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February 14, 2006

Table of Contents

Free Resources: Thomson Gale Content for Women’s History Month
Free Resources: National Geographic Online Looks at the Winter Olympics
Thinkronize Announces netTrekker Links to Promethean Resources
RM Easiteach Released for Mac Users
ETS Launches Online Testing Component in Instructional Data Management System Upgrade
ITI Cross Links: Google Video—Asleep At The Wheel
Free Resources: Artopia
iEARN, Daniel Pearl Foundation Launch Global Youth News Service for/by Secondary Students
Merit Software Integrates Text-To-Speech Technology Into Reading, Grammar, and Vocabulary Instruction
Play Index Dramatic Resource Now Available on WilsonWeb
Intel to Train 10 Million Teachers in Developing Nations
Inspiration Software Launches Inspiration 8
COMPanion Corporation Releases Alexandria v5.5.1
Texthelp Releases Version 8.0 of its Read&Write GOLD Literacy Support Software

Free Resources: Thomson Gale Content for Women’s History Month

Thomson Gale has announced the launch of a free Web site of biographies, quizzes, activities, timelines, and more to complement classroom topics for Women's History Month. This site is accessible at http://www.gale.com/free_resources/whm/ throughout the month of March.

Among the resources the site gives access to are the following:

* Quizzes and Weekly Prizes—Take a quiz based on women throughout history and their achievements.

* Activities—Thomson Gale's Celebrating Women's History: A Women's History Month Resource Book contains activities that can make Women's History Month more meaningful. Activities are arranged by topics such as geography, health, history, journalism, law/civil rights, literature, music, religion, science, social science, speech/debate, and writing.

* Biographies—Coretta Scott King, Abigail Adams, Princess Diana, Mother Teresa, and Joan of Arc are among the names included in the site's biographies section (http://www.gale.com/free_resources/whm/bio/). Each entry gives detailed information on some of the world's most notable women, including their birth date and location, details on their personal life and career, and resources for further information.

* Featured Titles—Selected titles include:

-The Library of Famous Women (Blackbirch Press)
-Modern American Women Writers (Charles Scribner's Sons)
-Celebrating Women's History: A Women's History Month Resource Book (Thomson Gale)
-Current Controversies - Violence Against Women (Greenhaven Press)
-History Makers - Women Olympic Champions (Lucent Books)
-Macmillan Profiles: Black Women in America (Macmillan Reference USA)
-Geisha: A Life, by Mineko Iwasaki (Thorndike Press)

Timeline—The timeline available at http://www.gale.com/free_resources/whm/timeline features milestones in women's history from ancient times through the present, commemorating such events as the painting of the Mona Lisa, Catherine the Great becoming the ruler of Russia, and the Atlantic flight of Amelia Earhart.

* Links—Click on http://www.gale.com/free_resources/whm/links/ for links to Web pages created by and for women and girls.

* Women's Rights on Trial—Women's Rights on Trial contains 101 key trials of historical importance to American women since the settlement of the colonies. The editors used five criteria in selecting the trials for the book: Does the case set a precedent? Is it representative of an historical period? Is it a judicial landmark? Does it offer an historical contrast to an earlier trial in the book? And finally, is it interesting? The following 12 representative trials from the book are presented at http://www.gale.com/free_resources/whm/trials/ in their entirety:

-Mary Dyer Trials: 1659 & 1660
-Griffith v. Griffith's Executors: 1798
-Pennsylvania v. Addicks: 1813
-United States v. Susan B. Anthony: 1873
-The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire: 1911
-Roe v. Wade: 1973
-Weinberger v.Wiesenfeld: 1975
-Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson: 1986
-In the Matter of Baby M: 1988
-The Tailhook Scandal: 1994
-Ireland v. Smith: 1995
-United States v. Virginia: 1996

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

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Free Resources: National Geographic Online Looks at the Winter Olympics

This month, the National Geographic Web site examines the Winter Olympics in a variety of online feature articles. The material takes a look at everything from the games' effect on the environment to the Shroud of Turin.

