_In The News                      May 2006   Vol. 9-5

President’s Message

It is five months into this exciting year and so much has happened.  We remain extremely busy creating new additions and upgrading others to bring you the best in online education.  I am constantly amazed at how exciting this work remains for me and those who work with me.  Those of you who have taken the big leap into online education, deserve a big boost of applause for your constant stimulation and support of this relatively new and exciting way to learn.  

Over the years we have had requests from parents and students for instruction in a particular area of the curriculum.  This month we have been able to achieve that goal.  e-Tutor is now offering courses by subject area, English-Language Arts, Math, Science or Social Studies.   

Dictionary, dictionary!  e-Tutor has installed a dictionary specifically for the Vocabulary section in each of the online lesson modules.  It is offered on the e-Tutor website for all users, as well.  We think it will be useful for learners everywhere, our students and others.  As time goes by we are planning important additions to the dictionary which will make it an important component of any learning program.  e-Tutor students will access the dictionary free of any advertisement.  Advertising for the rest of us will help defray costs. 

You can now view the goals and objectives of the e-Tutor program directly from the front page of the website.  Parents, educators and organizations often want to know on what the curriculum is based.  The curriculum is original and created exclusively for Internet-based learning.  Goals and objectives are aligned to state and national goals for learning.  

Thanks to all of you who have provided feedback to us about the things you would most like to see on the e-Tutor website and in the learning program.  While much of what we do is behind the scenes, there is much planned and we will be keep you informed of our progress.  Our goal is to continually improve on what we are doing.  We have been at this for many years now; we have learned much and there is certainly much more to learn.  It is an exciting time for us, for our students and to all who believe that online education is a viable option to a traditional approach to learning. 

This month you will notice a new addition to our newsletter 'The Book Case." Each month we will feature one of our favorite books.  We would be pleased to have you make suggestions, as well. 

What a difference from one part of the country to another.  The last few weeks have been damp and cold in our part of the world, while heat and rain have inundated others.  My garden is alive with green and new flowers are beginning to show their buds.  While every season is beautiful, Spring is always a delight and full of surprises for me.  I hope you find this month delightful and full of surprises as well.  


What's your choice?

  • English - Language Arts
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies

You can now choose between the curricular areas above.  Please call if you would like to focus on one or two areas over the summer.  877-687-7200

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To get anywhere, strike out for somewhere, or you'll get nowhere. 

Learning with e-Tutor:

Studying the e-Tutor Way

Every part of the e-Tutor Lesson Module is important.  Sometimes students and parents are not sure of how to use the Vocabulary words presented in each Lesson Module. The Vocabulary section helps students far beyond the particular lesson they are working on.  Vocabulary is essential to comprehension. Students need to apply strategies before, during and after reading to understand the written word. Each word in the Vocabulary section is hyperlinked to the e-Tutor Dictionary.  The words should be reviewed and used in a variety of ways.  Students might use the following ideas to build and extend vocabulary skills:  

  • Use definitions of words to create word riddles.

  • Group words based on similarities and/or differences.

  • Draw pictures that illustrate the vocabulary word.

  • Play a variation of the card game, Go Fish. Prepare a deck of word cards with five or more sets of four related words in each set (the same word can be used for younger children). Duplicate the cards so that at least each child has a deck for the game. Try to build sets of like words.

  • Go beyond definitions in the dictionary. Explore ways to describe the associations that cluster around the word.

  • Choose a vocabulary word and then answer the following questions: How would a scientist describe this word? How would a judge describe this word?  How would a poet describe this word? How would you describe this word? 

  • Organize a collection of words:
    • Reference Book: Create vocabulary pages for a three-ring binder.
    • Word Wall: Display collected words and definitions on a bulletin board.
    • Word File: Record words, definitions, and context-rich sentences on index cards. Place them in a recipe box that organizes the words alphabetically.

Students should not skip this important section of each Lesson Module.  Learning new vocabulary is essential to learning. 

