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An Educator's Guide to Technology and the Web
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August 30, 2005

Table of Contents

Facts on File News Services Offers Free Database Access
Free Resources: National Geographic Online Focuses on Africa
MMIS Xtra News: Ed-Blogger Will Richardson to Speak on “The New Read/Write Web” at Internet @ Schools West in Monterey
Super Searchers Go To School, by Joyce Valenza, Published by Information Today, Inc.
Cool Links: Ask Jeeves Unleashes More Smart Answers
Sagebrush In-Hand v3.3 Released
ALA Finds DOE NCES Report Demonstrates Need for Funding School Library Programs
Free Resources: In the First Person, from Alexander Street Press
Free Resources: Constitution Day Lesson Plan
ITI Cross Links: Questia Enhances Online Library Collection With Lexiles
The Informed Librarian Online Launches ILOSearch
Goldhil Releases SAT Prep Program

Facts on File News Services Offers Free Database Access

Facts on File News Services celebrates 65 years of service to libraries by offering free database access during the months of September and October 2005.

Beginning September 1, school and library communities can sign up for free access to the FactsforLearning and FACTS.com databases at http://www.facts.com/.

School sites that sign up for the program may offer their users unrestricted onsite access to any or all Facts on File News Services subscription databases.

FactsforLearning, an elementary and middle school reference database, combines activities and information in a grade-appropriate interface designed to foster learning at each stage. Information sources include World Almanac Books, Weekly Reader magazines, Funk & Wagnalls, Gareth Stevens curriculum e-reference, and Teacher Created Materials.

The Facts on File World News Digest provides a weekly survey of national and international developments in politics, economics, science, sports, and the arts. This resource is included in the reference suite located at FACTS.com.

Facts on File News Services, 800/363-7976, ext. 4616 or http://www.facts.com/.

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Free Resources: National Geographic Online Focuses on Africa

The National Geographic Web site takes a long look at Africa, in partnership with the magazine's Africa-themed September issue.

An interactive map of Africa containing more than 50 of the magazine's full-text articles—including each story from the September issue—appears online at http://www7.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/africaarchive/index.html/. The map portal connects to a warehouse of articles, photo galleries, and multimedia features.

A National Geographic Web camera is focused on Pete's Pond, a remote watering hole in Botswana's Mashatu Game Reserve. The camera offers 24/7 access to at least 50 species of animals, including lions, elephants, wildebeests, hyenas, and cheetahs.

Students can track the animals that visit the watering hole with a species checklist; an online animal gallery provides more information on the observed animals. The watering hole WildCam is located online at http://www7.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/wildcamafrica/index.html/.

The online diary of conservationist and adventurer Mike Fay appears at http://www7.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/megaflyover/. Mike is embarked on a Megaflyover of Africa, charting the continent's last wild places by plane. His diary features dispatches, video, and a photo gallery from his expedition. Lesson plans and activity ideas are also included.

Teacher resources on Africa and a variety of subjects—including hurricanes—appear online at http://www.ngsednet.org/community/index.cfm?community_id=168/. This page features magazine-related teaching resources, including grade-specific lesson plans and lists of additional National Geographic resources for each article. Also included are online forums that enable teachers to share classroom tips.

National Geographic Society, 800/647-5463 or http://www.nationalgeographic.com/.

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MMIS Xtra News: Ed-Blogger Will Richardson to Speak on “The New Read/Write Web” at Internet @ Schools West in Monterey

Internet @ Schools West is drawing near, and we're pleased to announce that Will Richardson, secondary school educator and frequent tech conference speaker, will kick off the Monterey, California, event October 24 with a keynote speech titled "The New Read/Write Web: Transforming the Classroom." Here's a description of his speech:

The World Wide Web is no longer just a place for seekers of information. It's a platform for content creators of all ages. Instead of only being able to read from the Web, we can write to the Web with Weblogs and wikis; broadcast with podcasting and video blogging; and create rich, collaborative communities of practice with ease. Veteran classroom teacher, technology supervisor, and ed-blogger Will Richardson shares an overview of tools that can foster this new literacy and a framework for integrating them into teaching practices.

