In The News                           November 2008   Vol. 11-11

President’s Message
Thanksgiving is almost here!  It is hard to believe.  Yet as I look out my window I can't help but pause and think of all that this period of the year has to offer us.  There is so much to reflect on and to be grateful for....the smile of a child,  a chat with a friend, a cup of coffee with a loved one or the blue of the sky, the wisp of a cloud, the stroke of a breeze, the brightness of the moon....all bring warmth to the heart and a feeling of contentment.  This is the time of the year when families gather, cook, share, give and play together.  There is so much to give thanks for and a wonderful start to the magical season.     

We hope that you will give your child an opportunity to explore more deeply into the customs surrounding Thanksgiving.  There is so much more than just the Feast.  Our children need to understand the peoples who left their homeland to come to America, what they did when they got here, how they organized themselves, why did they take on such a harrowing journey.  Sometimes when we are studying history, we focus on the big events instead of understanding the story that surrounds the event.  The feast of Thanksgiving gives us an opportunity to delve just a bit deeper.  

So many of you have thanked us over the year.  It is hard to tell you how much you give to us in return.  We thrive on your stories and the pictures.  We were enchanted by the student who shared with us her experience during a hurricane.  And then stories like the following brighten even the gloomiest of days:

"I do want you to know that I really appreciate this program. We are only temporarily in China and it could very much affect the education or lack thereof for my children. I am grateful for the "no floating" assignments, that is to day the tough nature of the modules. Quick story, Danni my youngest is smart as a whip and is typically lazy in the approach to school work (really any work). When she took her first quiz, she got 40% and she was told by her uninformed brother to go ahead with the exam. She of course failed, but she was mortified that the computer knew that she only read the information once. It was a very good experience for her and a "see I told you moment for me."

Thank you for the trust you place in us!  

Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving.  May you be surrounded by those you love.            


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I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.

 Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)



Learning with


Lesson Module Format

     e-Tutor lesson modules follow a set format. Each e-Tutor lesson module consists of nine parts followed by an assessment section, which contains quizzes and an exam. The quizzes and exams are automatically scored and put into a report card with which parent have access.

  1. Introduction - a brief statement explaining the topic of the lesson.
  2. Grade Level - e-Tutor lessons are cross-aged at Primary, Intermediate, Middle/Jr. High and High School.  
  3. Lesson Goals - Goals and objectives are aligned to national and state learning standards in the major subject areas.
  4. Resources - Links to quality education websites where students can find information that reinforces or expands upon the information given in the Study Guide.
  5. Lesson Problem - Setting the stage for learning by posing a question(s) to be answered in completing the lesson module. Students respond to this before and after completing the lesson module to act as a self check.
  6. Vocabulary - Enriched vocabulary words, which may be new to students, are hyper-linked to the e-Tutor Dictionary.
  7. Study Guide - The main body of each lesson module that teaches the skills and concepts that students need to be successful learners.
  8. Activities - Worksheets, experiments, projects that give the student practice in what s/he has learned from the Study Guide. Parents review these and use them as a springboard for discussion
  9. Extended Learning - Additional thought provoking activities that stimulate logical thinking, creative reasoning and critical thinking. Parents also review these.


     e-Tutor uses three forms of assessment in each lesson module:

  1. Self Assessment - Student responds in writing before and after completing the lesson module.
  2. Parent Assessment - Parent reviews Activities and Extended Learning, using them as a springboard for discussion.
  3. e-Tutor Assessment - Multiple Choice quizzes and exams are automatically scored by the program. Students can take the quiz as many times as needed; the exam once.

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

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

   The Book Case

Princess Academy 
by Shannon Hale
Grade 5-9

This story begins as a typical Cinderella story centered on Miri, a misfit and runty girl who’s convinced that everyone in her mountain village sees her as a misfit and runty girl. Along comes a royal messenger who notifies them that prophecy has seen that the next princess will come from their remote quarry-village. So embarrassing are their social graces that the girls are rounded up to be educated in the ways of courtly life before they meet the prince. Hence, the Princess Academy. At this point, the story gains an additional dimension: the Unjustly Punished Kids verses the Unjust Tutor, with a dash of peer bullying, a twist of adventure, and tons of vindication by the end.

When the girls first get to the Princess Academy, they rebel. Then they begin to dream – not just about wearing fancy dresses and going to balls, but how being a princess could give them unprecedented power. They dream about improving the lives of their families and fellows. What they eventually realize is that the education they are receiving is useful not only in courtly life, but also in their own lives. With the discovery of reading, and in particular a book on economics, they realize a band of mountain girls can have a tremendous impact.

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The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work.

