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May 10, 2005

Table of Contents

Free Resources: EASE History, a U.S. History Project from Michigan State
McGraw-Hill Digital Learning Launches Yearly ProgressPro Reading/Language Arts
Riverdeep Extends Destination Reading To Grades 4 - 8 And Beyond
Cool Links: “Why Should Principals Support School Libraries?” @ ERICDigests.org
ITI Cross Links: Searching Books Between the Covers
Texthelp Ships Read&Write 7.1E Gold Literacy Support Software
Wright Group’s Gear Up! Guided Reading Series Now on mCLASS: Reading Assessment Software from Wireless Generation
Scholastic Launches Text Talk Vocab. and Comprehension Program for K-3

Free Resources: EASE History, a U.S. History Project from Michigan State

An intriguing e-mail from a former social studies teacher who is now a doctoral candidate in learning, technology, and culture at Michigan State University led us to check out the EASE History site and project. In the e-mail, the sender stated simply that "a group of us have created a new Website [that] features over 600 videos and photographs from 1900 to the present," and that "EASE History is a rich learning environment that supports the learning of U.S. history … by connecting historical events, campaign ads, and core democratic values."

Well, the Website that this group has created is indeed rich with content—video footage of U.S. presidential campaign ads stretching back over more than 50 years alone make a visit worthwhile. The interface they've created for educators and students to access all this material is interesting as well:

EASE History has three entry points: Historical Events, Campaign Ads, and Core Values. Learn about US History through the prism of US presidential campaign ads, better understand the complexities of campaign issues and their historical context by looking at historical events, and explore the meanings of core values by examining how these values have been applied in both historical events and campaign ads. Three learning modes, single and multiple theme searches, and resources support the comparing and contrasting of historical cases. EASE History's goal is to … help learners think more like historians.

Definitely worth a look. Check it out at http://www.easehistory.org/.

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McGraw-Hill Digital Learning Launches Yearly ProgressPro Reading/Language Arts

McGraw-Hill Digital Learning has announced the release of Yearly ProgressPro Reading/Language Arts for Grades 1-8, an assessment, reporting, and tutorial system based on the same scientific methodology as its Yearly ProgressPro Math. According to the announcement, Yearly ProgressPro Reading/Language Arts fulfills educators' need for effective ongoing progress monitoring and data-driven instruction to support student achievement.

Yearly ProgressPro Reading/Language Arts comprises two types of online assessments, which can be administered to classrooms each week. The Reading Maze is a timed assessment consisting of weekly leveled reading passages for grades 1-8 that serve as effective indicators of overall reading ability, fluency, decoding, and comprehension skills. The weekly Language Arts assessments consist of items tied to specific skills and standards. These items diagnose strengths and weaknesses in areas such as decoding, vocabulary, spelling, and comprehension.

Yearly ProgressPro Reading/Language Arts and Yearly ProgressPro Math combine ongoing formative assessment with prescriptive instruction and a reporting system. Launched in 2003 by McGraw-Hill Digital Learning, Yearly ProgressPro is an online progress monitoring system built on 25 years of research in the scientific methodology of Curriculum Based Measurement (CBM). CBM continually assesses mastery across the curriculum during the year to measure progress plus knowledge retention and skills over time, according to the announcement. Yearly ProgressPro helps administrators and teachers track Adequate Yearly Progress, a key component of the No Child Left Behind legislation, the announcement states.

For more information, visit http://www.mhdigitallearning.com and click "Product Tour."

Source: McGraw-Hill Digital Learning, http://www.mhdigitallearning.com, http://www.mheducation.com

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Riverdeep Extends Destination Reading To Grades 4 - 8 And Beyond

Riverdeep has announced three new products that extend its Destination Reading courseware to grades 4 through 8 and beyond. Announced at the 2005 International Reading Association Convention in San Antonio, the products are Destination Reading Course III for grades 4-6, Course IV for grades 6-8, and Course V, which is a high-school-appropriate Proficiency Course for students who have not mastered the foundational reading skills. Destination Reading lets teachers in elementary, middle, and high school link their state standards to individualized instruction, producing stronger readers and improved standardized test scores, according to Riverdeep. The new offerings complement Destination Reading for PreK-3.

As a part of the Destination Success solution, Destination Reading combines content correlated to state standards with learning management tools designed to allow educators to target each student's individual learning needs. It is also supported with customized professional development offerings including on-site and online training, technical support, and funding services.

