_In The News                      October 2004   Vol. 7-10

Presidentís Message

It is hard to believe that Halloween is just around the corner.  More than in past years, my neighbors have gone to great lengths in decorating their lawns and doors.  I finally broke down and bought some candy for the little ones this year.  In the past, I have tried to give a treat other than candy.  There are more non-sweet items to chose from this year, so I have no excuse other than lack of time.  Sometimes we just need to take an easier route.

Speaking of easier route....we are so delighted to continue to receive more new students into the e-Tutor world of learning.  Your pathway to us is quick and easy....an email or phone call will get you the help you are looking for.  We have enjoyed visiting with many of you in the past month and hope you will continue to keep the calls, letters and emails coming.  

We need your help.  This month outside observers will be visiting us, as a method we have chosen to assure that the e-Tutor program is meeting its mission and objectives.  One of the things they will be looking at is the satisfaction of students and parents in using the program.  If you are interested in being a part of this study, please drop us a line: accreditation@e-tutor.com.  The observers may call or ask for written responses about the program. 

Enjoy the beauty of this season.  The colors and crispness in the air revitalize minds and bodies grown lethargic from summer's heat.


Flying High

People have always dreamed of flying like birds.  We still can't flap our wings and take off into the sky....but we have discovered a lot of other ways to float, soar, fly and land!  This issue of Learning Themes at Knowledge HQ  is full of facts, resources, activities and projects for students, parents and educators.    

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There is no speed limit on the pursuit of excellence.

Learning with e-Tutor:

Goals of the E-Tutor Language Arts Curriculum

  • Students will be able to read, comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and use written material.


  1. Recognize, recall, and summarize information from material read.

  2. Understand the various purposes for reading and identify text to accomplish each purpose.

  3. Apply word analysis and vocabulary skills to comprehend text.

  4. Apply reading strategies to improve fluency and understanding.

  5. Comprehend a broad range of reading material.

  • Students will be able to understand the expressed meaning in literature representative of various societies, eras and ideas.


  1. Distinguish among the types of literature.

  2. Understand selected literary works from various historical periods.

  3. Understand selected literary works that manifest different value systems and philosophies.

  4. Understand the literary elements and techniques used to convey meaning.

  5. Recognize literary themes and their implications.

  • Students will be able to listen critically and analytically.


  1. Understand and evaluate the meaning of spoken messages.

  2. Distinguish among different purposes in communication.

  3. Identify differing perspectives and points of view.

  • Students will be able to write standard English in a grammatical, well-organized and coherent manner for a variety of purposes.


  1. Write for a variety of purposes and audiences using appropriate language and style.

  2. Maintain a clear writing process to compose well-organized and coherent writing.

  3. Use standard English conventions.

Twenty-two new lessons were added to e-Tutor this month.

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


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Every leader needs to look back once in awhile to make sure he has followers. 


General Rules for Solving Problems


Rule 1:  Define the problem
              Ask yourself, "What is the problem?  State it as specifically as possible, giving attention to all facets of the problem.  

Rule 2:  Collect facts and opinions of others
              Collect as many facts and opinions as you believe may be necessary to provide insights into the problem.  Beware that you do not use fact gathering as an 'excuse' for putting off solving t
he problem.

Rule 3:  Consider all solutions.
              Gather all possible solutions no matter how wild.  This is a sort of brainstorming process whereby all solutions that can be
collected are done so regardless of who, where or by what means they are assembled.  

Rule 4:  What results are expected from solving the problem?
              Without applying solutions, determine the best possible results that would be achieved by solving the problem.  

Rule 5:  Pick the best solution.
              Which of the solution in step 3 would be most apt to give the result outlined in step 4?  Go back to all of your solutions.  Pick the ones that would be most likely to give you the results you specified in Rule 4.

Rule 6:  Act.
              Start acting on the solution.  Keep in mind the more problems are unsolved by no decision than by wrong decisions. 

Adapted from The Public School Administrator


No easy problem ever comes to the President of the United States.  If they are easy to solve, somebody else has solved them.

John F. Kennedy, 1962


Communicate with Teachers

It is that time of year when students are coming home with their first reports about classroom work for this school year.  Many schools hold parent conferences around this time of year, as well.  Here are some suggestions on how to get the most out of conferences:

  • Prepare for the conference in advance.  Make a list of things that will help the teacher understand your child better....for example outside interests and hobbies.  Make another list of things you want to find out from the teacher, such as daily schedules, services and programs the school offers, discipline and grading policies and extra-curricular activities. 

  • Discuss the teacher's homework expectations and ask how much time your child should spend on homework each night.  

  • Discuss your child's study habits and find out what you can do at home to help.

  • Discuss important experiences affecting your child such as a death in the family, a best friend moving away, parental divorce or special medial needs. 

  • If your child has special needs relating to a learning disability, behavior problem or limited language skills, find out where you can go for help.

  • Involve your child. Your child will be curious about the conference.  Talk it over with your child before the conference to get ideas about what should be covered and to help relieve anxiety about the conference. 

