_In The News                   October 2005   Vol. 8-10
President’s Message
Is going to Target a learning experience?  This is the question my daughter-in-law posed to me this month.  My response was,  "It absolutely can be!"   There are many opportunities to explore color, size, placement, weight, direction and more.  So, often we rush into a store to pick up a few things without thinking how it can benefit our little ones.  While you are gathering your purchases, talk about whether you are reaching high or low, going left or right, moving up or down, is the aisle narrow or wide,  finding a red or blue box, determining whether it is large or small. You don't have to make a big production of what you are doing, but just remember the vocabulary and an appropriate sentence length.  You can determine sentence length by the age of your child.  Five years old - five word sentences. 

A colleague approached me this week with concerns she has had about her child's growth and development.  This is a first child and the new mother tried to find answers for her concerns but when  no one else seemed concerned, she thought perhaps she was over re-acting.  She finally found someone to address her concerns and  her child is now getting the help he needs.  But it took four years for her to get to this point!  It can't be known, but had services been provided earlier,  corrective action might have corrected or slowed his delays.  The parent is still confused and not quite sure where to turn.     

We parents are the advocates for our children.  It doesn't matter whether our child is gifted, delayed or average.  Our children depend on us to sift through barriers to a successful life.  Programs that help parents to know what to do are few and far between.  So, we have to educate ourselves to find agencies, organizations and persons who will support us as we seek answers in support of our children.  We often have to rely on a feeling or intuition that something is just not right, too good or not a fit.  It takes constant observation on our part.  Our children deserve this from each of  us.  There are wonderful  rewards of such intervention for us, but especially for our children.   

Where did October go?  It won't be long and we will be into the end of the year holidays and festivities.  I hope that each of you will find time during this change of season to experience the beauty around you.  

Have a bewitching month!

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There is no such thing as the perfect solution.  Every solution, no matter how good, creates new problems. 

Learning with e-Tutor:

Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Skills: 
Why Activities and Extended Learning Are Important

When it's time to go beyond learning facts and to get into the grayer matter of a topic or skill, your child is ready for an inquiry activity that presents the student with a challenging task, provides access to online resources and scaffolds the learning process to prompt higher order thinking. Each e-Tutor lesson includes both an Activity and Extended Learning Section.  These are an important part of each lesson.  Students will not fully comprehend the concept or skill of the lesson unless these are completed and discussed with a parent or another adult.

These can include a worksheet, hands-on activity, project, problems, questions or sites relevant to the study guide.  This is a chance for students to apply what they have learned.  e-Tutor does not grade or evaluate activities, but encourages parents to review these with their students.  They should be used as a springboard for discussion. 

Extended Learning: 
This might consist of a critical thinking project, problem or discussion that goes beyond the scope of the lesson.  e-Tutor does not grade or evaluate extended learning activities.  Again, use these to frame a discussion with your student.  We suggest that both Activity and Extended Learning be kept in folders, one for each of the main curricular areas. 

Students begin by learning background knowledge presented in the Study Guide, then they are given a specific task to complete.  They synthesize their learning by presenting their interpretation of the Activity and Extended Learning to a parent or another adult.. 

Anything that requires evaluation or scientific hypothesizing will evoke a variety of interpretations. The reason the e-Tutor Activities and Extended Learning are so critical to the lesson is because they offer the breadth of perspectives and viewpoints that are usually needed to construct meaning on complex topics. Students benefit from completing these sections of each lesson so that they can explore and make sense of the concepts or skills introduced in the Study Guide. 

Forty-four new lessons were added to e-Tutor this month!

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



Writing Tips from Mark Twain

Mark Twain helped to shape the American language.  Here are some quotes worth noting from this great writer:

  • On Style (to a 12-year-old boy): "I notice that you use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences.  That is the way to write English...it is the modern way and the best way.  Stick to it and don't let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in."
  • More on style: "When you catch an adjective, kill it.  No, I don't mean utterly, but kill most of them...then the rest will be valuable.  They give strength when they are wide apart. 
  • On using short words: "I never write 'metropolis' for 7 cents when I can get the same for 'city.'"
  • More on short words:  "Eschew surplusage."
  • On being concise: "With a hundred words to do it with, the literary artisan could catch that airy thought and tie it down and reduce it to a ...cabbage, but the artist does it with 20...and the result is a flower."
  • On word choice: "The difference between the almost-right word and the right word is really a large matter...'tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning."
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The future is not a gift...it is an achievement.

