In The News                     January 2009   Vol. 12-1


President’s Message

Happy 2009!  
It is hard to believe another year has started.  The years, over time, seem to cluster together so that it is hard to single any one year as more or less important than another.  However each year has its unique qualities and, where at this time of the calendar, we are not sure what will transpire during the year, things will happen that will make the year special in one way or the next.  For instance, last year was marked by our big step in moving an office to Boulder for part of our operations.  

While my office mates in Chicago have been experiencing the cold that much of the country has been feeling this winter, we here in Boulder are basking in relative warmth for this time of year.  I understand this is an unusually warm winter.  I am happy to accept it.  The abundant sunshine pushes one to get up out of the chair and do some exercising.  

Have you and your students taken advantage of the many resources available surrounding the inauguration of the president?  Or, the downed plane in the Hudson?  News like this gives us spontaneous opportunities for teaching moments.  Don't lose these opportunities to discuss, research and write about what happens in our daily lives.  

January is always our month for planning and setting new goals for the new year.  We are somewhat behind this year and I am not sure why.  We spend a lot of time thinking and talking, but nothing has gone down on our calendars as yet.  We hope by next month to share with you some of our plans for 2009.  If you have something you would like us to consider, please let us know.  

Wishing you a year of fulfillment in everything you do.  Enjoy this month of rejuvenation and renewal.  

 

 


 

Page 2
A wise man is one who finally realizes that there are some questions one can ask which may have no answers.

Anonymous


Learning with e-Tutor

Scheduling e-Tutor

We still have parents and students who are not sure how to set up their routine for using e-Tutor.  It is important that some form of schedule be followed.  However, one of the advantages of home schooling is being able to set up a routine that fits the family's needs.  Remember that all students, as well as most adults, are more productive with a regular schedule.  Below are some tips to help you. 

• Develop a weekly calendar for your e-Tutor Program. - Enter important dates for your social/family life and holidays that week. - Mark Monday – Friday as study days with e-Tutor.

•Each week develop a daily schedule that includes routines and e-Tutor study time.   Remember you should be spending about 4 ½ hours each day using the e-Tutor Program. 

• Post this schedule in your study area. 
Use your schedule to refer to, to review, and to mark your progress. 


• Each evening develop the next day’s schedule. 
This will help you organize for the next day; include study time, routines, and important appointments. 

Review each day's schedule in the morning before you
start e-Tutor.

Parent Responsibility

e-Tutor is a home school program.  We want parents involved in the teaching and learning process.  While e-Tutor provides the curriculum and part of the assessment, parents need to do their part by making sure the student is doing all parts of the lesson module and reviewing the Activities and Extended Learning projects the student has completed.  Parents are not asked to put a letter grade on the student work, but instead to use the work as a springboard for discussion...."What did you learn by doing this?"  "How could you have done it differently?" "Explain this concept to me?"  

We as parents are so accustomed to sending our students off to school and leaving the education up to others, that we forget that we as parents are the best and first teachers.  Given a strong curriculum and parental guidance your student will surprise you with his capabilities and he or she will be proud of his own achievements. 

There are no shortcuts to learning!  We want the student to take the time to become actively involved in his or her own learning.!   

Thirteen New Lesson Modules  
were added to the 
e-Tutor Lesson Library this month!

Join the e-Tutor world of learning today to view the Lesson Library.  

www.e-tutor.com


Writers Wanted!

The bank of lesson modules in the e-Tutor Program grows each month.  There are well over 2500 lesson modules now.  That is, in most part, due to the excellent group of writers who are producing outstanding and interesting lesson modules to be used in the e-Tutor program.  Writers come from all over the U.S. providing a rich and varied curriculum for students.  

We are constantly trying to improve and grow the curricular areas offered.  If you are interested in receiving a small stipend, plus the recognition of including your name as author of a lesson module go to www.lessonpro.net  and sign up to write.  Or, send an email to admin@knowledgehq.com.  We will send you information on how you can participate in this exciting endeavor and earn money at the same time. 

 


   The Book Case            

So You Want to Be President?
by Judith St. George, Illustrated by David Small

Grades 2 - 8
              

This 2001 Caldecott winner is a perfect way to prompt discussion about our new President.  The book provides unusual and interesting facts about the first forty-two presidents of the United States. It describes their different personality types and physical characteristics and asserts that they had at least one thing in common: "their first priority has always been the people and the country they served." 

