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An Educator's Guide to Technology and the Web
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January 31, 2006

Table of Contents

Cool Links: Partnership for a Nation of Learners
Raptors in the City: An Online Falcon Study Project
PLATO Learning Releases Online Courses
Riverdeep Launches Destination Reading for Grades 4-8
High School Emmy Awards Program
Sunburst Technology Announces Sunburst Learning Solutions
Scholastic Education Launches Technology-Based Reading Solutions
Pearson Knowledge Technologies Launches WriteToLearn
Pearson Digital Learning Enhances NovaNET Courseware with New World History Lessons
National Science Foundation Launches New Web Portal for International Polar Year

Cool Links: Partnership for a Nation of Learners

This may seem funny, but it's also quite serious. It's from "As the Partnership Turns" … Current Episode, on the Partnership for a Nation of Learners Web site < http://www.partnershipforlearners.org/ >:

Principal Alia Escuela has an idea ... a grand idea. One that could benefit not only her students, but quite possibly the whole town as well. Now if she can just get that Smoky Hollow Public Broadcasting producer and Train Museum curator to share her excitement. Crossing her fingers, she tucks the PNL grant application into her briefcase, and heads for the door...

We suggest you follow this Cool Link to the Web site of the Partnership for a Nation of Learners, an initiative of the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The site targets museums, libraries, and public broadcasting stations, aiming to help them "work together to address local needs, increase civic engagement, and improve the quality of life" in their communities. More, directly from the site [with an annotation from us at MMIS]:

On this site you will find resources that will help you to partner effectively with each other and with other organizations in your area [That would include schools! and school libraries!!] - case studies, exercises, tools - as well as information about training events and sources of project funding.

It's a treasure trove of interesting, education-oriented resources and opportunities for collaboration that we think could spark some great activities involving you, your program, and your students. And, they say, it's only just beginning … that lots more is coming.

Definitely worth exploring HERE.

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Raptors in the City: An Online Falcon Study Project

The Raptors in the City program resumes in February with the start of the nesting season of the Peregrine Falcon. Nearly extinct 30 years ago, the falcon was removed from the Endangered Species List in 1999.

This real-time inquiry-based science and technology curriculum for grades 4-6 provides a live online look at the daily life of a pair of the falcons throughout their nesting season (roughly February to June), via cameras mounted on Cleveland skyscrapers.

A free "Falcon Flash" e-newsletter partners the video material with expert commentary on the falcons' nesting behavior.

The program curriculum supports one semester of study. The materials provide environmental, biology, and technology lessons and research projects tied to national science and technology standards.

A set of curriculum materials is available at a cost of $50 per classroom, print or CD-ROM version. A Mentor's Materials Kit, priced at $10, includes activities and research topics for months of falcon Web questing and research. The mentor's kit is available in print or a downloadable PDF version.

Source: Raptors in the City, http://www.raptorsinthecity.org/

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PLATO Learning Releases Online Courses

PLATO Learning, Inc. has announced the release of PLATO Courses. These semester-long online courses provide schools and districts a way to deliver rigorous credit recovery solutions, alternatives for students not succeeding in the traditional environment, credit-granting distance learning programs, and home school curricula.

PLATO Courses—available in Algebra 1A and 1B, Algebra 2A and 2B, English 9A and 9B, English 10A and 10B, Biology Semesters A and B, Physical Science Semesters A and B, Geography Semesters A and B, and American History Semesters A and B—are aligned to national standards in each subject area. Each course provides a comprehensive course curriculum, including exemptive assessments, instructional content, cumulative final exams, and state standards coverage reports. To promote the successful use of PLATO Courses, PLATO education consultants provide both onsite and electronic professional development sessions.

Each PLATO Course includes teacher support materials—a Teacher's Guide and Implementation Guide. The Teacher's Guide includes pacing charts, grading sheets, offline assessments, and a scope and sequence; the Implementation Guide helps schools plan for evaluations and access best practices in instructional strategies, coaching, and mentoring.

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

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Riverdeep Launches Destination Reading for Grades 4-8

Riverdeep has announced the launch of new instructional courseware specially designed for older students in the "tween" years—Destination Reading Course III for grades 4-6 and Destination Reading Course IV for grades 6-8.

