eNews                                         March 2014 Vol. 17-3

President's Message

Ouch! Winter is still upon us....but in spite of still cold days and nights... longer days have plants forcing their way through the brown.  So before we know it a spot of color will show itself in between little bits of green and brown earth mixed with a little snow and ice. 

A friend asked this month what my feelings are about online gaming and children. Her grandson is having trouble separating himself from gaming and ignoring friends, family and learning. While every child and situation is different, I believe that computers, as televisions, need to be in a family room or some other place where parents can view what students are doing.  As with most things, too much is detrimental to health and growth. Whether, computer use, television, homework, etc., all students need guidance and boundaries.  I recommend putting time limits on the use of computer for enjoyment (most students use the computer for instruction, now), as most of us do with television.

On the issue of boundaries for children as for all of us....we cannot emphasize this enough.  More and more we are seeing children, as well as some adults, who can't or are unable to show restraint. We all have boundaries...they keep us safe and secure.  We are bound by rules and regulations, laws, traffic patterns, recreation, homes, customs and name it.  Our role as adults and parents is to provide guidance for our children into understanding what is acceptable and what is not....sometimes we even have to say, "NO!"  If boundaries were respected it would be a kinder, gentler, calmer world for all of us.     

The reception for eTutor Unplugged has been outstanding!  Thanks to each of you who took the time to explore the new app. We are ready and accepting enrollees now.  If you haven't found your way to Unplugged yet, please do so.  You can see many samples of lesson modules in all twenty-seven subjects, plus preview all 3500.  Your feedback has proven invaluable. The school and organization piece to eTutor Unplugged is almost complete.  You can enter information to receive information about its launch.  

My grandchildren woke me one morning this weekend, to tell me the birds were singing and it was surely, then, time to get up.  What a beautiful harbinger on is coming!

Enjoy a beautiful month.




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You can find on the outside only what you possess on the inside. 

Learning with eTutor

Quick Response (QR) Codes 
Have you noticed those squares of strange symbols on buildings, signs, in stores and magazines? We are even seeing them migrating to education. Quick Response (QR) codes are used to provide information, show a website, view a picture and a host of ways yet to be discovered. QR codes are similar to bar codes, but they can hold a lot more information. Instead of requiring a bulky hand-held device to scan them, modern cell phones and mobile devices can scan them.  We have included QR codes in eTutor Unplugged and a newer version of eTutor which is in development.

QR code consists of square, black dots arranged in a grid on a white background. The grid can be read by a camera or another imaging device and then interpreted. Information is extracted from the horizontal and vertical components in the image. Try this one.

However, have you noticed something about all those codes youíve been seeing? You are right! They seldom have an explanation of how to use them! So, are you wondering how?

Well, itís actually pretty easyÖbut you have to have the right tools. To use QR codes conveniently you must have a smartphone or tablet computer equipped with a camera and a QR code reader/scanner application feature. Luckily, the newer smartphones and tablets available today often have an app pre-installed on them. However, if you donít already have the reader on your device, itís nothing a quick push of a button canít fix. Merely visit your phoneís app store such as Android Market, Apple App Store, BlackBerry App World, etc. and download a QR code reader/scanner app. With a wealth of free QR code generation tools available online, this is a medium that requires little or no background knowledge or searching in order to find useful and helpful resources.

QR codes are used in online instructional material created by Knowledge Headquarters, Inc. for newer version of eTutor in lesson modules, study guides and worksheets.  A student completing a worksheet as part of the eTutor learning program may need additional information or a skill to complete his work. Using his smart phone he scans the QR code from the worksheet and it will take him to appropriate, related information in order to successfully complete the worksheet.

Another student may be working on a history lesson module using her laptop computer. She wants to share with her friends an interesting fact she has just learned. She scans the QR code at the top of the lesson module and transports it to her smart phone.

While the eTutor program is easily accessible on laptop computers, tablets and smart phones, the use of QR codes gives students and parents an alternate way to use and view instruction. QR codes are intended to be used with portable, connected devices. Most students have them, expect to use them, and are excited by the prospect of being able to use them in instruction. Additionally, the use of mobile technology and resources that support it frees students, parents, and learning from the confines of traditional settings. Learning can happen in more authentic contexts, or at times and in places that are convenient to students.