Harry Lauder, Forbes Magazine


Make The Invitations Simple

What more noble contribution can you make to another than inviting that person to grow!  How do you become the person who helps others grow?  It is really quite easy.  Give praise and encouragement.  Be tolerant.  Listen.  Try to understand.  Share yourself.  Search out the good in others.  Help them dream.  Dismiss their blunders and mistakes.  Be kind.  Love.

A mother who had raised an exceptional family of three sons and two daughters, all achievers, was asked her formula for being a successful parent.  She answered, "I really don't know.  I just love them and trust them."  Trust them! Mutual trust and respect are prime ingredients in any invitation to grow. 

A Boy Scout executive, once wrote, "Men have often found that the basis of success in influencing a boy lies in respecting him.  You have to believe in the boy and in his possibilities so whole-heartedly that you convey that idea of confidence and respect to him as you use patience and skill and understanding in dealing with him.  Sure, it takes faith, too."

Above all, treasure your own ability to grow.  See yourself as a more splendid person by constantly giving to others a richer life by your invitations to them to grow!

The Public School Administrator


Three Attitudes That 
Guarantee Failure

In any situation  there are three attitudes guaranteed to generate low morale, feelings of helplessness and inability to compete effectively. They are:

  1. To believe what we do is for someone else.
  2. To believer there's a result that is good enough.
  3. To believe there is some needed effort that is not my responsibility.

Consultants point out that being told to try to solve a puzzle produces very different results than to try it because we personally feel challenged to do so.  We can't be forced to work smarter, or more creatively, or more passionately.  That comes from inside. 

Increasingly, the most important contributions are those made at one's own discretion.  Those who excel have an ongoing commitment to doing the very best they can.  

As soon as someone says "That's not my job," or "That's good enough," the effort suffers.  The message implies lack of personal involvement with what is going on.  It says, "I'm here for seat time and that is all."

Create a vision for your family that fosters commitment and let your children know that the three failure attitudes are inconsistent with the family's.  

Adapted from Worklife Visions: Redefining Work for the Information Economy, Jeffrey  Hallett

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Leonardo da Vinci was an ambidextrous workaholic.  He sketched with his right hand while he wrote with his left...simultaneously!.


Learning to Read Versus Reading to Learn

Some parents mistakenly believe that once a child can read he is then ready to begin learning on his own through reading.  However, most children cannot read to learn until about the fourth grade

There are three skills necessary in order to enjoy reading and to benefit from it.  The first is automatic reading.  It takes at least 20 minutes of reading a day for several years before reading becomes automatic.  Until automatic reading is reached, a child will be too focused on decoding to glean much content from what he is reading.  

The second skill is visualization. The ability to picture in one's mind what is being read enhances comprehension and memory.  Parents can help a child learn to visualize by reading vivid passages aloud, stopping frequently to ask the child to describe what is being read.  Another way to develop visualization is to read picture books to a child without letting him see the pictures, ask him what he imagines the pictures look like, then compare his imagination to the artist's illustrations. 

Finally, the child must have enough of an experience base for what he is reading to make sense to him.  Children with a wider range of experiences, such as travel, attending plays and musical performances, visiting museums and interacting with a variety of people learn to read more quickly and have greater reading comprehension.

Usually it takes a child until fourth grade to have reached a level of automatic reading, to have acquired the visualization skills and to have accumulated a broad enough base of life experiences to begin learning through reading.  

Source Unknown

I'm All Ears

It is not as easy as many people think, to be a good receiver of the information family and friends direct at you.  The good news is that there are certain basic skills that can dramatically improve anyone's ability to receive information. 

The process of receiving verbal information is active, not passive.  In fact, the person who is listening needs to expend as much energy...perhaps more...than the person who is speaking.  Here are steps you can follow:

  • Set aside preconceptions. Try to view each encounter as something new, from which there is something important to be learned.  
  • Never view a conversation as just another interruption in your hectic schedule.  If you are too involved with other concerns to accord the person your full concentration, say so.  
  • Try to minimize distractions and interruptions.  It shows that you are treating the person's concerns with appropriate seriousness.
  • Concentrate on what is being said.   Don't sit passively and let the other's words wash over you.  Don't let your thoughts wander.  Instead, try to hear each word as though you were saying it yourself. 
  • Eliminate interruptive thinking.  Wait until the other person has finished speaking his piece before you try to formulate what you are going to say in response.  
  • Clarify what the person is saying.  Even if you think you understood, repeat your take on what the other person said.  You may be surprised to learn that the message you received is substantially different from the one the person intended to communicate. 