Seven new lessons were added to e-Tutor this month.

Join the e-Tutor world of learning today to view the Lesson Library.  



   The Book Case

I Love You, Stinky Face 
by Lisa Mccourt, Cyd Moore (Illustrator) 
Ages 5-8, Preschool - 1st grade

I Love You, Stinky Face, is the perfect bedtime story for the parent that wants to convey a wholesome message wrapped up in a lot of fun. This beautifully illustrated story begins with a mother telling her child, "I love you, my wonderful child". Not surprising to any parent, the little boy asks, "Would you still love me....if I were a big scary ape?" or "a super smelly skunk" or "a terrible meat-eating dinosaur?" As the pages go by, the mother tells her child again and again that a parent's love is unconditional, regardless of what creature her baby becomes. And, as an added bonus, watch your child giggle and laugh when he or she gets the excuse to say, "I love you, Stinky Face".
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It is never too late to be who you might have been. 


Accepting Responsibility

Personal responsibility may be defined to mean that you and you alone are responsible for what you are and what you do.  It is an unusual quality.  Mediocrity and failure can often be traced to a lack of personal responsibility.  

George goes fishing on week-ends, mumbles and grumbles and doesn't communicate around the house because the little flower he married has gained 30 pounds, wonders why he isn't getting ahead, gives him the silent treatment when he shows up late, and sleeps in the morning instead of getting his breakfast.  "She has made me what I am," George claims. 

And Blanche yells at the kids, nags her husband and can't keep the house clean because her father was too strict, her mother was lazy, her husband doesn't appreciate her, she needs a new stove and she's going to get a real good nervous breakdown if people don't start understanding her. 

Rationalizations, cop-outs, excuses, justifications, defenses, negative affirmations.  "I am not responsible for what I am and the way I act," these people are saying. "Other people are making me act this way." 

What a wonderful quality when you find an individual who is different....one who has total personal responsibility.  One who says, "I and I alone am responsible for what I am and what I do.  I shall not blame you for my weaknesses or failures.  The challenge to make my life a successful, meaningful experience is not yours.  It is mine."  One of the most inspiring articles ever to appear in the English language aligns itself with these qualities of initiative, personal responsibility and self-reliance. 

Written in 1890 by Elbert Hubbard, publisher of a small magazine called The Philistine, its impact on individuals throughout the world was astounding.  The short article relates the story of a young lieutenant who was asked to carry a message to the leaders of the insurgency during a war between the U.S. and Spain.  

Adapted from The Public School Administrator

Life is an escalator:  You can move forward or backward; you cannot stand still.


How to Earn Straight A's

It is that time of year when students are winding down in their educational programs.  Many students are preparing for college.  It is important to remember not to go to college until YOU are good and ready.  You will never do well unless you really want to be there.  Here are some ideas of what it will take to get those higher grades:

A   Sit in front of the class 
A   Listen more than write.  
A   See if the instructor will review your paper before the deadline.   
A   Meet deadlines. 
A   Plan to study two to three times class time.  
A   If you do poorly on a test, ask for a retake.  
A   If you must miss a class, ask what you will miss.   
A   Test out of classes.  
A   Schedule a break in the day.  

Excerpts from Next Step Magazine

Home Cooked

The food served in schools is getting a lot of press lately.  This story gave me a chuckle. 

One day instead of serving the usual hot meal, the school cafeteria handed out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. 

After lunch, a satisfied first grader marching out the door complimented the cafeteria manager: "Finally, you gave us a home cooked meal!" 


Avoid These Common Mistakes

When helping others to learn we can make common mistakes.  We might:

  • Fail to focus first on important external issues....such as friends, community or school.  We often help the child to learn to "get along."  The problem:  That kind of help does nothing to promote the strategic goal of learning. 

  • Give learners knowledge instead of skills.  We must demonstrate correct behavior and offer time for practice and feedback.  Simply telling or giving printed material is not enough.

