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An Educator's Guide to Technology and the Web
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April 25, 2006

Table of Contents

ITI Cross Links: Podcasting 101 for K-12 Librarians
April is School Library Media Month
ITI Cross Links: EBSCO Offers Free Access to Teacher Reference Center
ETS Launches Core Version of its ICT Literacy Assessment
Gateway Unveils New Dual Core Notebooks
Glimpse Foundation Launches Global Photo Contest
New Edition of H.W. Wilson’s Fiction Catalog Now Available
Tool Factory Launches SpellTrack for Reading Intervention
Canvastic Is Updated to Version 2.1
BrainPOP! Brings on Science Movies, BrainPOP! en Español

ITI Cross Links: Podcasting 101 for K-12 Librarians

In her April 2006 Computers in Libraries article, Esther Kreider Eash notes she queried 100 school librarians about podcasting during her presentation at last fall's AASL conference, "and not one hand went up to indicate that anyone had accessed or listened to a podcast."

We doubt she'd get the same sort of response from attendees of the Internet@Schools conferences, nor from readers of Multimedia & Internet@Schools or MMISXtra. But her article "Podcasting 101 for K-12 Librarians" may interest you even so … as a great introduction to podcasting that you can point your skeptical or less aware colleagues toward. It's just what its title implies: a solid primer on podcasting, including sections entitled Reasons to Use Podcasts in School Libraries and Create Your Own Podcast. And it could help teachers "of a certain age" join the ranks of digital immigrants and/or better reach their digital native students.

 Click HERE to link to the article at Information Today, Inc.'s Computers in Libraries magazine.

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April is School Library Media Month

School Library Media month continues the National Library Week celebration (April 2-8) throughout the month of April. The theme this year is Change Your World @Your Library.

The American Library Association (ALA) and American Association of School Libraries (AASL) offer tools and resources for the event, including a downloadable toolkit for the School Library Campaign @Your Library, at http://www.ala.org/aasl/.

National Library Week is observed each year in April, generally the second full week of the month. In 2007, the week will be celebrated April 15-21.

Source: Americal Library Association/American Association of School Libraries, http://www.ala.org/aasl/

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ITI Cross Links: EBSCO Offers Free Access to Teacher Reference Center

EBSCO is offering free access to the new Teacher Reference Center, a bibliographic index of more than 260 titles from teacher and administration trade journals, periodicals, and books. Learn more HERE from the announcement picked up in Information Today, Inc.'s NewsBreaks for April 17, 2006.

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ETS Launches Core Version of its ICT Literacy Assessment

ETS has announced that 7,000 students at more than 38 four-year institutions, community colleges, and high schools nationwide are taking the new Core version of its Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Literacy Assessment. Institutions that meet minimum requirements can administer the test free of charge until May 5.

The ICT Literacy Assessment is a simulation-based test designed to measure a student's ability to use critical thinking to define, access, manage, integrate, evaluate, create, and communicate information in a technological environment. Test takers are asked to perform 15 information management tasks—such as extracting information from a database, developing a spreadsheet, or composing an e-mail summary of research findings—in approximately 75 minutes.

The Core level of the test is designed for high school seniors and first-year students at community colleges and four-year institutions. ETS also offers an Advanced level, designed for rising juniors at four-year institutions and students transitioning from two-year to four-year institutions.

Only high school seniors and first-year college students can take the assessment during this first test administration. ETS is offering the assessment for free to schools that commit to testing a minimum of 100 students by May 5 and that meet minimum technological requirements.

For more information about the ETS ICT Literacy Assessment and to view an online demo, visit http://www.ets.org/ictliteracy.

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

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Gateway Unveils New Dual Core Notebooks

Gateway's new M285-E and CX210 convertible notebooks house two execution cores that enable the performance of multiple computing tasks at the same time.

The notebooks operate in both notebook and tablet modes. To activate the tablet mode, the display area is swiveled and folded down onto the keyboard. Users can take handwritten notes, draw diagrams, edit documents, and work with an array of pen-based applications directly on the 14-inch widescreen display.

The units can provide all-day computing, with a battery life of up to eight hours on a single charge of the optional high capacity (12-cell) battery.

Pricing for the M-285E notebook starts at $1,399.99.

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

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Glimpse Foundation Launches Global Photo Contest

The Glimpse Foundation has launched its third annual Spring Photo Contest, "It's All in the Family," open to anyone who has traveled or lived abroad. The contest seeks photos that depict family life in countries other than the U.S.

The photo submission deadline is May 22. One grand prize winner will receive a $500 travel voucher. A total of 12 winning entries will be included in the 2007 Glimpse calendar, to be distributed to bookstores across the U.S. Contest guidelines are posted online at http://www.glimpsefoundation.org/recruiting.php#contest/.

Previous contests include 2005's "A Day's Rest," providing a look at people enjoying leisure time in countries around the globe, and 2004's "A Day's Work," presenting images of work routines around the world. Images from these and other contests are posted online.

The Glimpse Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 2001 by Brown University students with seed funds from the National Geographic Society. The organization's mission is to foster cross-cultural understanding and exchange, particularly between the United States and the rest of the world.

Source: The Glimpse Foundation, http://www.glimpseabroad.org/

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New Edition of H.W. Wilson’s Fiction Catalog Now Available

H.W. Wilson has announced the new Fifteenth Edition of its Fiction Catalog—now available on WilsonWeb and in print. Fiction Catalog, 15th Edition http://www.hwwilson.com/print/fictcat.cfm provides help with collection development and maintenance, selection and purchasing, readers' advisory, and general reference, with a selective list of over 8,000 works of classic and contemporary fiction.

