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January 17, 2006

Table of Contents

Free Resources: Martin Luther King Jr. Newspaper Archive
Nicholas Negroponte and Dewitt Jones Keynote ISTE’S NECC 2006
ALA Midwinter News: Live Webcast of Top Children/Teen Literary Awards Announcement January 23
Dialog Seeks Applicants for Summit Scholarship
Inspiration Software and Zaner-Bloser Collaborate to Develop Visual Learning Tools to Strengthen Student Writing Skills
CompassLearning Increases Language Offerings in ELL Product
SMART Releases Major Upgrade to SMART Board Software for Mac
Free Resources: Curriculum Associates Offers Online Training in Curriculum Integration
MIND Institute Releases New ST Math Software
Free Resources: Thomson Gale Launches Web Site to Celebrate Black History Month
ITI Cross Links: Congress Extends USA PATRIOT Act by 1 Month
Free Resources: National Geographic Online Focuses on Iraq
First Technology Forum on STEM Instruction
Excelsior Offers Single-User Pinnacle Plus Assessment Software
Voyager Expanded Learning Launches Passport Reading Journeys
Northwest Evaluation Association Introduces State-Standards-Aligned Science Tests

Free Resources: Martin Luther King Jr. Newspaper Archive

Thanks again to Gary Price's ResourceShelf for a valuable pointer, this time to the Martin Luther King Jr. Newspaper Archive.

From a January 15, 2006, ResourceShelf posting, "In honor of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday and upcoming Black History month, a free newspaper archive of 50,000 newspaper pages about Dr. King has been released on MartinLutherKingJrArchive.com ... The website is a free service of NewspaperARCHIVE.com and contains original stories about the Montgomery bus boycott, the ‘I Have A Dream' speech, details about King's assassination on April 4, 1968, along with thousands of other headlines detailing Martin Luther King Jr.'s life and work."

The Martin Luther King Jr. Newspaper Archive is HERE. And learn more about NewspaperARCHIVE.com HERE.

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Nicholas Negroponte and Dewitt Jones Keynote ISTE’S NECC 2006

Technology guru Nicholas Negroponte and filmmaker Dewitt Jones will deliver keynote presentations at the International Society for Technology in Education's (ISTE) 2006 National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) in San Diego in July.

A pioneer of the digital age, Negroponte chairs MIT's Media Lab and its One Laptop Per Child initiative (OLPC, http://laptop.media.mit.edu/). Also known as the $100 laptop project, OLPC aims to revolutionize education by putting a compact, durable, no-frills but Internet-ready computer into the hands of millions of children worldwide. A prototype of this computer debuted last fall at a United Nations conference in Tunis. Negroponte is also a founder of "Wired" magazine and the author of the best-selling book, "Being Digital," which has been translated into more than 40 languages. His keynote address is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, July 6.

Dewitt Jones is a top professional photographer and film director. He spent 20 years with National Geographic, photographing stories all over the world. As a motion picture director, two of his films were nominated for Academy Awards. Jones has published nine books, including "California!" and "John Muir's High Sierra." His keynote address, "Celebrating What's Right with the World," will be held at 11:45 a.m. on Wednesday, July 5.

Source: ISTE, 800/280-6218 or http://www.iste.org/.

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ALA Midwinter News: Live Webcast of Top Children/Teen Literary Awards Announcement January 23

For the first time, the American Library Association will pilot a live Webcast of its national announcement of the top books and video for children and young adults—including the Caldecott, King, Newbery, and Printz awards—on January 23 at 7:55 a.m. CST. The award announcements are made as part of the ALA Midwinter Meeting, which will bring together more than 12,000 librarians, publishers, authors and guests in San Antonio from January 20 to 25.

Online visitors will be able to view the live Webcast the morning of the announcements by following the links that will be on the ALA home page, http://www.ala.org. High-speed access will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

This year also marks the premier of the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award, which honors both the author and illustrator of an outstanding book for beginning readers, and the 10th anniversary of the Pura Belpré Award, which honors Latino writers and illustrators whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in a work of literature for youth. In celebration of the anniversary, ALA will show (and Webcast) a clip from a new Belpré video created by Scholastic and Weston Woods before the formal press conference announcement begins. The Alex Awards for the best adult books that appeal to teen audiences also will make their Midwinter Meeting debut. In past years, the 10 book picks were announced during National Library Week.