The new courseware is designed to be appealing, interactive, and engaging to capture and keep the attention of media-savvy adolescents who are often exposed to a wide array of technology products, according to the announcement. Relevant, real-world connections, enhanced graphics, and modern music are incorporated into the new courseware to help build understanding and comprehension, particularly among struggling readers.

Destination Reading Courses III and IV engage learners with individualized, media-rich content and cross-curricular connections in science, social studies, math, language arts, technology, and performing arts, the announcement states.

 As a part of Riverdeep's Destination Success solution, Destination Reading combines content correlated to state standards with learning management tools that 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.

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

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High School Emmy Awards Program

The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) has launched an Emmy Awards program for high school students. The program recognizes outstanding student television or Webcast productions that have been broadcast, cablecast, or Webcast between February 1, 2005 and January 31, 2006.

Entries are accepted in seven program categories: News, Arts & Entertainment/Cultural Affairs, Documentary, Sports, Hubbard Family Public Affairs/Community Service/Public Service, Technical Achievement, and Writing. The entries are judged first for their regional chapters' Awards for Excellence. The regional winners are judged a second time to select a national winner in each category.

Applicants must be currently enrolled as full time students at the time of the awards' application deadline—February 18, 2006. Students are not required to be members of NATAS to enter the competition.

A non-refundable $25 entry fee is required; scholarships to pay this fee are available through the 20 regional NATAS chapters.

This year's competition is sponsored by TimeWarner. Complete details and online registration information can be found at http://www.nationalstudent.tv/.

Source: National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences/National Television Academy, http://www.emmyonline.org/

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Sunburst Technology Announces Sunburst Learning Solutions

Sunburst Technology has announced Sunburst Learning Solutions, a program designed to provide schools with student achievement solutions for differentiated instruction. Available now, Sunburst Learning Solutions focuses on student improvement in grades K-12 using technology platforms developed for targeted intervention. Sunburst Learning Solutions provides schools with solutions that meet "No Child Left Behind" legislation requirements and that can be customized to each school's individual challenges, according to the announcement. It offers customizable, research-based achievement solutions for schools, leveraging online and standards-based products.

The program assists schools in assessing their students' specific needs through diagnostic or prescriptive assessments and then customizes an appropriate instructional solution. Solutions focus on differentiated instruction to improve achievement for all children at the individual student level. They range from basic intervention, when some students need additional practice and supplemental instruction based on diagnostic assessment, to intensive intervention or remediation for students who require extensive progress monitoring. Solutions include reporting and assessment options, which allow teachers to assess their students as frequently as needed and support data-driven decisions.

Sunburst Learning Solutions provides teacher-centric implementation and fosters ongoing and nurturing relationships with teachers, the announcement states. They include interactive implementation, training, one-to-one coaching for teachers, teacher technical support, and professional development opportunities.

The custom solutions are drawn from over 30,000 tools and resources on four platforms - Sunburst Technology's QuickMind.net online learning environment and Key Skills Learning System of language arts and mathematics software; the Prescriptive Instruction intensive intervention system powered by Learning Today; and Let's Go Learn' s reading and math diagnostic assessment programs.

QuickMind.net provides educators and students in grades K-12 and their parents with an integrated collection of supplemental curriculum content, including lesson-planning, homework, assessment, and Parent Center resources that can be accessed at school, home or anywhere there is an Internet connection. It provides 24-hour access to a standards-based bilingual curriculum, interactive homework assignments, project templates, tools, lesson plans, reference materials, and online professional development via a password-protected Web site.

Prescriptive Instruction is a Web-based intensive intervention and instructional tool. It is an integrated learning system that covers reading and math for grades K-5. The system is designed to enable educators to comprehensively assess students, and then automatically provide differentiated instruction to students of varying ability and aptitude levels.

Let's Go Learn provides K-12 reading and math diagnostic assessment programs, adapting questions as it progresses to identify why students are incorrectly answering the questions.

The Key Skills Learning System is a line of language arts and mathematics products known for appealing standards-based core curriculum exercises, differentiated instruction, and an easy-to-use management process, according to Sunburst's announcement. The Key Skills Learning System facilitates the identification of at-risk students and provides data needed for Title 1 funding. Teachers are able to assign activities, capture student performance, create diagnostic reports, demonstrate accountability and meet No Child Left Behind requirements using this award-winning integrated series of programs.