Among the online articles are "From Turin to Torino: Olympics Put New Name on the Map," "Turin Aims to Host Greener Games," "Skiing: From the Stone Age to Torino," and "Adventure: Olympic Training Secrets." The site also includes a link to the International Olympic Committee.

Source: National Geographic Online, http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/02/0210_060210_olympics.html/

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Thinkronize Announces netTrekker Links to Promethean Resources

Thinkronize and Promethean have announced a partnership involving their respective education products and solutions. Thinkronize's netTrekker d.i. search engine will now feature links to Promethean lesson plans and resources for educators to use with their ACTIVclassroom solutions including the ACTIVboard, Promethean's interactive whiteboard. By providing both online resources and the classroom delivery system, this new collaboration offers educators a complete solution for incorporating useful technology into everyday lessons and discussion, according to the announcement.

When conducting any Internet search using netTrekker d.i., educators will now find links to Promethean lesson plans and resources that deliver animated, sound-enabled content among the search results. A refinement tab can also be clicked to direct users to search results containing only the Promethean lessons. More than 500 lesson plans will initially be incorporated into netTrekker d.i., with additional lessons slated for development.

The Promethean lesson plans and resources will be incorporated into netTrekker d.i. at no additional charge to subscribers. For more information, visit http://www.netTrekker.com.

Sources: Thinkronize, http://www.thinkronize.com; Promethean, http://www.prometheanworld.com/n-america/en/index.shtml

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RM Easiteach Released for Mac Users

RM Easiteach Studio is now available in a Mac OS version. The K-12 whole class teaching software enables teachers to build multimedia lessons by creating visual and animated models to teach concepts and processes.

Subject-focused toolbars for English Language Arts, Geography, Math, and Science offer resources to create lessons and activities. A range of ready-made content packs provide lessons developed by subject specialists, as well as a Games pack.

Multimedia Easibooks can be created with up to 99 pages. Users can import video, photographs and sound clips; make animations; and use existing Word and Excel files. Fonts can be manipulated in terms of color, size and type.

RM Easiteach Studio runs on all brands of interactive whiteboards and teaching technologies, including Classpads and wireless pointing devices.

Source: RM Educational Software, Inc., 508/420-8305 or http://www.rmeducation.com/

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ETS Launches Online Testing Component in Instructional Data Management System Upgrade

ETS has announced upgrades to its Instructional Data Management System (IDMS) application, including the ability to assess students online. The IDMS system is a Web-based software application designed to help K-12 educators manage and use assessment data to drive instructional practices and improve student achievement.

Through the IDMS application, educators can:

* Identify critical state standards
* Align their curricula, lesson plans, and materials to their state standards
* Pace instruction throughout the school year
* Create formative assessments using ETS's Formative Assessment Item Bank, an online database of 30,000 math and language arts test questions aligned to state standards
* Disaggregate state and local assessment information
* Generate district, school, class, and student reports that are meaningful, actionable, and easy to use
* Maintain an electronic grade book and produce standards-based report cards

IDMS Version 6.1 also introduces the ability to create lesson plans that teachers can align to the pacing guides and share with other educators.

Other new features of IDMS Version 6.1 include a student profile, new grade book features, and enhanced test-builder conveniences, such as the ability to create mini assessments that test mastery of a single standard.

The IDMS application and the Formative Assessment Item Bank are key components of a set of data-driven decision making resources under ETS's System 5 suite of K-12 products and services designed to improve school performance and student achievement.

For more information about the IDMS application, visit http://www.ets.org/idms. To learn more about ETS's comprehensive System 5 suite, visit http://www.ets.org/system5.

Source: ETS, http://www.ets.org

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ITI Cross Links: Google Video—Asleep At The Wheel

Google remains very active, with much of what they're doing heralded as good, but much also as controversial. And so the company remains in the sights of the library and information industry press, including Information Today, Inc.'s StreamingMedia.com.