Emile Zola (1840-1902)


Relevant Learning

How young children learn should determine how we teach them.  The word teach tends to imply telling or giving information.  But the correct way to teach young children is not to lecture or verbally instruct them.  Teachers of young children are more like guides or facilitators.  They prepare the environment so that it provides stimulating, challenging materials and activities for children.  Then, we closely observe to see what children understand and pose additional challenges to push their thinking further. 

It is possible to drill children until they can correctly recite pieces of information such as the alphabet or the numerals from 1 to 20.  However, children's responses to rote tasks do not reflect real understanding of the information.  For children to understand fully and remember what they have learned, whether it is related to reading, mathematics, or other subject matter areas, the information must be meaningful to the child in context of the child's experience and development. 

Learning information in meaningful context is not only essential for children's understanding and development of concepts, but is also important for stimulating motivation in children.  If learning is relevant for children, they are more likely to persist with a task and to be motivated to learn more. 

NAEYC - National Association of for the Education of Young Children

Productive Afternoons

Performing an unpleasant task first thing in the day can actually save time during the rest of the day.  Reasons:  With the disagreeable duty behind you, your concentration and momentum increase.  You also avoid the time-wasting trap of sitting around while you mentally rehearse the upcoming encounter.

Working Smart

Change Your Routine

Children are naturally curious about everything.  They want to know it, see it, feel it, and explore it fully.  They come into the world without set ideas, and from the beginning they want to learn it all.  By the age of three, they are walking, talking, little question machines.  "Why are the clouds fluffy?"  "Where does the rain go?"  "Why is Grandma old?"  "Why? why? why?"  By accepting their curiosity, you not only give them permission to learn, you make learning a lifetime adventure, for the way you welcome their inquisitiveness will influence their attitude toward learning and their own intelligence.  Sadly, when children's curiosity is not supported and encouraged, they shut down and learning becomes more difficult. 

One way to keep them exploring is to expand your world and live creatively yourself.  Infants need routine, but as they grow they will ant change too.  It's usually easier to stick to an established routine, but when you try something out of the ordinary you find new vitality and a spurt of mental energy.  Everyone needs change once in a do, and so does your child.  

When you feel stuck in a rut, bored, or anxious, it's time to change your routine.  Surprise your child by taking her out to lunch on an instructional day.  Be a little daring:  Go to the movies on a school night and let him sleep late.  You'll be amazed at what little changes will do for your imagination.  Eat dinner picnic-style or have a campout in the backyard, swap chores, play a board game making up new rules, or plan a child's nigh out.  Little switches in routine that don't take much time can add new dimensions to family life. 

Talk it over, take a chance, try a new approach;  you'll teach your child that there are lots of options and many ways to do things.  An atmosphere rich in firsthand experiences is the best way for a child to learn. 

Wonderful Ways to Love a Child, Judy Ford

Smile - A Step in Positive Attitudes

It has always been known that we feel good when someone smiles at us.  But now the behavioral scientists have made it official.  Smiling, they tell us, has a positive effect on others.  

A smile sets the tone for an encounter with another human being.  Whether it is a stranger on the street, a child at home, a customer complaining about an order, the janitor at the office, or even a passing motorist,  a smile can be the link that makes the experience a pleasant one.

And it is so often forgotten!  PRACTICE!  A smile is a way of writing your thoughts on your face.  It is a way of animating pleasant feelings.  It must come from within. 

So you must practice thinking good thoughts about others and then expressing these attitudes with a smile.  The key word is practice.

  • Smile for yourself in the mirror the first thing in the morning.
  • Smile for your family.
  • Smile for the frowning, frantic, people honking their horns at you and racing you at intersections on the way to work in the morning.
  • Smile for people at work.
  • Smile for people in the elevator, on the streets, and in the stores.
  • Smile for the clerk, the delivery person, the bank cashier, and your neighbor. 

You will notice we said smile "for" and not "at."  Because when you smile you are doing it for another person.  You will find they start smiling back.  It is their way of saying, "Thank you.  You have made a better day for me.  You have made me feel noticed, important, and cheered me for a moment."

The Public School Administrator

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Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.

 Albert Einstein (1879-1955)


Six Keys to Motivation

When a parent says, "I wish I could motivate Johnny,"  that usually means "I wish I could get Johnny to do more."  Here are six keys to doing exactly that.

  1. Ask for performance.  Describe how the task is being done now, and how you want it to be.  Then ask the child to do it that way.

  2. Use lots of positive reinforcement....and personalize it.  Don't take acceptable work for granted.  Thank the child for it.  And praise them every time they improve.  Remember, though, that while everyone likes to be recognized, what motivates one may leave another cold....or even irritated.  So find out what works with each of your children, and use it. 

