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October 11, 2005

Table of Contents

Free Resources: iEARN Offers CD-ROM on Global Online Collaboration
Gateway Makes Hi-Def Affordable
Sunburst Technology Ships Standards-Based Software to Improve Students’ Reading Skills by Building vocabulary
ITI Cross Links: Update on ERIC
Olympus, Tool Factory Classroom Grants Program, Student Photo Contest Are On Again
Discovery Education Launches unitedstreaming South Africa Sweepstakes
CompassLearning Unveils Math Products for Spanish Market
Thomson Gale Announces Launch of ClassTrac
Free Resources: The Alliance Library System and TumbleBooks Launch Animated Online Book—“Why Libraries Matter: A Story Long Overdue”

Free Resources: iEARN Offers CD-ROM on Global Online Collaboration

iEARN-USA is offering its Multimedia Guide to Global Online Collaboration in CD-ROM format at no cost, while supplies last.

The free resource contains a step-by-step overview of planning, preparing, assessing and sharing K-12 global collaborative project work, including videos, activity structures, and planning and assessment tools that can be adapted for any context.

One free copy of the CD is available to any educator in the United States upon request. To receive a copy, fill out the online form at http://amity.iearn.org/cd_form.lasso/. Additional copies can be ordered at a cost of $8.00 each.

iEARN-USA is affiliated with the International Education and Resource Network (iEARN), the nonprofit global network of more than one million students engaged daily in collaborative learning projects that make a difference in the world.

Source: iEARN-USA, http://us.iearn.org/.

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Gateway Makes Hi-Def Affordable

The new Gateway FPD2185W provides a 21-inch widescreen LCD flat-panel display that provides high-definition viewing at a price of $599.99.

The unit delivers more viewing space with its 1680 x 1050 widescreen aspect ratio; the current standard is a 1280 x 1024 display. The display features a contrast ratio of 1000:1, a wide viewing angle of 178/178 and 8 ms refresh rates.

The computer monitor is the first to use the new Genesis Microchip controller with an integrated Emmy award-winning suite of DCDi by Faroudja video processing technologies for images with precise detail, color and motion.

The Gateway FPD2185W can receive input from a desktop or notebook computer, external cable or satellite box tuner, DVD player, and video or digital camera. The five video ports are located at the back of the unit; a cord clip is provided to tuck cords out of sight.

The unit features mainstream video input ports and an advanced Picture-in-Picture (PIP) display. The four-port powered USB 2.0 hub makes it easy to plug in a digital camera, keyboard, mouse, USB flash drive, or MP3 player.

Optional accessories include a speaker bar, cable locks and wall mount anchors. The speaker bar attaches to the bottom of the display to provide integrated sound and dual headphone jacks, enabling two students to view a presentation quietly and simultaneously. The cable locks help to protect the unit and speaker bar by locking the monitor to the desk or by locking the speaker to the monitor; key or combination access is available.

Gateway, Inc., 800/428-3929 or http://www.gateway.com/.

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Sunburst Technology Ships Standards-Based Software to Improve Students’ Reading Skills by Building vocabulary

Sunburst Technology has announced that it is shipping Key Skills for Reading: Vocabulary Development, the newest title in its Key Skills Learning System software series for schools. The series targets fundamental reading skills from the No Child Left Behind and Reading First Five Essential Components of Reading Instruction legislations and provides a comprehensive assessment and management tool for teachers. Key Skills for Reading: Vocabulary Development is designed to help students in grades 1 to 3 improve their vocabulary as they progress through a series of educational activities, each of which focuses students on a specific skill. Through a Management Tool, the program also enables teachers to target, assess, and remediate the exact skills they need for their students, the announcement states.

Key Skills for Reading: Vocabulary Development supports students' reading efforts with activities that build their word recognition and word analysis skills. Students learn to classify words by purpose and part-of-speech, build knowledge of essential sight words (using words from the Dolch Sight Words lists), recognize usage differences in homophones, construct compound words, and build words using prefixes and suffixes. This program addresses International Reading Association (IRA) and National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) standards for language arts.

The Key Skills Learning System was designed to give teachers the flexibility to buy only the skill sets they want as well as allow them to easily add new content as more Key Skills programs become available. Each activity in every title focuses on one specific skill.

Key Skills for Reading: Vocabulary Development includes 12 leveled activities that complement a core reading curriculum. An enhanced Management Tool, a global assessment feature included in this title, upgrades all previous Key Skills titles installed on a single computer or server, as well as integrates the content and student data from all Key Skills titles on the same computer or server. The Management Tool provides an easier-to-use management screen with a simplified "tree structure" approach allowing teachers to select and assign activities. Teachers can also see a preview and description of each activity while they are making their assignments.