For a look at the entire October 24-25 conference program and its four tracks—School Libraries at the Center of Learning, Practical and Professional Matters, Internet-based Technology & Information Trends, and Tapping Technology & the Web—click HERE. And then link to registration information!!

Source: Us right here at MMIS! http://www.mmischools.com

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Super Searchers Go To School, by Joyce Valenza, Published by Information Today, Inc.

Information Today, Inc. (ITI) has announced the publication of Super Searchers Go to School: Sharing Online Strategies with K-12 Students, Teachers, and Librarians, by Joyce Kasman Valenza. [Quick link: http://books.infotoday.com/books/supseargotos.shtml] The new book is the 14th title in the Super Searchers series presenting expert advice for "Digital Age" information users.

Super Searchers Go to School features 12 prominent K-12 educators and educator-librarians tackling the topic of information literacy, describing their techniques for teaching research skills and for imparting to students an appreciation for the value of information in everyday life, according to the announcement. Valenza, a high school librarian who writes a regular column on educational technology for the Philadelphia Inquirer, conducted a series of interviews in creating the book, drawing out field-tested strategies for working with and engaging students.

The interviewed educators and librarians rank among today's leading writers, speakers, and practitioners in the area of K-12 information literacy and online information. They are:

· Pam Berger
· Deb Logan
· Kathy Schrock
· Debbie Abilock
· Alice Yucht
· Peter Milbury
· Marjorie Pappas
· Linda Joseph
· Ken Haycock
· David Barr
· Sue Fox
· Frances Jacobson Harris

Each expert shares specific techniques for helping students develop effective research skills. Their advice will be useful to any teacher, librarian, or parent whose aim is to equip students with tools and habits that can help them succeed in an information-driven society, the announcement states. A Web page supporting the book features links to over 200 resources recommended in the book.

Joyce Kasman Valenza is librarian at Springfield Township High School in Pennsylvania, techlife@school columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the author of two previous books.

Super Searchers Go to School (260 pp/softbound/ISBN: 0-910965-70-6/$24.95) is a CyberAge Book from Information Today, Inc. It is available in bookstores through Independent Publishers Group (IPG) or by calling (800) 300-9868 [outside U.S. call (609) 654-6266]; faxing (609) 654-4309; e-mailing custserv@infotoday.com; or on the Web at http://books.infotoday.com/books/supseargotos.shtml.

Source: Information Today, Inc., http://www.infotoday.com

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Cool Links: Ask Jeeves Unleashes More Smart Answers

We've mentioned both Gary Price and his ResourceShelf as well as Danny Sullivan and his SearchEngineWatch here before, and we will again as they're great resources. This Cool Link has ties to both:

Gary has written an article posted to the SearchEngineWatch blog entitled "Ask Jeeves Unleashes More Smart Answers." In a posting to LM_NET, Gary says, "One search company that has completely turned its itself around is Ask Jeeves. Their biggest challenge is trying to get people to realize that the Ask Jeeves of 2005 is NOT the same POOR (ok, bad) service that was around in 1998 or 1999. In this story I discuss new additions to their wonderful Smart Answers program and provide a bit of background about its history"

Here's the link to Gary Price's story: http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/050822-235720

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Sagebrush In-Hand v3.3 Released

Sagebrush Corporation has announced an upgrade to its In-Hand hand-held computer solution for libraries. The upgrade to In-Hand v3.3 gives Sagebrush InfoCentre users the ability to use In-Hand in their libraries to simplify inventory, remote circulation, and in-house tracking, the announcement states. Recently released InfoCentre 2005 is the latest library management system added to Sagebrush's family of information management products. InfoCentre combines features of Sagebrush Athena, Sagebrush Spectrum, and Sagebrush Accent, as well as new functionality such as fully customizable reports, all in one system. (See Sagebrush Announces InfoCentre 2005.)

