In The News                            March 2011   Vol. 14-01

President’s Message 

Where has the time gone?  I'm sure you have wondered where we have been.  Actually we have been very busy working to develop a new edition of eTutor.  We had hoped to have the new program ready many months ago....but alas, we have run into some problems along the way.  Little did anyone guess that so many years ago we would develop such a far reaching and involved program that was well before its time.  And, the best part is that many of you have been using it for years.  Yet, the comprehensiveness of the program has given headaches to those who are trying to recreate and emulate features that even today are innovative.  So, there are delays and until I am comfortable with the presentation of the new program, it will not be released.  We apologize for the delay, but we want to make sure that our students are receiving an educational program that will keep them engaged in the wonderful world of learning. 

If you have not already done so, I encourage you to see the movie, 'Waiting for Superman.'  The movie has been out for several months now and is still being referred to in news and media outlets. It is a commentary on what is happening in today's schools.  It saddened me, alarmed me and made me angry.  For, what we have known for too many years, and in some small way have tried to change, has come to naught.  This business of pointing fingers and placing blame does not benefit our students.  It seems we are losing the battle.  There are not many, speaking for themselves or their children, who have not struggled with schooling somewhere along the line.  This is unacceptable from a nation such as ours.  We are wasting our student’s time and cheating them of a productive life.  

Unfortunately it will not be educators and politicians who will bring about change or it would have been done before.  The responsibility for making the drastic changes needed, if we are to improve education, will come from parents and the students themselves, with the support of those of us who still believe in a brighter future.  

I am often asked why I started eTutor.  It was because, after many years in public and private schools, I felt students and parents needed to have a choice in education.  I recognized that online learning may not work with all children, but it could provide an alternative to traditional schooling.  We sought to capture the strength of the technology that the Internet offered.  In so doing, over 10,000 students have benefited from a new and different learning environment. 

Thank you for your support and your patience as we continue to improve the teaching, learning process for students.   

        Enjoy the first harbingers of Spring,  



Please welcome Bing Chou to the eTutor team.  Some of you may have already had an opportunity to hear from him.  Bing's main responsibilities are sales and marketing.  He will be in charge of search engine optimization and creating 'buzz' about eTutor.  You can learn more about Bing at  If you have suggestions for Bing, he would like to hear from you.   

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You are on your way when you plan your day.

Learning with eTutor

Scheduling for eTutor 

• Develop a weekly calendar for your eTutor 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 eTutor study time.
Remember you should be spending about 4 ˝ hours each day using the eTutor 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 eTutor.

Over One Hundred New Lesson Modules  
were added to the 
eTutor Lesson Library since our last eNews!

Join the e-Tutor world of learning today to view 
over 3,100 lesson modules.

   The Book Case            

The Winter Room 
by Gary Paulsen

Middle/Jr. High

This is a story of family life with which students will be able to relate. As a young boy and his older brother Wayne grow up on a farm in northern Minnesota, vivid scenes of farm life are described. 

In the bleak winters their Uncle David tells stories in the winter room (a room only used in winter) of his bigger-than life logging past. The boys doubt the truth of his stories and say so, thus hurting their uncle so much he stops telling stories. 

It is only when the boys sneak into the barn to watch his incredible control of the axes that they begin to believe his stories are true. They then convince their uncle to resume the storytelling.

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Education is what survives when what has been learnt has been forgotten.

B.F. Skinner


Homework - When is 
Enough, Enough?

According to a national survey, kids are spending twice as much time on homework as they did in 1981.  And elementary school children account for the brunt of that jump. It is controversial as to whether this is good or bad and whether there is such a thing as an ideal amount of homework. 

Alfie Kohn, author of "The Homework Myth," thinks giving homework is a tradition based in folk wisdom and that, in reality, it does more harm than good.  "The amount of homework is increasing, at least for younger children at precisely the same time that more research is failing to show any benefit whatsoever." He believes there is no evidence showing that homework is beneficial academically, but it may be the single greatest extinguisher of children's curiosity yet invented. "It's all pain, no gain," he says. 

On the other hand, Harris Cooper of Duke University defends the worth of homework in measured doses and for certain grade levels.  He used available research showing the success of homework to frame what is called "The 10 Minute Rule."  It stipulates 10 minutes of homework per night, per grade level beginning in 1st grade.  So 1st graders should get no more than 10 minutes of homework each night, 2nd graders 20 minutes, etc. 

For parents who see homework eroding their child's sleep, affecting their health or eliminating their free time, experts encourage them to take the issue back to the school or pulling in like-minded parents.  The idea is to help parents and educators advocate for saner homework practices. 

Adapted from Chicago Tribune 


Play Hooky Together

Do you remember when you were a kid and pretended to have a stomachache or the flu?  You weren't really sick, but you needed the day off.  So you stayed in bed moaning and groaning, hoping your mom would show you mercy by not insisting you go to school.  You felt guilty, but desperately needed a mental-health day.  Sometimes your mom would give you a break, other times she'd call your bluff.