Student progress is recorded in the Management Tool, where teachers can view individual student and class reports. When installed on a school's network, the Management Tool helps schools to document adequate yearly progress for all of their students, as required by "No Child Left Behind" legislation, according to the announcement. Teachers can create a variety of personalized reports using a filter option, with variables such as average, high/low, actual, or median scores; percentages; dates; grade levels; activities; skills; and more. Reports can be printed and shared with colleagues, students, parents, specialists, and administrators to communicate goals and accomplishments. Information from the reports can also be used to help teachers determine whether or not students have mastered reading skills long before major tests or report-card time, enabling teachers to adjust their lessons, prescribe remediation and enrichment activities, and reinforce skills as needed.

For more information on included activities, plus pricing and availability, visit http://www.sunburst.com/keyskills.

Source: Sunburst Technology, http://www.sunburst.com

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ITI Cross Links: Update on ERIC

We've only touched on ERIC, the Education Resources Information Center, a couple of times since we launched this mmischools.com Web site: New ERIC Web Site Launched last fall, and, tangentially, Cool Links: Why Should Principals Support School Libraries? at ERICDigests.org this past spring. But much has been happening at/to ERIC over the past couple of years, and it has been covered quite a bit in various Information Today, Inc. publications.

Most recently, Information Today, Inc. News Bureau Chief Paula Hane wrote that "The venerable ERIC database has been undergoing an extensive restructuring and modernization program ... " in her October 1, 2005, NewsLink e-newsletter article "Update on ERIC." Paula recaps the recent history of ERIC--which, as she writes, is responsible for the database of journal and non-journal education literature--and, well, gives a very thorough update on the modernization of this essential education literature resource. Read her story HERE

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Olympus, Tool Factory Classroom Grants Program, Student Photo Contest Are On Again

Olympus America, Inc., and Tool Factory, Inc., sponsors of last school year's classroom grants program and student photo contest designed to strengthen education through digital imaging and the power of visual learning (See Olympus and Tool Factory Sponsor Classroom Grants Program and Student Photo Contest), have announced deadlines for new rounds of both programs. Changes to the programs this school year include the following:

* Teacher grants have two deadlines, December 30, 2005, and June 2, 2006--five winners each time.
* The classroom grants program has been expanded from four grants to 10.
* The student contest has been split into two categories: Photography and Art (Photo Manipulation).
* The student contest has been expanded from four winners to six. All winners receive Olympus C-7070 Digital Cameras ... and more. 

For full details, follow this link: http://www.toolfactory.com/olympus_contest/

Source: Olympus America, Inc., http://www.olympusamerica.com; Tool Factory, Inc., http://www.toolfactory.com

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Discovery Education Launches unitedstreaming South Africa Sweepstakes

All educators at schools subscribing to unitedstreaming are eliglible to enter the Discovery Education/unitedstreaming South Africa Sweepstakes, which will award a week-long trip to South Africa to five U.S. educators.

The five winners will receive round trip airfare and hotel accommodations in South Africa, a visit to a Discovery Channel Global Education Partnership Learning Center, a Game Reserve tour, and excursions to Soweto, Johannesburg and other historic sites.

In addition, 50 First Prize winners will win an InFocus projector for their schools.

To enter, educators must register online at http://www.unitedstreaming.com/sweepstakes/ and then log into unitedstreaming 10 or more times between September 26, 2005 and December 31, 2005. In January, a random drawing from all eligible entries will determine the winners.

Official rules and more information are available at http://www.unitedstreaming.com/sweepstakes/.

Source: Discovery Education/unitedstreaming, 800/323-9084 or http://www.discoveryeducation.com/, http://www.unitedstreaming.com/.

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CompassLearning Unveils Math Products for Spanish Market

CompassLearning, Inc. has announced plans to launch the latest addition to its Odyssey product suite—CompassLearning Odyssey Matemáticas. In an effort to meet the needs of a large percentage of the 5.5 million children who are English language learners and whose first language is Spanish, CompassLearning will launch the first level of the product specifically for this market, K-4 math curriculum, in October.

The company's English version of Odyssey Math, launched in 2003, serves as the foundation for the new product. The product is browser-based, with flexible delivery options, and is customized to align with NCLB mandates and individual state standards.

CompassLearning is among the small group of organizations that have started to address the issue of children with limited English proficiency and the impact that has with learning basic math, according to the announcement. The National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics has begun to develop strategic guidelines to help educators with this mounting issue.