Sagebrush In-Hand allows libraries to scan barcodes right at the shelves and then synchronize the data into their system with the touch of a button. When conducting inventory, In-Hand sounds an alert whenever it scans materials out of call number sequence. In-Hand also helps libraries search for, verify and crosscheck patron and collection data without being confined to any particular location, according to Sagebrush.

Sagebrush In-Hand v3.3 is also compatible with the Accent, Athena, and Spectrum library automation systems.

Source: Sagebrush Corporation, http://www.sagebrushcorp.com

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ALA Finds DOE NCES Report Demonstrates Need for Funding School Library Programs

While the March 2005 report Fifty Years of Supporting Children's Learning: A History of Public School Libraries and Federal Legislation from 1953-2000 (available HERE) from the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics shows gains to libraries, the American Library Association (ALA) sounds a cautionary note in a recent announcement. As millions of American children prepare to head back to school this fall, more will be attending schools without school libraries, the announcement states. The once-remarkable nationwide growth of public schools with library media centers (+64 percent), schools with a librarian (+39 percent) and pupils in schools with a librarian (+167 percent) has been undermined in the past five years by substantial cuts to school library funding, according to the ALA.

Schools facing state and local funding emergencies include the Rochester School District in New York, which must reduce spending by $13.6 million and is reducing the number of librarians, including the seven librarians that were supposed to be hired this year for elementary schools. In the North Sacramento School District in Sacramento, California, trustees eliminated the school library program as part of a $940,000 cut to programs and services in next year's budget.

The ALA announcement notes that recent studies by Indiana University show state spending on materials and staff for school libraries often falls below the national average, with Indiana high schools investing an average of $7.40 per student for new library books, compared with a national average of $15.44 in 2002. Funding for high school libraries was $14.15 per student in 2003, less than half the national average of $32.78. Of the Indiana school librarians surveyed for the study, 33 percent said they had their budgets cut in 2004, 19 percent said their budgets had been frozen or delayed, and about 14 percent said they had no book budget at all for 2004. And, while book budgets are one traditional measure of school library support, these figures do not include library spending on databases, periodicals, DVDs, electronic resources, and other vital educational materials.

Since 1965, more than 60 education and library studies have shown that school library media programs staffed by qualified library media specialists have a positive impact on student academic achievement. Statewide studies in 14 different states show that a strong library media program helps students learn more and score higher on standardized achievement tests than their peers in library-impoverished schools.

In response to the urgent need to support and maintain school library programs and certified school librarians across the nation, the ALA has convened a new task force on school libraries. (See ALA Annouces New Task Force on School Libraries.) The group is charged with providing an overall assessment of the current state of school library service in America; identifying the most critical issues and trends affecting school libraries and school library media specialists; evaluating options for responding to those issues; and making recommendations regarding practical strategies that decision-makers can undertake to support and strengthen school library services for children nationwide.

One key to the success of school libraries is dedicated funding, according to the ALA. The Improving Literacy Through School Libraries (LSL) program, administered by the U.S. Department of Education through the No Child Left Behind Act, is the first program specifically aimed at upgrading school libraries since the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), first passed 1965. Ninety-five percent of local education agencies that received funding from LSL reported increases in their reading scores.

Despite the program's success in raising student academic achievement, it has been chronically under funded. While authorized for $250 million in federal funding, less than $20 million was appropriated in each of the 2003, 2004, and 2005 fiscal years. In fiscal year 2004, only 73 grants were awarded out of 824 eligible applicants.

"The ALA is calling upon Congress, state leaders and school administrators to fully fund public school libraries and literacy programs," said ALA president Michael Gorman. "Good school libraries are essential to a good education."

For more information on school libraries and student achievement, visit http://www.ala.org/aaslTemplate.cfm?Section=studentachieve.

Source: American Library Association, http://www.ala.org/

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Free Resources: In the First Person, from Alexander Street Press

Alexander Street Press has launched In the First Person: Index to Letters, Diaries, Oral Histories, and Other Personal Narratives—and announced that it would remain free to all users as long as people continue to use it.