Awards to be announced January 23 are:

* Alex Awards for the best adult books that appeal to teen audiences
* Andrew Carnegie Medal for excellence in children's video
* Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children
* Coretta Scott King Award recognizing an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults that demonstrate sensitivity to "the true worth and value of all beings"
* Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults
* May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award recognizing an author, critic, librarian, historian, or teacher of children's literature, who then presents a lecture at a winning host site
* Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults
* Mildred L. Batchelder Award for an outstanding children's book translated from a foreign language and subsequently published in the United States
* Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children's literature
* Pura Belpré Award honoring a Latino writer and illustrator whose children's books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience
* Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award for most distinguished informational book for children
* Schneider Family Book Award for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience
* Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for the outstanding book for beginning readers

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

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Dialog Seeks Applicants for Summit Scholarship

Dialog is accepting applicants from North America for its 2006 Roger K. Summit Scholarship. The $5,000 scholarship is open to graduate students in library and information sciences.

A panel of information professionals will select the North American winner after reviewing overall academic achievement, interest in electronic information services, proficiency using Dialog's online services, and faculty recommendations.

The application deadline is April 30, 2006. An application form is available online at http://gep.dialog.com/scholarship/application.shtml/. The winner will be announced at the Special Libraries Association annual conference, June 11-14, 2006, in Baltimore, Maryland.

The scholarship is named in honor of Dr. Roger K. Summit, a pioneer in the online information services and the founder and chairman emeritus of Dialog.

Source: Dialog, http://www.dialog.com/.

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Inspiration Software and Zaner-Bloser Collaborate to Develop Visual Learning Tools to Strengthen Student Writing Skills

Inspiration Software and Zaner-Bloser have announced a joint effort to develop graphic organizer templates to help students strengthen their writing skills. Designed to support the writing process instruction in Zaner-Bloser's Strategies for Writers, the 72 Inspiration and Kidspiration templates can be used by students to generate ideas and organize their writing. Combined with Zaner-Bloser's approach to improving writing skills, the graphic organizers help students take writing to the next level by allowing them to systematically and confidently plan and communicate ideas, the announcement states.

With a set of graphic organizers developed for each textbook in Strategies for Writers, teachers have for integrating visual learning into writing process instruction in grades 1-8. The graphic organizer templates for Strategies for Writers, Levels A-E (Grades 1-5), were created in Kidspiration, Inspiration's visual learning tool for younger students. Elementary students can build writing skills by expressing themselves visually and building connections among pictures, words, and meanings.

Created in Inspiration, the graphic organizer templates for Strategies for Writers, Level F-H (Grades 6-8), help students plan and improve their writing proficiency in four writing modes—narrative, descriptive, expository, persuasive—and in test writing, according to the announcement.

Zaner-Bloser offers the templates on CD-ROM with the purchase of Strategies for Writers. Existing Strategies for Writers customers will receive a complimentary CD-ROM. These templates can also be downloaded from http://www.inspiration.com/zanerbloser. To use the templates, Inspiration 7.6 or Kidspiration 2.0 or higher must be installed. Free 30-day trials of both visual learning software tools will be available on the CD-ROM and at http://www.inspiration.com/freetrial.

Source: Inspiration Software, Inc., http://www.inspiration.com

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CompassLearning Increases Language Offerings in ELL Product

CompassLearning has announced it is increasing the number of language offerings in its CompassLearning Odyssey for English Language Learners (ELL) product. Odyssey ELL will be available in Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Haitian Creole, Hmong; Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Vietnamese.

The product was first launched in Broadcast Spanish last spring. This next grouping of languages was chosen based on statistics provided by the U.S. Department of Education Survey that described the most prominent backgrounds of ELL students in the U.S. as well as the needs of Odyssey customers.

Odyssey ELL uses a communicative, interactive, and experiential approach to second language instruction. The lessons focus on real world conversations and weave language skills into the exploratory activities. The approach is patterned on the way a young child would learn their own native language, according to the announcement. All programs are conducted entirely in English, with directions and instructions available in the native language dependent upon the individual student's skill level. This assisted language method is a key component of Odyssey ELL and provides the scaffolding necessary to help students navigate the online activities.

The fastest growing enrollment segment in schools today is English language learners (ELL). From 1990 to 2000, ELL enrollment grew by more than 105 percent compared with a 12 percent growth of total student enrollment during the same period and it is expected that this trend will continue, the announcement states. In compliance with No Child Left Behind as well as state mandates, ELL children are tested along with all others in reading and math assessment. But they also are tested on their progress in learning English.

