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April 26, 2005

Table of Contents

Cool Links: "Kids Search Engines," from SearchEngineWatch
Project MUSE Offers Special Pricing for School Libraries
PLATO Learning Releases Literacy Curriculum for English Language Learners
Discovery Education Acquires Health and Prevention Curriculum Programs
Free Resources: Teaching Poetry and the Story of Emmett Till, from TeachingBooks.net and Houghton Mifflin
Educational Resources Offers QuickMind.net Promotion for Summer Sessions
EBSCO Publishing Introduces Advanced Placement Source
Northwest Evaluation Association Announces Study on Effects of NCLB
Evan-Moor Introduces Read and Understand Poetry for Young Students
School Library Advocacy Graduate Course for Administrators
Cool Links: Testing Computer (and Information) Literacy
Free Resources: Poet's Corner from Thomson Gale

Cool Links: "Kids Search Engines," from SearchEngineWatch

If you aren't yet familiar with Danny Sullivan's SearchEngineWatch site, here's an excellent article for you, as school LMS's, to read to see the sort of thing this well known and highly reputed search engine expert and his colleagues provide at this site. Read his "Kids Search Engines" article (subsections: Major Children's Guides, Filtering Options, Other Children's Search Engines, Filtering and Blocking software, Related Articles), then jump to—or bookmark for later—the SearchEngineWatch home page and explore. You won't find better nor savvier information about the world of search engines anywhere.

Click HERE to link to "Kids Search Engines" at SearchEngineWatch.com.

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Project MUSE Offers Special Pricing for School Libraries

Project MUSE, an online collection of scholarly journals, has announced it is offering secondary school libraries access to its Full Collection for the discounted subscription rate of $1,000. The decision stems from MUSE's desire to encourage and support the use of online scholarly journals in the high school environment for both research and information literacy training, according to the Project MUSE announcement.

MUSE's Full Collection comprises of more than 270 scholarly journals in the arts, humanities, and social science fields, published by 60 university presses located around the world. MUSE offers quality research materials for literature, history, cultural studies, political science, ethics, classics, performing arts, religious studies, and many other areas of importance to college-bound students.

Currently, Project MUSE is used by more than 25 high schools in the U.S. Students can log on to MUSE through authorized computers on campus or at home by accessing their school's computer network. They conduct their content searches using the MUSE search interface or may link to MUSE articles from a variety of popular bibliographic services. MUSE is also working with Google to enable students to use the familiar Google Website and its Google Scholar (http://www.scholar.google.com) interface to explore the MUSE Website. Students can view articles in HTML and PDF formats; save, e-mail, and export search results to RefWorks and EndNote; and also define search terms and limits by journal, subject, or type of material.

MUSE also hosts a "For Librarians" Web page, which offers a variety of tools and information for providing instruction to users of the online journals, downloading details about MUSE holdings, obtaining usage statistics, requesting support materials, and finding answers to common questions.

High school libraries continue to have the option of subscribing on a title-by-title basis to any journal for which the publisher has opted to have MUSE sell single titles, at rates set by the publishers. The current list value of subscriptions to all of the journals in the MUSE Full Collection is more than $23,000, according to Project MUSE.

For additional information on Project MUSE's pricing structure and the 2005 list of journals, please visit the following Web pages:

http://muse.jhu.edu/about/subscriptions/new_titles_2005.html

http://muse.jhu.edu/about/subscriptions/new_pricing_2005.html

Source: Project MUSE, http://muse.jhu.edu

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PLATO Learning Releases Literacy Curriculum for English Language Learners

PLATO Learning, Inc. has announced the release of Todos a leer con PLATO Achieve Now, designed to help English Language Learners (ELLs) develop literacy skills with materials in Spanish that cover key objectives in emergent literacy, reading comprehension, and vocabulary.

The Todos a leer con PLATO Achieve Now curriculum includes technology-based activities based on popular Spanish literature with animations and graphics to engage learners, according to the announcement. To enhance and encourage literacy acquisition, the program incorporates Spanish culture through art, stories, and characters with tools including audio and a glossary.

The technology component is complemented with a set of leveled books written in Spanish for guided, independent, and home-based reading; assessment materials to monitor student progress; and teacher's guides and literacy-in-a-flash cards to help teachers successfully integrate the program into their daily lesson plans and classroom activities.