Curious tidbits of personal information and national history combine with humorously drawn caricatures to give this tongue-in-cheek picture book a quirky appeal. "There are good things about being President and there are bad things about being President." So begins a walk through a brief history of facts, successes, oddities, and mishaps. For example, most readers won't know that William Howard Taft weighed over 300 pounds and ordered a specially made bathtub. Small's drawing of a naked Taft being lowered into a water-filled tub by means of a crane should help them remember. Another spread depicts a men's shop where Andrew Johnson (a tailor) fits Ronald Reagan (an actor) for a suit while Harry Truman (a haberdasher) stands behind the counter. While the text exposes the human side of the individuals, the office of the presidency is ultimately treated with respect and dignity. A list of presidents with terms of office, birthplace, date of birth and death, and a one-sentence summary of their accomplishments is provided. 


Page 3
Learning makes a man fit company for himself.

Anonymous

 

Creating an Environment for Learning

Give yourself credit for what you do right.  If you talk with your children regularly and show an interest in their activities,  you already exert a positive influence.  A parent with self-confidence is more likely to have a child with self-confidence.  The better children feel about themselves, the better they do in learning.

You play an important role in your children's education.  Remember that time spent with your children at home does not have to involve formal learning activities to be educational....an important consideration for parents whose time with their children is already limited. 

Make learning part of your regular routine at home.  Ask your children to help you make grocery lists, balance a checkbook or look up a phone number.  Discuss current events at meals.  Monitor TV and computer time and select some educational shows you can watch and discuss together. 

Read to your children at bedtime.  Have older children read to you as well, or create stories to tell you.

Talk to your children about your job.  Whether you are a doctor, a waitress, a carpenter, a secretary, a plumber or an attorney, you have special knowledge you can share.  Tell your children how your own education has helped your career.  

Adapted from School Public Relations Service


Don't Put Off

We are all procrastinators to some degree.  It's just a question of where we fit on the scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the person who will occasionally delay an action or decision if a convenient excuse is readily available, and 10 being the habitual procrastinator who can always rationalize why something shouldn't be done now. 

Habitual procrastinators are interruption prone and actually welcome interruptions.  They may say, "I really have to get the lawn mowed before this evening,  but as long as the pictures are here from the vacation, I'll take a look at them."  You can probably come up with a few interruptions of your own.  But why not take just one area you're vulnerable to and decide to conquer it?  Do it now and persevere until the battle is won; then find another area, because just as your procrastination has become ingrained, your new habit of becoming an action-oriented person and decision-maker will eventually go on automatic pilot. 

Also, there's no better way to avoid procrastination and conserve time than to take the time to plan your work load, activities, and day.  For the time you spend planning, you'll probably save at least three times as much time in executing.  Planning can be as simplified or as complex as your situation requires, but when you're setting up your daily activities to maximize your time, simplicity can get the job done. 

Adapted from The Public School Administrator


Honor Their Differences

No two kids are alike.  By the second month of a baby's life, he or she is already displaying a unique personality.  Some babies smile and laugh freely, others are more serious and subdued.  There are calm, quiet babies and babies whose arms and legs are constantly moving.  Some babies sleep a lot, others stay awake.  Some babies have tempers, some are sociable, some are sensitive to strangers, some are little performers who like lots of attention.  Some babies entertain themselves, other are high maintenance.

Just as there are differences in looks and temperament, there are variations in learning styles, talents, interests, and abilities.  Some kids are naturally math whizzes whereas others excel in drawing.  Some love to compete in team sports while others prefer to read alone in a tree house.  Some children get lost in computer games; others want lots of friends around and talk on the phone for hours.  Some kids are pleasant and cooperative, others fight for their point of view every time.  And although this makes life more complicated, it also keeps it lively.   

Since everyone is different there is no need to make comparisons.  If you notice a tendency to compare yourself to others, you will have the same tendency to compare your child to other children, or your children to each other.  Comparison is a kind of disease:  it breeds contention...and not the healthy kind of sporting competition, but a deep-rooted sense of inadequacy, of an inability to measure up.  In this kind of competition one must be better in order to simply be okay.  

Some parents start comparing from the very beginning, but the practice is pointless.  There will always be some child somewhere who is smarter or kinder or more talented than your own.  In such a scrutinizing and discriminating environment, a child does not have a fair chance to develop as a unique and special individual.  

All children grow and learn at their own natural pace, comparison has no part whatsoever.  Remember, a  baby doesn't learn to walk by being compared with other babies; rather, in a sense, he learns to walk when praised for doing a lousy job of walking.  When he stands up by the couch, takes two steps, and falls down, Dad and Mom drop whatever they're doing, proclaim, "Johnny's walking!" and applaud him with enthusiasm.  But can you imagine what would happen if they said, "It's about time...His sister was running by his age."  Johnny might never try again!

