Holiday Learning Activities Key to Students’ Continued Success Over Break

November 22nd, 2013 by Chamber Staff

By Michael and Sandi Brown, education consultants with Tutor Doctor Front Range

TDNovember is almost over, which means holiday school breaks are rapidly approaching. Let’s face it, the last thing on a student’s mind during the holidays and the holiday break is learning. Anything resembling school or homework will not be well received.

However, the unfortunate truth, especially for struggling students, is that holiday breaks interfere with any academic momentum that has been achieved during the school year. Spending some time learning each day, even during school breaks, is the best way to keep students achieving their academic best.

Luckily, learning doesn’t have to be boring or look like homework. In fact, many traditional holiday activities already include learning aspects while staying fun and family-centered. Here are our top five suggestions for keeping students in “good academic shape” over the upcoming holiday breaks.

1)     Explore the December holidays for a fun history lesson – Many students celebrate Christmas, while some observe Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or the winter solstice. Have students complete a Venn diagram that helps them recognize similarities and differences between these special occasions. Include details about traditional celebrations, the history behind each holiday, common foods, what culture celebrates the holiday and more.

2)     Listen, laugh & learn – Listen to audio books while traveling to visit family, wrapping gifts or cooking that Thanksgiving or Christmas meal. Read and sing holiday song lyrics together, and try writing your own lyrics to familiar tunes.

3)     Explore the science of cooking – Thanksgiving and the winter holidays can be a terrific time to learn and practice scientific concepts while cooking – what temperature do you need to melt enough sugar to make candy? Why doesn’t a lower temperature work? What chemistry is involved in baking bread?

4)     Practice math with holiday word problems – This allows you to shift students’ eagerness for presents into a teachable moment. Collect newspaper ads and use them to create holiday word problems. For example, “Mrs. Jones has seven children and a budget of $200 for holiday gifts. She wants to give each of them a video game. Each game must be different but be the same price. What games should she get and how much will each game cost?”

5)     Write your own holiday story – Many popular holiday stories may include old concept that are not relatable for today’s students. Why not have students write their own holiday tales? They could update a classic or create a totally original story that celebrates something they love about the holiday season. Go a step further and create children’s books of these new stories, complete with illustrations and “publish” them. Consider having students read their published books to a class of younger students as part of a holiday party.

These are just a few ideas to incorporate learning into your holiday break without adding extra homework and stress to a student’s plate. With these and other activities, students can maintain and improve their academic progress during breaks and the whole family can have fun. Happy Holidays!

BEWARE of Cyberlocker – this is SERIOUS!

October 30th, 2013 by Chamber Staff

We all know we need to back up our files. Some methods are simple, others more involved. Whether you use a thumb drive, external drive, Time Machine or the cloud, you need to know about Cyberlocker ransomware and how to protect your data.

This screen shot of the Arstechnica article on Cyberlocker shows the chilling 72 hour timer in yellow numerals. Be truly aware. Protect your data. This is not a victimless crime and it is happening with sickening frequency. Here. In Loveland!

This screen shot of the Arstechnica article on Cyberlocker shows the chilling 72 hour timer in yellow numerals. Be truly aware. Protect your data. This is not a victimless crime and it is happening with sickening frequency. Here. In Loveland!protect your business data.protect your data.

At a recent Chamber gathering, fellow investor Del Hunter of CMIT mentioned a particularly nasty malware that seems to be proliferating.

I went back to the office and looked it up immediately. You can see what my search yielded below – these experts have written it up very well and it is WORTH your TIME to read these brief articles:

 

 

The gist of these articles is simple. It is crucial to reliably back up your data on an external device not connected to your computer.  Then, if your data is taken hostage and encrypted, you have the data and programs – don't forget your install discs! -  safe and secure.

To be perfectly clear, backing up files on any device connected to your computer will not keep your data safe. Run your back-ups and disconnect the back-up. Be aware that a thumb drive can fail I and CD's can become corrupt, if that's how you store your back-up data. Double back-ups are not crazy.

Think of how you would manage to conduct business if you could not get into your computer at all. What would you do? That is essentially what happens when Cryptolocker attacks. It will cost you $300 to get the private key.

This is extortion.

It is illegal.

It is happening here in Loveland.

Computers make things easier in many ways. But loosing your data can be crippling and costly.  Do not be a victim!

Educate yourself, initiate a reasonable safe method of file back-up and USE IT.