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

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Scholastic Education Launches Technology-Based Reading Solutions

Scholastic Education has announced the launch of an array of technology products designed to provide effective differentiated instruction, immediate, corrective feedback, and vocabulary support in students' native languages in an effort to provide tools to help English Language Learners (ELLs) become fluent readers.

Scholastic Zip Zoom English

To engage and support beginning ELLs in grades K-3, Scholastic is launching Zip Zoom English, a research-based instructional system that combines technology with groundbreaking books to simultaneously accelerate children's movement into English while teaching important literacy skills. Zip Zoom English helps students build a strong vocabulary, increase word recognition, develop oral language and syntax, and improve listening and reading comprehension through interactive computer-based lessons that individualize and reinforce instruction, according to the announcement. Zip Zoom English is the result of six years of educational research and development from the Pacific Regional Education Lab (PREL).

In addition to the software component, Zip Zoom English includes the Zip Zoom Critical Word Readers, research-based, sequential books for beginning ELL readers with teacher lesson plans for intensive instruction.

READ 180, Enterprise Edition

READ 180, Enterprise Edition, is the first major revision of the reading intervention program launched in 1999. READ 180, Enterprise Edition, delivers reading instruction for students in grades 4 and above who struggle to read proficiently, and now offers a new teaching system and management tools. Additionally, READ 180 now provides support for ELLs in five languages—Spanish, Vietnamese, Cantonese, Hmong, and Haitian Creole.

The Enterprise Edition provides a more explicit instructional path for whole and small group lessons, making it easier for teachers to implement the program and differentiate instruction based on students' progress and reading levels, according to the announcement. It also helps them identify resources based on students' needs and learn best practices for teaching literacy to struggling readers. The new technology platform features the Scholastic Achievement Manager (SAM), a management system that continuously captures data on student performance and provides teachers and administrators with technology tools to manage student data, run reports, and locate resources. SAM also supports more concurrent student users and allows educators to disaggregate student data by AYP groups and chart progress at the classroom, building, and district levels.

ReadAbout

ReadAbout is a new supplemental reading achievement program designed to improve vocabulary and comprehension skills, and increase content-area knowledge for all students, including English Language Learners, in grades 3 through 6. The program differentiates instruction to provide a personal learning experience for each student and incorporates high-interest reading choices, engaging video clips, corrective feedback, and a digital reward system to keep students fully engaged.

ReadAbout's vocabulary lists have been informed by research-based, high-utility and content-area word lists as well as grade-level texts in order to increase vocabulary acquisition and build academic language. And throughout the software, students encounter text and voiceover support for all key instruction, Spanish translations of smart words, meanings, captions, anchor video introductions, and topic introductions, and read aloud for all passages with phrase-by-phrase highlighting.

Scholastic RED: Reading Success for English Language Learners

Scholastic Red, a comprehensive professional development program based on scientific reading research, has developed a new online course to help teachers in grades K-3 promote language proficiency, literacy, and content knowledge with these students.

Reading Success for English Language Learners combines online instruction with in-person study groups to guide teachers through techniques to differentiate instruction based on students' levels of English proficiency. The course offers video modeling of effective strategies to accelerate reading achievement. It also teaches all educators how to monitor students' English language development through formal and informal assessments and observations in order to differentiate and teach specifically to students' reading ability levels. This Scholastic RED course also helps K-3 teachers choose and use a wide variety of engaging books and resources, like the ones featured in New Connections to English Classroom Libraries, as well as the Web and software such as Zip Zoom English and READ 180. This course is designed to support any reading curriculum and is accredited by major universities for graduate credit.

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

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Pearson Knowledge Technologies Launches WriteToLearn

Pearson Knowledge Technologies has announced the launch of WriteToLearn, a Web-based learning tool that is designed to help students develop writing and reading comprehension skills. With WriteToLearn, students practice essay writing and summarization skills, and their efforts are measured by Pearson's Knowledge Analysis Technologies engine, which automatically evaluates the meaning of text by examining whole passages. Students receive immediate, specific feedback on their work, and teachers assess student efforts individually or as a class. WriteToLearn is based on a combination of two popular Pearson Knowledge Technologies products, Summary Street and Intelligent Essay Assessor.