A white paper outlining the research that informed the instructional methodologies and design of Todos a leer con PLATO Achieve Now as well as a description of the product's alignment to No Child Left Behind accountability mandates can be downloaded at http://www.plato.com/todospr.

Source: PLATO Learning, Inc., http://www.plato.com

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Discovery Education Acquires Health and Prevention Curriculum Programs

Discovery Education has announced the acquisition of health and prevention curriculum programs from Comprehensive Health Education Foundation (C.H.E.F.). The addition of these programs will further broaden Discovery Education's educational library with research-based content that helps students make healthy decisions and learn practical life skills they can use every day, according to the announcement.

The acquisition includes six complete health and prevention curriculum programs from C.H.E.F.:

* Get Real about Violence—K-12 curriculum program organized around three core topic areas of vulnerability to violence, contributors to violence, and alternatives to violence, with a goal of reducing violence inside and outside school walls.

* Here's Looking at You—K-12 curriculum that emphasizes bonding with peers, family, and the community as a means to cope with stress in addition to giving students information and skills aimed at preventing substance abuse.

* Youth Matters—Prevention and character education curriculum in one program to foster positive youth development for students in grades 4-6.

* Natural Helpers—A peer-helping program for students in grades 6-12 designed to help make schools safer by empowering students to take care of problems before they escalate.

* Get Real about AIDS—Curriculum offering students in grades 4-12 accurate and age-appropriate information about AIDS and other STDs by helping students recognize and avoid situations that put them at risk of contracting these diseases.

* Get Real about Tobacco—A K-12 program designed to decrease the likelihood that students will start using tobacco, to encourage students who do use tobacco to quit, and to help students promote messages against the use of tobacco.

These curriculum programs enhance Discovery Education's newest online learning resource, Discovery Health Connection—a new online library of K-12 health and prevention content that addresses the nine critical areas of youth health and prevention as outlined by the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to the announcement.

Discovery Health Connection, a Web-based subscription service located at http://www.discoveryhealthconnection.com, takes traditional health and prevention curriculum kits and gives educators the ability to capture the teachable moments in the classroom with instant access to curriculum programs, teachers' guides, worksheets, videos, and extension exercises addressing health and prevention subjects, the announcement states.

[Editor's Note: For an independent MMIS review of Disovery Health Connection in the May/June 2005 issue, click HERE.]

Source: Discovery Education, http://www.discoveryeducation.com

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Free Resources: Teaching Poetry and the Story of Emmett Till, from TeachingBooks.net and Houghton Mifflin

August 2005 marks the fiftieth anniversary of Emmett Till's murder. In 1955, people all over the U.S. knew that Emmett Louis Till was a 14-year-old African-American boy lynched for allegedly whistling at a white woman in Mississippi. The brutality of his murder, his open-casket funeral, and the acquittal of the men tried for the crime drew tremendous attention.

The fiftieth anniversary will be marked with reflection on how far our country has come toward equal rights and equal justice for all, and how far we have yet to travel.

TeachingBooks.net, in collaboration with Houghton Mifflin Company, has created an online resource that stimulates discussion about this event, an Authors Up-Close program featuring award-winning poet Marilyn Nelson. The multimedia, cross-curricular resource for middle and high school English, social studies, and history classes is available free on the Web at http://www.TeachingBooks.net/till.

A new poem, "A Wreath For Emmett Till" (Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005), written by Ms. Nelson, is the centerpiece for TeachingBooks' program. The poem is composed in a striking and unusual poetic form, a heroic crown of sonnets. The poet describes this format as follows in a written interview that is part of this TeachingBooks resource:

A heroic crown of sonnets is a sequence of 15 sonnets, which are interlinked like the normal crown of sonnets, except that in the heroic crown the last sonnet is made up of the first lines of the previous 14 sonnets. My crown is slightly different because the last sonnet is also an acrostic. So the first letters of each line, if you read down, spell out the phrase, ‘RIP Emmett L. Till.'

The program enables students to listen to Ms. Nelson read, in its entirety, her astonishing and haunting poem. Also included are audio interviews with Ms. Nelson and the book's publisher, an in-depth written interview, and links to numerous resources to teach about Emmett Till and to teach about poetry.