Illinois Association of School Boards

Leadership Principles

Tom peters, co-author of In Search of excellence  and A Passion for Excellence, claims exceptional leaders have many traits in common.  Prominent among them are:

  1. They soak up information often take notes obsessively and realize they can learn from anyone, regardless of title or position.

  2. They're constantly looking for ways to make things better.  They're starving for thousands of tiny improvements.  To them, no idea is too small.

  3. They delight in the success of others.  They never attempt to hog credit.  They give credit where credit is due. 


Do You Hide from Change?

We sometimes will run for cover when swept over by change.  If you have a tendency to join others in the corner, hoping you won't need to be involved, you're probably doing more harm than good.  Refusing to be intimidated by change, you can:

  • Maintain the respect of your family by keeping everyone together with you as the coach.

  • Alleviate depression.  Staying busy helps the time pass and gives everyone a sense of accomplishment at the end of each day.

  • Be a doer.  Keep all family projects going, because if you let too many things stagnate while you wait for the change to happen, you may miss an important deadline.

  • Don't be afraid to make decisions.  This may actually help you to regain some control over your destiny.  

Adapted from Working Smart

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Idealism increases in direct proportion to one's distance from the problem.

John Galsworthy


Are You a Procrastinator? 

All the experts on time management agree on at least one rule for getting results: "Do it now!"  But tacking tasks now is not always as easy as it sounds.  To procrastinate means to put off doing a task....for no good reason.   That last phrase, "for no good reason," is the key, because there are sometimes excellent reasons for putting off a certain task.  In fact, deciding to do one thing before another is what prioritizing is all about.  

However, if you have organized your "To Do" list and are having trouble working through it in priority order, then procrastination may be the problem.  It that's the case, try these ideas.

Persuade Yourself.  Most procrastination is the result of irrational thinking because you think the task is awful.  You talk yourself into putting off the task.  Convince yourself that the task is worth doing, even it it's hard getting started.   

Challenge Your Excuses for putting the task off.  For example, if you generally excuse yourself by saying, "But I work so well under pressure,"  argue that "Working under pressure really leaves me harried and tired and I don't have the time I need to be creative."

Counterattack.  Forcing yourself to do something uncomfortable or frightening helps to prove that it wasn't so bad after all.  

Remove the Reward.  Don't let procrastination be a pleasant experience.  If you must procrastinate, do it in unpleasant conditions.  When the fun goes away, the procrastination will too. 

Write a Contract.  Make a written promise to yourself that states a goal and includes a reward for accomplishing the goal.  

Jog Your Memory.  Put important papers in a red folder.  They must be done today.  Signify important items on your "to do" list with a red star. Use any gimmick that keeps you on track. 

Divide and Conquer.  Break big tasks into small pieces and complete one piece every day.  

Discipline Yourself for five minutes.  If you really don't want to do a task, promise yourself that you will work on it for five minutes.  Set a timer.  When the timer buzzes, decide whether to work for five more minutes or quit.  

Develop a Routine.  Confirmed procrastinators usually work in a feast or famine pattern.  One way to fight the tendency is to schedule frequent tasks for regular times.  

Post a Chart and make sure you can see it easily.  Give yourself a gold star for each task completed in priority order and a red minus for any you miss.  (Think what affect this will have on youngsters in the family.....you are setting a good example.)

Adapted from Practical Supervision


A Stress Tip

Next time you're feeling the stress of a difficult situation, ask yourself how your favorite cartoon character would handle it.  This might cause you to pause and chuckle. 

Steve Allen Jr., The Washington Post

Talk Time

The more words you use in speech, the more likely you are to be misunderstood.  Simple English has been drowned in jargon that ranges from psycho- and technobabble to the globaloney of bureaucratic speech.  "At this point in time" takes a lot longer to say than "now" and doesn't contribute much to clarity.  

It isn't easy.  Words have multiple meanings and have to be understood in the context of usage.  One study found that the 500 most commonly used words in English have a staggering 14,070 meanings.  That's an average of 28 per word! 

And then there's the psychological overtone of words, the negative codes that attach to them and set people's teeth on edge so they tune you out without your having a clue.  Here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Practice talking short.  Use simple, clear sentences driven by active verbs.  You'll find radio newscaster good guides.  
  • Use and read body language as part of your communications arsenal.  Look at your listener.  Fasten on his right eye.  Watch for signals.  A shift to the right could mean he's lying, wandering eyes express boredom, enlarged pupils signify increased interest.
  • Define the subject you are discussing and gear its presentation to your listener's needs and priorities.  Rank any benefits in order of importance.
  • Repeat and summarize at the end.  It's not enough to "tell 'em what you're going to tell 'em, and then "to tell 'em."  You must also "tell 'em what you've told 'em."  

Adapted from Executive Strategies

How Teenagers Like to Learn

When designing a learning program, accommodate these findings on adult training to the older teen's learning preferences:

  • Teens need to understand why learning something is important.  They should be told how a new task or procedure will help them.

