In The News                     March 2009   Vol. 12-3

President’s Message

As the days sail by, it is hard to catch one and complete the many things I have planned to do.  Although, quite frankly, I find it hard to concentrate as the days lengthen, the sun warms and the nice weather beckons.  This is one of my favorite months as signs of Spring begin to show.  I've found myself on many days strolling in my garden, checking for new growth.  It is always a delight to find that bit of green popping through the brown earth or that new bulge on a twig or branch.    

Last month we shared with you our journey into the world of Internet-based social networking.  While in the Chicago office last month we began to get our feet wet.  You can now find us on Twitter at  Also, we are on Facebook at  In addition, you will find us on MySpace at  There is much for us to learn about this new medium.  While our young people are very comfortable in building community this way, it has been a challenge for us.  Our goal has been to open new ways of communicating with parents, students and others interested in online education.  We hope that you will join us in discussion at these sites as well as on our blog at  

During the month, I have had occasion to meet and chat with others who are moving into the online education arena.  There are many who are entering the arena, but none seem to be doing exactly what we do.  It has always been our goal to tap the vast resources the Internet has to offer in order to enhance and improve the teaching/learning process.  Others seem to want to layer the Internet onto what is already there.  In our estimation, this does not get to the heart of a new methodology.  There is still much to be done, much to learn and much to offer.  With your help, we will continue to improve.  

My favorite time of day has always been when I can curl up with one of the novels I have picked up from the library.  During the past week I have been immobile after foot surgery, so I have had many opportunities to read.  And, I have found my tastes have been changing.  For the most part, my choice of books has  been eclectic, but I am finding more interest of late in historical novels.  While the characters are fictional the settings and events are often actual.  The reading sets my mind a wandering.  What a simple pleasure.        

Enjoy some warmth this month!    



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Tell me, and I'll forget.  Show me, and I may not remember.  Involve me, and I'll understand.  

Native American Proverb

Learning with e-Tutor

Language Arts

 Each e-Tutor lesson module is aligned to broad-based goals and objectives.  Content and skill level are age appropriate for each goal. For instance, at the Primary level, there is an emphasis on Reading which includes phonics. At the High School level there is an emphasis on Literature which includes American and European Literature.   

Goals comply with national and state goals.  The goals and objectives for each lesson module are viewable by parents when they 'View Lesson' and by students when they click on 'Print this Lesson.'  

This month, we will share with you the goals and objectives for Language Arts.  In the months ahead, we will share with you the other curricular areas. 

Students will be able to read, comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and use written material.

A.   Recognize, recall, and summarize information from material read.

B.   Understand the various purposes for reading and identify text to accomplish each purpose.

C.   Apply word analysis and vocabulary skills to comprehend text.

D.   Apply reading strategies to improve fluency and understanding.

E.   Comprehend a broad range of reading material.

Students will be able to understand the expressed meaning in literature representative of various societies, eras and ideas.


A.   Distinguish among the types of literature.

B.   Understand selected literary works from various historical periods.

C.   Understand selected literary works that manifest different value systems and philosophies.

D.   Understand the literary elements and techniques used to convey meaning.

E.   Recognize literary themes and their implications.  

Students will be able to listen critically and analytically.

A.   Understand and evaluate the meaning of spoken messages.

B.   Distinguish among different purposes in communication.

C.   Identify differing perspectives and points of view.

Students will be able to write Standard English in a grammatical, well-organized and coherent manner for a variety of purposes.

A.   Write for a variety of purposes and audiences using appropriate language and style.

B.   Maintain a clear writing process to compose well-organized and coherent writing.

C.   Use Standard English conventions.  

Twenty 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.

A World of Writers

Over the last months, we have welcomed many new writers to the Writer's Circle.  Writers use the template at to create lesson modules to use with their students.  Outstanding lesson modules are selected for the e-Tutor Virtual Learning Program and writers receive a small stipend for their work.  If you are interested in learning more, go to and sign up.    


   The Book Case            

By Jane O'Connor.
Illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser

Grades Pre-school/Primary

This book was recommended by a very special five year-old, because it is her 'favorite.'  It's the story of a ball of fire who is always dressed to the nines. Glasser's action-filled pen-and-ink drawings put Nancy in wild tutus, ruby slippers, fairy wings and fuzzy slippers: this heroine is never demure, never subtle and probably never quiet.

