "What did you learn by doing this?" "How could you have done this differently?" "Explain more about this concept or skill to me."

Each of the learning modules (Resources, Vocabulary, Study Guide, Activities, and Extended Learning) contributes to the learning process in a unique way.  These modules, interesting topics and colorful graphics, make e-Tutor effective and inviting to the student.  With the use of the many valuable online educational resources, no place is more than a few mouse clicks away.

For example, in a lesson that investigates the giant pandas, the student learns about the pressing problem of saving the endangered animal by connecting to the World Wildlife Funds where the giant panda is one of the top ten most endangered species.  The student is later linked to a map of China to study the native terrain of the pandas and to the San Diego Zoo for information about panda research.  In this engaged learning environment, the students routinely take virtual field trips to every corner of the earth from the computer.  The e-Tutor students are not time-stressed.  e-Tutor can help students focus on learning, instead of time, by assisting the learner to manage information, by providing resources, and by being “open” 24 hours a day.  In another lesson example, the student can read about a masterpiece by Edgar Allan Poe, visit the author’s hometown and interact with other writers interested in Poe’s work.  The e-Tutor method of learning encourages students to learn by doing, simulating the real world situation.  

Three new lessons were added to the e-Tutor Lesson Library this month. 
Join the e-Tutor world of learning today to view the Lesson Library.  


 Beating Back the Bully 

Like the wild beasts of nature, bullies have an instinctive knack for identifying and preying upon weaker kids.  According to studies, three out of four kids report bullying or teasing episodes in the course of a typical school year.  Repeated cases of bullying have been tolerated because society considers bullying a rite of passage.  As long as nobody gets hurt, the message is to just deal with it.  The truth is, the bullies as well as the victims suffer.  Below are some suggestions to help your child deal with bullies:

  • Tell your child that being bullied is not his or her fault.  Help your child find a safe route to and from school.  Point out places where your child can go for help.  Encourage your child to travel with friends. 

  • If the bully is a classmate, encourage your child to speak to the bully in a clam and clear voice to name the behavior he or she doesn't like and state what is expected instead.  (However, ignoring a bully is the best strategy when the bully is unknown or someone capable of hurting the child, or when the bully occurs for the first time.)

  • Tell your child that sometimes it's possible to make things better with a joke or a question such as, "Tell me what I did wrong and I'll apologize."  Most bullies back down when they don't get the response they expect.

  • Talk to your child about handling the situation.  Ask if help is needed.  If not, wait a few days and ask again. 

  • Inform school staff if there is a problem.  Keep records of dates, times and names of those involved. 

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

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Think big thoughts but relish small pleasures.

H. Jackson Brown, Jr. Writer


The Power of Conventional Wisdom

For 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, reinforcing the observation by Niccolo Machiavelli in his book,  The Prince, that: "There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success than to take the  lead in the introduction of a new order of things." 

Executive Speechwriter Newsletter

Ask Their Opinion

Raising children is a two-way street.  It isn't just the filling up of an empty vessel with your thoughts, feelings and beliefs.  Kids have opinions, impressions, thoughts and ideas of their own to share, if you would just ask.  And if you are willing, they can even show you a new perspective.  They tell the truth.  We adults may be a little jaded, or perhaps we have forgotten what it's like to be a child.  Molly told her father as they were getting ready for church, "It's hard to go to church when I'm having fun at home."

Children have opinions about a lot of things.  Take the time to say "What do you think?" or "I'm wondering how you are feeling?" or "Any ideas?"  Listen to their responses.  From something as simple as what to cook for dinner to the more complicated matters of allowance and curfew, children have valid suggestions and observations of their own.  Michelle proposed painting her room pink, yellow and green plaid.  It looks great!  Even very young children know what they like.  At ten months old, Martin knew for sure he didn't like squash and spit it out each time his father tried to feed it to him and one-year-old Kalle hated playing in sand or getting her hands dirty. 

Children are curious observers of their world.  Let them know it's okay to express themselves.  You might be surprised at what they have already learned.  Lacey told her aunt, "My mom thinks there's a Santa Claus, but I know there isn't."  At six years old, Jill told her mother, "I'll study my spelling words after I play for one hour."  And Riley told his parents, "I think playing one sport is enough for me."

Children have lots to say and when asked will give you new ideas where you might be stuck.  At age eight, Manda told her mother about a new babysitter and got her phone number from a neighbor.  They tried her out and Manda informed her mother,  "She isn't any good because she talks on the phone too much."  So she didn't use her again. 

Don't be so quick to discount your child's thoughts and feelings.  Recently, while speaking to a group of junior high students, I asked them what they wished their parents would do differently.  One girl raised her hand and said, "I wish my parents would listen more."  Several others agreed, and one teenage boy added, "Kids know how to listen better than adults."

Kids do have something to say, so if you stay open to what that is, you will discover what they know.  Involving your child in this way may take time and energy, but it's the beginning of creative problem solving. 