Odyssey ELL is offered in two versions, Levels K-6 (Elementary) and Levels 7-12 (Secondary). The Elementary Level is designed for children ages 5-12 with little or no previous knowledge of English. It addresses basic reading and language learning skills through age appropriate topics and themes. The Secondary Level is intended for learners from beginning to advanced levels. Both versions have content that is customized to align with states' core reading/language arts standards, the standards of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), and Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).

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

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SMART Releases Major Upgrade to SMART Board Software for Mac

SMART Technologies, Inc., has announced the launch of SMART Board software 9.5 for the Mac OS X operating system. Version 9.5 introduces new features to help educators create, organize, and implement interactive lessons using the SMART Board interactive whiteboard. New features include a Gallery keyword search, audio and video support, and more curriculum-based content.

The new Gallery keyword search helps teachers quickly find content. Content including images, audio, video, Macromedia Flash and Notebook files can be organized and stored in the Gallery. The Gallery has expanded to include My Content, which is a personal workspace; SMART Gallery content, which can be shared on a school network; and an online resource section, allowing teachers to make the most of Internet resources, either their own or SMART's. Version 9.5 is a free upgrade for SMART Board interactive whiteboard customers.

SMART Board software 9.5 also features thousands of objects in the Gallery, including over 500 new images, backgrounds, audio, video and Flash files. It also contains digital content from content providers, including Intel Skoool, Espresso Education, and Daydream Education.

New features include the following:

Notebook software

-Gallery search: Teachers can find content by using the keyword search or browsing through the content file structure.
-Online resources: Teachers can access SMART-hosted lesson activities, curriculum standards, and online classroom resources, or any online content through the Gallery.
-Video and audio support: Teachers can integrate video and audio files into Notebook software lesson activities. Like other objects in Notebook software, videos can be resized, rotated, written over, and stored in the Gallery. Audio files can be attached to objects or can be objects themselves.
-Linking: Teachers can create nonlinear lessons by linking objects to pages in a Notebook file, a URL, an attached document, or any document on the hard drive.
-Locking: Objects can be locked in three ways. They can be locked in place, locked so they can be moved but not edited, or locked so they can be rotated and moved, but not edited.
-Customizable toolbar: Icons can be added to or removed from the Notebook software toolbar.
-Improved text support: Subscript, superscript, and scientific symbols are now supported in Notebook software. Text can also be added to shapes.
-Mirror objects: Objects can be flipped horizontally and vertically.
-Gallery learning objects: The Gallery includes thousands of objects, including over 500 new images, audio, video, Flash, and Notebook software lesson activities.

SMART Board Tools

-Freehand Screen Capture: Teachers can outline and capture any shape or part of the screen with the Screen Capture tool.
-Improved Screen Shade: Information can be concealed and revealed point by point by dragging the Screen Shade - up or down, left or right - directly over the Notebook page, desktop or any application. The Screen Shade can also be set on each Notebook page.
-Improved Spotlight tool: Teachers can now modify the Spotlight to virtually any shape.

Version 9.5 continues to provide take-home privileges, giving all teachers and students access to the SMART Board software features necessary to work on SMART Board software files outside the classroom.

SMART Board software 9.5 for the Mac OS X operating system will be available in March 2006. SMART customers will be able to obtain a free download at http://www.smarttech.com/support/software. SMART Board software 9.5 will be included with all new orders of SMART Board interactive whiteboards and Sympodium interactive pen displays.

Source: SMART Technologies, Inc., http://www.smarttech.com

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Free Resources: Curriculum Associates Offers Online Training in Curriculum Integration

Curriculum Associates has announced it is offering teachers free online training on how to link their different subject areas together in order to more effectively meet objectives required by state and national standards. Developed and led by Sylvia Lewis, educational consultant and former school administrator, the "Integrating the Curriculum: Teaching for Student Success" course can be accessed at http://www.curriculumassociates.com/TIE.

The new e-training course consists of two lessons. The first discusses key principles of curriculum integration as well as findings regarding the approach's benefits. The second provides guidelines for getting started and shows how implementing an integrated curriculum can resolve time management challenges and facilitate lesson alignment with federal, state, and local standards. The lessons include text and audio instruction, downloadable handouts and reading assignments, and also lesson reviews.

The course draws on Lewis' experience as a middle school consultant for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and a state consultant for gifted education. It also includes the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction's report that students in an integrated classroom "develop a love of learning and become lifelong learners, find relevance in, and connections with, what they are learning, and develop new and necessary skills and abilities to be successful in school and life." In addition, the study found that students who receive an integrated approach to learning are also successful on standardized tests and similar assessments.