She has redecorated her bedroom with feather boas, Christmas lights, paper flowers and showy hats. Her doll is named Marabelle Lavinia Chandelier. So enterprising is she in her pursuit of fanciness that she offers lessons to her plainly dressed family. They attend, taking notes, and Nancy helps dress them in bows, ornaments, top hats and gaudy scarves. "Ooo-la-la!" Nancy cries in delight. "My family is posh! That's a fancy word for fancy."

The message here is welcome — fanciness (unlike physical beauty) is available to anyone with a can-do spirit — and the writing is adorable. Nancy's joy is infectious, and her over-the-top elegant vocabulary pays off in a warm twist. The story ends with the family's simple declarations of love: "All I say back is, 'I love you,' " Nancy says. "Because there isn't a fancy — or better — way of saying that."

There are many more Fancy Nancy books, but in our estimation the first is the best one.  

Excerpts from NY Times

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You can't shake hands with a clenched fist.

Golda Meir


 Handle With Care

When a package arrives in the mail marked "handle with care,"  no one would consider throwing it around carelessly.  No one would ignore it, regard it as a nuisance, or be annoyed with it.  The package would be opened slowly, tenderly, because it is fragile.  Loving attention would be given.  Perhaps if we think of children as precious little bundles sent special delivery directly from the heavens, we might be more patient with their troublesome behaviors.  

Our children do many things that frazzle our nerves and push our buttons, but remembering that their hearts are delicate might help us be more sensitive.  It is possible to devastate children's spirits with harsh words, or by ignoring them, or brushing them off.  So instead of threatening, "If you don't stop it this minute, I'll really give you something to cry about,' or asking the ridiculous, "Do you want a spanking?" try stopping for a moment to ask yourself, Why am I overreacting?

There is a big difference  between acting and reacting, and as a parent it is important to learn the distinction.  This requires thought, practice, and a lot of deep breathing.  

When you find yourself coming down hard on your child, or when your reaction is out of proportion, take a long deep breath, count to ten or ten thousand, and ask yourself, "What is going on with me, right now?"  or "Why am I feeling this way?"  Breathe, breathe, breathe, and think before you act, so that once again you can feel the extraordinary sweetness of your child.  Nothing is more important than handling their bodies and souls with tender loving care. 

Adapted from Wonderful Ways to Love a Child by Judy Ford

Peer Pressure

As children grow older, they spend more time with friends.  This is a necessary part of growing up as teens learn how to get along outside their family.  But peer pressure can lead to unhealthy behavior, including early sexual activity, drugs, and alcohol.  Here is one way you can limit the negative influence of peer pressure on your children. 

Turn peer pressure into positive pressure.  Encourage your child to work with other teens to tackle a problem in your community.  He might volunteer at a soup kitchen, develop a performance for senior citizens, or clean up a stretch of highway.  He'll be improving the community and boosting his self-esteem.   

American Association of School Administrators

 Letter from Franklin

In 1784 Benjamin Franklin wrote the following letter to a man named Benjamin Webb:  

Dear Sir:  Your situation grieves me and I send you herewith a banknote for ten louis d'or.  I do not pretend to give such a sum; I only lend it to you.  When you shall return to your country, you cannot fail of getting into some business that will in time enable you to pay all your debts.  

In that case, when you meet with another honest man in similar distress, you must pay me by lending the sum to him, enjoining him to discharge the debt by a like operation when he shall be able and shall meet with such another opportunity.

I hope it may thus go through many hands before it meets with a knave that will stop its progress.  This is a trick of mine for doing a deal of good with a little money.  I am not rich enough to afford much in good works, and so am obliged to be cunning and make the most of a little.

With best wishes for your future prosperity, I am, dear sir, your most obedient servant. 

B. Franklin


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It is easier to go down a hill than up, but the view is from the top. 



Do More Than Honk Your Horn

The story is told of the woman who was stalled at the intersection, unable to start her car.  The light changed from red to green and then back to red.  In the back of her an impatient motorist began honking his horn.  Finally the woman got out of her car, walked back to the man and calmly said, "If you will get my car started, I'll be glad to keep honking your horn for you!"

There are a lot of "horn honkers" in this world.  There are very few who would get out and get the car started.  It doesn't take a lot of brains or talent to sit back and find fault or criticize.  Every community is filled with people who are honking about all the things that can be done to make their lives easier.  

Action is the word that separates the "car fixer" from the "horn honker."  The person of action is the one who does something about a problem instead of sitting back and complaining and condemning.  As the familiar saying goes: "It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness!"

