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An Educator's Guide to Technology and the Web
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June 20, 2006

Table of Contents

CoSN Launches K-12 Open Technologies Web Site
Tool Factory Launches Think About! For Reading Comprehension
Free Resources: NOAA Ocean Explorer
Free Resources: Access NewspaperARCHIVE, from NewspaperARCHIVE.com
The Ultrasonic Ringtone in School: Can You Hear It Now?
Vantage Learning Includes 45 Writing Prompts Aligned to Scholastic Read 180 Enterprise Edition in MY Access!
ITI Cross Links: My Homework's Done--Can Imbee on My Blog?
AASL Seeks Program and Exploratorium Proposals
Discovery Education Launches the Next Generation of unitedstreaming
Net Neutrality and the U.S. Senate
Science Reference Center Now Available From EBSCO
BrainPOP Releases Titles on Leonardo da Vinci and the Fibonacci Sequence
GTCO CalComp Announces Two New Wide-Format Interactive Whiteboards

CoSN Launches K-12 Open Technologies Web Site

The Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) offers a new Web site-- http://www.k12opentech.org/ --designed to raise awareness among K-12 education technology decision makers about the use of open technologies.

The site provides information on the benefits of open technologies in the K-12 environment and supports leadership with articles such as "Five Questions You Should Ask Before Adopting Open Technologies."

"Open technologies" include open source software, open standards and hardware--everything from operating systems and applications to interoperability standards that allow software systems to exchange data.

These technologies are publicly available with fewer licensing restrictions than traditional proprietary sources. As a result, educators can download server and desktop programs, databases, text, photos, lessons plans and other resources at low or no cost.

The new CoSN Web site explores the potential benefits of open technologies, including cost savings, data integrity and interoperability, flexibility, stability, increased access to information and greater student collaboration. The site provides articles, FAQs, news and extensive resource links to assist school technologists.

In September, the Open Technologies Leadership Initiative will release the first in a series of Open Technologies Implementation Studies to help educators understand the issues around implementing these technologies in a K-12 environment.

CoSN, 866/267-8747 or http://www.cosn.org/.

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Tool Factory Launches Think About! For Reading Comprehension

Tool Factory, Inc. has announced the launch of Think About!, its newest program for reading comprehension. Students read, listen, and watch the adventures of Jasmine and Harry as they venture through relevant life situational events such as recycling, gardening, camping, and more. As the short story is played, teachers can choose to have the spoken text accompany the animation, thus strengthening reading skills. They then have the students test their comprehension of the short story using different reinforcement activities based upon the story's conversations and events. Think About! teaches and reinforces reading comprehension skills with various activities based upon each short story, according to the announcement.

A green progress bar allows students to track their progress and reveal the amount of activities they have yet to complete. The program comes with clip art resources for additional class activities or worksheets, as well as an accompanying workbook. Additional workbook support materials provide the stories in a textual format, with supporting classroom activities and lesson plans. Record your voice reading the text of the story then play the recording back while watching the story for complete customization of the program.

A few questions in each comprehension activity will test a student's command of the previous short story. Comprehension activities include:

* Matching - Match the sentence text, to the picture.
* True False - Questions based on the stories conversation/events.
* Sequencing pictures - Using visual images of the story line, place them in the correct sequence.
* Sequencing text - Using short sentences from the text, place the text in the correct sequential order according to the story line.
* Multiple choice - Given a sentence, choose in the appropriate word that best fits the sentence grammatically.
* Do you remember? - Questions poised not from the stories conversation/events but from the animation itself. Students must learn to pay attention to all detail to answer these questions.

For purchasing information, visit Tool Factory's Web site at http://www.toolfactory.com.

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

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Free Resources: NOAA Ocean Explorer

We watch a number of sources for good Free Resources to point out to our MMISXtra readers, and the Scout Report, from the Internet Scout Project, is a wonderfully reliable one. Recently, they described NOAA's Ocean Explorer Web site, and it caught our eye.

The Ocean Explorer has ongoing explorations you/your students can join (Aegean and Black Sea; Expedition to the Deep Slope; Submarine Ring of Fire …); a gallery of maps plus photos, audio clips, and writings gathered under headings such as Explorers, Technology, History, Cultural Heritage; and loads more, including a For Fun section.

Read what The Scout Report has to say about Ocean Explorer HERE. (Their description starts out, "So you want to explore the world's oceans? What's that you say? You don't have an advanced degree in oceanography, expensive sea exploration equipment or a major funding source? Visitors to this very thorough and well-designed site may now feel free to breathe a collective sigh of relief … "

Or cut right to NOAA's Ocean Explorer site HERE.

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Free Resources: Access NewspaperARCHIVE, from NewspaperARCHIVE.com

NewspaperARCHIVE.com, a division of Heritage Microfilm, has announced it is giving K-12 schools and public libraries free access to tens of millions of newspaper pages in its historical newspaper database. This new program, called Access NewspaperARCHIVE, will allow students and library patrons to view, save, and print full-page newspapers dating from 1759 to 1977.

Access NewspaperARCHIVE will allow its users to access content from the U.S. and around the world, including titles from the United Kingdom, Canada, Jamaica, and other countries. The free subscription will exclude titles within the institution's local state and those after the year 1977. However, an upgraded subscription level that includes these titles will also be available.

In the past, historical newspaper research was typically limited to microfilm reels only available in the library. NewspaperARCHIVE.com is simplifying the research process by providing convenient online access to millions of digitized newspaper pages, according to the announcement.

Public libraries and K-12 schools can sign up for this service by calling NewspaperARCHIVE.com's customer service at 888/870-0484 ext. 30 or by downloading a sign-up form online at http://access.newspaperarchive.com and faxing the completed form to 319/390-9442.