  • Try to jam everything into a short period of time.  Real learning takes weeks of time and effort.  Short sessions over a longer period of time work best.

  • Provide learning experiences either too early or too late.  As a result learners either forget what they learned or develop bad habits that are hard to overcome.  Make sure the student is ready for learning to take place.

  • Buy instructional packages that don't result in true learning.  When buying an instructional program, ask for proof that the program works. 

Adapted from Communication Briefings


Page 4

Challenge is a dragon with a gift in it's mouth....Tame the dragon and the gift is yours. 


Listening to Others.....

Almost all problems in listening can be overcome by having the right attitudes.  Remember, there is no such thing as disinteresting people....only disinterested listeners.  This is especially important for those of us who are parents.  We are so very busy, we often listen to our children while doing something else.  Think....would you respond in such a way to a friend, a boss, an instructor?

  • Act Like a Good Listener....Be alert, sit straight, lean forward if appropriate, let your face radiate interest. 

  • Listen to understand....Do not just listen for the sake of listening; listen to gain a real understanding of what is being said. 

  • React....The only time a person likes to be interrupted is when applauded.  Be generous with your applause.  Make the other person feel important.  Applaud with nods, smiles, comments, encouragement. 

  • Stop Talking....You can't listen while you are talking.  Communicate; do not take turns talking.

  • Empathize With The Other Person....Try to put yourself in the other's place so that you can see that point of view. 

  • Ask Questions.....When you don't understand, when you need further clarification, when you want the other person to like you, when you want to show you are listening; but don't ask questions that will embarrass or "put down" the other person.

  • Concentrate on What The Other Is Saying....Actively focus your attentions on the words, the ideas and the feelings related to the subject.

  • Look at the Other Person....Face, mouth, eyes, hands, will all help the other person communicate with you.  Helps you concentrate, too.  Shows you are listening.

  • Smile Appropriately....But don't overdo it.

  • Leave Your Emotions Behind (if you can)....Try to push your worries, your fears, your problems away.  They may prevent you from listening well.  

  • Get Rid of Distractions....Put down any papers, pencils, etc. you have in your hands; they may distract your attention.

  • Get The Main Points (the big story)....Concentrate on the main ideas and not the illustrative material; examples, stories, statistics, etc. are important, but usually are not the main points.  Examine them only to see if they prove, support, define, the main ideas. 

  • Share Responsibility for Communication....Only part of the responsibility rests with the speaker; you as the listener have an important part.  Try to understand and if you don't ask for clarification.

  • React to Ideas, Not to The Person....Don't allow your reaction to the person to influence your interpretation of words.  Good ideas can come from people whose looks or personality you don't like. 

  • Don't Argue Mentally....When you are trying to understand the other person, it is a handicap to argue mentally while you are listening.  This sets up a barrier between you and speaker. 

  • Use the Difference in Rate....You can listen faster than anyone can talk so use this rate difference to your advantage by trying to stay on the right track, think back over what the speaker has said.  Rate difference: speech rate is about 100 to 150 words per minute;  thinking: 500. 

  • Don't Antagonize Speaker....You may cause the other person to conceal ideas, emotions, attitudes by being antagonizing in any of a number of ways: arguing, criticizing, taking notes, not taking notes, asking questions, not asking questions, etc.  Try to judge and be aware of the effect you are having on the other person.  Adapt to the speaker. 

  • Avoid Hasty judgments....Wait until all the facts are in before making any judgments.

  • Listening Is Fun!....Develop this attitude.  Make a game of seeing how well you can listen. 

Adapted from Public School Administrator


Usable Talent

To be granted some kind of usable talent and to be able to use it the fullest extent of which you are capable....this, to me, is a kind of joy that is almost unequaled.  I have found it in music; my father in farming.  I know others who have found it in practicing medicine, or running a bakery, or driving a truck....in running a bakery that makes the best kind of bread, or in driving a truck better than anyone else.  That's the kind of achievement that makes a person happy. 