Source: TeachingBooks.net, http://www.teachingbooks.net/

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Educational Resources Offers QuickMind.net Promotion for Summer Sessions

Educational Resources, reseller of Sunburst Technology's QuickMind.net online learning environment, has announced it is inviting educators to try QuickMind.net over the summer and earn a free subscription for their school. The QuickMind.net environment offers educators in grades K to12 online resources to enrich their summer classes, according to the announcement, including a new Parent Center that enables parents to monitor and participate in their children's education. Summer school subscriptions to QuickMind.net include free access to the Parent Center for parents. QuickMind.net provides educators and students in grades K-12 with lesson-planning, homework, and assessment resources at school, home, or anywhere that they have an Internet connection.

QuickMind.net provides 24-hour access to standards-based curriculum, interactive homework assignments, project templates, tools, lesson plans, reference materials, and online professional development via a password-protected Website, the announcement states. For a limited time, schools that try QuickMind.net for three months this summer will receive three months of the service for free through Educational Resources if they decide to buy an annual subscription afterward.

For more about QuickMind.net and a free demonstration of the product, educators can visit http://www.quickmind.net.

Source: Educational Resources, http://www.edresources.com

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EBSCO Publishing Introduces Advanced Placement Source

EBSCO Publishing has announced the creation of the Advanced Placement Source database, a resource available via EBSCOhost that is designed to meet the needs of high school students enrolled in various AP courses.

Advanced Placement Source, available only to secondary school libraries, offers a world of knowledge for students who seek to achieve academic excellence and whose advanced research needs were not fully supported previously by any other existing services, according to the announcement. This database is designed to support students in multiple areas of study, including mathematics; physics; chemistry; biology; computer science; human geography; psychology; economics and statistics; government and politics; environmental science; U.S., European, and world history; the arts; and music. Advanced Placement Source contains more than 6,000 full text journals and over 100,000 photos, maps and flags. The database is updated weekly on EBSCOhost.

Source: EBSCO Publishing, http://epnet.com/

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Northwest Evaluation Association Announces Study on Effects of NCLB

Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) researchers have released a new study that indicates student achievement has improved since the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act was passed, but student growth has declined slightly. In fact, according to the announcement of the study, if change in achievement of the magnitude seen so far continues, it won't bring schools close to the requirement of 100 percent proficiency by 2014. The study is entitled "The Impact of the No Child Left Behind Act on student Achievement and Growth: 2005 Edition."

The researchers define growth as the difference in scores for a single student from one point in time to another, and achievement level as the score that a student has at one point in time, such as a score from a standardized test.

The study also evaluated achievement gaps among ethnic groups. It found that students with different ethnicities who had the same initial test scores grew differently. Most noteworthy, Hispanics academically grew less than Anglos, the NWEA announcement states.

"We present this study as a baseline, recognizing that NCLB is a work in progress, and changes are continually being made that can affect the outcome from one year to the next," said Allan Olson, NWEA's executive director. "Our goal is to conduct a similar study annually, to help inform the progress educators are making toward improving learning for all students."

The researchers evaluated reading data from more than 320,000 students in third through eighth grade at more than 200 school districts located in 23 states across the country. They also looked at math data from more than 334,000 students in the same grades at more than 200 districts in 22 states. They compared academic growth and achievement scores in the 2001-2002 school year to growth and scores in the 2003-2004 school year.

As seen in other studies, the researchers report that achievement scores on state tests for math and reading have improved under NCLB; however, student growth has declined, according to the study. Overall, changes in mathematics growth are greater than those in reading. Also, student achievement levels and growth have improved more in grades in which state tests have been implemented than in those grades that do not participate in their state test.

The study was designed with scientifically based research methodology, the announcement states. Study data were supplied through NWEA's Growth Research Database, which includes assessment data gathered from NWEA member districts. These data provide a detailed look at academic growth, and aggregated proficiency levels. Additionally, the tests from which the data are derived are more sensitive for low- and high-performing students, giving a more accurate picture of achievement.

The study builds on findings that NWEA released in April 2004 and November 2003. The 2004 study indicated that Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) measures are not a complete picture for judging school effectiveness. The 2003 study demonstrated that state standards of proficiency differ substantially from state to state, grade to grade, and subject to subject.