 

Maryjo Morgan is co-owner, with Fred Richart, of Fred's Used Websites.

Give Your Vehicle a Check-up Before the Cold Weather Starts

October 4th, 2013 by Chamber Staff

By Rose Marie Massaro

BIG O logo.Tag.3CLiving in Colorado brings challenging driving conditions in the fall and winter. Remember the snow we got last October?  It’s never too early to think about prepping your vehicle for the cold and slippery months.  Just as you bring yourself in for a check-up, give your vehicle one, too, before the cold weather starts.  Here are a few things to look for.

Bright Lights: Fall and winter months bring shorter days so it’s important to make sure all your headlights, taillights and signals are working at optimum brightness. You’ll be easier to see in wet weather.

Emergency Equipment: It’s amazing how many people drive long distances without having any roadside emergency equipment in their car.  If you’re planning a long road trip to visit family over the holidays equip your car with a flashlight, working batteries, de-icing spray, ice scraper, jumper cables, blanket and road flares.  Make sure your cell phone is well charged before you hit the road, too.

Blades That Actually Wipe: Dousing your windshield with washer fluid won’t help visibility if your wiper blades are worn.  If your wipers are over a year old, replace them.  Also, pop your wipers up so they’re not touching the windshield when you park. It’ll be easier to clean your windshield after a snowfall and it won’t burn your wiper motor by having them turn on while the blades are possibly frozen in place.

Charged Battery:  The Colorado sun and heat may have actually reduced your vehicle’s battery life over the summer. Look for corrosion on cables and posts.  Defer to a professional if you feel they need cleaning. You want your battery in top shape for winter months, especially if you keep your vehicle outside.

Tires with Good Tread: Tires are key on how your vehicle responds to slippery roads.  Not just ice, but wet leaves can be extremely hazardous on the road. Snow tires handle and respond better than all-season tires in weather under 44 degrees Fahrenheit, so installing snow tires in winter is much safer for driving.  Check for uneven tread wear and tire pressure. Replace worn tires for optimal traction or consider buying snow tires to get through tough conditions. Also consider filling your tires with Nitrogen to maintain consistent pressure for longer distance.

Big O Tires is located at 2480 N. Lincoln Avenue in Loveland. Big O Tires is your locally owned, full service tire store. Services offered include tires, oil changes, shocks and struts, wheel alignments, car brakes and more.

How to Identify Struggling Students

September 23rd, 2013 by Chamber Staff

TutorDoctorThe same way a triangle is the strongest shape in architecture, a triangular support system for students delivers the best chance for success. With the student, his or her parents, and teachers/academic coaches each occupying one of the three corners, students are more likely to thrive in education.

According to the Department of Higher Education, 40 percent of all high school graduates are not ready to take a 100-level course in college. This level of unpreparedness is reflective of learning difficulties going unnoticed and untreated in the years leading up to college.

Often, learning difficulties can be easily fixed if caught early. Children whose challenges are caught between kindergarten and third grade have an easier time catching up and staying ahead throughout their time in school.

How can parents determine if their student is struggling? Here are some tips:

  • Be aware of what your student’s grades are. Identifying areas of struggle early increases chances of improvement. Weekly involvement with students is ideal.
  • Listen for keywords or phrases, such as, “School is dumb,” “I hate math” or “I don’t want to go to school.”
  • Watch for an overall lack of confidence – it could be a sign that they are struggling with learning and school.
  • Pay attention to resistance to doing their schoolwork or passive acceptance of C and D grades.

Many students struggle upon returning to school after summer vacation if what they learned the previous year was not kept fresh in their minds. Subjects increase in difficulty with each new grade, so parents and students should find a way to stay prepared for the next year’s education.

Parents should never feel like they cannot be in touch with the school. A child’s education is a team effort, and parents are an important component. By pinpointing barriers to education and removing them early, parents can help ensure that their children are ready for the next level of education.

-Michael and Sandi Brown are education consultants with Tutor Doctor Front Range. Learn more at www.tutoringnoco.com.

Mix the Old and New for Good Relationship Marketing

September 10th, 2013 by Chamber Staff

LCOC Mantooth BlogThese days, social media makes it very easy to interact with customers. However, the “old social media”–that is face-to-face interaction­–is still important to a good relationship with customers. Finding a balance between the old and new is essential to relationship marketing. Together, they’ll lead to well-grounded, loyal relationships with customers. Here are 6 smart practices to use in your customer relationships.