 Adapted from Working Smart

When Having a Bad Day

The next time things aren't going right, you might regain some confidence by remembering that:

  • The best basketball players make only about fifty percent of their shots. 
  • The successful actor is turned down 29 our to 30 times when auditioning for roles in TV commercials. 

Hope Health Letter



Are you one of those who has trouble remembering things.  It happens to me all  of the time.  I just explain that my chips are not working fast enough.  But there are things we can do to improve our memory skills.  

Creativity is about finding new things, meeting new people and putting old information together in new ways.  How many different ways do you already know that have helped you (or others) to remember?  Make a list.  Once you have the list, create new methods of remembering by combining two or more methods.  For example, if your list includes making rhymes to help you remember and checking with others, you can combine the two into "making rhymes with others."  Enjoy trying out your new memory methods!

Try this exercise:

  • Decide on a body of knowledge you want to remember.

  • Tell yourself a dozen reasons why you want to remember it well. 

  • Imagine yourself remembering perfectly and using that knowledge.

  • Design an enjoyable and personal way to absorb information including the best modalities, intelligences and cognitive style to use.

  • Follow your plan exactly.  Remind yourself that you are having fun.

  • Celebrate.

  • Tell someone how well your learning plan is working.

  • Use what you have learned. 

Adapted from The Next Step Magazine

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A person's work is a portrait of oneself. 

Outstanding October Links:

Stormy Weather:    Learn to use the Internet and software tools while doing atmosphere investigations for the middle school and high school, Earth/Space 
Science Classroom. All activities, especially the Weather Hunt, Storm Sampler and The Perfect Storm Webquest, are designed for use by cooperative groups and culminate in a final shared presentation. The Weather Hotlist and the Weather Scrapbook are easily adapted for use by individual students.

Plastic Fork Diaries:   Follow six middle school students as they experience first-hand the relationship between food and their changing bodies, cultural 
differences, the vanishing family meal, nutrition and athletic performance. In a series of episode, you access diaries, letters and notes of a group of people who aren't really friends, but may have more in common than they realize. Along the way, there'll be mysteries, celebrations, disappointments, and regular everyday stuff. Take some time to explore. The site is Flash-intensive.

Conversations with History:    Here you will find a collection of interviews with men and women from all over the world. "Guests include diplomats, statesmen, and soldiers; economists and political analysts; scientists and historians; writers and foreign correspondents; activists and artists. The interviews span the globe and include discussion of political, economic, military, legal, cultural and social issues shaping our world. At the heart of each interview is a focus on individuals and ideas that make a difference." In some instances, you will find multimedia clips that can be played. Produced by the Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley.

Saskatchewan Stories:   This totally Flash-driven site uses stories to teach about the four major periods of Saskatchewan history (early people, fur trading, 
pioneers, today). Each story is complimented by images and the text which contain highlighted terms for additional information. Each period contains a short video (look for the film tool above the photo), a highly interactive map of the region (next to the film tool) and a help feature. Geared for the fourth grade Canadian standards; but fascinating and fun for all.

Drawing from Life: Caricatures and Cartoons From The American 
Art/Portrait Gallery Library Collection: 
  From the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, this online exhibit presents cartoons and caricatures from books in their holdings. Includes artist biographies, featured books and a subject search. While some view cartoons as frivolous, they seem to always find acceptance among the masses whether for their humor, for their insight into situations or both. 

Maggie's Earth Adventures:    Maggie's Earth Adventures provides free online lessons, animated stories and games for primary and intermediate elementary educators and students. The stories and activities that comprise each unit in Maggie's Earth Adventures introduce students to actual environmental issues and motivate students to delve deeper into the issues presented. Standards based activities are an important part of each of these adventures. Educators will find online activities and printable lessons in the Teachers' Lounge section to correlate with the animated stories. Created by Maggie's Earth Adventures, LLC. Requires Flash.

Have a Surprising Month!

From the Knowledge HQ Staff

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