The new report is available, as is an executive summary, at http://www.nwea.org/research/nclbstudy.asp

Source: Northwest Evaluation Association, http://www.nwea.org

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Evan-Moor Introduces Read and Understand Poetry for Young Students

Evan-Moor Educational Publishers has introduced this month—April, National Poetry Month—Read & Understand Poetry for grades 2-6, a new resource to help teachers guide students in reading and responding to poetry.

In Read and Understand Poetry, lessons guide teachers in introducing and reading poems chosen especially for students at their grade level, according to the announcement. Each title in the series contains approximately 27 poetry selections ranging from rhyming verse and haiku to free verse, limerick, and ballad.

Each poetry selection in Read and Understand Poetry is accompanied by a Teacher Page, which provides background information that helps introduce students to language arts skills unique to poetry. Additionally, the Teacher Page contains guidelines for developing key poetry concepts and vocabulary, such as similes and metaphors, personification, alliteration, accent/stress, assonance, consonance, and onomatopoeia.

Following each poetry selection are two Activity Pages that help students consolidate what they have learned. The first page presents questions covering literal comprehension, sequence, word meanings, context clues and inferences, and main idea and details. The second page encourages critical thinking and creativity, according to the announcement. It includes activities that invite students to share their opinions as they respond to open-ended questions, try their hand at poetic techniques such as onomatopoeia or alliteration, or write a poem of their own.

Additional student resources contained in Read and Understand Poetry include a seven-page, kid-friendly Glossary of Poetry Terms, such as alliteration and simile. An About the Poets section presents brief information on each of the poets included in the anthology, featuring well-known classic and contemporary poets such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Frost, Walt Whitman, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Pat Mora, and William Shakespeare.

The Read and Understand Poetry series contains four titles available for grades 2-3, grades 3-4, grades 4-5 and grades 5-6. Each title retails for $14.99 and can be previewed online in its entirety at the Evan-Moor Educational Publishers Website. 

Source Evan-Moor Educational Publishers, http://www.evan-moor.com

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School Library Advocacy Graduate Course for Administrators

Tell your school and district administrators about this great online course! We learned of it through an LM_NET posting.

LSC6600 School Library Advocacy for Administrators

Developed with IMLS federal grant funds, LSC 6600 is a short, one-credit graduate course for school principals, curriculum and technology coordinators, and superintendents. Available online during five weeks in the summer, it is designed to help administrators learn how to maximize a school library program to increase student achievement.

School leaders learn the research correlating school libraries with improved test scores, how to integrate an information literacy skills with classroom curriculum and state academic standards, how to improve access to libraries and collections, and are provided with some basic guideline and evaluation tools. Through readings, videos, and online discussions with colleagues, administrators can apply new knowledge and advocacy skills to their local school library programs. No windshield time; it's all online and can even be completed during vacation with Internet access!

Based on Information Power, the Internet-based program runs from June 27 through July 29. Admissions have been streamlined and tuition is a reasonable $390 + books (PA residents) or $564 + books (out-of-state).

Topics included are:

Mod 1: The School Library and Academic Achievement

Mod 2: Information Literacy & Academic Standards

Mod 3: The Library Collection and Flexible Access

Mod 4: Revitalization and Evaluation of the School Library Program

Complete information, including the syllabus and a testimonial video by administrators who have completed the course, can be found at http://libweb.mansfield.edu/principals/index.asp.

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Cool Links: Testing Computer (and Information) Literacy

On National Public Radio's Morning Edition, April 25th show, is a story on students' ability, or lack of ability, in the areas of information and computer literacy, sparked by the fact that ETS, has come up with an Information and Communications Technology Literacy test it is piloting. While you already know what they discuss in the story, it's good to see that the issue of information literacy as a vital life and work skill is getting coverage in the general media.

Give a listen to "Testing Computer Literacy" by linking to the NPR/Morning Edition site HERE.

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Free Resources: Poet's Corner from Thomson Gale

Did you know it was National Poetry Month? Well, it is, and new in Thomson Gale's Free Resources space is its Poet's Corner. The site features "a collection of activities and information to complement classroom topics ... Read biographies of well-received poets; take a quiz based on these poets and their works; follow a timeline of events that traces the poetry movement; partake in activities; discover the poems and the concepts behind them" ... and more!

Click HERE to link to the site.

Source: Thomson Gale, http://www.gale.com/

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