eNews                                April 2015 Vol. 18-04

President's Message

My goodness!  What an eventful month! And it is soon to be over. Our work has picked up and we are always amazed when the day ends, as it seems we have just started.  We finished a long grant process and hope we are chosen as one of the vendors for supplemental curriculum. Grant writing is a process we have done often but has not been as rewarding as one would hope. Nevertheless, this seemed doable and we decided to "throw our hat in the ring."

We are acting as consultants for a National Science Grant.  Part of the grant application focuses on online learning.  We were asked because of our background in this field.  When completed we are hopeful that we can add more value to the learning experience of participants.

Online learning is becoming a very "hot" commodity. Because we have been in the arena for such a long time, we are viewed as a popular acquisition for larger companies hoping to expand their portfolios.  This month we received another offer and after due diligence, found our goals and expectations did not agree. 

This is the time of year when we update all of our certifications and registrations with state agencies.  We appreciate those states that use internet-based applications to complete the process. Yet, there are some states that will have you copy online forms and then send them in by postal mail. I guess, in their minds they are using an online process.

We continue to receive wonderful letters and emails from our students and parents.  Every time these smiling words enter our box, it changes the day for us. We get a bounce in our step, challenging work becomes easier, and it reinforces our commitment of changing the face of learning for students.  Thank you to each of you who have taken the time to let us know how learning has changed for you.

Enjoy this season of regeneration and blooms.  May you delight in what the month holds in store for you.

Happy Mother's Day! to all our wonderful, devoted, and committed mothers!



Our Connected Community

 We have many ways of connecting today. We like the idea of being able to share thoughts and ideas as we think of them. It is amazing how one's words can spark interest for others.  Please take the time to connect with us.     

   Facebook - Longer entries than what you see on Twitter. If you see something you like...let us know by clicking the like button.. 

   Twitter - Just a sentence that will share with you a bit about what you learn by clicking on the attached link.  

   eTutor Blog - If you want to learn more about our interests and learn something at the same time, check out the blog. 

  Pinterest - You may lose yourself at this site, but take the plunge.  Feel free to add or "pin" something from our site to your own site. 

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Make somebody smile every day. 

Learning with eTutor

There are some things that we can pass on that might make the learning experience more enjoyable for both you and your student(s). Whether new or a long-time subscriber, the following may help you in getting around e-Tutor.

  •  eTutor is used by most subscribers as their main curriculum. We recommend supplementing the online program with good literature books, texts and workbooks when available.

  • eTutor makes recommendations for subjects at the Middle-Junior High and High School Levels. Parents and/or educators may choose subjects to focus on at the Primary and Intermediate Levels.

  • A simple file system is helpful for both parents and students in following up with Activities and Extended Learning. Students can place their work in the folders when completed. Parents know where to find the work and it provides a way for students to see their progress.

  • Each eTutor lesson has a question bank with anywhere from 20 to 60 questions. Each time a student takes a quiz, the questions as well as the answers are rotated.

  • eTutor is a dynamic program and uses thousands of links from museums, universities, governments and agencies throughout the world. Sometimes these links fail. Please notify eTutor immediately if you should find a failed link.

The editing and updating of eTutor Lesson Modules is continuing.

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

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

eTutor adds flexibility to instruction.

  • Individual nine-part lesson nodules.

  • Customized learning.

  • Supplement instruction.

  • Homework help.

  • Online and offline activities

  • Automated grading  


Writers' Circle

Did you know that thirty to forty writers sign up on Lesson Pro each month?  Many are just curious, others are looking for a tutoring job, but others are serious about writing lessons for the students they are working with.  

The easy to use template makes creating online instruction for your students a snap. Remember that there is no cost for using the template.  Your lesson modules are available to you and your students to use in and out of an instructional program.   Interesting topics from LessonPro this month:  

Business Applications of Derivatives
Human Digestive System
The Monkey and the Crocodile
Of Mice and Men
Ancient Greece

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



   The Book Case            

Tall Tree  
Mary & Conrad Buff

    Ages:  4th - 8th Grades 

This book is out of print. So, the cost is high for a used book.  But well worth purchasing if you cannot find it in your library.  This is the story of a giant sequoia named Wawona, that sprouted 2500 years ago, the readers watch 'him' grow, observing the animals and birds around him, watch as he survives fire, lightning, and even man, as a national park is made around him. Subtly learn about the natural world...things like fire resistant bark, eagle pairs, forest habitat, ecology, evolutionary biology, history, etc.  Small images in the top of each page show what the humans were doing when Wawona was a young sapling, a tall tree, etc.

1947 Newberry Honor Book 

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Remember that sometimes all of a little just isn't enough.


Learning on the Home Front

All parents are teachers, but not all parents appreciate the tremendous influence that the home learning environment has on their child's potential for intellectual and social success.

Parents are teaching by accident or by design every moment from their child's birth. Because the level of stimulation in a child's home learning environment determines whether instruction is going to be fun and successful for that child or whether the child is always going to be playing catch-up, parents have a crucial role in the education of their children. 

Any time a parent is involved with a child it can be turned into a positive learning experience.  If you are baking cookies have your child stir the cookie dough, it's motor development.  You can talk while you're baking, so it's a social experience. You can point out the two tablespoons of sugar you're adding, so it's math.  You can point to the recipe book to give them exposure to print media.  It's everything.  

