changing the way education is brought to students
In The News
We have just cleared out from a blizzard and the sun has come out for awhile this
afternoon. The air is crisp and biting, but one wants to get outside to loosen the limbs
and stretch. On my drive home last evening, children were playing in the snow, building forts and shoveling. Our
capacity to grow and stretch, to change with the seasons and to find enjoyment out of life
makes us interesting as human beings. e-Tutor is going through some dramatic changes of
its own. Over the past several months we have had to evaluate who we are and to
restructure our operations. At times it has been difficult.
We have experienced all of the highs and lows of a young company. We have had to think
outside of the box rather than concentrate on how we "know it to be." It has
become obvious that what we know and are comfortable with needs to change. So as we
contemplate an untried way and a new direction, we are experiencing great ambiguity and
uncertainty. Our ability to cope with the needed changes will be the true test of our
strength as a company. We will continue to keep you informed of our progress and hope you
will provide us with your ideas also. We wish each of you peace and joy at this special
time of year.
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The Ability Grouping Debate
It usually starts in first grade, when students move their tiny chairs into small circles
to form reading groups. This grouping by ability has been practiced since the turn of the
century as a way to enable fast learners to proceed at a quick pace, while offering slower
ones extra help and reasonable expectations. While grouping is usually confined to
reading and math in elementary school, it can expand to include science and foreign
language in middle school. By high school, what previously had been labeled advanced,
average and remedial classes becomes the equivalent of grouping for college, general or
Although students sometimes
want to stay in a lower group where they can get better grades, colleges are usually more
impressed by good grades in top-level course than by higher grades in lower-level classes.
Certain subjects are cumulative, where each course is a prerequisite for the next. A
student who does not take algebra until the ninth grade will probably not be ready to take
calculus when he is a high school senior
.a subject which is a prerequisite for entry
to most technology-related majors in college. But the important thing is to do what is
best for each individual. All students do not belong on the advanced track. Parents should
watch for signs of a potential problem with their childs ability grouping at school:
- Consistent high or low
grades. All As in an average class could mean your child should be in a more
advanced class; while regular Ds or Fs could mean a move to a remedial class
- Lack of motivation. A
student who knows she is in the "slow" group might give up trying, since she
feels she will never improve. Help your child by praising her efforts, not just her
achievements, in after-school as well as academic pursuits.
- Failure to do homework.
Students who feel overwhelmed in a subject often avoid tackling the homework, while those
in a class below their ability might feel they dont need to do the homework to
- Truancy. Students often skip
school because of low self-esteem about the subjects they are taking.
Some schools have been
experimenting with alternatives to tracking such as cooperative learning, individualized
or whole-class instruction, team teaching a a thematic approach. For the majority of
schools which use grouping, it seems like a worthwhile way for a teacher to gear his or
her instruction to the ability level of a smaller group of students. However, as the
debate goes on, new questions are being raised about the effectiveness of the practice.
Parents, working together with the school, can help ensure flexibility so their son or
daughter is always on the "track" to success.
us will never do great things, but we can do small things in a great way.
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|A Better Way to Do It
Do you want to develop the best ways to do things? Ask yourself the
following questions to eliminate things that get in the way of your productivity.
- Look at what
.not others do every day. Keep asking yourself: Why am I doing this?
- Ask if this
- Does it meet
your needs? Does it need to be done at all?
answering the question you will know if an activity should be changed or eliminated.
Adapted from Communication Briefings,
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|A road map will tell us everything we want to know except how to fold it
|The ABCs of Conversation
To keep a
conversation alive, try using the ABC method
.Angles, Bridges and Catapults.
- Angle: Look for a new angle
on the topic, one that offers a fresh view point.
- Bridge: Find a way to
connect the current topic to one thats related.
- Catapult: When the
conversation lags, just jump to another topic, one thats unrelated. Wait about six
seconds, though, before changing the topic.
Connections, Anne "Baber, Baber & Associates
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Obstacles Get You Down
Do obstacles get you down when you are trying to get something done? An
excellent book, Chicken Soup for the Soul, asks you to consider the following:
- After Fred Astaires
first screen test, a 1933 memo from the MGM testing director said , Cant act.
Slightly bald. Can dance a little." Astaire kept that memo over the fireplace in his
Beverly Hills home.
- An expert said of famous
football coach Vince Lombardi: "He possesses minimal football knowledge. Lacks
- Louisa May Alcott, the
author of Little Women, was advised by her family to find work as a servant or seamstress
- Beethoven handled the violin
awkwardly and preferred playing his own compositions instead of improving his technique.
His teacher called him hopeless as a composer.
- The teacher of famous opera
singer Enrico Caruso said Caruso had no voice at all and could not sing.
