In The News                       September 2009   Vol. 12-9

President’s Message

Where has the summer gone?  The months and years seem to gallop by.  When looking back, much has been accomplished, but one needs to hold onto the hat as it seems we are moving at the speed of light.   

Well, having said that, I am reminded of a conversation I had with a friend just this morning.  We were talking about the many activities in which children were involved.  I probably screwed up my face, because our children need to have quiet time....not music time or reading time, just time to rest and think.  We become concerned if our children are not playing with friends or are not doing an activity or going, going, going.  Quiet time, thinking time gives a child the opportunity to think about what he has learned, what the world is about, what people are about and his place in the universe.  So, often we place our children where we want them to be, rather than where they want to be.  Quiet time gives the child the opportunity to develop his own identity and personality.  

And, adults need quiet time, as well.  Why is it, that if we spend a few minutes in contemplation, we tend to feel guilty?  Of course, there is always something to do.  But, a period of solitude helps us to be more creative and to balance the many things happening in our lives.  As hard as it is to let go of the work, the activities, the family, we become better at handling all those forces when we take the time for quiet. 

This year we have welcomed many new students from around the world.  e-Tutor students can be found in China, Japan, Australia, Finland, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Canada, Mexico and Panama. Some of students have begun communicating with one another.  If your child would like to email other e-Tutor students, please let us know.  We will match children by age group.  

Enjoy a beautiful beginning to the Fall season. 




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Spend time fixing problems, not fixing blame. 

Learning with e-Tutor


  Welcome to new and returning e-Tutor students and their families!

Your child has embarked on an exciting academic and intellectual journey in a new and challenging way of learning. The success of your student will have a profound impact on all learning that follows. All of us at e-Tutor pledge to provide
both support and challenge to make this learning and growing experience one of opportunity and accomplishment for your student.

If this is your first time using e-Tutor, you no doubt have many questions about how to effectively guide your student in a daily learning program.  Because you will continue to be the main educator and an important source of information and support for your student, we will continue to provide guidelines and assistance to ensure that you have the information you need to give accurate and timely advice and referral to your student. You can be assured that our staff and services are dedicated to student support and success.  In that regard below is a chart that you can print out and discuss with your student.  

Guidelines and Expectations for Students

  • Know which subjects and lesson modules are recommended for your grade level. 
  • Carefully read and complete each section of the lesson module.  
  • Review Study Guide and Vocabulary before taking the quiz or exam.  
  • Share with a parent or another adult the Activities and Extending Learning Assignments you have completed.  
  • Spend at least one hour on each lesson module.
  • Complete no more than twenty lesson modules each week.
  • Keep track of when you start to study and when you stop each day.  Keep record of sport and art activity on your list, as well.  
  • Have a notebook, pencil, paper and any other necessary materials available before starting e-Tutor each day.  
  • Establish a schedule for learning and start, as much as possible, the same time each day. 
  • Share with your parents the goals and time management plan you have established for yourself.
  • Contact e-Tutor if you are experiencing any difficulty with the program.

Twenty-five New Lesson Modules  
were added to the 
e-Tutor Lesson Library this month!

Join the e-Tutor world of learning today to view 
over 2,700 lesson modules.

Attention Writers!

In the last month we have welcomed many new writers to the Writer's Circle.  Writers are encouraged to submit lesson modules throughout the school year.  A small stipend is paid for each accepted lesson module.  If you are interested in writing lesson modules for the e-Tutor program, please go to and sign up.   

   The Book Case            

The Blue Sword 
by Robin McKinley

 Middle School/High School

This Newbery Honor book is the first in a series of novels about the fantasy realm of Damar, which also includes the Newbery Medal-winning The Hero and the Crown. And Potterheads will be amazed to learn that this book contains both a Harry and a Draco. Only Draco, in this case, is a horse; and Harry is a girl.

This is one of those books that fantasy buffs and English teachers agree on (a rare thing before Harry Potter!). Harry (Angharad is her real name) is a young woman who is restless, out of place in her world. But when the king of the Hillfolk abducts her, she is thrown into a world of magic and adventure and required to prove herself.

