eNews                                       February 2014 Vol. 17-2

President's Message

Have you been enjoying the Olympics? Along with watching....there are so many learning activities one can do with children during the events. Even the youngest  can participate by identifying colors and counting the participants in each event. And of course the internet is full of coloring pages, games and stories to keep one involved for hours. Once you start your youngsters will outshine you with activities they think of on their own. Although, at this time in the month, you may have to wait for the next event.  

There have not been enough hours in each day as we prepare to launch a new program using the multitude of outstanding content in the eTutor program. eTutor Unplugged (eTutor U) will offer individual lesson modules for students in grades 3 -12 in over 25 subjects.  One or more lesson modules can be purchased for just $1 each in this new application from eTutor.  Of course, it is fully accessible through tablets and smart phones.

Our motive, as when we started eTutor so many years ago, is to provide students and parents an alternative to the traditional teaching/learning process. So by unplugging from traditional learning programs we think students, as well as parents, will find uses for online instruction that we can't even imagine. Over 95 percent of young people have a very strong micro-processor in their hip pocket or purse.  We want them to use their mini-computer for on-the-go learning.

So the day of  launch, expect to hear from us.  You will be able to see nearly one hundred sample lesson modules. Judge for yourself and let us know what you think.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Well, if I wasn't tired of winter last month....the feeling is even greater this month.  While we have not been as impacted as the eastern part of our country....enough with the snow and Polar Vortex. Did you know the meaning of those words before this winter?  

Have a most wonderful month.




Connect to Us

 Connecting Students and Families to the Best in Online Learning

While we haven't been as active on our community pages in the last month, we have heard from some of you.  We hope you will take advantage of our pages to communicate and let your ideas and opinions be known while we are immersed in development. 

   Facebook - Don't forget to click "Like" when visiting. 

   Twitter - Sign up to receive our tweets.   

   eTutor Blog - You have an opportunity to really express yourself here.   

  Pinterest - You will find favorites from our newsletters here.  

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Action is the basis for success. 

Learning with eTutor

A short history....
eTutor was born out of experience. While doing consulting work with school districts throughout Illinois, we found that educators often wanted to incorporate technology and the Internet into their teaching, but didn't know how or have a vehicle to do so. In 1997, along with a small staff of part-time writers and a programmer, we developed a nine-part lesson module format incorporating all the best ideas about the teaching-learning process and expanded it to a technology-based model. Each lesson part, Introduction, Cross-Aged Levels, Goals, Resources, Problem Statement, Vocabulary, Study Guide, Activity and Extended Learning, contributes to the learning process in a unique way so that the student is successful when taking the quizzes and exams that accompany each lesson module. Our goal was to establish a new, higher standard for delivering fully integrated, superior learning over the Internet for K-12 students.

Once we established what was needed in each lesson, we simply (but not easily) put this format onto the Internet at The key to student success is engaging their interests through a wide range of topics, informational websites and interesting activities, which help create a unique learning experience for each student. Practicing teachers understand how to engage students in the learning process so we asked them to submit lessons through our program. Over the years we have gotten an overwhelming response, with the diversity of topics, levels and curricular areas we were seeking. Some of our lessons come from places as far away as Russia. The interactive lessons are rich with information, links to Internet resources, graphics and learning activities, while still meeting state and national curricular goals in the four core curricular areas of Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies. We now have more than 3500 lesson modules online that students and educators can make a part of everyday learning. Our goal is to continue adding lesson modules each year!

In addition to lesson modules, eTutor gives educators the tools to track student progress, modify and create new lessons, plan and customize the type of virtual community that works best for their own instruction. The program creates a virtual educational community of learners, linking students, parents, educators and administrators. Fifty schools and thousands of students have made use of eTutor's lesson library, as well as its online tools to track and assess performance.

Our early vision was to see education evolving into a blend of Internet based instruction and tools, classroom teaching and out-of-class experiences. eTutor was at the forefront of this evolution which is taking place today.  Now we are advancing into new territory with easy applications students can use on tablets, smart phones and laptop computers. Our goal remains the same to give students and parents choices in their educational instruction.  Newer technologies allow us to dream and plan for programs and applications which were beyond our imagination so many years ago.  

Adapted from the Original - Submitted 2012 
Journal of Association of Education Practitioners and Providers (AEPP)


  Just a few New Lesson Modules were added 
to eTutor this month.

Over 3500 Lesson Modules
are included in the 
eTutor Lesson Library!

 Join the eTutor world of learning today to view 
the lesson modules.