"Integrated Curriculum" is the fifth in a series of free courses being developed and offered by Curriculum Associates. Other offerings include courses on "Differentiated Instruction," "Motivating Students To Learn," "Test Preparation Strategies," and "Classroom Discipline."

Source: Curriculum Associates, Inc., http://www.cainc.com

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MIND Institute Releases New ST Math Software

MIND Institute, a non-profit education research and software development organization, has announced a new release of ST Math software, a non-language-based method of teaching children math, for students in grades K to 5.

The Institute's latest research shows that students who used this software as part of its ST Math + Music math education program [See MMIS's May/June 2005 In the Spotlight.] outperformed peers at the same schools by an average of 20 percentile points on the math portion of the California Achievement Test (CAT6), according to the announcement. ST Math is based on the MIND Institute's previous STAR Math software, and features "Language Integration" technology, developed by MIND, with several patents pending.

ST Math software is non-language based, ensuring a simple, direct, visual understanding of difficult math concepts, the announcement states. This approach also enables students to productively learn math skills regardless of their proficiency level in English. The software's emphasis is on teaching children math concepts through challenging computer games that use simple visual objects and virtual machines that they can manipulate to solve problems, without using any words or symbols. The games are designed to improve students' spatial temporal reasoning ability, which is the ability to make a mental image of a problem and manipulate it over steps in space and time. The curriculum covers math concepts for grades K to 5 and is aligned to national and state standards as well as "No Child Left Behind" legislation requirements.

There are approximately 50 games per grade, each with up to 10 levels. The games in each grade are also sequenced and organized into modules, such as "measurement."

With the release of ST Math, there are now two types of games in every module. Students first solve Spatial Temporal (ST) games that teach a mathematics concept through spatial temporal reasoning. Once students have learned the concept without language, they advance through a series of Language Integration games that translate the concepts visually to symbolic math notation. These games also incorporate the language of mathematics into word problems written in English sentences to help students learn to label the concepts with the right words. When students choose a solution to a problem, the software animates that solution, illustrating what the words mean and why their solution is right or wrong. Language Integration is a new technology developed by MIND Institute with patents pending.

New Features

The most significant new features to ST Math from previous versions of MIND Institute's math software are:
· Addition of curriculum for Grade 5
· Overall content of the games has increased fivefold
· New Language Integration technology and addition of Language Integration games to every module
· New Web-based tracking of student progress for teachers
· Uses Macromedia Flash technology to improve system performance and reduce file sizes
· Cleaner, simpler interface for teachers and administrators

MIND Institute's ST Math software is sold as part of its ST Math + Music program. The ST Math + Music program includes a full music curriculum, the ST Math computer games, one day of professional development for teachers, and access to daily student status reports over the Internet. The program is offered to schools on a subscription basis for the first year, averaging about $90 per student. The price decreases in subsequent years. For information about ST Math and the ST Math + Music program, visit http://www.mindinstitute.net.

Source: MIND Institute, http://www.mindinstitute.net

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Free Resources: Thomson Gale Launches Web Site to Celebrate Black History Month

In recognition of Black History Month, Thomson Gale has announced it is launching a free Web site full of historical facts and figures, biographies, relevant Web links, and teaching tools. This site, accessible at http://www.gale.com/free_resources/bhm, is designed to help students, teachers, and families celebrate the month.

Each week throughout February, Thomson Gale will post a new quiz to test knowledge of significant people and events in history as they relate to Black History Month. Weekly winners will receive Thomson Gale books for their library.

At http://www.gale.com/free_resources/bhm/activities/index.htm there are challenging, informative activities for children of all ages, taken from Thomson Gale's Black History Month Resource Book. The activities are arranged in general age categories, but many can be used for all age groups.

Biographies include television talk show host Oprah Winfrey, civil rights icon Rosa Parks, and U.S. senator from Illinois Barak Obama. Each entry gives detailed information on some of the world's most notable African Americans, including their birth date and location, details on their personal life and career, and resources for further information.