On the controversial side, a recent story StreamingMedia reported is of interest. From the streamingmedia.com e-newsletter:

February 2, 2006 - by Dan Rayburn. Google's new Video Store offers clips from the NBA and CBS—right along with clips containing graphic sexual content and violence that appears to violate the company's own video program policies. The end result? An embarrassment to the entire [streaming media] industry.

Click HERE to link to Dan's StreamingMedia story.

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Free Resources: Artopia

Recently, an LM_NETer pointed out the remarkable, free Artopia site to the discussion group, and we immediately decided to pass the tip on! From the Artopia Web site:

Artopia is a comprehensive Web-based arts experience designed for middle school students, covering the visual and performing arts. Students can closely examine important works of art and take part in activities that teach about styles, principles and processes of each art form. They can write about the artworks online, collect art cards in a virtual portfolio and view videos of professional artists at work. Teachers may exhibit their students' artwork in a virtual gallery and both students and teachers can communicate with other artists in an online message board.

In a special area for teachers there are downloadable lesson plans and classroom materials that tie Artopia activities to appropriate National and South Carolina curriculum standards. Artopia is a place where learning about the arts is participatory, educational and fun. We hope you enjoy your visit!

If the writing sounds a little dry, never mind. Visit the site now! It's a blast! Click HERE.

Artopia is backed by the National Endowment for the Arts and the South Carolina Arts Commission, and comes from ETV, the public broadcasting organization in South Carolina. (ETV's Knowitall.org Internet resource for students, teachers, and parents is worth a look too!)

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iEARN, Daniel Pearl Foundation Launch Global Youth News Service for/by Secondary Students

iEARN (International Education and Resource Network) and the Daniel Pearl Foundation have announced the launch of PEARL (Prepare and Educate Aspiring Reporters for Leadership) World Youth News, an international news service with articles written, edited, and published by secondary school students from around the world. The first PEARL articles have come from certified student PEARL Reporters in Uzbekistan, Vietnam, the U.K., and the U.S., and can be viewed on the PEARL Web site at http://www.pearl.iearn.org/pearlnews.

Inspired by the life and work of Daniel Pearl, The Wall Street Journal reporter who was murdered in Pakistan, PEARL aims to promote cross-cultural understanding by educating young people in the ethical principles and practices of professional journalism. Using secure and safe online forums, teenagers report on issues of interest to them. The news content is edited and published by student editorial teams in Iran, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, and the U.S.

Any school newspaper or magazine can internationalize their publication by downloading and reprinting articles from PEARL to add student-produced news articles to their local coverage. In addition, PEARL will stimulate students to create new school newspapers where they don't currently exist and to go into the field of journalism as a career.

High school students join the news service as PEARL Reporters after successfully completing an online training and certification course. (See http://www.iearn.org/pearlproject/reporters.html for more information.)

The certification course, which is being offered free of charge to students worldwide, has been developed with the assistance of Karen Freeman, from the editorial department of The New York Times, and Melvin Mencher, Professor Emeritus of Columbia University's School of Journalism. More than 60 students from nine countries are currently enrolled in the course.

A key aspect of this initiative is that student writing skills are being dramatically enhanced through both the certification process and in the peer editing of articles prior to publication on the PEARL Web page, the announcement states. Therefore, this collaborative online project meets important state and national education standards in writing, critical thinking, and social studies.

Founded in 1988, iEARN is a global network that enables young people in 115 countries to use the Internet and other new technologies to engage in collaborative educational projects that enhance learning and make a difference in the world.

Source: iEARN, http://www.iearn.org and http://www.us.iearn.org

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Merit Software Integrates Text-To-Speech Technology Into Reading, Grammar, and Vocabulary Instruction

Merit Software has announced the addition of a voice component, called the Merit Text Talker, to all its reading, grammar, and vocabulary improvement programs. With the Merit Text Talker, all of the passages, questions, answers, tips, and explanations students view on the screen can be spoken aloud.

Text-to-speech functionality is now seamlessly integrated into the software. With two clicks, students can cause text to be spoken aloud without additional windows opening or closing. They may repeat words and phrases as often as they choose, and from wherever they wish within the context of Merit's skill-building exercises.