Lawrence Welk

Journal Writing

A daughter of a friend recently took a notebook with her on the family vacation.  While her sisters were playing she took the time to record the vacation in her notebook, including pictures.  Lately, I have once again been recommending this activity to parents.  It is an excellent way for the student to prepare himself for learning and a great activity for the summer.  The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) suggest the following guidelines:

  • Journals are neither diaries nor learning notebooks, but borrow features from each.  Like diaries, journals are written in the first person about issues the writer cares about; like learning notebooks, journals often concern a particular subject or topic. 
  • Journals may divided into several sections...one for each subject and another for private use.  
  • Journals should not be graded, but children should be rewarded for keeping a journal.  
  • Children may do short entries for each subject area in which they are working.
  • Write with your student.  The fact that you also write gives the activity more meaning.
  • Have your child read an entry aloud.  
  • Skim through the journal and write responses when appropriate.
  • At the end of a given period of time (a month, quarter, etc.) have your child put in page numbers, a title for each entry, a table of contents and a conclusion.  This requires journal writers to treat their documents seriously and to review what they have written over a period of time. 
  • Of all writing tasks, journals may be the most idiosyncratic and variable.  Therefore, journal writing can be modified in any way to meet the needs and abilities of the student.  

Journal writing encourages better writing skills and helps students clarify their thoughts about what they are learning, doing, seeing and hearing.  

Adapted from School Public Relations Service

Structuring Appropriate 
Study Habits

What your child does after school in relation to homework and preparation for learning activities may benefit from your assistance.  Establishing a routine for homework and study will aid in overcoming the many distractions and attractive options that may prevent involvement in learning.  

By setting aside a specific amount of time every day to be used for studying, the child can more easily adjust his or her goals to fit this schedule.  This makes beginning the learning activity more fluent because other expectations or needs are always considered relative to, rather than in competition with, studying.  

It is also helpful to know that if the necessary amount of homework is satisfactorily completed, other options can be started immediately  Thus the child can feel rewarded for efficient learning.  The place of study is usually as important as time; a private area, free from distraction, will help the student work more productively. 

Adapted:  Carolyn Nilson, How to Manage Training

 What Children Need And Parents Can Provide

No matter what they have, where they come from, how much schooling they have, how much money they make....all parents can build their children's self-esteem according to author Joanne Koch in Families in Touch.  She defines self-esteem as "feeling good about yourself, believing you can do things, believing you can make choices."

Children who have high self-esteem are more likely to do well in school, make friends, make healthy choices, feel they control their lives, feel good about their work and their relationships, share their thoughts and feelings and refuse to engage in delinquent activities.  "Children who have high self-esteem will make mistakes, but they are more likely to learn from their mistakes," Koch says.  Children need certain things to develop high self-esteem....even from busy parents.

  • Your time and attention. Set aside regular times to be with your child.

  • Meaningful conversation. Make time to talk with your children.

  • Information and answers to their questions. Even when children don't ask, doesn't mean they don't have questions. 

  • Respect for their feelings. Youngsters desperately want to know if they are normal.  Are they smart enough? Do others really like them?  These are not trivial concerns. 

  • Respect for their growing independence.  As they show the ability to make appropriate choices, allow them to make more choices for themselves.  

  • Clear limits that are enforced.  Reasonable limits help children learn responsible behavior.

  • Respect for their dignity. Refrain from overly harsh words or punishments when your children misbehave.

  • Your beliefs and values.  Your children need to hear what you think is right and wrong and why you think that way.  

  • Lost of praise.  When parents are quicker to praise than to criticize, children learn to feel good about themselves and they develop the self-confidence to trust their own judgment. 

  • Your own self-esteem.  If yours is shaky, do what you can to improve it.  Children whose parents have high self-esteem are more likely to have it themselves. 

