In The News                     February 2008   Vol. 11-2


President’s Message

We had nature's own action movie this month.  The lunar eclipse held those of us who could brave the cold, spell bound.  For about an hour and a half we watched as the shadow of the earth covered the moon.  Beautiful!  It is something as wondrous and magical as this to make everything else seem small in comparison.  It tends to level the playing field.  We really don't need something as wondrous as a lunar eclipse to get us to slow down and appreciate what is in our everyday lives.  Just a few minutes each day or even each week of quiet reflection can keep everything in perspective.

It is often hard to see small accomplishments that are not often visible.  But taken together their impact can be seen.  It is important for all of us to appreciate the small things we do each day and to congratulate ourselves on our accomplishments.  If we are unable to do so, what we do may become meaningless to us and we may lose interest in those daily tasks.  I think it is important to celebrate everything we do.     

This has been such a busy month with Valentine's Day,  Presidents Day and a shorter month, as well, that time seemed to escape us.  Nevertheless, we have been busy updating some of our functions as you may have noticed.  We have added to the information that is provided on the opening pages of e-Tutor.  We have updated credit card processing mechanisms.  And, we are providing more opportunities for schools and tutoring agencies to use e-Tutor in their programs. 

Someone came into the office the other day and was saying how much fun it was to wake up in the morning and decide what to do for the day.  My days are full from morning to night and my life couldn't be more different.  My imagination is inspired by those who work with me.  I enjoy their energy and the thoughtfulness they have in creating, developing, and improving on what we offer students throughout the world.  I could not imagine doing anything else.  I appreciate what I learn from each of you when we have an opportunity to talk.  

Enjoy this wonderful Month! 

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Other things may change us, but we start and end with family.

Anthony Brandt

Learning with e-Tutor


Scheduling for e-Tutor 

·         Develop a weekly calendar for your e-Tutor Program.   

Enter important dates for your social/family life and holidays during the week.                                   

Mark Monday through 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.

There are no shortcuts to learning!  We want the student to take his time  and do his own best work!   

Thirty-two 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.

We Need Your Help!

We would like to hear from you.  We are constantly working to improve the e-Tutor Virtual Learning Program.  In order to do so, we need your help.  If you like the program, please let us know.  If you don't like it please give us your reasons why.  Go to to give us your thoughts.   

If you haven't tried e-Tutor, try our sample lessons at and let us know what you think.  We appreciate your help and will let you know next month what you have told us.  


   The Book Case

              The Lorax

              Dr. Seuss 
              Ages: Preschool - Intermediate (Possibly Jr. High)

This book provides a good introduction to environmental awareness.  It was recommended by one of our programmers.  The Lorax is a modern fable about the destruction of an eco-system and perhaps the world itself. It shows simply how unbridled greed can unleash such destruction. An industry can create its own market and/or the need for its own product; a fad can develop for unneeded and useless items. Unregulated destruction of resources can occur when profits are involved. Yet hope is given at the end that even near total destruction of a species or eco-system may be reversed with dedication, hard work and diligence.  In the story the lovable Lorax tries to save the Truffula Forest and its inhabitants from disaster at the hands of the cantankerous Once-ler.

A person's a person, no matter how small," Theodor Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, would say. "Children want the same things we want. To laugh, to be challenged, to be entertained and delighted."  His first book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street was published in 1936.  

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Everyone has a gift for something, even if it is the gift of being a good friend.   

Marian Anderson (1897-1993) Opera Singer


Discovering the Rules of Spelling

At one time it was thought that the spelling of American English was entirely inconsistent, that each word in the language presented a unique problem, and that therefore children ought to learn in school to spell the three to four thousand words that make up nearly 98 percent of all adult writing.  This that is still used today in some schools...has been to drill students on word lists compiled on the basis of usage by each age group.

A further rationale for the list-drill method has been that since most rules on American English spelling have so many exceptions, it is futile to try to teach any but the most basic and general rules.  Following such reasoning, each word would have to be presented as a separate object of study. 

Comparison of different word lists shows a wide variation in the words included, because opinions differ as to the words needed for written work at each age and the relative difficulty any given word presents to the child learning to spell it.  In addition, researchers report that some children will spell the words correctly when drilled on lists but will not transfer this knowledge when writing in context. 