Words are highlighted in synchrony with their enunciation, providing emphasis and helping students follow the text. The company provides two high-quality North American voices, or users may install their own regional voice into the Merit Text Talker.

Merit expects that including text-to-speech will be beneficial to a wide variety of students, including but not limited to English language learners, people with dyslexia, and remedial readers.

The Merit Text Talker is included with the installation CD-ROM for all 1-Station, 5-Station, 10-Station, and Site License networkable versions of Merit reading, vocabulary, and grammar programs. Home versions purchased on a CD-ROM also include the Merit Text Talker. The Merit Text Talker may be purchased separately for Home versions sold by download.

To see how the Merit Text Talker works, visit http://www.meritsoftware.com/text_talker/.

Source: Merit Software, http://www.meritsoftware.com

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Play Index Dramatic Resource Now Available on WilsonWeb

Play Index, applauded by Reference Quarterly as "the preeminent play-finding index," is now available as a WilsonWeb online reference. The index covers virtually every important play ever written in or translated into English, from contemporary works to classic and historic plays.

The material includes nearly 30,000 plays published either individually or in collections since 1949, as well as links to selected Web sites that often feature full text. Among the collection are one-act plays, plays in verse, radio and television plays, and classic drama. Entries for more than 500 monologues are also offered.

Play Index can help teachers find plays to match production resources, casts, or course assignments. Searches can be performed by title, author, subject (culture conflict, marriage, etc.), cast type, or style and genre (symbolism, comedy, musical, etc.). Search results can be limited to a specific number of male or female roles, size of total cast, and appropriateness for grades preK-6, 7-12, or adult.

Entries include a plot summary, musical requirements, and the number of sets (with interior or exterior scenery designations). Full play publication details are provided, to help users locate the selected plays.

Source: H.W. Wilson, 800/376-6770 or http://www.hwwilson.com/

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Intel to Train 10 Million Teachers in Developing Nations

Intel Corporation announced plans to train an additional 10 million teachers in developing nations during the next five years in the use of technology to advance learning.

The plan expands Intel's "Teach to the Future" initiative, which has trained more than 3 million teachers in 35 countries since 2000.

As part of the expanded program, Intel also announced that it will donate 100,000 personal computers to classrooms in developing nations.

The Teach to the Future project incorporates the use of the Internet, Web page design, and student projects as learning tools. To complement the education program, Intel works with governments, industry, individuals, and organizations to create an environment that supports social and economic advancement.

Source: Intel Corporation, http://www.intel.com/

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Inspiration Software Launches Inspiration 8

Inspiration Software has announced the launch of Inspiration 8. Designed to offer one place for students to plan, research, and complete projects, Inspiration 8 expands the ways students and teachers can use visual learning to improve achievement across the curriculum, according to the announcement.

In addition to enhancements to existing capabilities, such as the RapidFire tool for quick brainstorming, template wizard for creating custom templates, and Site Skeleton export for fast Web site creation, Inspiration 8 features new capabilities intended to help students and teachers:

* Discover more ways to engage and learn visually with video and sound integration capabilities and a keyword symbol search.
* Jumpstart assignments, gather research, and streamline projects using curriculum templates, drag-and-drop actions, and enhanced transfer and export tools.
* Write with more clarity and accuracy using the Word Guide, an innovative dictionary/thesaurus and an automatic spell checker.
* Access free Inspiration Web Resources for more than 1 million additional symbols, more than 50 Curriculum Packets and on-demand training videos.

The online Curriculum Packets help teachers integrate visual learning techniques as they address multiple student learning styles. Each online Curriculum Packet includes standards-aligned supplemental instructional units for high school level language arts, social studies, and science.

Information on pricing and upgrading, including special introductory pricing through June 30, is available at http://www.inspiration.com/order/index.cfm.

Educators interested in previewing Inspiration 8 can download a free, fully functional 30-day trial copy from the Inspiration Software Web site at http://www.inspiration.com/freetrial.