Online Instructional Content

This is your chance to created instructional material for a new application.  Use the template at to create lessons that will motivate and inspire your students to really delve into the concept or skill about which you are teaching.  Interesting topics from LessonPro this month:  

  • What State Am I?
  • Inside the Cell
  • Gauss Theorem in Electrostatics
  • Transformations- Making a Change
  • I Can Read 
  • Forms of Market
  • Stretching a Sentence 

If you have questions or comments, please contact us.  We hope you will join The Writers' Circle today!


   The Book Case            

Magic Maize 
by Mary and Conrad Buff 

Ages:  Grades 3 - 5 

 This is the story of Fabian an Indian boy of Guatemala, grew up in the old Mayan beliefs. He shared his father's fear of the new, and the ways of the gringo (white man).  Every spring, he and his father spent the entire night praying to their Gods of Nature before burning last year's dry brush from their field. Every spring before planting seed, they offered hot corn mush to their Gods hoping their field might become fruitful. So did many other Indians in Guatemala.  Yet, this boy had the courage to secretly plant twenty kernels of maize (corn) which his brother had given him. It was a new maize, developed by the feared gringo.

While planting, Fabian uncovers a rare jade earplug of the Ancients. On his way home he is frightened as he watches the moon go into an eclipse, thinking the Gods are angry at him for his deed. But the earplug and the magic maize lead to adventures so unusual that even Fabian's stubborn father is convinced the old and the new can live in peace.

1954 Newbery Honor Award

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A moment's insight is sometimes worth  life's experience.


eTutor U  -  Coming Soon!

Learning as you like it for grades 3 - 12.  Choose individual lessons or bundle a group for your student or yourself. At $1 each you have many options to design your own instructional program.  Unlimited use for one year allows you to choose what and when learning takes place.

Receive credit for the instruction by transferring to eTutor Virtual School for at least three months and passing exams in the subjects in which you have completed lesson modules. 

Twenty-seven subjects and over 3500 lesson modules provides unlimited ways to unplug from traditional schooling.  Check your inbox often.  We will announce the web address for the site with options for sampling a broad range of  lesson modules. 


Cool Moves for 
Chilly Weather

With another month of unpredictable weather the following is appropriate.

The fact that a lot of children aren't as active as experts recommend isn't big news, but a recent long-term study pinpointed exactly when couch potato-dom tends to set in: after age nine.  From there kids' exercise levels steadily drop from an average of three hours a day (amazing!) to well under an hour by the time they hit 15, according to researchers and the NIH.  Here are some ideas to reverse the trend...especially this time of year, when they are apt to hibernate:

  • Have an indoor or outdoor treasure hunt.  Hide old coins around the house for your child to find. For outdoors, put some fun, fake jewelry or stickers in plastic "Treasure chests,"  bury them in the snow ll over the yard and challenge your kids to find them as fast as they can.
  • Set up an indoor miniature golf course with toys or things from around the house that you can putt, under, over, and round...and use plastic bats for clubs. 
  • Bundle up, go out in the yard, and play tag, kick the can, Frisbee, touch football, kickball, or any other playground favorite.  No one ever thinks about these things in the wintertime but unless there's tons of snow on the ground, you can still play them.  Running through several inches of snow is like being on adds resistance and really gets your heart rate up.
  • Outfit everyone with pedometers and make it a family goal to get a certain number of steps by the end of the day or week.  The usual recommendation is 10,000steps a day. The gadgets are inexpensive, you can get them at any sporting-goods store, and the "how many steps have you gotten so far? factor keeps everyone motivated."

Adapted from Parenting Magazine

Learning Writing Skills

As the parent of  school age child, you want to know that your child is learning the skills that are important for the future. One of these essential skills is written communication.  The rapid expansion of knowledge, the use of computers, and the advancement of electronic communication have placed new focus on writing skills and written communication.  

The development of writing skills begins when your child begins instruction.  Your child has seen things, heard things, experienced things that he or she is eager to share.  This eagerness to tell about things is the springboard to begin learning written expression.  Your child's scribbles and pictures become his or her first written story.  This story is an important first step in the journey toward written communication literacy.

As soon as your child learns the symbol system of the alphabet and the sound-letter relationships, your young writer will write the word the way he or she hears it.  When writing "cnd" for candy and "km" for come you may be concerned about spelling.  But at this point in the development of writing skills, the goal is to get your child to see that written expression is "talk written down" and to develop the concept that words are written with letters that represent the sounds heard. 

Spelling is not devalued. Correct spelling will come into focus when the child has mastered more of the phonetic structures of the language and when he or she has learned some of the rules of how letters are strung together to make words. 