  • Good role models.  Children learn by example as well as teaching.  Make sure your own actions reflect the standards of honesty, integrity and fair play that you expect of them. 

Adapted from Illinois Association of School Boards

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Character is doing what's right when nobody's looking.  


What Values Do You Promote?

All parents teach values, whether directly or indirectly.  By their behavior,  parents convey their personal values every day.  Children learn more from example than they do form any other source, including lectures. Here are some values that we teach our children, whether we realize it or not:

  • Attitudes toward work.  Whether you are satisfied or disgruntled, both convey your work ethic. 

  • Cooperation with Others. Do you get along with family, neighbors and co-workers.  

  • Due process.  Are rules and regulations clearly spelled out to your children, along with reasons.  Is discipline fair, consistent and applied even-handedly?

  • Academic priorities.  Is the child who shows effort and improvement given as much encouragement as the child who makes top grades?  Is the child who shines academically given the same recognition as the star athlete. 

  • Attitudes about winning and losing.  Do you encourage fair play and good sportsmanship?  Or do you emphasize winning at all costs?  

  • Avoid stereotypes.  

  • Peer pressure.  Are you constantly comparing your childe with other's children.  

  • Involvement.  Studies  repeatedly show that involved parents promote good attitudes toward learning. 

  • Basic courtesy.  Children appreciate hearing words like "please" or "thank you" from their parents.  A smile and acknowledgement for a job well done may go a long way toward the promotion of self-esteem.

Most likely, you can think of many additional ways in which you influence your child's values.  But the message is clear;  Children watch what you do more than they listen to what you say.  They do what you do. 

American Association of School Administrators

Marvelous May Links:

Building Stone of the U.S. : The NIST Test Wall:  What stones do we use to build?  Which stones weather best?  Some of these questions can be answered at this website, which examines a test wall of building materials constructed in 1948.  A great feature allows students to look at stones from different states or countries (many of the stone samples were collected in 1880) and examine the differences between the materials stored inside and those built into the wall and exposed to the elements. 

Online Anthropology Exhibits:  At this site the "History of Eating Utensils'" has simple explanations of how knives, forks, spoons and chopsticks came to be used commonly for the consumption of food.  Look a little farther and you will find online exhibits that can supplements many areas of the curriculum, such as "The Pacific Voyages of Rollo Beck," Native Alaskan Graphic Arts," and "Ceramics of the Persian Empire." http://www.calacademy.org/research/anthropology/Exhibits/index.htm

The Shape of Life:  This site is a compelling eight-hour series with accompanying educational materials that tell the story of the great diversity of animal life on Earth.  Throughout the website are incredible video clips of sea life.  Evolutionary modifications are featured prominently. http://www.pbs.org/kcet/shapeoflife/index.html

The Magpie Sings the Great Depression:  This website presents almost 200 poems, articles and short stories and many graphics and photographs from the Magpie, literary magazine of Dewitt Clinton High School, encompassing the years 1929 to 1942. Students can catch a glimpse of student life in New York City during the years of the Great Depression and the power of literacy magazines. 

Silk Road Seattle:  This is an educational project using the "Silk Road" theme to explore cultural interaction across Eurasia from the beginning of the Common Era (A.D.) to the Sixteenth Century.  Translations of primary texts are available. http://depts.washington.edu/uwch/silkroad/index.html

Teaching Time:  A software developer in the UK created this site to support teaching time using analog and digital clocks.  Initial teaching can be done using the whole class clock.  Worksheets are available for individual or group work and when students are more proficient there are interactive games, all with clocks. 

Virtual Ocean:  Part of the website "An Introduction to Microscopy," these pages show what sea creatures can look like in the larval form, as well as microscopic algae, sea squirts and other smaller, often overlooked sea dwellers.  Included on the main page is a link to the "Smallest Page on the Web," which highlights microscopic life in fresh water. http://www.euronet.nl/users/janpar/virtual/ocean.html


Have a Beautiful Month
From the Staff at Knowledge HQ

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