In the First Person provides in-depth indexing of more than 2,500 collections of oral history from around the world. There are more than 260,000 pages of full-text by over 9,000 individuals from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds, juxtaposing the voices of ordinary citizens with those of the well-published and famous. It also contains pointers to over 2,500 audio and video files and 16,000 bibliographic records. With future releases, the index will broaden to identify other first-person content, including letters, diaries, memoirs, spanning 400 years.

According to the announcement, the new library index lets users perform in-depth field and keyword searches across all letters, diaries, oral histories, memoirs, and autobiographies within Alexander Street Press databases—more than one million pages of editorially selected materials spanning 400 years, and also searches scholarly materials that are freely available on the Web. Users can perform keyword searches across thousands of personal narratives from the English-speaking world—and it locates and links to full text, audio, and video files at thousands of scholarly Web sites and archives.

More information about In the First Person can be found at http://www.inthefirstperson.com.

Source: Alexander Street Press, http://www.alexanderstreetpress.com/

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Free Resources: Constitution Day Lesson Plan

CQ Press is offering a free 19-page lesson plan titled "The First Amendment and Protection of Students' Rights" in honor of National Constitution Day, September 17.

Designed for grades 9-12, the lesson covers the history of the Pledge of Allegiance and Tinker vs. Des Moines Independent School District, the Supreme Court case that addressed the issue of teacher and student First Amendment rights in schools.

The material links class activities and discussions to case excerpts and analysis. Students are encouraged to consider how the First Amendment relates to their own lives and their rights as students and citizens.

The information is structured to be presented in two class periods. The lesson plan will be available online at http://www.cqpress.com/incontext/ beginning September 1.

During the weeks leading up to Constitution Day, the CQ Press in Context Web site will offer access to a variety of Constitution-related documents and analysis from the CQ Press Electronic Library, including a video interview with a constitutional scholar, links to resources on the U.S. Constitution, and the free lesson plan.

CQ Press, 866/427-7737 or http://www.cqpress.com/.

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ITI Cross Links: Questia Enhances Online Library Collection With Lexiles

Questia Media has announced that its entire digital collection of 60,000 books and more than a million articles has incorporated the Lexile Framework for Reading, enabling educators to more easily match students with suitable reading material.

Click HERE to link to the complete story at EContentMag.com.

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The Informed Librarian Online Launches ILOSearch

The Informed Librarian Online has announced the launch of ILOSearch, a new database index of articles from library periodicals designed to help library professionals keep up with their professional reading.

The index now contains 36,600+ documents dating back to January 2003, from over 300 different library journals, newsletters, magazines, and Webzines. The indexing is current through the last day of the previous month, which makes it the most up-to-date library periodical index, according to the announcement. Searches can be limited to an individual title, a particular subject, collection of journals, or a date range.

Source: Informed Librarian Online, http://www.informedlibrarian.com

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Goldhil Releases SAT Prep Program

Goldhil Educational has launched a DVD series designed to provide a comprehensive SAT review.

The series addresses the recent changes to the SAT and includes test-taking strategies from the creators of the SAT and other entrance exams.

The six new DVD titles are: Standard Deviants School SAT Prep Module I: Introduction to the SAT & Sentence Completion, SAT Prep Module 2: Critical Reading and Vocabulary, SAT Prep Module 3: The Writing Section, SAT Prep Module 4: Introduction to Math Section, SAT Prep Module 5: Algebra and SAT Prep Module 6: Geometry.

The discs include strategies for great essays, practice quizzes to prepare for test day, and tips to increase the odds of guessing correct answers and tackle new sections with confidence. The material also covers avoiding classic SAT "traps," mastering the "grid-in" questions, and getting the most from your calculator.

The DVD running times vary from 25 to 40 minutes. The interactive audio/visual format allows students to pause the program or stop to repeat chapters for any difficult subject. 

The discs are available individually for $29.98 each, or as a boxed set of six for $160.98.

Goldhil Educational, 800/613-0368 or http://www.standarddeviants.com/.

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