Wonderful Ways to Love A Child, Judy Ford pp. 28-29

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Love is not blind....it sees more, not less.  But because it sees more, it is willing to see less.

Julius Gordon, Rabbi 

Listening Strategies

Listening is the first language skill learned by humans.  Perhaps that is why it is so taken for granted.  Much of our listening takes place on a superficial level.  Televisions and radios provide "background noise"; minds wander during telephone or face-to-face conversations.  Superficial listening prevents aural overload.  if a listener were to focus on each sound in the environment, the listener would have difficulty concentrating on any new aural information.  People usually are amazed when they hear the audio portion of a home movie or tape.  Sounds that they have selectively tuned out in their environment (e.g., clocks ticking, horns honking) are audible because the microphone is not a subjective listener.  The school-age child is adept at selectively tuning out aural information.  

Research indicates, however, that listening comprehension can be improved.  Investigators recommend direct instruction using strategies similar to those used to teach reading comprehension.  Of course one cannot expect students to begin practice in listening (e.g., listening to a story) until the students learn strategies for listening.  Students can benefit by using the following strategies:

  • Visualizing
  • Classification
  • Organizing Patterns
  • Note Taking
  • Listening for Vocal Clues

Adapted from Silver Burdett and Ginn

 The Effective Family

Researchers have found certain characteristics that identify effective schools, businesses and organizations. They found that the best organizations share certain common features.  Researchers have found that the same is true for families.  Ten characteristics of effective families have been identified.  They share:

  • A feeling of control over their lives

  • Frequent communication of high expectations to children

  • A family dream of success for the future

  • A belief that hard work is the key to success

  • An active, not a sedentary lifestyle

  • 25-35 hours of home-centered learning each week

  • A belief that the family is the mutual support system and problem solving unit

  • Clearly understood household rules that are consistently enforced

  • Frequent contacts with educators

  • An emphasis on spiritual growth.

Adapted from The Parent Institute

How to Rethink Your Anger

Knowing how to manage your anger can go a long way toward helping you deal effectively with spouses, children, friends and neighbors.  RETHINK is an acronym to help you cope with anger. It was developed by the Institute for Mental Health Initiatives of Washington, D.C.

  • Recognize when you are feeling angry....or when it's a cover-up for fear, stress, shame or fatigue.

  • Empathize with the person who is the target of anger.

  • Think about what is creating anger in a particular situation.  Is there another way of thinking that might create humor?  A solution?

  • Hear what the other person is saying.  When people are hurt, they want to be heard.

  • Integrate respect and love with what you say about your anger.

  • Notice how your body changes when you are angry.  For example, heartbeat quickens, hands perspire, teeth clench.  Practice a quick form of gaining control, such as counting to 10.

  • Keep your attention on the subject at hand.  Don't bring up old grudges and wounds. 

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When people share their fears with you, share your courage with them.

Jazzy January Links:

Weather Scope: An Investigative Study of Weather and Climate:  This is a new educational project that uses online real time data investigations and hands-on activities to guide student discovery of the science behind the factors that affect weather and climate. After completing this project, the students will learn how to how to record weather data and represent it in graphs and maps, how to compare weather in different places and different times, and ultimately be able to identify and explain the factors that affect temperature and current 
weather conditions, and possibly forecast future ones. 

Coliseum: A Gladiator's Story:   A multimedia extravaganza which includes a virtual trip through Rome's "Arena of Death," Coliseum through time slideshow, and an animated video fly-through of the Coliseum as it looked 1,900 years ago including a gladiator's battle! Also includes an online quiz. Requires 

Dairy Council of California Educators Page:   Since 1919, Dairy Council of California has been an innovator in nutrition education. An Education Advisory Panel provides a grassroots perspective about what kind of programs and services are needed by teachers and health professionals. You will find Lesson Plans, articles and free handouts appropriate for parents and students. 

Low Life Labs: This site provides an imaginary environment where cockroaches, ants, and similar creatures are studied. Robots are then built using the knowledge gleaned from these creature's natural adaptations to their environment. Divided into four sections: Moving, Sensing, Thinking, and Being; each area allows users to manipulate various types of simulations. Rollover 
the main pages to get directions and explanations or to use the tools. 
Truly excellent! Requires Quicktime and Java. 

The JASON Project:  Educators and students can get involved with math and science experts from around the world in real time through the Web site of the JASON Project.  The project was founded in 1989 by Dr. Robert Ballard, discoverer of the wreck of the RMS Titanic to supplement science curricula for middle grade students.

Harriet Jacobs's Life As A Slave Girl:   Like Frederick Douglass's Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs's Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is one of the great memoirs of former slaves. Students can learn more about slavery and events leading up to the Civil War. http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/JACOBS/hjhome.htm 

Lincoln Debates:  The debates between Stephen A. Douglas and Abraham Lincoln were held during the 1858 campaign for a US Senate seat from Illinois. The debates were held at seven sites throughout Illinois, one in each of the seven Congressional Districts,  

Have a Warm Month!

From the Knowledge HQ Staff

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