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

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COMPanion Corporation Releases Alexandria v5.5.1

COMPanion Corporation has announced the release of Alexandria v5.5.1, which includes a powerful new WEB Librarian interface. The new release includes numerous additional added benefits and performance enhancements designed to improve stability and ease of use, according to the announcement.

New features listed in the announcement include the following:

* New WEB Librarian interface now available for convenient circulation, inventory, patron/item management, reporting, utility options, and more—all accessible via the Web.
* Streamlined Web data processing for Central Union configurations and other users with high volume Web searching or circulation.
* Lexile information is now available on the Web circulation interface.
* Overall improved stability and performance.

This new release will be a free upgrade to current Alexandria customers.

Alexandria is a library automation system used in thousands of libraries worldwide since 1988—including singles libraries to school districts of 350+. It may be configured as a Client/Server model for optimal networking speed and functionality, or as a complete Web-based configuration for ease and convenience. Alexandria offers a cross-platform and/or Web-based library automation solution for the latest operating systems including Windows XP and Macintosh OS X.

Source: COMPanion Corp., http://www.goalexandria.com

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Texthelp Releases Version 8.0 of its Read&Write GOLD Literacy Support Software

Texthelp Systems, Inc., has announced that it is shipping a new version of its Read&Write GOLD literacy support software program. Read&Write 8.0 GOLD features new mind-mapping functionality, improved navigation, and simplified installation processes for both single users and network administrators. It was developed following 12 months of end user feedback and research.

Read&Write 8.0 GOLD is a literacy productivity tool designed for struggling students in grades 3 and up to help them access curriculum content on a computer and complete reading, writing, and research assignments independently.

Read&Write 8.0 GOLD now appears as a toolbar that floats on top of any mainstream Windows application that meets accessibility criteria. For example, students writing a book report in Microsoft Word software can use the Read&Write 8.0 GOLD toolbar to click on any of 19 literacy support features for immediate assistance as they work on their assignment. The program is designed to allow students with low reading proficiency to work independently, in an inclusive manner alongside their peers in the classroom.

All icons within Read&Write 8.0 GOLD have been modified for ease of use. A fully accessible Fact Mapper feature helps students brainstorm and organize their ideas. It allows them to create graphic organizers to manage and categorize their thoughts, showing how ideas and thought-flow are connected.

The program also includes a new version of Texthelp's PDFaloud program with hover highlighting to enable students to hear any text within a PDF read aloud with synchronous highlighting onscreen.

The program now features a more intelligent installation process that can detect whether a previous version is on the computer and will uninstall it before it installs the new one. The customizable toolbar is now larger for ease of use. Students can customize it themselves as usual, but they can also choose from three new toolbars that are pre-customized by task for reading, writing, and research.

The Word Prediction tool's data file has been improved for more accurate word predictions. The program now features Web highlighting. The original Speechmaker has been replaced with a new SAPI 5 compatible Speechmaker, so that the voices are the most human-sounding and realistic ones available, the announcement states. The new Speechmaker creates files faster and can convert greater volumes of text. It also has a new SAPI 5 compatible version of the Pronunciation Tutor tool, using the default voices "Emily" or "U.S. Jill."

An improved Daisy Reader application provides high-quality speech integration. The program includes an all-new Fact Folder. The Scanning tool was upgraded to include multi-page scanning. To address students' individual preferences, the Read&Write Toolbar can now be docked on the left and right as well as at the top of the screen. Also, the Word Wizard, Speech Maker, Daisy Reader, and Pronunciation Tutor are now all available as buttons on the toolbar as well as menu options.

The Teachers Toolkit has been improved to make upgrades easier so that settings are retained. It also allows word pronunciation to be centrally controlled by the teacher.

Read&Write 8.0 GOLD is available now as a Windows CD-ROM. The suggested price for a single version of the program is $645. The starting price for a school network site license is $4,495. Texthelp also offers a similar Read&Write Gold for Mac program for Macintosh users.

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

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