"Language is key to learning, especially math," said Ann Henson, CompassLearning's vice president of Curriculum and Instruction. "A student must deal with terms not used in every day conversation, like ‘divisible' and ‘squared,' as well as terms with double meanings like ‘able' and ‘equal.' So how can a child grasp a new concept where the words used to describe it are not ones they might have picked up along the way?"

For more information on CompassLearning Odyssey, visit http://www.compasslearning.com/.

Source: CompassLearning, Inc., http://www.compasslearning.com/

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Thomson Gale Announces Launch of ClassTrac

Thomson Gale has announced the launch of ClassTrac, a Web-enabled service that delivers relevant and timely content aligned to state standards and correlated to adopted textbooks. ClassTrac is intended to leverage schools' investment in instructional materials, and will extend the life of textbooks by integrating real world current events within the context of learning, the announcement states.

Schools need to solve a fundamental problem in the accountability movement: the gaps between what is taught and what is tested. Often, according to Thomson Gale, textbooks and other materials in the K-12 education system are out of date by the time they arrive in schools.

"ClassTrac fills the gap in existing curriculum by engaging students with interactive exercises, self-assessment, and multimedia tools," said Ben Mondloch, Executive Vice President, K-12 Markets for Thomson Gale. "This digital resource was created to supplement the static nature of existing textbooks with timely and current content while enabling cost savings by extending the life of textbooks."

ClassTrac has already proved its value through a pilot program in the state of Texas, according to the announcement. The Texas Education Agency was concerned with student achievement on the high-stakes statewide test, TAKS, acknowledging that the state's middle school social studies and high school biology textbooks did not provide adequate coverage of rapidly changing areas of the curriculum. ClassTrac was adopted by the state to offer students access to current events content and materials.

According to a survey of the Texas pilot teachers:

* 84% said that ClassTrac had a moderate to major impact on student's preparedness for the TAKS exam
* 89% said that ClassTrac had a moderate to major impact on students' engagement in learning
* 88% said ClassTrac had a moderate to major impact on students' basic understanding of concepts addressed

ClassTrac is now available, with numerous schools already using the product. The first release covers high school science in the disciplines of biology, chemistry, physics, and earth sciences. Schools subscribing to ClassTrac receive thorough product training to ensure effective implementation of the program. Training may be delivered online or onsite, depending on what schools prefer. On a monthly basis, ClassTrac "Webinars" deliver supplemental instruction to virtual user groups representing a wide array of schools and districts. This setting encourages teachers to share individual best practices in using ClassTrac in their school, according to Thomson Gale. Participating schools receive usage statistics for participating campuses, enabling teachers and administrators to track in-school and home usage.

Information about ClassTrac can be accessed through http://www.galeschools.com/ClassTrac.

Source: The Thomson Corporation;http://thomsonlearning.com; http://www.galeschools.com

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Free Resources: The Alliance Library System and TumbleBooks Launch Animated Online Book—“Why Libraries Matter: A Story Long Overdue”

The Alliance Library System and TumbleBooks, Inc. have announced the launch of an animated online book entitled "Why Libraries Matter: A Story Long Overdue."

The book, in both online and downloadable format, is available free to all public libraries and elementary schools in North America for use on their Web sites. "Why Libraries Matter: A Story Long Overdue" is the tale, told in rhyming verse, of a young girl who shows her family and neighbors how important the library is to them and their community.

The project is the latest in a series of initiatives from the Alliance Library System, which last year introduced the Libraries Matter campaign (http://www.LibrariesMatter.com) to public libraries across the world. "We wanted to raise awareness," says Kitty Pope, Executive Director of Alliance, "and thought, what better way than to produce a book about ‘Why Libraries Matter'? One of Alliance's main goals is to develop Web content for our members." So Pope and her team contacted TumbleBooks Inc., a company that specializes in creating animated, talking picture books for their online collection, TumbleBookLibrary, which is used by over 2,000 public libraries and elementary schools across the world.

The result is an animated, talking picture book that can be viewed online, downloaded, and even e-mailed to friends and family. Alliance and TumbleBooks are providing the book for free to public libraries and elementary schools. It is the first in a series of awareness and fundraising projects Alliance and TumbleBooks will be collaborating on.

For an example of what the icon will look like on a library Web site, or to view, download, and e-mail the book, follow this link: http://www.librariesmatter.com/books/index.cfm

Source: Alliance Library System, http://www.alliancelibrarysystem.com; TumbleBooks, Inc., http://www.tumblebooks.com

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