If you want to avoid such unnecessary hassles with your kids, why not play hooky together?  Surely you, too, could use a break once in a while.  If it makes you feel better, remember, one of the ways a child feels loved is when you take time from your busy schedule to give him your undivided attention. 

Wonderful Ways to Love A Child, by Judy Fordt

Have Fun Indoors

It is getting to that time of year when the weather is warming up, but does not give us the opportunity to spend as much time out of doors as we would like.  What to do with children (and parents) who need to release some energy? 

  • Have a dirty-sock fight...Got cranky kids?  Take the socks right off your feet and challenge them to a throwing battle and watch the whines turn to giggles and squeals.  Make up teams to help out your littlest ones.

  • Play Simon Says, redux...Put a twist on the game with Spider-Man Says...or whoever's popular in the house that week...and everyone can take turns being their favorite superhero.  Mix it up every time: "Spider-Man says, 'Pretend to spray a web on the wall!"

  • Go on a free field trip to the pet store...It's too cold or rainy for the zoo; spend an hour checking out the cute puppies and kittens.  If your kid's really into wild things, look for a store with exotic creatures.

  • Jazz up "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes"...Keep a pack of stickers in your purse; when your toddler's getting antsy in a restaurant, stick them all over her body.  Sing the song, then ask her to find them, and name the body part each sticker is on together. 


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What is your best time of the day?  That is when your are capable of your best work.  

Improve Your Memory

These tips really work to increase how much sticks with you!

"Pegs"     Design some rhyming pegs to hang facts on.  The classic is:  one=run, two=shoe, three=tree, four=door and so on.  Think of the first thing you want to remember as running toward you, the second is stuck in your shoe, and so forth.

Acronyms     Take the first letter of each thing you want to remember and create a word or phrase that is easy to remember.  For example, the colors of the rainbow spell out Roy G. Biv.  Try this ASAP.

Telling a Story   When you want to remember a spelling or a sequence, use a goofy story.  For example, here's a story for the spelling of "arithmetic":  A real individual thought he might eat turkey in church. 

Associations     Steve's last name is Wallis.  To remember his last name, I visualize him scaling a wall.  The more outrageous the association, the better you'll remember it.  (Just don't tell people how you remember their names; it might get weird.)

Next Steps Magazine

Achieving Students

An important part of the eTutor Virtual Learning Program is the Problem Statement.  This is a question which we ask that students respond to before and after completing each lesson module.  This ability to test themselves is an important skill for improving learning.  

Students sometimes spend too much time studying information they already know.  So that study time is used to best advantage, students should test themselves to find out what they do and do not know.  Then they can spend their time studying the challenging material. 

In addition to using the problem statement, students can use their notes to draw up a series of their own questions about the material they have studied.  After writing down the answers to the questions or having someone listen to the answers, they can use their notes once again to check their answers. 



We're All in This Together

How can you, the parent, have a positive effect on your child's learning?  Here are some suggestions to consider:

  • Be involved in your student's learning program. Parents' support and frequent communication help children learn.

  • Ask your child what he has learned each day. If your child says "nothing," don't give up.  Ask questions about specific activities.

  • Become familiar with instructional practices so that you will know what is expected of your child.  If you have questions or concerns, discuss them with the educational facilitators.

  • Help your child see that instructional learning each day is important and desirable.

  • Make TV watching and computer use a constructive force in your household.  You might give your child an "allowance" of TV and computer programs and promote high-quality programs.  Watch what your child is viewing and discuss what you've just watched. 

  • If you child announces that he or she "hates" a certain subject, find out why.  Then enlist the instructional facilitator's help in changing the negative feelings. 

Adapted from National Education Association

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I hear, I forget, I see, I remember, I do, I understand.  

Chinese Proverb

Marvelous March Sites:

KnowPlay:   The purpose of this website is to simplify access to useful and high quality information services.  Lookup rhyming words, artists, maps and definitions. The goal is to help simplify your life.

Old Farmer's Almanac for Kids:  A host of activities to keep your student involved including weather, sky, history, pets, and much more. There are activities and games and a smattering of advertisements.

GeoHive:  A world of information about population, statistics on the world's water, surface area and population density, nature statistics, and historic data.  For those interested in our world whether for fun or study, you will want to know about this site.

Stately Knowledge:  ipl2 is a public service organization and a learning/teaching website that provides answers to all sorts of questions. Students and volunteer library and information science professionals answer reference questions for the Ask an ipl2 Librarian service and in designing, building, creating and maintaining the ipl2's collections.

Fun With Spot This site, for primary students, includes games, writing activities and geography fun.  The main character is a dog with which younger students will enjoy interacting.

Earthquakes, Volcanoes and Plate Tectonics This site, by the US Geological Survey, includes maps and descriptions of active areas around the world. The descriptions provide wonderful information that is useful in understanding the earth's surface.


Watch for signs of Spring!

From the Knowledge HQ Staff

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