In an article describing astronaut Gordon Cooper, a boyhood friend recalled him as a "doer rather than a dreamer."  "Even as a child," the friend said, "Gordon was too busy doing the stuff of which others' day dreams are made."  The ancient Greeks proclaimed that one of the great virtues was "action."  There is nothing as inspiring and motivating as a person of action; on the other hand there is nothing so discouraging and frustrating as a person of indecision and inertia.  

Adapted from The Public School Administrator

Biting - Act of Aggression or Mark of Frustration

Biting tops the list of reasons for expulsion from day care and nursery school, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.  On the spectrum of bad behavior, which includes hitting, hair-pulling, kicking and plain old meanness, biting is considered extreme.  There are health risks to biting, particularly when skin is broken.  Myths about the transmission of AIDS have heightened anxieties about an already-feared behavioral problem.

For most of us, the very idea of biting...and blood and saliva...evokes a visceral response.  We're repulsed by an act of aggression that seems feral, almost animalistic, and simultaneously undermines a child's feeling of safely and security as well as parents' impulse to protect their child from danger.  

Most children who bite are not yet verbal.  Infants and toddlers nip and gnaw, like puppies, eager to explore the world using all their senses.  But older children tend to bite out of frustration, usually because they cannot express themselves.  They bite because they feel powerless.

"Biting is the last weapon,"  explains Jennifer Asimow, assistant professor of child development at Harold Washington College.  "You have to remember that they don't have a lot in their arsenals."  

What's the best response to a biter?  Experts agree on one thing:  Never bite a child who bites, in an attempt to "show how it feels."  Instead, a survey of recent research recommends this response:

  • Immediately remove the child from the situation.

  • State clearly that biting is not acceptable behavior.  Ever.

  • Give the child ways to feel more in control without inflicting harm, such as helping him to develop his language skills or placing him in a less frustrating environment.

The most important step in dealing with a biter is creating an environment where children can learn to express their emotions while feeling they have control over their situation.  "The less power children feel, the fewer choices they have and the greater chances for negative behavior,"  Asimow says.  "Children need to feel safe." 

Adapted from Chicago Tribune

Coming Back To It

Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire. 

Pierre Teilhard De Chardin (1881-1955) Paleontologist and Philosopher

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Life is an escalator:  You can move forward or backward, you cannot remain still.  

Patricia Russell-McCloud

Magnificent March Links:

UBuyACar:  This problem-based learning manual for students starts with a problem statement (similar to the e-Tutor model): "You are interest in purchasing a new vehicle. What should your annual salary be to afford the car you want?" Students are coached through the problem-solving process and are provided resources to help them solve this real-world problem.

Words and Deeds in American History:  The American Memory division of the Library of Congress has contributed another example of what makes the Web so wonderful. "Words and Deeds in American History" collects and posts original manuscripts and letters archived at the Library of Congress. Some have been grouped by such topics as the presidency, military affairs, arts and literature, etc. You also can perform keyword searches or scroll through the chronological list to pull out a few gems like a poem by 13 year old Helen Keller or Ernest Hemingway's assessment of Ezra Pound's mental condition.

Mind's Eye Monster Exchange:  Take your students on an amazing journey of imagination! In this project, a student in one classroom draws a monster, writes a detailed description of the creation, then e-mails the composition to a student in another classroom. Next, the student who receives the description draws the monster based on the description. Then both the original and the duplicate drawings are posted in the Mind's Eye Monster Galleries for comparison.

Kinder Art: This site features free online art lesson plans, activities and recipes for K-8 classrooms. Designed by an artist and art instructor especially for parents, teachers, home schoolers and kids, the site includes a "Little Hands" for preschoolers. This site contains advertisements.

World Wide Words: Michael Quinion must never sleep. He has developed a rich resource for lovers of words at this site, where you can find out past history of common words, catch the latest creations used in the press, or check usage. Divided into categories like "The Word Hoard," "Articles," and "Newsworthy Words," the site is a playground of our evolving language. What makes it even better is that there's a fun bloke named Michael ready to play with you. Educators might use this as a resource for getting students to see the changing nature of the words around them.

Treasurers At Sea - Exploring the Ocean Through Literature: This extensive Web resource consists of Web-based learning activities that integrate language arts with oceanography. Each activity is based on one of seven books about the ocean and are written to be adaptable. Includes writing activities, games and puzzles, art ideas, Web resources, and a section for educators.

What a Great Month For Learning!

From the Knowledge HQ Staff

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