- Walt Disney was fired by a
newspaper for lacking ideas. He also went bankrupt several times before he built
- Eighteen publishers turned
down Richard Bachs 10,000-word story about a soaring seagull before Macmillan
finally published it in 1970. By 1975, Jonathan Livingston Seagull had sold more than
seven million copies in the U.S. alone.
Soup for the Soul: 101 Stories to Open the Heart and Rekindle the Spirit
intelligence, a wonderful education
none of these guarantees success. Something else
is needed: the sensitivity to understand what other people want and the willingness to
give it to them. Worldly success depends on pleasing others. No one is going to win fame,
recognition, or advancement just because he or she thinks its deserved. Someone else
has to think so too. John Luther
Your Brain Power
You probably sometimes wish that you could think faster; grasp new
information quickly and recall more of what you read and hear. If so, you will find help
in Double Your Brain Power, by Jean Marie Stine. Some examples include:
Tackle information you ant to commit
to your short-term memory in the morning. Reasons: The brain section that stores
short-term memory items performs about 15% better in the morning. But switch to the
afternoon for items you want to keep in your long-term memory because that part of your
memory bank hits its stride later in the day.
rephrase" to overcome negative thoughts about your ability to learn something new. Example: Instead of
" I wont remember what I am learning" tell your brain "Ive
already learned to recall many things
names, dates, computer commands. So I can and
will remember this."
Plan for an upcoming
learning event by selecting a reward you will give yourself afterward. Pick something you
would not usually buy or do. Picture yourself enjoying the reward just before the learning
event starts. Repeat the process whenever you feel anxious about learning the information.
Note: No matter how things turn out, give yourself the reward.
Answer these questions
after you read something that you want to remember: What was it about? What parts of it
were most important? What opinions, if any, did it contain? What is my opinion of it? What
element makes it unique? Note: Do this mentally or in writing
.whichever works best
Rely on graphic devices to
increase your reading speed and to help you zero in on the main points in books and other
publications. Examples: italics, boldface, underlining, bulleted lists, charts, graphs,
etc. As you go through pages, ignore regular text and scan only for these devices. When
you find one, slow down and read those sections more carefully.
Boost your thinking power
by taking the time to really think about the answers to these questions about a situation,
some information or a problem: What seems to be the key idea here? Does this resemble or
parallel anything Ive already learned or experienced? Do I still have a nagging
question about any part of this? When I put everything together, what do I see as most
Your Brain Power: Increase Your Memory by Using All of Your Brain All the Time by Jean
Marie Stine, Prentice Hall
be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you dont try. Beverly Sills
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Doing Homework Tonight
Homework doesnt have to be a hassle. When you and your child tackle the
how-tos of building a positive homework partnership together
.you will have a
more willing learner, a more successful student and a happier relationship.
Make homework a "given" in
your household. While homework is your childs responsibility, all students benefit
from a parents thoughtful guidance. Your childs school is an important part of
your partnership. Keep in touch with your childs progress. Remember
want your child to succeed.
- Students in the United
States spend less time doing homework than students in any country in Western Europe.
- Research shows that girls
spend considerably more time on homework than boys
doing both more assigned and
- The top 5% of students in
the United States do less homework than the average Japanese student.
- Time spent doing homework is
positively related to higher achievement test scores.
- Low ability students are
able to achieve grades on a par with brighter students if they increase their study time.
- Students who come from homes
with an abundance of reading material
and watch little television (less than 2
achieve at higher levels than students who have little reading
and watch a great deal of T.V. (more than 6 hours).
for Educational Research
were to write down all the possible ways to motivate people to do better work, friendly
praise would have to come near the head of your list.
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Great Winter Links
Engines of Our Ingenuity
This site features nearly 1500 five-minute radio broadcast episodes on how various
technological advances, art forms or ideas have shaped us.
This site is a true treasure trove for anyone studying the period between the end of the
Roman Empire and the Renaissance. The site is an enormous collection of primary sources
and other material for medieval studies.
Can you prove that no more than four colors are ever needed for any map? Sounds simple
but, like many simple questions, in fact it's a lot more complicated than it seems.
Finding a simple proof of the 4-color theorem is one of the toughest unsolved problems in
This site is a wonderful interactive online project involving animal migration and
This site will get you laughing. The site is the brainchild of three high-school students
from around the world who have never met each other, but who worked together to spread
humor for the sake of good health.
This site offers a database of K-12 funding opportunities, as well as tips on how to
increase your chances of successfully securing a grant.
The World of
Step into the world of Beatrix Potter and all of her characters. This graphic/audio
intense site features fun online activities and reading for children.
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