  • Provide Useful Information: Use your website and other social media platforms to provide tips, how-to articles, video tutorials or answers to frequently asked questions that will help your clients business, and help them better use yours. These little extras will also heighten the perceived value of your service.
  • Set Up Good Customer Service: Make sure communication options are clear. Contact information should not be hidden on your website. Respond to inquiries in a timely manner. Show that you are listening to all correspondences. Excellent customer service will gain the trust of current and potential customers and will work to establish a loyal customer base in the long run.
  • Meet Your Clients Online: Make a connection with your clients on LinkedIn. Share an article that might be useful to them. Like their business Facebook page. Write smart comments on their postings. These connections not only show that you are engaged with their business, but it gives you some quality exposure as well.
  • Give Clients Face Time: Although online tools make it easy to check in with clients, it’s important to check in with them in person. Dedicating time in your day to their needs will demonstrate how important they are to you. A casual lunch to discuss the status of a marketing plan or just to tap into further needs goes a long way.
  • Get to Know a Client’s Style: I don’t mean this in a fashion sense! A face-to-face meeting can give you great insight on how a person conducts his business. A client might comment on how he hates texting. That’s a quick note not to send your correspondence via text. Also, there’s nothing wrong with asking a client what he or she does during spare time. If you know one of your female clients loves homemade crafts, sending her a quick email about the craft fair going on that weekend will show that you have her top of mind. A personal connection is meaningful.
  • Be There After the Sale or Job is Done: Once a contract is met or a sale has been rung up at the register, don’t disappear! Stay on their minds with follow-up discounts or suggestions for further interaction. A quick survey asking if they were satisfied with your services shows you care. Also, a quick poll shows that you are actively looking to find more and better ways to service their needs.

Rose Marie Massaro

Marketing Account Specialist, Mantooth Marketing Company

mantoothcompany.com

Recipe for Success

August 19th, 2013 by Chamber Staff

MarkWeaverOpenDoorI love brainstorming good ideas with entrepreneurs, hearing their dreams and the outrageous ideas that no one has tried yet. I’ve seen entrepreneurs take all kinds of risk, leveraging everything to move their concepts from ideas to success.

But my passion is the team. Most entrepreneurs’ ideas won’t become reality without finding the right people to help them make it happen. The right team of employees can make a dream come true; the wrong ones can turn it into a nightmare.

So how do you find the great team members, while avoiding the problem ones?

Employment Brand:

Everything you do in adding employees to your company will create your employment brand, and vice-versa your PR and marketing will impact your hiring efforts. Your goal should be to create an enviable employment brand – you want to be the place everyone wants to work.

Sourcing:

Current great employees should be your best source for new candidates. If you are just starting to staff up, use your network. Most people who like you won’t refer someone who will embarrass them; they will only send you people who they will be proud of. But you don’t need people just like you. You need people who bring other strengths and they won’t necessarily be your gender, ethnicity, or age.

Application Process:

Having candidates send a paper resume creates an image of a behind-the-times employer. There are great paperless solutions out there today that are very cost effective, and will not only save you a ton of time, but will give you an image you want. Use a system that is intuitive for the applicant and not one that will annoy great people from bothering with your automated process.

Learners:

Many of today’s jobs didn’t exist a few years ago. The college degree that someone received even fairly recently may now be obsolete. Look for life-long learners; not someone who got some initials behind their name 10 years ago and hasn’t done anything since to keep growing.

Alignment:

People are happiest in jobs where they feel that their personal values are congruent with the values of the organization they work for. Know your organization and culture well enough to value having alignment more than having a job filled.

Passion:

Resist the temptation to just fill a job. You need someone you can trust your vision to; someone who won’t be just an entitled employee, but will instead have an ownership mentality with your vision, your customers, your public relations, and your money.

Test:

There are all kinds of tests that help determine fit. Create true-to-life examples of a workplace issue that an employee would have to solve. Ask applicants to review it, formulate a plan, and respond to you in writing. You aren’t looking for a right answer – you are getting an understanding of how they think and how they communicate.

Remove:

You will hire some who don’t work out. Don’t let it drag on. Engage them in a straightforward manner about whatever isn’t working, asking them to create solutions. But when it isn’t improving, take appropriate steps to sever the relationship. Failure to deal with these issues undermines your credibility with great employees, customers, and the general public.