  3. Build relationships.  This doesn't mean be buddy-buddy withy your child.  But it does mean you should treat your child like a real, live human being.  That's what they are, and they will respond best when your actions show you respect their individuality and trust their intentions. 

  4. Understand your child's point of view.  Make a habit of listening to your children and asking their opinion before you give directions or offer advice.  If you listen first, and listen with an open mind, people are much more likely to cooperate when you decide something has to be done differently.

  5. Model what you want.  Approach your own task with a sense of urgency, use your time efficiently and meet the goals you set.  Show your child, by your actions, that the task really does matter, that quality is important, and time on task is real. 

  6. Refuse to accept poor performance.  Though textbooks on motivation seldom admit it, parents do have to tell children when their performance is not acceptable.  Sometimes this means a reprimand.  At other times you can handle it through coaching.  But either way you are demonstrating that standards matter....and that, in itself is motivational.  As the old saying has it, "It's better to aim for 'Excellence'  and hit 'Good' than to aim for 'Good' and hit 'Average'."

Adapted from Practical Supervision

Communicate Reading

There are four main concepts we want to communicate about reading:  (1)  Written words have value because they are a vital communication tool; (2) Written words can be personally enjoyable; (3) Written words increase understanding and power over the world; and (4) Reading is something most people can easily learn to do.  We communicate these concepts through:

  • Having a print rich environment.  This simply means a house full of good things to read.

  • Reading aloud to the child from an early age, pointing out simple words, running a finger from left to right under the lines of print, and encouraging the child that soon he will be able to read these books himself. 

  • Letting the child see you read.  Children take their cues about what is worthwhile from their parent.  If parents seldom read, the children assume reading is not a valuable activity.

  • Letting the child see you attach val8ue to books.  This not only means that you have your own library of personal "treasures," but it also means that the child sees you go to books for answers to questions you have. 


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If a man does his best, what else is there?

General George S. Patton (1885-1945)


Notable November Links:

Write Site:  Designed for Ohio middle school language arts students, The Write Site curriculum has students take the role of reporters and editors to research, write and publish their own newspaper. The site includes unit outlines, handouts, exercises, information about how to write, and more. The participation fee for this OET/SchoolNet Project developed by Greater Dayton Public Television is waived for low income school districts.


Mayflower Web:  his comprehensive site covers the history of the Mayflower and the pilgrims of Plymouth. Included are passenger lists, genealogy information, pilgrim writings, and much more. Author Caleb Johnson also includes a message to teachers that points out the most appropriate parts of the site for K-12 students. A good resource for Thanksgiving.


bioSURF:  This resource from Scott Foresman-Addison Wesley is organized around their book, Biology: The Web of Life, and includes links and activities for each unit. "Learning Links" are categorized by chapter, and news, community, and career links are also offered for each unit. A "Teachers' Lounge" helps educators connect to background information, tutorials, software, and activities to help augment instruction. Units include "The Basis of Life," "Genetics," "Change and Diversity," "Monerans, Protists, and Fungi," "Plants," "Invertebrate Animals," "Vertebrate Animals," "Human Biology," and "Organisms and the Environment."


Collapse - Why do Civilizations Fall?   Mesopotamia, Teotihuacan, Chaco Canyon - they were once flourishing, vibrant communities that have all but disappeared from Earth. Explore theories on what caused these cities to collapse and learn how scientists find and assemble clues of the past in this site. This well-designed site was inspired by a video series in the Annenberg/CPB Multimedia Collection and includes learning activities and links.


Rock Hounds with Rocky:  Get your hard hats on and go digging for some fun and facts. This K-6 activity was developed by students and staff at Loogootee Community Schools and the Franklin Institute of Science. Teachers will find literature connections, ideas for Internet collaborations, and science activities to help students explore how sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous rocks are made. Short, easy to understand text segments are accompanied by illustrations. Be sure to see the West Elementary Internet Projects page for more projects and activities.


Theater of Electricity:  From Boston's Museum of Science, the Theater of Electricity offers an overview of how electricity works and a look at the historical use of electricity in scientific experiments. You'll find information on Tesla coils, Van deGraaff generators, and Ben Franklin's kite experiments. Videos clips and teacher resources are also available.


Seeing Color:  This site on color vision is designed for K-12 students and includes a sample color blindness test using two of the Ishihara charts along with brief explanations about color blindness. Included are links to Sir Isaac Newton and a chart on common animals and the colors they see. Developed by the Research Topics section of the Ask a Biologist site at Arizona State University.


We Thank You This Month!

From the Knowledge HQ Staff

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