  • Teens need to feel as if they're in charge of the situation.  Since teens are used to feeling responsible in many capacities,  they should also be made to feel responsible in the learning situation. 

  • Teens need to feel a sense of respect for their accomplishments.  Most teens will have had many successes.  Learning sessions that make them feel inadequate or foolish will backfire. 

  • Teens are motivated by being involved working on something.  They do best when given specific objectives and precise instructions.  

Also important:  constant feedback and praise.  praise as you go.  Don't wait until the session concludes.  

Adapted:  Carolyn Nilson, How to Manage Training

Work Shouldn't Be Like Clockwork

Some educators expect their students to work at a sprightly, steady clip all day long.  And many of us expect this of ourselves.  We believe we should fill every minute with productive work.  This expectation is contradictory to human nature.  Clocks tick along at a consistent pace at all times.  But clocklike regularity is not the way of nature.  

In nature, no day, not even one minute, is the same as any other.  The amount of light and darkness changes from day to day and the weather is shifting....sometimes obviously, sometimes imperceptibly....from moment to moment.  There's no precedent in nature for the relentless, unvarying pace of our full-schedule schools. repetitive office work or our factory assembly lines.  

Sociologist Edward Thompson has studied the pace of work practiced by people who're not regulated by external forces, mostly self-employed people such as artists and writers and small farmers and craftsmen.  He found they don't work at a steady pace throughout the day.  instead, they alternate bouts of intense labor and idleness....mixed together into their own personalized work rhythm.  

Formal organizations might also do well to loosen up the pace at which people work.  Michael Young, also a sociologist, writes, "No one can know what fits someone else.   The more people pick their own rhythms, the better the chance they will pick the right ones.  Society would not survive everyone's making their own choices....but at least there do not need to be so few choices for so few about how to make use of their most precious asset [time]."

The Pryor Report


Page 5  

Before you give somebody a piece of your mind, make sure you can get by with what you have left. 

 Making Study Time More Effective

Want to make your study time more effectively the SQ3R method.  The letters stand for a five-step process that works. 

Survey.  Quickly look over the material to get the main idea.  Look at the title.  Check headings.  Read the bold type.  Look at pictures, charts or other visuals.  Turn to the end of the chapter to see if study questions are listed.  This should be quick....spend no more than ten minutes on this first step.

Question.  Now that you know the main idea, think of questions to answer.  As you read, ask yourself Who, What, When, Where, Why and How.

Read.  Now it's time to read the assignment.  As you read, look for answers to the questions you developed. 

Restate.  After you've read the chapter, see if you can restate the main points.  This is also a good time to take notes on what you've read.  Put what you've read into context with what you already know.

Review.  At the end of your study session, spend a few more minutes reviewing.  Did you find answers to all your questions?  What else did you learn?

American Association of School Administrators

Outstanding October Links

Halloween Online:  This is an extensive Halloween resource, with decorating and costume tips; a guide to carving and displaying your pumpkins; a selection of featured articles and interviews; Halloween recipes; downloadable graphics ("Scream Savers") and music files; e-cards; online games; and a large collection of links.

Handwriting for Kids:   Worksheets online to help our children or students tackle Manuscript (printing) or Cursive letters. Sheets for manuscript handwriting include months of the year, days of the week, and basic sentences.

Kelley's Problem of the Week (Calculus):   This site is on a hiatus for this year, but past pages are still available for viewing.   Calculus students and teachers can brush up on skills and 
even visit the Problems of Christmas Past area to test knowledge of calculus. Students will appreciate the interactive cheat sheet, listing all the formulas needed for the AP test (you can find this under the link "Fun Calculus Stuff").

Kindergarten Resources:   A great list of kindergarten resources with lots of resources and tools for the early childhood educator. Resources, Themes and Literacy are some of the categories of 
links to great things on the web. With a little research you, too, can 
create your own page of resources.

Fed 101 - The Federal Reserve Today:   Why does a change in the interest rates by the Federal Reserve always make headlines? Students can learn the history of the Fed, follow the path of a check written at a neighborhood store and become a virtual bank examiner. This is great information and activities for middle and 
high school students.

Westward, Ho:  Westward Ho is now taking registrations. The wagon train leaves in January, so pack your wagon and start heading to Independence, MO, the starting point for the journey. If you want  to participate in this trip, which will be filled with thrills, you will need to register ahead of time.   

World Almanac for Kids:   Once we jumped off the very busy home page, we found this almanac very easy to use. Students can find information about animals, inventions, space, sports and research who was born on their birthday.

ESLHome: Online Passages and Reading Exercises:  This hot list links to good resources created for older students to test 
reading comprehension. You can find quizzes, online activities and other helpful materials that are well-organized and easy to navigate.

Have a Bewitching October!
From the Staff at Knowledge HQ

6713 No. Oliphant Ave.
Chicago, IL 60631
P. 773-467-9640
F. 773-467-9740

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