Happy hiring!

Mark Weaver, Senior Professional in Human Resources with Open Door HR Solutions, LLC

Summer breaks academic edge - How parents can prevent learning loss

June 3rd, 2013 by Chamber Staff

TutorDoctorMuch like an athlete can be set back months from a sprained ankle, summers out of school and void of learning can act as a debilitating injury for American students – a preventable setback with as little as one hour of academic focus a week.

The National Summer Learning Association found that students who take the entire summer off studies don’t remain stagnant, but actually lose two months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills, and score lower on generalized tests. Low-income students are even more susceptible to falling behind: More than half of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities. As a result, low-income youth are less likely to graduate from high school or enter college, according to a study published by John Hopkins University sociologists.

Educators have long been aware of this nation-wide issue, now dubbed “summer learning loss” or “summer slide.” Its consequences have had global impact.

The U.S. standard two-month long summer break is often considered the culprit for America’s youth falling behind academically when compared with international peers. Some of the most competitive nations, including Japan and Finland, have year-round schooling and regularly outperform U.S. students.

With school schedules set at least a year out, there is little that can now be done about the quickly approaching summer break. But there are simple ways to prevent academic fallback this summer without ruining a child’s much-anticipated time off.

Spending a few hours a week focusing on subjects where there might have been gaps in a child’s learning could mean the difference between a passing and failing grade the following school year. The benefits of a regularized learning schedule go beyond academic – routine helps a child feel more secure and develop self-discipline.

While the benefits may be clear, the method looks different for everyone. Taking a break is important – if tutoring looks too much like school, summer vacation won’t feel much like a vacation and tutoring will not be well received. Sessions are usually most successful when scheduled at a time that works best for the student, and when it won’t keep them from other activities they enjoy. Waiting until everyone is headed to the pool to bust out the math book is a recipe for a meltdown.

Taking a few weeks off at the beginning of summer can also help alleviate the stress of “losing” the break. Most summer tutors recommend starting after Memorial Day weekend, concentrating efforts in June and July and scheduling around family trips and holidays.

While the initial push can be difficult, it usually doesn’t take long for the student to realize how different it is from school and in many cases, how rewarding it can be.

Summer tutoring is an opportunity to give a child the one-on-one attention they may need to get an edge. In the classroom, a student is one of 20 or 30, forcing teachers to take on a one-size-fits-all approach.

Finding the right tutor and nailing down a schedule that works for both student and teacher can take a few weeks. Now is the best time for parents to start the process to ensure their children are able to fully utilize summertime’s academic offerings.

Michael and Sandi Brown are owners/education consultants at Tutor Doctor Front Range, www.TutorDoctorFrontRange.com.

Top Four Tips: How to Promote Your Business Online

January 24th, 2013 by Chamber Staff

People often wonder how they should promote their business on the internet. Many times they think that just because they have a website, their online marketing is done. This couldn’t be further from the truth. According to ecommerce times, 85% of internet users are also internet shoppers. Chances are that your business can’t afford to ignore this large of a demographic.
Here are four tips that will help you better understand how to promote your business online.

Tip 1: Build a Website
Having a website is the first step in promoting your business online. It is important because now you have an online footprint with which to build your web presence on. Creating a website is essential, because now you have a place to drive all of your web traffic to.
A website is a great way to tell customers:
• Who you are
• Why your business is the expert at what it does
• Where to find your business
• Answers to their questions
• Why they need to do business with you

Tip 2: Choose 10 Keywords that Typify Your Business
Once you have created a website, you need make sure your website is found. According to SEOMOZ.org, in 2011 65.4 percent of searches online were through Google. People search Google using certain search phrases called keywords. It then follows that your business should have a correctly identified list of keywords.
When creating keywords for your website, it’s good to follow these guidelines.
Keywords should be:
• Location based
• Related to your industry
• Have a high number of searches
• Have a low amount of competition
• Be something that a BUYER is likely to search for

Tip 3: List Your Site on Online Directory Listings
When people used to look for a business to call, they used to open up the phone book and find the phone number. Now more and more people are searching for information in online directories. If you register your business information in many online directories, your site will rise in the search engine rankings which will in turn get you more business.
Some free online directories include:
• Google Places
• Bing Local
• Manta
• Hotfrog
• Yelp

Tip 4: Build a Blog
A blog is a great way to show potential customers that you are likeable, knowledgeable, and credible. In addition it has the bonus of having Google raise your site in the search engine rankings. This is because you will be adding lots of great new content that is relevant to what your searchers want to read about. If you are feeling especially savvy, you can even syndicate (post) your content all over the web. If you add a link to your site at the bottom of each post, this will create a great many paths for customers to follow to your site.