QR codes let students be active in their learning. They provide true interactivity and engagement, which translates to more effective and efficient learning. 


  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

Even during this very busy time of development, writers are continuing to use LessonPro to write exceptional lesson modules.  Most of these are being used by the writer for their own use with students at no cost to them or the student. 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:  

  • Algebraic Expressions and Identities
  • Advanced Sentence Structure
  • Genetic Engineering
  • Shape Planes
  • Moles 
  • Introduction to Psychology
  • Making It More Interesting With Adjectives 

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


   The Book Case            

by Holling Clancy Holling 

Ages:  8 - 12 

Ezra Brown, a fourteen-year-old ship's boy, was standing watch in the crow's nest during a snowstorm when he first saw the white seabird. Suddenly she flew straight upward, and Ezra quickly realized that his whaling ship was heading straight for an iceberg! The ship was saved, and later, from two Walrus tusks he'd traded with an Eskimo for, Ezra carved Seabird. He set her on a limber piece of baleen so the bird could hover in the air around him as he completed his chores on the ship.

Seabird became the mascot for four generations of seafarers: aboard a whaler, a clipper ship, a steamship, and finally an airplane. The story takes a unique look at America's seafaring history through the eyes of a carved bird and her special owners. It is full of beautiful, full-page paintings as well as fascinating and informative black-and-white drawings that ring the text.

1949 Newbery Honor Award

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Life gets better when you get better.




eTutor Unplugged was launched last week.  Even if you have visited the site, we encourage you to take another look at the samples and previews of the lesson modules in the eTutor database.  We are very proud of the work our writers, editors and programmers have done in the presentation of this outstanding and original content. You will not find it anywhere else!

Commercials - A Learning Experience

Ask your child to become a critical thinker by analyzing how advertising with commercials sends messages to its audience.  You will enjoy this activity as well.  Ask your child the following questions as they analyze a commercial's content.

  • What's being sold?  Is it a product, service or idea?

  • How long are the ads?  What is the impact of length on the audience?

  • What are the age, sex and race of the characters?

  • What is the setting of the commercial?

  • What is the target audience for the ad? Is it male or female?  Student or adult?  What kind of music is used in the ad:

  • What is the ad's format?  Common formats include song and dance, slice-of-life, demonstrations and animation.

  • What is the advertising appeal? The appeal can be rational, negative-humorous, emotional or an appeal to fear, sex or patriotism, for instance.

  • What are the values portrayed or implied in the ad?  What is the ad trying to make the viewer see as important? Being cool, sexy, high-status and wise are possible values.

Adapted from the High School Journal

 How to Talk to Your Kids About War

Most parents have the best of intentions in trying to help kids cope with troubling global events.  But with emotions running high, it's easy to misfire when the topic of war comes up at home.  Here are six slip-ups to avoid in talking to your kids about it.  

  1. Too much information.  When discussing war with kids, less can be more. Young children's thinking is more concrete than adults'.  Find out specifically what they are asking. Ask, what do you mean?  What do you want to know?  Then answer it at their level. 
  2. Dodging questions. This counterpart to number one compels parents of older children to find time to examine big questions when they do arise. 
  3. Feeding their fears.  Therapists' offices fill after traumatic events with children traumatized by too much exposure to horrifying media images. Preschoolers may misunderstand repeated showings of a disaster as separate events.  School-age kids also can have trouble differentiating fact from fantasy; they may equate a violent news clip with videogames or movies and assume an even worse, more elaborate conflict is being played out. If your kids watch war coverage, watch with them,  discuss it and set limits. 
  4. Mistaking silence for a sense of security.  Just because your child hasn't brought up the topic of war doesn't mean he's unconcerned. Find neutral ways to open the door to a conversation.  Create an atmosphere that says you are ready to listen.  
  5. Neglecting calming routines.  Comforting habits are important in making your child feel secure. 
  6. Perpetuating powerlessness.  As overwhelming as global conflict can be for young people,  you can encourage actions to ease that uneasy feeling.  