Just as many other academic subjects are being taught differently today because of new knowledge about teaching and learning gained in recent years, so also has spelling been the target of innovation.  Computers now provide individualized instruction, drilling each child on the words causing special difficulties.  Recorders can enable students to take their own list of problem words and write them as the recorder plays back their diction.  Another change is toward stressing pupil interest in spelling and teaching the meaning of words along with the spelling.  

By far the most significant change, however, has been to draw on the knowledge and methods of the field of descriptive linguistics.  Experts in linguistics have shown that there is far more consistency to American English spelling than previously believed.  In fact, they have "taught" computers to spell with amazing accuracy, and computers can only perform according to the rules programmed into them.  

Children learning to spell on the basis of linguistics do not learn to spell each word separately from a list of basic words for their grade.  Rather, the words taught are those that illustrate certain rules of American English spelling.  The child learns to discover the rules and apply them to other words, thus developing an unlimited spelling vocabulary. 

National Education Association

Making Study Time More Effective

We all want our children to do well in learning.  They need to develop skills to make study time more efficient and effective.  Below are some effective study time tips:

  • Use the five-step process that works:  Survey, Question, Read, Restate, and Review.

  • Take good notes that summarize, not necessarily repeat material.

  • Pay attention to clues that indicate when you should take notes.

  • Use the traditional outline form to organize your notes.

  • Emphasize important points with colored highlighter pens.

  • Indicate points to remember with different styles of writing, such as capitals and italics.

  • Take notes on both sides of the pages.

  • Develop your own system of shorthand. 

Adapted from American Association of School Administrators

Getting Control of Your Time

If you ask your self these questions periodically, you will probably use your time better:

  • What am I thinking about at this moment?  If you are not thinking about the task you are involved in, you are not going to be as effective as you could be.  If you are not in the mood for a particular job, you will prolong the agony.  Push yourself to get that job done to get to the next one.

  • Do I say "yes" too often?  In sorting out the demands on your time, learn when to say "no."  Is that community service activity helping your future as well as the group?  It's good to do things to help others, but be sure you are not doing so many that you don't have enough time to accomplish the things you deem to be more important. 

  • Am I spending too much time on record keeping.

  • Do I let the concept of time control me?  Of course there are certain "musts" related to time.  But other than those, have you become a slave to the clock?  For one week, try eating only when you are hungry, going to sleep only when you are tired and generally breaking out of certain time-rut habits. 

  • When do I have time by myself to do things that are important to me?  If you don't, rethink the way you are using your days.  Set aside and take advantage of quiet time each day.  Include time in your schedule for relaxing. 

Straight Talk, Real Estate Education Company

Been Here a Very Short Time

Sometimes we forget that children have just arrived on the earth, and we expect way too much, way too soon.  We become impatient, urging them to learn it all, know it all, and "act their age,"  whatever that means. 

Although it is true that children learn quickly about life by observation, it is unrealistic to expect them to be on top of it all and always get it right.  When you find yourself beginning every sentence with "Don't," stop and ask yourself, "Have I explained what I do want?  Have I showed him how to shut the door softly?  Have I explained how to get my attention when I'm busy?"  Explaining the dos works much better than constantly harping on the don'ts.  

Try this three-time teaching and practice formula:  share information three times in three different ways.  Give your children lots of practice time for whatever they are learning and remind yourself that, after all, they have been here a very short time. 

Adapted from Wonderful Ways to Love A Child,  Judy Ford

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It is better to be nobly remembered than nobly born. 

John Ruskin(1819-1900) Critic and Social Theorist

Math Awareness

To help your child understand the importance of mathematics, it is necessary for parents to talk about mathematics and identify how it relates to all aspects of home, at work, and at play.  Educators, parents and our children must understand that learning mathematics, as with all learning, takes hard work, discipline, and a commitment on the part of everyone to ensure success.  

The best help you can give your child in math is simply to make your child aware of when and how to use math.  Whenever possible, talk through activities with your child and encourage him/her to take part in them.  Think out loud, make estimates, check them, correct mistakes, and try more than one way to solve a problem.  When you do, you provide your child with important experiences in mathematical thinking.  Here are a few math activities that you can do with your child....

  1. See what items in the house come in sets of two (hands, feet, shoes), sets of six (cans of soda), and sets of twelve (eggs in a carton).

  2. Have your child help with the laundry by matching the socks, sorting the clothing into appropriate colors, discuss clothing size according to each family member.