This post was written by 1 on 1 Business.

Getting Help With Your Advertising Dollars

May 31st, 2012 by Nicole Yost

By Sara Luttes
Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone helped you pay your advertising bill? Well, there just may be dollars waiting to help you promote your business.

Manufacturer’s and suppliers often provide what are called coop funds. These monies accumulate in a fund that may have been contributed to by you as you paid to stock their products, or they will be willing to “chip in” to your advertising efforts simply to promote their name on a local level.

A little research could turn up several hundred or thousand dollars to help toward your advertising purchases. The manufacturer will reimburse you a percentage of your advertising expenditure (usually 50% to 100%) after you provide proof of payment and a coop billing statement from the media you choose.

Retailers may not readily promote their coop advertising programs, so be sure to ask your representative about the monies available. There are some stipulations on how and where to place your coop advertising which the manufacturer will supply, so ask the questions, or have a qualified advertising agency look into it for you.

Coop advertising is a great way to make your advertising dollars go a lot further. Find out today if you qualify for this resource.

This article was written by Sara Luttes, owner of Media Masters, a full service advertising agency located in Loveland, CO. Luttes can be contacted by phone at (970) 461-2929 or visit their website: www.resultsbymediamasters.com.

Accessorizing for Fall

March 21st, 2012 by Maryjo Morgan

By Lori Tibbs-Lantis

Are you looking for an updated image at work or to look great in everyday life? Getting there is as simple as 1, 2, 3.  Start with your favorite staple pieces, pencil skirts in colors and prints, or slim tapered pants, mix in a cardigan, jacket or poncho, and your accessories will provide all the finishing touches. Don’t forget your platform shoes and handbags, both of which are “in” this fall.

Whether your fall wardrobe contains any or all of the current trends in clothing fashion, you can easily appear in style by accessorizing with jewelry.

Today, cuff watches and signature rings arehot!  Bangles are classic. Stacked or worn alone, skinny or wide, a woman cannot go wrong in bangles. Bracelets can be stacked by odd numbers. I recommend wearing at least three bracelets can complete the look of any outfit.  This season you will find layering of contrasting metal necklaces, lots of tassel jewelry and chandelier earrings are also popular.

For a day at the office, pearls add a professional, classic touch to business attire. Add a pendant to the pearls to transform them into a dressy accessory suitable for a formal occasion. If she doesn’t have time to change between the office and networking event, awards dinner or an evening out with the significant other, she can dress up a daytime outfit with a fashion scarf pinned with a brooch.

Ladies should avoid the chunky metal chains on the job, as they are trendy and don’t appear professional. On the other hand, beads are great at the office, adding color and often lending versatility to the wardrobe, since they are usually multicolored and go with more than one outfit.

The woman looking to appear slimmer can wear a monotone outfit (each break in color adds pounds) and add a splash of color through accessories. Colors popular this fall, according to the Pantone Color Institute, are Bamboo, Emberglow, Honeysuckle (the ‘it’ color of 2011), Phlox, Cedar, Deep Teal, Coffee Liqueúr, Nougat, Orchid Hush and Quarry.

Without investing in a closet full of clothes, ladies can supplement their wardrobe with a few jackets, ponchos and cardigan sweaters. Worn over the same tank tops they wore all summer and accessorized with fun, colorful beads, they are set for the season.

No matter the time of year, jewelry basics for any wardrobe include a strand of pearls; diamond and pearl studs; hoops of any size, shape and color (they soften the jaw line); gold and silver chains and pendants; pins or brooches; plenty of bracelets (any are acceptable – link, charm, bangles, cuff and tennis); and a cuff watch.

Earrings are as important as lipstick, so ladies who error on the side of caution when it comes to jewelry can’t go wrong if they simply wear a pair of earrings.

For a woman on the go, getting the right look for every occasion is as simple as changing out her jewelry and other accessories.

By Lori Tibbs-Lantis
Independent jeweler
Premier Designs Jewelry