Adapted from Curriculum Update, ASCD, 
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

 Talk...So They'll Listen

Listening is an art that requires practice.  Take time to have relaxed conversations alone with each of your children on a regular basis...five to ten minutes each day. Frequent talks will help you spot difficulties before they become real problems.  In open discussions, various points of view are expressed and everyone both TALKS AND LISTENS. It is often helpful to be doing something together when you talk...and preferably when others are not around.  Here are some guidelines for talking with adolescents:

  • Show respect.  As you did in listening, so in talking.  Show your teenager the same courtesy and interest you would show your adult friends.
  • Be brief.  The time to stop talking is before your teenager stops listening!  If you must get across a message, feed a little information... remember the HALF-MINUTE rule for good listening....then ask for comment before adding a little more. Try not to lecture.
  • Be aware of your tone of voice.  Often it's not what you say, but how you say it that conveys your loudly, softly, fast or slowly you speak. You also communicate with eye contact and facial expression.
  • Be specific. Strive consciously to communicate in simple and specific terms.
  • Help your teenager empathize with you by expressing your feelings. Reveal some of your inner self.  Let your child know you also are an individual and can be hurt by others, even confused in your thinking and fearful of certain situations. 

Adapted from Helping Youth Decide, National Assn. of State Boards of Education

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Be careful the things you say; children will listen. 

The Question of Standardized  Testing

When the topic for discussion is standardized testing, there may be more questions than answers. The testing program in schools and in the world of business and industry has become so much a way of life that we are beginning to look for some answers to our questions about the place such testing has in education.  A mammoth amount of time is spent on testing. One reliable estimate reports that 20million school days are being used for testing. We are also talking big money for a program of this size. While there is a valid place for testing, the practice is out of hand and needs to be re-evaluated.

The call for accountability in education brought a clamor for a standard by which students of diverse backgrounds could be compared both individually and as group.  Grades could not be used because of variability from one situation to another.  It was necessary to develop a standard of performance for each age and grade level so that any student could be compared to a uniform standard.  Testing companies developed such a standard by carefully analyzing the performance of hundred of thousands of school-age children on a test and establishing a "norm" for performance at each age and grade.  These "norms" are the standard by which student performance on the test is judged.

Test results give us data by which we can compare performance between students, schools and states.  Information from testing can be  a useful tool in improving educational experiences, but we must never lose sight of the fact that a standardized test is a sample of a student's performance at one specified period of time.  It is not the total picture. It may not measure everything the child is learning.  It never evaluates everything he or she knows.  It may never reveal all of the talent and potential that are present. 

Adapted from The Master Teacher

The Gifted and Talented

Although we place high hopes for a worthwhile future on the gifted and talented youth of today, we often neglect this group.  Many gifted children are left to their own devices when learning as well as at home.

Contrary to the popular misconceptions that they will do better without interference and that they will succeed on their own, some gifted children experience academic, social, and personal problems when they do not receive support from society and parents. Of primary importance in the recognition and the development of the special abilities of these individuals is the active support of the parent, at home and in learning experiences.

Gifted children display their abilities in a variety of ways, each unique to the individual child. In general, for most children giftedness is demonstrated by performance of tasks and understanding of concepts usually associated with much older children. Reading signs, magazines, and books, and performing mathematical computations at ages three to five, speaking complex sentences and using abstract vocabulary at age two and three....all indicate superior intellectual abilities.  

Because of their heightened perceptions and sensitivities, many gifted children need an environment that is secure emotionally and stimulating intellectually to allow their abilities to flourish.  Too many adults overlook their needs, however, assuming that these children already have advantages others lack.  Consequently, much is left to parents to provide for the gifted. Working with the child, with other parents, and with educators, parents can accomplish this awesome, often frustrating task.  

Adapted from National Education Association

Learning Journals

These journals...also know as logs, daybooks, think-books and even diaries...have become popular instructional tools in recent years and are helpful students ranging from elementary school to college. Besides encouraging better writing skills, the journals help students clarify their thoughts about what they read and hear in learning experiences. 

Their use is not limited to English composition. For example, students who use a journal in math may find that switching from number symbols to word symbols helps them solve difficult equations.  Science and social studies students may keep a "lab journal" to record personal reactions to their experiments and make connections between one observation and the next. A history journal may help a student to identify with and perhaps make sense of the otherwise distant and confusing past. 

Journals provide an avenue for student to express opinions and ideas and a chance to share experiences and experiment with writing styles.  

Adapted from IASB - School Public Relations

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Be careful the things you do; children will see...and learn.

Amazing April Links:

Journey North:  Seasonal change is all around us. We see it in the length of a day, in the appearance of a flower, in the flight of a butterfly. Journey North is a free, Internet-based program that explores the interrelated aspects of seasonal change. Through interrelated investigations, students discover that sunlight drives all living systems and they learn about the dynamic ecosystem that surrounds and connects them.

Bite Size:  This site site brings together all the BBC’s formal education content - not just the familiar Bitesize learner guides covering all the main secondary subjects, but also new primary guides and thousands of curriculum-mapped video clips for both secondary and primary classrooms.

Web-based Inquiry Science Exploration: WISE is a simple yet powerful learning environment where students examine real-world evidence and analyze current scientific controversies. Supported by the National Science Foundation.

Amazing Space:  At this site, students can use Web-based activities to learn about the solar system, train to be a scientist, follow a star's life cycle, and more. Click on "For Educators and Developers" to access interactive activities, science-content reading selections, and answers to astronomy basics. (This site uses Flash.)

Center of the Cell: This London museum's Web site features numerous links that help students to further understand cells. It also provides links for teachers and allows them to distribute specific information and quizzes to their students.

Happy Mom's Day!

From the 
Knowledge HQ Staff

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