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Rand McNally Classroom

By Susan W. Hixson - Posted Jan 1, 2007
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REPORT CARD
Overall Rating:5 Stars
Installation:A
Content/Features:A
Ease of Use:A
Product Support:A

Company: Rand McNally Education, 8255 N. Central Park Avenue, Skokie, IL 60076. Phone: (800) 678-7263; Internet: www.randmcnallyclassroom.com/.

Price: Pricing on this product varies and is based on school size, average daily attendance, and full-time enrollment. The cost begins at around 99 cents per student based on a school-wide purchase. Discounts are offered for multi-year and multi-school contracts.

Audience: K-12.

Format: Internet-based program: graphics, interactive activities.

Minimum System Requirements: The Rand McNally Classroom can be accessed with a computer with an Internet connection and a current browser. It is recommended that you also have an updated Flash player to download the activities and games. The maps are shown in a printable PDF format for ease of use.

Description: This is a destination Web site with a wealth of information about the world in which we live. The lessons and materials are designed for teaching the K-12 curriculum in social studies, history, and geography; all meet state standards.

Reviewer Comments:

Installation/Access: The only required installation-type activity is to enter a user name and password. It is important to have a current browser and robust Internet access. Installation/Access Rating: A

Content/Features: The Rand McNally Classroom offers access to current and colorful maps that enhance lessons, extensive information about countries around the world, lesson plans to enrich teaching, activities to practice geography skills, and more. 

This site can be used as a resource for information gathering and a teaching tool to bring current maps to your classroom. The online resources can be edited and printed for student use.

Teachers will find lesson plans and assessments that suggest ways to present information, make it interesting, and measure student understanding.

The site's Home page offers access to areas titled Maps & Facts, Special Topics Maps, Interactive Games & Activities, Map & Globe Skills, and Teacher Tools. Additional sections include The Weekly Buzz: Geography and Current Events; Ask Brett & Nina, the Geography Sleuths; Find Maps by Atlas; Where in the World; and Traveling Teddies.

The top of the Home page features a row of buttons labeled Continents, Countries, and U.S. States. Clicking on these opens an alphabetical list of content for each heading.

Selecting a specific country, state, or continent displays pages of information on the population, location, history, current maps, and more. Included are questions and answers about each area, as well as pictures of state birds, flowers, and more. The information is extensive and presented in a very user-friendly format.

The Traveling Teddies feature spotlights toy bears traveling the world with writers and photographers who are members of the Society of American Travel Writers. Each week, the feature is updated with a brief story about a selected bear's recent travels. A Traveling Teddies Archive makes previous posts available. This material gives students a chance to travel vicariously, learn a little about a place, and may even entice them to learn more about other locations on their own.

The interactive activities include games designed to enhance map and globe skills. Each activity downloads and is easy to understand and play. The activities include working with states and capitals, building a U.S. map, placing animals in their correct continent, accessing a glossary of geography terms at many levels, and more.

Correct answers are rewarded with sounds. Students who make an error are guided to the correct answer; learning is easy and continual. Users are timed and scored while playing.

All of the maps and activities are presented with colorful displays and easy to read text. The graphics are of very high quality; the resources are very reliable.

Students can even work locally, drawing information from a map of their school and neighborhood. Teachers and students can e-mail questions to geography experts; the answers will be posted online for all to read. This section will grow with interesting topics and current information for all classes. Content/Features Rating: A

Ease of Use: The Rand McNally Classroom is very simple to use, with straightforward click and view features. The activities and games are clearly explained and easy to play. The entire site lends itself to independent use by students. Ease of Use Rating: A

Product Support: Support is available through a toll-free telephone number at (800) 333-0136. I called the Rand McNally support team and had a bit of a wait to reach the right person, but finally did so and was able to discuss a technical challenge. E-mail support is also available. Product Support Rating: A

Recommendation: The Rand McNally Classroom is a valuable resource for the modern interactive classroom. I believe that you will enjoy having current maps at your fingertips and extensive activities to engage students in the lessons of geography, history, and social studies.

Although the pricing seems vague, the company sassures that the appropriate state representative will work with your school to provide access at a reasonable cost. As this review was written, a 14-day free trial was available to educators just by entering an e-mail address. 

This is certainly a needed service in today's classrooms, where maps regularly and routinely become outdated. Although most lessons can be done with a paper map on the wall, a computer and current resources are very valuable tools to encourage study as our world shrinks and we become global citizens. Highly recommended.

Reviewer: Susan W. Hixson, Integrating the Internet, Educational Consultant. 


 
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