Adapted from the Chicago Tribune

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In everything one must consider the end.

Jean DeLFontaine(1621-1695) Poet


Stifling Creativity

We all want to inspire creativity in our children,  however, sometimes without thinking a phrase will come out that stifles creative endeavors.

  • It's too much work.

  • Let's all sleep on it.

  • Quit dreaming.

  • Where did you dig that one up?

  • Not that again.

  • Good thought, but impractical.

  • Let's get back to reality.

  • We are not ready for that.

  • We don't have time.

  • I don't see the connection.

We got some of these same comments, when we first launched eTutor in 1997.  Look where we are today.  Online learning is becoming common place. 

Adapted from The Public School Administrator

Do You Understand Me?

As communicators, we sometimes look for sophisticated ways to communicate with our various audiences. When we do, we often confuse or irritate others and possibly turn them off to our message. For example, a recent column in a newspaper contained the word, "non sequitur."  When challenged the reporter said it had not occurred to him that this was an unusual word that would baffle many readers, as it had been in use since the 1500s.  The example makes a valid point, so we have guidelines for most audiences:

  • Pick the easier-to-understand word, such as, "total" for "aggregate;'" "building for edifice."
  • Avoid jargon, or specialized language, in other words educational lingo..
  • Avoid using examples that we re familiar with, but that our audience might not be. For example, if we cite "Hamlet's soliloquy"...some won't know what we are referring to, unless we explain it as part of our Literature instruction.
  • Make sure people feel comfortable with the words we choose.  We made a list of words to avoid and which you might find interesting, as well:


There were more....and I am sure you can add to the list.  It is interesting how our language has changed even in my lifetime.  

Adapted from Communication Briefings

Give Your Presence

Being present is making contact with the essence of the other person.  It is meeting your child in the moment, without concern for the past or the future, and with your mind emptied of distractions.  This means you come to your child free of expectations, preconceived notions, and the thousand other things you "need" to be doing, so that you can focus completely on his or her needs.  This is not always easy, but it is vitally important. 

Do you remember hearing stories of the poor little rich kid who had every material advantage but whose heart was broken because the parents were never really there?  Sadly, there are many children who suffer from this kind of neglect. Gifts, no matter how expensive, will never take the place of your presence.  Giving your complete attention is much more valuable to a growing  child and is the most satisfying way of being together. 

Clear your mind, clear your schedule, and really be there.  When you can't give your full attention, tell them so, then schedule a time when you can...and keep it.  Turn off the television and computer and put down the cell phone and turn on the answering machine.  Sit together, talk, relax and unwind, and you will feel the connection grow stronger.  If you are truly present when you are together, when you are apart they will rest assured your love surrounds them.

Adapted from Wonderful Ways To Love A Child by Judy Ford

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Prepare for mirth, for
mirth becomes a feast. 

William Shakespeare, Pericles

Marvelous March Links:       

Multiplayer:  As the pilot of a space ship far in the future, you must save the solar system from gravitational anomalies while learning and memorizing the multiplication table. You will need the Flash Player to play.

Swarm Sketch: SwarmSketch is a playground for the sketching of the collective consciousness. Users can contribute a small amount of line per visit. They are then given the opportunity to vote on the opacity of lines submitted by other users. By voting, users moderate the input of other users, judging the quality of each line. The darkness of each line is the average of all its previous votes. Youíll need the free Flash Player 7.

Planet Quest- The Search for Another Earth: PlanetQuest is NASA's public home page for new planet discoveries and research. The site includes many multimedia features including a virtual tour of the Keck Observatory and an Interstellar Trip Planner. The free Flash player is required for some sections.

Forces of Nature:  Ever wanted to feel the power of creating tornado? How about an earthquake? This site, created to accompany a National Geographic film, offers up explorations of the biggest forces our earth can bring us: tornadoes, earthquakes, volcanoes and hurricanes. Virtual labs let you design your own disaster, and National Geo-quality photos fill in the gaps of your visual imagination. You'll need the free Flash player.

Irish Potato Famine: Engaging interactive exhibit about the Irish Potato Famine. Youíll need the free Flash player.


All the best for a 
Great Month! 

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