For a list of Thomson Gale titles that will help students gain a deeper appreciation for African-American heritage, visit http://www.gale.com/free_resources/bhm/featured_titles. Selected titles include:

Voices From the Civil War: Slaves (Blackbirch Press)
Africa: An Encyclopedia for Students (Charles Scrinbner's Sons)
African American Reference Library (Thomson Gale)
People Who Made History: Malcolm X (Greenhaven Press)
Stars of Sport — Venus Williams (Kidhaven Press)
History Makers — Leaders of Black Civil Rights (Lucent Books)
African American Atlas (Macmillan Reference USA)
The Sabin Collection: Selected Americana from Sabin's Dictionary of Books Relating to America — Slavery (Primary Source Microfilm)
Friend on Freedom River (Sleeping Bear Press )
Any Way the Wind Blows, by E. Lynn Harris (Thorndike Press)
Critical Essays on American Literature Series — African-American Literary Criticism, 1773-2000 (Twayne Publishers)

Literature buffs can read in excerpts pulled directly from the Schomburg Center Guide to Black Literature. Each entry provides a brief plot summary and explanation of the relevance of the work being discussed.

The timeline takes visitors through nearly 400 years of Black History, commemorating such milestones as Harriet Tubman's escape from slavery, the passing of the Thirteenth Amendment, freeing slaves from slavery, and the naming of General Colin Powell as chair of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.

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

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ITI Cross Links: Congress Extends USA PATRIOT Act by 1 Month

"On the last day of the 2005 legislative session, the U.S. Congress passed Senate bill 2167, which extends the existing USA PATRIOT Act by 1 month. The Act's provisions, which had been set to expire on Dec. 31, 2005, will now expire on Feb. 3, 2006. The bill was required after the Senate refused to accept a proposal which would have made most of the Act permanent. By a bipartisan vote of 52 to 48, the Senate was unable to end a filibuster of the proposal (which requires 60 votes). Unable to modify the proposal to satisfy opponents, or convince seven Senators to switch their votes (the eighth vote was Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who supported the proposal, but voted no for technical reasons involving Senate rules), the PATRIOT Act would have expired on Dec. 31, 2005."

...

That's the opening paragraph of a thoughtful news story by Information Today Legal Issues columnist George H. Pike. Read the whole story HERE on Information Today, Inc.'s NewsBreaks for December 26, 2005.

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Free Resources: National Geographic Online Focuses on Iraq

In January, the online edition of National Geographic presents writer Frank Viviano's examination of the conflict in Iraq. Viviano's article focuses on the Kurds, possibly the only group powerful enough to keep Iraq from tearing itself apart.

The Web site also provides a look at the lives of the Kurds, their communities, the struggles they have endured, and the challenges ahead. An audiovisual presentation explores the Kurds' recent history. A video shows a graduating class from Iraq's largest military group, the Kurdish peshmerga, as they display their military skills to dignitaries in preparation for joining Iraq's security forces.

Additional material online explores genocide as writer and Pulitzer Prize winner Lewis Simon follows anthropologists and forensics experts going through the process of examining the dead in Iraq.

In January, National Geographic online also takes a look at the Grand Canyon and the mysteries of King Tut.

Source: National Geographic, http://www.ngm.com/.

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First Technology Forum on STEM Instruction

The National Coalition for Technology in Education and Training (NCTET) held its first critical issues forum in December in Washington, D.C. to address the innovations in technology that can inspire the nation's K-12 students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Forum speaker Susan Traiman of the Business Roundtable, a national business coalition, discussed aspects of the Roundtable's report, "Tapping America's Potential: The Education for Innovation Initiative." The coalition has set a goal to double the number of science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduates with bachelor's degrees by 2015.

Also speaking at the Forum were Jason Kamras, the current National Teacher of the Year and a math teacher from the District of Columbia, Nancy Carey of the Maryland Department of Education and Laurie Ruberg of the Center for Educational Technologies (home of the NASA Classroom of the Future).

The speakers addressed the issues and challenges schools face in math and science instruction, pockets of teaching excellence through classroom technology integration that are showing progress and actions that those in the policy and political arena can take to become change agents.

The "Tapping America's Potential" report is available online in pdf format HERE.

Source: The National Coalition for Technology in Education and Training (NCTET), http://www.nctet.org/.

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Excelsior Offers Single-User Pinnacle Plus Assessment Software

The Pinnacle Plus assessment system is now available to individual users, allowing classroom teachers to launch their own efforts to track standards-based skills and generate accompanying reports. The electronic gradebook includes a Wizard feature that enables teachers to import standards from a district or state department of education. The single-user cost is $80.

Pinnacle Plus upgrades Excelsior's Pinnacle System with the addition of Objectives Manager, a comprehensive standards-based tool for tracking student progress and achievement throughout the year.

Using Pinnacle Plus, educators can assess student performance with multiple grading methods and weighting schemes—letter, number, mastery level, and date performed—and simultaneously link student performance to appropriate standards and benchmarks, proficiency levels or scoring rubrics, including Dr. Robert Marzano's "Power Law" or "Learning Trend Formula."