Each of the new Destination Reading courses support explicit instruction in standards-mandated skills and strategies with a focus on vocabulary and comprehension. Texts used in the courses cover a variety of fiction and non-fiction genres, including informational, persuasive, and technical texts, as well as stories, plays, folk tales, poetry, and songs. The courses allow students to apply their reading skills across the curriculum in subjects such as science, social studies, math, technology, art, and literature.

The courseware is based on the requirements outlined in the National Reading Panel and the Alliance for Excellent Education's Reading Next report. It was designed in consultation with experts such as Dr. Victoria Purcell-Gates, President-Elect of the National Reading Conference and the newest inductee to the Reading Hall of Fame.

Source: Riverdeep, Inc., http://www.riverdeep.net

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Cool Links: “Why Should Principals Support School Libraries?” @ ERICDigests.org

"Why Should Principals Support School Libraries?" is not a new article, but Gary Hartzell—professor, former school administrator, and consistent and persistent supporter of school libraries and librarians—has written what continues to be a worthwhile read, both for LMSs and their principals. Pass the word, and the article link: Click HERE to read it.

But there's more to this Cool Link: Hartzell's article is hosted on ERICDigests.org, which, if you're not familiar with it, you should get to know. Why? Here's from their site:

The ERIC Clearinghouse system was eliminated in 2003. ERIC was massively reorganized and most of the content at the former ERIC sites (including the ERIC Digests) found new homes. This site is striving to make it easy to find ERIC Digests that have been produced prior to the end of the former ERIC system. The federal government no longer maintains the ERIC Digests separately and has mixed them into the ERIC database as hard to use PDF files which are not found by the major search engines.

and also:

ERIC Digests are … short reports (1,000-1,500 words) on topic of prime current interest in education. There are a large variety of topics covered including teaching, learning, libraries … and many more.

So after you skim the Hartzell article, try to find time to explore ERICDigests.org. At least follow the "libraries" link above to see a list of the other great library-related articles archived there.

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ITI Cross Links: Searching Books Between the Covers

If you're up for some sophisticated but quite current analysis of the new, free full-text search choices offered by search engines—e.g. Amazon's Search Inside the Book and Google Print—the current (May/June 2005) issue of editor Marydee Ojala's ONLINE magazine features a column by Greg Notess, reference librarian, frequent conference presenter, and search and information industry guru, entitled "Searching Books Between the Covers." From the top of Greg's article: "Although a growing number of copyright-free books are now on the Web, those still under copyright remained unsearchable—until now." Among the subheadings: Full-Text Book Search Options, When to Search Between the Covers, Search Strategies, and Current Comparisons.

Click HERE to jump to the article in Information Today, Inc.'s ONLINE magazine.

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Texthelp Ships Read&Write 7.1E Gold Literacy Support Software

Assistive software publisher Texthelp Systems, Inc., has announced that it is shipping Read&Write 7.1E Gold, a software program intended to enable learners with low proficiency in reading and comprehending English to use mainstream classroom software along with their peers. The program is a literacy productivity tool that helps struggling students in grades 3 and up to access curriculum content on a computer and complete reading, writing, and research assignments independently, according to the announcement.

As an example, a student writing a book report in Microsoft Word can use the Read&Write 7.1E Gold toolbar to click on any of 18 literacy support features for assistance as he works on his assignment. The program allows students with low reading proficiency to work independently, in an inclusive manner alongside their peers in the classroom. It works within familiar mainstream Windows applications such as Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer, plus it reads Adobe PDF documents and HTML and provides students with screen reading support anywhere within their Windows operating system.

A Spanish Translation Tool has been introduced to the software to help improve ELL, ESOL, and ESL students' access to curriculum content and mainstream technology applications. Speech input now enables students to create documents by speaking into a computer microphone.

Additional literacy support features include the following:

* Speech - Text can be read aloud by each word, sentence, paragraph, selected text, or in real time as the student types.
* Homophone Support - To eliminate the confusion of like-sounding words (homophones), confusable words are color-coded and the program lists alternatives with audible definitions and sample sentences. Version 7.1E Gold has a homophone database of 1,400 words.
* Word Prediction - Students develop their writing skills through tools to construct sentences with ease. The Word Predictor learns the student's style of writing and predicts the word they want to use next. As the student types, a list of suggestions appears in the Prediction Panel.
* Word Wizard - The word wizard provides a choice of alternative words and provides a list of linking words.
* Fact Finder - This Internet search tool performs a search on a selected word or phrase through a default search engine.
* DAISY Reader -The DAISY Standard for Digital Accessible Documents is an international specification that revolutionizes the reading experience for people who are blind or unable to read print for other reasons. Users can read their Daisy Books from within Version 7.1E Gold.