By the time your child has reached the intermediate grades, correct spelling, punctuation, form, and style have become the focus.  During the secondary years, the emphasis is on the expansion and refinement of students' skills in written expression.  Reading and writing go hand in hand as students are given more opportunities to use a variety of resource materials. 

Beginning as a small story recorded in scribbles and pictures, your child's writing skills are developed continuously throughout his or her instructional program. 

Adapted from the Master Teacher


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If you don't plan to succeed, you plan to fail!

Learning Begins At Home

Between birth and age eighteen, children spend just nine percent of their time in formal instruction.  That's why your home environment is so important. Here re some ways you can help your children learn at home:

  • Establish routines for your child. Children thrive on orderliness. Keep a fairly regular schedule for meals, play, and work time.  Set a regular bedtime.  When a child is used to  routine at home, she can adapt to rules for learning more easily.

  • Spend time every day talking with your child about her interests, hobbies and friends.  Children learn language at home...and spoken language gives children the foundation for better reading and writing.  As children grow older, they need daily conversations as a way to develop values, test ideas, and share their thoughts. 

  • Play games that reinforce language skills.  Try question/answer games in which one player tries to learn facts by asking questions.

  • Decorate your child's room with a large map of your state, the United States, or the world.  These colorful, inexpensive maps can help everyone in the family learn more about geography.

  • Display your child's work.  Many families use the refrigerator door for this purpose. Others install a bulletin board on a child's bedroom door.  Let your child know that you are proud of what he accomplishes. 

Adapted from American Association of School Administrators (AASA)

That Smiling Face

Look closely at the next smiling face you see. A person's face has more than eighty muscles, and usually present a pretty good portrait of what a person is really feeling. When people force a smile, for example, they rarely use their eye muscles and often don't raise their cheeks.  When someone's really smiling, however, the eyes will wrinkle and there will be bagged skin underneath.  

So, you see, those wrinkles and bags are really an important part of a smiling you!  Now I can relax!  What a relief!


"Old-School" Still In Style

To properly praise the simple and brilliant word processing hardware known as the pencil, it is necessary to sharpen one's point and draw a satisfyingly dark circle around the exemplary writing instrument that set the standard by which all subsequent pencils have been measured:  The Faber Mongol#2.

The lead in this beauty is the perfect mixture of clay and graphite, neither resistant nor smudgy.  The wooden shaft is coated with many layers of the most cheerful yellow paint, and the eraser is so embedded that, according to company lore, an anxious test taker would have to exert five pounds of pressure to pull one off with his or her teeth.

For this taken-for-granted miracle, we can thank Eberhard Faber, a German immigrant who, in mid-nineteenth century, built America's first pencil factory where the United Nations building now stands in New York City. Did he name his product Mongol because it is  tough and handy as the famed warriors of Genghis Khan?  No one seems sure.  But because the pencil can be sharpened seventeen times and will last through about 45,000 words (or draw a 35-mile-long line, if you are so inclined), what meticulous Mongolian bureaucrat wouldn't be proud to wild one?  Truly, it's the write stuff.  

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The new idea either finds a champion or it dies.


Fabulous February Links:

Sled Dogin:  Learn about dog sledding from informative articles and blog postings from mushers.

Poisson Rouge: There are lots of things to play with and see on this highly interactive site or playroom for little and big ones alike. You'll need the free Flash Player.

Ingenius: How have technological discoveries affected our notions of who we are? Which does science inspire more--creative solutions to age-old problems or new weapons and methods of gaining or retaining power? Can science really provide us with answers to complex questions? This site, sponsored by the National Museum of Science and Industry, provides thought-provoking viewpoints on timely science-related issues and encourages participation in discussion about them. Drawing on photographic and knowledge resources of a broad collection of museums, site visitors can create their own collections, as well as contribute to online conversations>

Bet The Farm:  How hard is it to make money as a farmer? This interactive lets you make decisions about crops, fertilizers, and sales. Like a real farmer, you're at the mercy of influences like weather and world events. If you do manage to make a profit over the course of the year, the game will figure your hourly wage based on the time expected to grow the crops you've chosen. You'll need Flash player

Simple Machines: You might never have thought of the lid on your toilet as a machine, but this site shows how simple mechanical devices dominate our everyday life. By inspecting items in a home, garage, and tool shed, visitors discover levers, gears, axles, inclined planes and other simple mechanics. Which simple principle is behind the lid of your toilet? You'll need Flash player.

Plan for great achievements this month! 

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