Throw out the imaginary yardstick.  Your pleasure will mount as these unique and special beings blossom in the light of your unconditional love. 

Adapted from Wonderful Ways to Love a Child, Judy Ford

Page 4
Education is not filling a bucket but lighting a fire.

William B. Yeats, poet

 

Life in America

A friend's grandfather came to America from Europe and after being processed at Ellis Island, he went into a cafeteria in New York City to get something to eat.  He sat down at an empty table and waited for someone to take his order.  Of course, nobody ever did.  Finally, a man with a tray full of food sat down opposite him and told him how things worked.  

"Start at that end," he said, "and just go along and pick out what you want.  At the other end they'll tell you how much you have to pay for it."

"I soon learned that's how everything works in America,"  Grandpa told our friend.  "Life is a cafeteria here.  You can get anything you want as long as you're willing to pay the price.  You can even get success.  But you'll never get it if you wait for someone to bring it to you.  You have to get up and get it yourself." 

Bits and Pieces


 

If You Must Criticize

Here are some suggestion for giving criticism in a way that motivates others to do better:

  • See yourself as a teacher or coach...as being helpful.  Keep in mind that you're trying to help someone improve.

  • Show you care.  Express your sincere concern about sharing ways the other person can improve.

  • Pick the right moment to offer criticism.  Make sure the person hasn't just been shaken by some incident.

  • Avoid telling people they "should  do such and such" or should have done such and such." 

  • Avoid giving the impression that you're more concerned with being right than in helping the other person. 

  • Show how the person will benefit from taking the actions you suggest.

  • Give specific suggestions.  Being vague might only make the situation worse by creating anxiety and doubt. 

Tip:  Be sure you can take criticism yourself.  If not, you may not be perceived as credible. 

Adapted from How to Love the Job You Hate, Jane Boucher


Handling Questions

How you handle questions may very well determine what you say will be remembered.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Rephrase a question before you answer it.  This gives you some time to prepare your response and also makes it easier to understand what the person asked. 

  • Use the question to reinforce appropriate learning points.

  • Don't get defensive if the one asking the questions is hostile.  Diffuse that hostility with humor or a short anecdote. 

  • Don't 'wing it' if you don't know the answer to a question.  Explain that you will look into the question further and follow up.  

Adapted from Creative Training Techniques, Marjorie Brody

Page 5
Poor is the pupil who does not surpass his master.

Leonardo da Vinci

 

Jumping January Links:

One Sky, Many Voices:  These four and eight week life science inquiry-based projects use technology to help middle school students learn environmental science locally and via interactions with peers and resources worldwide. Students register to participate in this biodiversity program during specific time periods of the academic year. 
http://www.biokids.umich.edu/

Digital Anatomist Interactive Atlases:  The Digital Anatomist group at the University of Washington has painstakingly created computer reconstructions of human cryosections. The resultant images and animations offer anatomy students multiple perspectives of important structures and relationships among them. The site offers atlases for the brain and thoracic viscera and a neuroscience syllabus with interactive quizzes and feedback. The interface is a bit awkward and many animations are not available on the Web, but this is still an impressive site.
http://www9.biostr.washington.edu/da.html

El Niño or El No No:  In this investigation,  the student will learn more about El Niño and La Niña cycles, and how they impact the weather in their area.  To accomplish this task, the student will be logging into one of same ocean buoys that scientists use to develop their models. This web quest features interaction with information and community, consensus building within groups, no one correct answer, and stretching the limits of students. Best of all, when students complete the project, they get to live out their speculation.  http://powayusd.sdcoe.k12.ca.us/projects/elnino/

Avalon Project:  The Avalon Project at Yale Law School is an incredible resource for students and teachers alike. Major historical documents dating back to the 12th Century are presented in entirety, with links to supporting documents, glossaries and indexes for each one. Major documents relevant to Law, History, Economics, Politics, Diplomacy and Government can be found here.   
http://avalon.law.yale.edu/default.asp

The Ultimate Physics Resource:  This attractive resource site has well developed reference, societies, and publication sections, and also links to history, news, and fun sites as well. Visitors can subscribe to PhysLINK's Quotations mailing list for a weekly quote by e-mail.  
http://www.physlink.com/

Jazz:  This website was created to support the PBS series by Ken Burns. Audio clips of many jazz performers are available, as well as interesting historical and biographical information of the highlights of jazz in the United States.   http://www.pbs.org/jazz/

 

Best Wishes for a Great Year!

From the Knowledge HQ Staff

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