The Pinnacle System is SQL-based, making it an open architecture system solution that enables the integration of gradebooks, administrative systems or student courseware. Pinnacle software works with all network protocols and file servers.

The free version of the Pinnacle gradebook—which does not offer the new standards-based reporting capabilities—remains available as an online download at the Excelsior Web site.

Source: Excelsior Software, Inc., 800/473-4572 or http://www.excelsiorsoftware.com/

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Voyager Expanded Learning Launches Passport Reading Journeys

Voyager Expanded Learning has announced the launch of its newest reading intervention program, Passport Reading Journeys. The program incorporates literature focused on science and social studies topics, as well as video segments and Web-based software to engage adolescents in reading. The design of Passport Reading Journeys meets the nine instructional components outlined in the Carnegie Corporation report, Reading Next: A Vision for Action and Research in Middle and High School Literacy, by Gina Biancarosa and Dr. Catherine Snow and published by the Alliance for Excellent Education, according to the announcement.

Passport Reading Journeys incorporates each of these recommended elements in a 45-50 minute routine of whole-group and small-group instruction that can be adapted to accommodate class size and technology resources.

Targeted to teens, Passport Reading Journeys identifies students who struggle with reading, intervenes with targeted instruction, and monitors student progress until intervention is no longer needed. The program was specifically designed to help the nearly 8 million middle and high school struggling readers across the country achieve reading success.

Students enrolled in Passport Reading Journeys travel through a series of 15 reading "expeditions" relating to science and social studies, such as forensics, space exploration, and health and fitness. The variety of topics keeps students engaged in learning while encouraging them to discover the power of reading for pleasure as well as for information, the announcement states. Each two-week expedition includes action-packed video segments on DVD, flexible small-group instruction and independent practice opportunities. In addition, students participate in Web-based activities designed to build vocabulary and comprehension skills and improve their reading fluency through SOLO (Strategic Online Learning Opportunities). Students may also select additional reading materials from the Passport Reading Journeys Library, which includes fiction and non-fiction magazines, age-appropriate leveled books, and an electronic book cart that features a variety of online audio books.

Teachers can monitor student progress through benchmark assessments using Voyager's data management system, VPORT. Four teacher- administered built-in assessments ensure students show continual improvement: Lexile Reading Benchmarks, DIBELS equivalent measures, a comprehension and vocabulary assessment, and a SOLO progress report. Teachers can then access reports that illustrate each student's learning growth and adjust their instructional plan, if needed. District administrators can also view real-time data at the student, classroom, school, or district level to inform decision-making.

Teachers receive year-long service and support from Voyager through an ongoing partnership that includes comprehensive professional development through launch training, a training kit with video tutorials and support via phone, e-mail, and the Voyager Web site.

Source: Voyager Expanded Learning, http://www.voyagerlearning.com

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Northwest Evaluation Association Introduces State-Standards-Aligned Science Tests

Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) has announced the availability of a K-12 education assessment aligned to state science standards. Designed for use at the state, district, or building level, the computerized adaptive test measures academic growth for knowledge of general science content as well as the underlying concepts and processes.

"As many states revise and implement new science standards in advance of the 2007-2008 NCLB accountability provision, districts will need to evaluate whether their current curricula and instructional plans are on target to ensure that their students will achieve proficiency," said Fred McDaniel, NWEA Operations Vice President. "We designed the science tests to meet those needs and to offer educators a comprehensive picture of each student's growth in the full realm of science."

The test combines two modules, General Science and Concepts and Processes. The General Science portion assesses a student's understanding of specific science concepts within three major domains: life, earth and space, and physical sciences. The Concepts and Processes module measures a student's performance in both the processes used in science and the major themes underlying the science disciplines.

Both modules provide reports that tie directly to an individual state's standards. Together, the modules provide a complete picture of a student's understanding of science content and the unifying concepts and processes underlying this content, according to the announcement. Additionally, goal-area scores provide further insight into a student's instructional level for strands within a state's standards.

The upgraded test is part of NWEA's Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) system, which includes reading, language usage, and mathematics assessments. As with all tests in the MAP system, the science test is linked to automatically generated reports that help teachers target instruction as needed, and help administrators track student progress toward standards.

In addition to the combined science test, NWEA offers end-of-course science tests for high school in topics such as physical science, biology, chemistry, and physics; however, these tests are administered only after a year of instruction in the content area.

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

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