Rich in detail, this novel brings a strange world, a unique culture, and a lot of interesting people vividly to life. While reading this book, it's hard at times to keep in mind that it all takes place in a fantasy world. With a breadth of scope and pacing, a streak of seriousness that may appeal to any adult reader, and a joy in magic and battle and amazing creatures, this is a story that I think readers of any age will enjoy.

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Avoid paralysis by analysis. 


Learning From Experience

"Experience is inevitable, learning is not,"  says J. Edward Russo, co-author with Paul J. Schoemaker of Decision Traps - The Ten Barriers to Brilliant Decision Making and How to Overcome Them.  "It's the old story of two men who had each worked 13 years.  One had 13 years of experience.  The other had one year of experience, repeated 13 times.  The only way to avoid that is to spend time studying the outcomes of decisions you have made in the past...those that worked out well and those that did not."

To help you improve your decision-making and planning abilities, make a personal decision audit of prior decisions.  Consider how much time you allocated to each of the basic phases of decision making:  creating a mental structure of how you understood the problem and planned to solve it (this is known as framing the problem); intelligence gathering; and coming to conclusions.   Here are some questions to ask:

  • Where did you spent the most time and energy?  Where the least?  Were those wise choices?

  • Which phase posed the most problems for you?  How did you overcome harder work, or by taking an easy out that diminished the results?

  • Did you rely on intuition too much?

A desire to get the planning or decision-making process over with quickly, with less work, often leads people to make snap decision or fall back upon something that worked before. 

Adapted from Working Smart 

In Too Deep

Are you over-involved with your children?  Some signs you may need to back off:

  • You get a case of the blues over your child's failures

  • You begin sentences about your child's endeavors with "we"

  • You write your teenager's college application essay

  • Other spectators stare when you yell from the sideline at your child's games. 

Adapted from The Chicago Tribune

Enjoy Dinner Together

Throughout the ages the dinnertime ritual has signified family and community bonding.  Nowadays it seems almost a lost art, replaced by meals on the run.  With both parents working long hours and kids on the go, family dinners have fallen by the wayside.  But when schedules allow, meals together can be a joyful time of talking, listening, and sharing...even if it's over fast food.

Try to bring the entire family together at regular intervals for a common meal, even if it's only once a week.  Make a date with the rest of the family, and see that it's kept.  You could take turns making each kid's "favorite" and Mom's and Dad's too and always feature a special treat for dessert or a movie-a-popcorn fest afterward.  Once the family night becomes a habit, you may well find it's the highlight of the week for everyone!

Dinnertime should not be an occasion for confrontations or lectures on one can digest food when angry or afraid.  Family closeness and communication far more important than etiquette.  Reserve the serious discussions for a more appropriate place and time, and never use this occasion to reprimand or scold.  Let your dinnertime be one of sharing and coming together, a time for checking in and keeping in touch. 

Family dinners are meant to provide nourishment for both body and soul.  Add candles or flowers to the table, serve dinner with a grateful hear and you'll surely have a heavenly meal. 

Adapted from Wonderful Ways to Love a Child, by Judy Ford

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Remember, advice is often free and too often we get what w pay for.  


The Positive Energy of Conflict

Constructive Conflict.  Most of us feel these words contradict each other.  We learned as children to avoid conflict at any cost.  "Share!"  we were taught.  And what we learned as children we brought to our adult lives:  "Compromise is good; conflict is bad."

Not so, says Dr. Elaine Yarbrough, a conflict management expert.  Conflict is a critical element in everything we do.  Without it there is no growth, no challenge.  Without conflict we would have boring sameness.  Conflict equals excitement.  

Constructive conflict is managed conflict...the catalyst for innovation and productivity.  Because conflict is inevitable, why not harness its positive energy?

Adapted from Communication Briefings

 Foolish Consistency Multiplies Mistakes

A young man entered a psychiatrist's office, walked directly to the doctor's desk, and stood stiffly before him.  He told the doctor that he was there against his will and that he had come only to please his family.