  3. Have your child determine how much laundry soap to use per load size.

  4. Have your child graph daily chores, money earned from chores, and/or purchases.

  5. Have children find pictures or items that are sold in sets (i.e., 4 batteries to a package) and have them determine how many batteries there would be in three packages. 

Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics

Music Can Make You 
Work Better

The power of music can help to boost productivity, according the the result of a study at Florida State University.  One group of students there performed calculations while listening to rock music.  Another group did the same work while listening to a slow piano instrumental, a third worked with no musical accompaniment. 

The most productive students were the rock music listeners, followed by those who worked in silence.  The study's directors speculate that fast music increased the students' adrenaline levels, while the slow music has such a calming effect that it hindered performance.  To use these results around the house, play fast-paced music when your work is routine and repetitive, like dusting, sweeping or mowing the grass.  Tune into slow music when faced with stressful or demanding tasks such as following a recipe or putting a toy together. 

Adapted from Working Smart

Helping Your Child Learn to Read

Our goal in education is independent learners.  Encourage your child to try to figure out unfamiliar words on their own through problem solving.  Don't say "sound it out" because sounding is only part of the game.  When a child is reading aloud to you, you can encourage problem solving in the following way:

  1. If you determine that the child has low problem-solving energy during the present reading, just pronounce the word so the child can keep going.

  2. If the child can handle problem solving, allow the child five to ten seconds to think silently.  

  3. Ask the child to read the rest of the sentence and to think about its meaning.

  4. Ask your child, "Have you learned anything at school that will help you say this word?  Try it out."  (At this point your child can use whatever skills he or she has learned.)

  5. Ask your child what would make sense here.  Talk a little about the clues.

  6. Praise the effort.  Say "Good!"  You are working hard on that."  If your child didn't figure out the whole word, focus your comments on the part(s) of the word your child did get right.  If the first part is right, for example, say "Good thinking.  You figured out the beginning of the word."

  7. At this point if the word is still unknown, pronounce it so the child can continue reading.

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

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It is worth a thousand pounds a year to have the habit of looking on the bright side of things. 

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) Lexicographer and Essayist



Fabulous February Links: 

Douglas Henderson's Earth History Illustrations:  This terrific site is posted by professional illustrator Douglas Henderson.  Showcasing the blend of researched science and the fancy of human curiosity, the rich illustrations in this collection succeed on both counts.  Helpful text also accompany the detailed drawings.  Click through the geologic timeline of Earth history to visualize life in prehistoric times, thus entering a special place where earth's mysteries and complemented by one artist's ability.

Talking with Kids About Tough Issues:  Another useful site created by the Kaiser Family Foundation (and Children Now), talking with Kids About Tough Issues provides an overview of the health concerns facing many of our students.  Explore topics such as sex, HIV/AIDS, violence, alcohol, and drug abuse.  This online resource is a helpful place for parents to go to learn positive strategies for communicating with their children.  Simple, yet powerful, the message is clear that our kids need us.

Look Who's Footing the Bill!  Tom March has given a major revision to one of the first WebQuests ever.  This site uses the national debt controversy to inspire students toward taking democratic action.  After exploring the issue from four perspectives, students have to answer the question, "What's so big about a $5 trillion debt?"  They can use the interactive Thesis Maker and Online Outliner to begin the persuasive essay they will ultimately send to their congressional representatives.  A new feature and refinement in the WebQuest strategy is the Quick Quest option that decreases the level of scaffolding, thus weaning students from the WebQuest process.

Web Exhibits:  This site provides a handy directory of online exhibits presented in a friendly interface.  Browse the categories or search the database for an open learning experience.  The site is frequently updated so check back often.

Daily Grammar:  Generously posted by veteran English teacher Bill Johanson from Canyon View Junior High, Daily Grammar provides simple and clear lessons on the basics of English grammar.  Set up in modules of five examples and a follow-up quiz, the simplicity of the approach and the explanations make this a great site for students to use themselves when they feel they need self-paced remediation or enrichment.

Secrets of the SAT:  PBS's Frontline has created a site that explores the role of the Scholastic Aptitude Tests and how they potentially affect student's academic futures.  Besides investigating the test preparation industry and racial issues related to admissions policies, the site allows users to play the role of admissions officers.  Click on Who was Good Enough? to see how your picks stack up against the professionals who admit student to the University of California - Berkely.

Enjoy another month of Winter!

From the Knowledge HQ Staff

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