… and many more. Further information on the program and its features, including the Teacher's Toolkit, is available at http://www.texthelp.com.

Source: Texthelp Systems, Inc., http://www.texthelp.com

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Wright Group’s Gear Up! Guided Reading Series Now on mCLASS: Reading Assessment Software from Wireless Generation

Wright Group/McGraw-Hill and Wireless Generation have announced that Wright Group's Gear Up! Guided Reading Series is now available on mCLASS:Reading software. By using the software and the reading series, teachers can assess students' reading ability using a handheld computer, according to the announcement. Wright Group is Wireless Generation's lead publishing partner for mCLASS:Reading software, offering a broad range of its leveled readers to users of this technology.

Wright Group's Guided Reading Series supports K-2 students at the early stages of reading development. The 112 leveled books, including 13 new titles by noted children's author Joy Cowley, were written to draw young readers into the text using compelling stories, according to the announcement. Fiction and non-fiction texts are paired at each level, from Early Emergent to Early Fluency. A mix of genres and text styles works with lesson plans, which enable educators to deliver effective guided reading instruction. Explicit lesson plans, also available through Wright Group, are aligned with the Five Essential Elements of Reading as set forth by the National Reading Panel 2000, and provide support for English Language Learners.

Users of mCLASS:Reading software can now download the text of any Gear Up! title from the mCLASS:Reading Online Library to their handhelds, following along while a student reads from the actual books, and noting errors according to reading record protocols. The handheld instantly calculates the reading accuracy rate, and provides information about the student's reading ability, the announcement states. When the handheld is "synced" to an Internet-connected computer, student data is immediately transferred to a secure Website where additional reports are available for further analysis and instructional decision-making.

Source: Wright Group/McGraw-Hill, http://www.wrightgroup.com, and Wireless Generation, http://www.wirelessgeneration.com

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Scholastic Launches Text Talk Vocab. and Comprehension Program for K-3

Scholastic has announced the launch of Text Talk, a research-based vocabulary program for K-3 students designed to build oral vocabulary and comprehension skills through language-rich Talk about Text.

An important goal of Text Talk, according to the announcement, is to help close the "vocabulary gap"—the disparity between children from varying socio-economic backgrounds in terms of the total number of words experienced by the time a child reaches his or her 3rd birthday—since vocabulary development is a critical early literacy skill.

Text Talk was developed by Dr. Isabel Beck, member of the International Reading Association's Reading Hall of Fame, and Dr. Margaret McKeown, a leading researcher in examining the effect of vocabulary instruction on reading comprehension. As required by Reading First legislation, Scholastic's Text Talk helps teachers introduce systematic vocabulary instruction into their curriculum.

Text Talk offers instruction designed to help teachers increase the rate of vocabulary acquisition in the primary grades, with an eye toward helping vocabulary-deficient children catch up early to prevent later reading comprehension difficulties. Text Talk's instructional model, which includes language-rich read-alouds, direct vocabulary instruction, and instructional Talk, helps educators build students' word knowledge and reading comprehension, according to Scholastic's announcement. Text Talk enables instructors to challenge students to actively think about and use vocabulary words, giving children early experiences with spoken words so that when they encounter them later in print they will recognize and understand them.

Each of the three levels of Scholastic's Text Talk includes:

· 20 Read-aloud trade books, selected by the authors to maximize student Talk and to promote comprehension of the Text.
· Adhesive Text Talk Notes that stick to the pages of each read-aloud book, offering point-of-use support and specific instructional language helping teachers engage children in discussions about words and meaning.
· Engaging lesson plans for direct and systematic vocabulary instruction.
· Word Winner Chart, encouraging students to use vocabulary words in daily conversation.
· Lending library to promote continued experiences with read-aloud books.
· Professional development tools, including author research summaries, and an implementation DVD with videos of an expert teacher modeling Text Talk instruction in a real classroom setting.

The program has been proven effective at building vocabulary for all students, and, in particular, for students who enter school with limited vocabulary experiences, the announcement states. According to McKeown and Beck's 2003 research, Text Talk's read-aloud approach yielded positive results regarding language growth. On average, children's verbal responses to questions increased from 2.1 words, prior to the introduction of Text Talk, to 7.65 words after Text Talk's implementation.

More information about Scholastic's Text Talk, including research summaries and program samples, is available at http://www.scholastic.com/texttalk.

Source: Scholastic Corporation, http://www.scholastic.com

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