Fiction Catalog draws on the evaluations and expertise of a panel of esteemed librarians representing diverse parts of the U.S., with a focus on the broad challenges and aims of collection development, according to the announcement. The best authors and their most widely read works in literary and popular fiction are listed, including mysteries, science fiction, fantasy, Westerns, romance, and more. (All are works written in or translated into English.) Entries deliver complete bibliographic data, price, descriptive annotations, and evaluative quotations from a review when available. Fiction Catalog also features analytic entries for novellas and novels contained in composite works.

In print, the new Fifteenth Edition lists more than 8,000 titles in the main hardcover volume (2006), and more than 2,000 new titles will be listed in annual paperback supplements subscribers receive at no additional charge in 2007, 2008, and 2009.

The WilsonWeb edition brings subscribers substantially more content, searching by a wide range of parameters, and more frequent updates. Users have access to all the content of the Fifteenth Edition plus an archive from the previous edition. Recommended titles are added daily or weekly—without the wait for annual supplements. Entries link to full text book reviews, review excerpts and citations, plus holdings information from the library's OPAC. A WilsonWeb subscription also facilitates simultaneous searching with other WilsonWeb databases, plus other conveniences of electronic searching.

Libraries that subscribe to the electronic edition save 50 percent on subscriptions to the print edition. Significant savings are available with the "5-Pack" Standard Catalogs subscription on WilsonWeb: Public Library Catalog, Children's Catalog, Senior High School Library Catalog, Middle and Junior High School Library Catalog, and Fiction Catalog.

Source: H.W. Wilson, http://www.hwwilson.com

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Tool Factory Launches SpellTrack for Reading Intervention

Tool Factory has announced the launch of SpellTrack for reading intervention. SpellTrack is designed to help students to improve their spelling and have fun at the same time, according to the announcement. The program combines learning to spell with the left-to-right tracking fundamentals of reading and writing. Part of the On Track Series, Spell Track is composed of self-paced activities, unique word lists, and reinforcement.

After logging in, students find themselves at a brightly colored desktop where they can choose one of two tasks: "Learn the Words" or "Test Yourself." In "Learn the Words," the program briefly flashes a word on the screen while clearly pronouncing it over the speakers. The word disappears and is replaced by a jumbled string of letters. The student spells the word by clicking on the letters in order and an animated pen circles each letter chosen. A correct spelling leads to praise, after which the child is asked to reinforce the word in the context of a sentence. Encouraging cues to "try again" are given in response to incorrect spellings, and eventually the program spells the word for the child while tracking it on-screen. 

In the "Test Yourself" activity, the program measures learning from the same word list. Each word is read aloud, then students are challenged to type the word in response. After the list is done, the student receives a quick overview of how many words were spelled correctly. The test can be taken as many times as necessary to improve learning and also reinforce daily vocabulary lists. 

Teachers can add students, edit word lists, make custom lists, and determine how long each word remains on-screen. SpellTrack also addresses the "phonemic awareness," "phonics," and "comprehension" tenets of the Reading First program. Meeting these criteria is an important gateway to accessing state funds from the No Child Left Behind act. Other skills taught by this program include left-to-right tracking, sequencing, segmenting, and word recognition. 

Source: Tool Factory, http://www.toolfactory.com

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Canvastic Is Updated to Version 2.1

Canvastic LLC has announced an update to version 2.1 for their product Canvastic, an integrated writing, graphics, and publishing tool for students in grades K-8. Developed by a former classroom teacher and computer coordinator, Canvastic was specifically designed with classroom use in mind and provides a mix of fun and productivity, according to the announcement.

Canvastic is a student- and teacher-focused software tool that can be customized for students' age and ability level. The interface is clean and clear with customized sets of options for graphic and text use. It grows with the user and is now even easier to customize, the announcement states. Tools allow for the creation of maps, diagrams, and graphs, as well as importing of pictures and text.

There are dozens of refinements included in this release. Version 2.1 includes the following new features:

* Text and object shapes print much more clearly.
* Clip Art and inserted graphics now support transparency for white areas.
* Word Processing objects correctly display multiple carriage returns and spaces.
* In addition to inserting common graphic formats (jpg, png, etc.), the software permits them to be opened directly, placing them into a new Canvastic document.
* Saving QuickTime movies is now done more easily.
* Preference set names will now appear alphabetically.
* Single pixels can now be properly filled with the Fill tool.

Version 2.1 for Windows and Macintosh is now ready for download at http://www.canvastic.com/support/download/. This is a free upgrade for all registered users.

Source: Canvastic LLC, http://www.canvastic.com

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BrainPOP! Brings on Science Movies, BrainPOP! en Español

BrainPOP, a producer of animated educational movies for K-12, is introducing 20 new science movies during the months of March, April, and May. The new movies will extend the offering of BrainPOP's science base, focusing on the environment, heredity, and general biology. In addition, the company recently announced the launch of a new Spanish language site, BrainPOP en Español.

BrainPOP's narrated science animations will bring kids face to face with neurons, water pollution, respiration, and ions, among other topics. The company is working to improve the science knowledge base of students, according to the announcement, as they will be tested beginning in 2007 under the No Child Left Behind Act. By presenting scientific fact in a format that is fun and engaging, BrainPOP movies are designed to entertain as they educate. Activities and a ten-question interactive quiz accompany each movie to reinforce knowledge. See http://www.brainpop.com/science for a full list of science topics.

BrainPOP en Español

This new site uses BrainPOP's format to present content in science, math, social studies, language arts, health and technology, in Spanish.

By offering both English and Spanish versions of the content, BrainPOP hopes to be an integral learning tool for Spanish-speaking students, not only in the U.S. but also in South America and Spain. BrainPOP en Español provides 12-month subscriptions for schools starting at $100. For more information on subscriptions and pricing, please visit http://www.brainpopes.com.

Source: BrainPOP, http://www.brainpop.com

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