To practice writing using WriteToLearn, teachers assign questions for students to answer. The Knowledge Analysis Technologies engine gives students immediate feedback on the content of their essays - specific enough so students know where they need to improve, but open-ended enough for students to teach themselves to be better writers, according to the announcement. Students rewrite their essays several times until they earn an acceptable score. Unlike other automated assessment technologies, the Knowledge Analysis Technologies engine evaluates the meaning of text, not simply grammatical correctness, spelling, or other surface elements, the announcement states.

To improve reading comprehension, WriteToLearn offers students guided practice in writing summaries. Students type a summary of a text assigned by their teacher and receive instant feedback on how well they covered each section of the content, whether they included redundant or irrelevant information, and whether they directly copied too much text without putting the material in their own words. As with the essay-writing portion of WriteToLearn, students rewrite their summaries until they achieve an acceptable score as specified by their teacher.

An annual online subscription is required for each student using WriteToLearn at a list price of under $20 per student per school year with a 20-unit minimum order, and is available through Pearson Knowledge Technologies' reseller partners. Volume discounts are available. For more information, visit http://www.pearsonkt.com.

Source: Pearson Knowledge Technologies, http://www.pearsonkt.com

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Pearson Digital Learning Enhances NovaNET Courseware with New World History Lessons

Pearson Digital Learning has announced it has expanded its NovaNET online courseware system with 23 new world history lessons as well as 48 newly enhanced multimedia lessons in language arts, social studies, and mathematics. NovaNET is an online, standards-based curriculum and assessment system for middle school, high school, and adult learners. The expansion anticipates the first national assessment of world history, scheduled to be given to twelfth grade students in 2010 as part of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the "Nation's Report Card."

The 23 new world history lessons, known as the "World History B" course, complete a full semester course of study. The course covers the Age of Enlightenment through modern day and includes contemporary topics as such globalization, human rights, and modern science. To engage students' interest and enhance the learning process, the lessons incorporate extensive multimedia features including photos, animated maps, timelines, and interactive exercises.

The lessons are aligned with state and national standards, and they provide students with immediate feedback specific to the activity and student response to reinforce key learning concepts, provide enrichment, and motivate students as they progress through the course, according to the announcement.

In addition, the NovaNET v12 includes 48 new multimedia-enhanced lessons in language arts, social studies, and mathematics, with modernized graphics and a more attractive and intuitive interface.

Source: Pearson Digital Learning, http://www.pearsondigital.com

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National Science Foundation Launches New Web Portal for International Polar Year

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced the launch of a portal Web site to provide easy access to classroom resources, news releases, listings of museum and gallery exhibits, and catalogs of video and still images and other materials produced or supported by the federal government as part of the U.S. contribution to the International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-2008. The site, at http://www.us-ipy.gov, includes information on the International Polar Year for a general audience as well as basic information for scientists interested in obtaining IPY funding from the U.S. government. New content will be continually added to the comprehensive site.

The IPY will take place exactly 50 years after the International Geophysical Year (IGY), a similar global scientific research endeavor during which scientists first spent the long Antarctic winter at the South Pole, among other accomplishments. The polar "year" will include two calendar years to permit a full 12 months of observations in regions where six months of extreme cold and darkness can hamper fieldwork.

In the spring of 2007, scientists from more than 100 countries will embark on an intensive, coordinated campaign of multi-disciplinary scientific observations, research and analysis as part of the IPY. The research is expected to dramatically expand our understanding of the Arctic and Antarctic regions--including their relationship to the global ecosystem--and to provide unprecedented insight into how societies in high northern latitudes are coping with environmental change.

In the U.S. and in other countries, planning already is underway for extended IPY scientific field campaigns as well as for education and outreach programs for the general public.

The White House has designated NSF, which manages the U.S. Antarctic Program and chairs the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC), to be the lead federal agency for the IPY. Numerous other agencies, their scientists and grantees will also be involved in supporting IPY research, fielding research teams and producing curricula and other materials for the general public about the IPY.

Source: National Science Foundation, http://www.nsf.gov

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