The doctor asked him why his family wanted him to see a psychiatrist.  "I suppose it's because I'm dead," the young man replied. 

The doctor, who thought he had heard them all, asked, "How do you know you're dead?"

"How do you know you're alive?" shot back the young man. 

The psychiatrist decided this approach would get him nowhere, so he tried another.  "I'm sure you'll agree that dead men don't bleed."  The young man agreed this was true. 

The doctor reached into the desk drawer, asked the young man to roll up his sleeve and jabbed a small needle into his arm.  A spot of blood appeared.  The doctor quickly pressed a glass slide against the blood and held it up for the patient to see.  "There!" he exclaimed triumphantly, "it's blood!"

"My God!" said the you man.  "Dead people do bleed, don't they!"

This story seems absurd, at first, but it reflects a common human insist that we're right, to prefer consistency, even when faced with contradictory evidence.  

Adapted from The Pryor Report


Four Waste-Of-Time Activities

If you are home schooling your child or supplementing what they are learning in a regular school, you may have found yourself creating some of the following for you child to do.  

  • Typical activity:  Keep a reading log. 
    Why it is busywork:  Writing down the title is one thing, adding on the author, publisher, and other info turns reading into a tedious activity.  Rather let your child write a line or two about why they liked or didn't like the book.  The time would also be better spent reading another book. 

  • Typical activity:  Answer the questions at the end of the chapter.
    Why it is busywork:  This can encourage students to "skim and scan." hunting for answers and ignoring other content.  The exception is questions that help student infer meaning.

  • Typical activity:  Play an "unscramble the word" spelling game.
    Why it is busywork:  If a child sees  a spelling word with the letters scrambled, he could end up remembering it that way, says National Council of Teachers of English experts. 

  • Typical activity:  Create a diorama/model/game board/anything that requires supplies and a glue gun.
    Why it is busywork:  Such "fun" projects usually involve a frantic trip to the crafts store, expensive supplies, too much parent participation...and tool little educational value to justify the number of hours they take (with the possible exception of science-fair projects).  If it's all about how it looks, it's probably not worth it.  

Adapted from Parenting - School Years

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Always deliver more than you promise.  

Special September Links:

What Did You Do In The War, Grandma?  This oral history project of Rhode Island Women during World War II was written by students in the Honors English Program at South Kingstown High School. Judi Scott and Linda P. Wood (in partnership with Brown University) have done a nice job of providing online articles and resource links about oral history as well as the time period. Others can use the site for its interesting content, but also show it to students as an excellent model. Like this site and the Foxfire series from Appalachia, you can look to your own communities to uncover the interesting stories behind the lives of seemingly ordinary people.

Oaxacan Pottery:  Journey to a place in the far south of Mexico where the potters of a thousand year tradition still work. This resource presents the different ways of making and using utilitarian pottery through a tour of several pottery villages in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico.

Seeing, Hearing and Smelling the World:  This Howard Hughes Medical Institute site features current research on the science of sensory systems. With a glossary and graphics-rich articles focused on the brain, seeing, hearing, smelling, and brain scans, this site could be used to compliment life science curriculum.

The Star Spangled Banner:  Did you know that The Star Spangled Banner is on display at the Smithsonian in Washington DC? The inspiration for the US national anthem now has a web site examining the history of the flag itself. Students can use this information as a resource for research projects, or test their knowledge of the history of the flag and the events of 1814 that affected Francis Scott Key, author of the anthem.

The Port Chicago Disaster:  This resource and the accompanying activities outline the events of 1944, when a major explosion rocked Port Chicago, CA. How far does duty go for a soldier during wartime; was there racism involved in the decision to court martial African-American soldiers who refused to continue to load munitions under unsafe circumstances? Students can investigate using web quests, or educators can lead students through the essential questions surrounding this historic event.

Wishing you a wonderful Fall!

From the Knowledge HQ Staff

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