For more information about NewspaperARCHIVE.com and this free program, go to http://access.newspaperarchive.com.

Source: NewspaperARCHIVE.com, http://www.newspaperarchive.com

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The Ultrasonic Ringtone in School: Can You Hear It Now?

Cell phones may be ringing in your classroom—and you may not be able to hear them.

A new cell phone ringtone that may only be heard by the young has been created from a high-pitched sound originally developed to keep groups of young people from congregating in public places.

The "ultrasonic youth deterrent for shops and homes" was developed in the U.K. by Compound Security Systems in an effort to "disperse gangs of youngsters hanging around the streets," without affecting older generations. Nimble technologists decided the sound would make a perfect ringtone in situations where the young wouldn't want older folks to know that phones were ringing—places like classrooms, for example.

Bootleg versions of the sound as ringtone were becoming so popular that Compound Security Systems (http://www.compoundsecurity.co.uk/) developed Mosquitotone, the official Mosquito ringtone. In the U.S., Mosquitotone is available at http://www.fork.com/, currently only for mp3-compatible phones. Additional formats are expected soon.

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Vantage Learning Includes 45 Writing Prompts Aligned to Scholastic Read 180 Enterprise Edition in MY Access!

Vantage Learning has announced the release of 45 writing prompts aligned to Scholastic Read 180 Enterprise Edition Stage B in its latest version of the MY Access! online instructional writing program. These new prompts—aligned by level, thematic unit, and the scope and sequence of Scholastic's intervention program—are available for immediate use.

MY Access! is based on Vantage Learning's IntelliMetric engine, which uses a blend of artificial intelligence and the digitization of human expertise to assess a student's competency and progress in writing.

Administrators can now select and assign writing prompts aligned to Scholastic's reading solution, designed for students whose reading achievement is below the proficient level. This provides an opportunity for students to further integrate reading and writing, and to write more frequently. Teachers can drill down on specific weak and strong skills by domain.

This provides students with the tools to enhance their vocabulary, spelling, and other skills taught by Scholastic Read 180. MY Access! contains multilingual dictionaries, a thesaurus, word banks, spelling and grammar checkers, writing editors, multilevel tutoring, and other tools to help students develop their writing skills. Students can write and revise their writing, and reinforce new skills through practice, while their interest in the subject is high. ELL Spanish-speaking students can select Spanish as their feedback language, and receive additional tips on how to improve their English writing skills.

With the MY Access! program, students maintain their work in an online portfolio that contains their initial draft, evaluation scores, and subsequent revisions. Similarly, teachers can review any individual student's portfolio, provide comments, and track the overall class portfolio to manage writing instruction.

Source: Vantage Learning, http://www.vantagelearning.com

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ITI Cross Links: My Homework's Done--Can Imbee on My Blog?

Imbee.com is a blogging site for children ages 8 to 14. What!!??? you're saying. Not safe!! Well, with all the concern over kids posting and publishing to the Web, it's worth reading this EContent article by Jared Bernstein to see how the imbee.com folks create an environment they say is safe even for kids that young.

Here's a summary of the article:

Parents are between a rock and a hard place: they want to encourage their children to be creative individuals—and blogging offers an excellent opportunity to learn to express thoughts and feelings—however, they must balance this against the risk of exposure to Internet predators. Jeanette Symons, founder of San Francisco Bay Area-based Industrious Kid, thinks blogging is worth the risk, but believes that risk can be mitigated by limiting social networking to a familiar community. She put $6 million from private investments into development of imbee.com, a blogging site for children ages 8 to 14 years olds.

Read the full article HERE, from Information Today, Inc.'s EContent magazine.

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AASL Seeks Program and Exploratorium Proposals

The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) is accepting requests for program and Exploratorium proposals for the 13th National Conference and Exhibition, "The Future Begins @ your library." The conference will be held October 25-28, 2007 in Reno, Nevada.

The AASL National Conference will offer more than 100 75-minute peer-reviewed concurrent sessions. Program content must address at least one of the three areas of responsibility: Learning and Teaching, Information Access, or Program Administration, as identified in AASL's Information Power: Building Partnerships for Learning. The deadline for concurrent session proposals is October 20, 2006.

The Exploratorium is a two-hour session held on October 25, 2007 that offers learning stations (table-top displays) where participants can browse at their own pace. Proposals for Exploratorium stations must exemplify best practices in school librarianship, highlight "@ your library" campaigns, showcase the excellence of school libraries, or present a creative solution to a problem in a school library setting. The deadline for Exploratorium proposals is March 30, 2007.

Proposals for concurrent sessions and the Exploratorium can be submitted online at http://www.ala.org/aasl/reno/. Submission guidelines, topical details, and complete proposal information is available in the "For Presenters" section.

American Association of School Librarians, http://www.aasl.org/.

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Discovery Education Launches the Next Generation of unitedstreaming

Discovery Education has announced the roll out the next generation of its signature unitedstreaming service.  The newly updated unitedstreaming video-on-demand service will include new multimedia assets, animations and audio; live curriculum-based Web seminars led by education technology experts; and hundreds of additional educational video titles that include foreign language, secondary math, and science and language arts current events.

In addition to 5,000 full-length videos segmented into 50,000 content-specific video clips, teachers' guides, student activities, and classroom integration ideas, the following new features and content will be available on  unitedstreaming for the upcoming the back-to-school season:

* More than 1,000 new videos from leading educational publishers, including the BBC, Channel 4, and MathMastery, which will be added this summer.
* New teacher preferences that allow teachers to create customized homepages and archive created assignments, quizzes, and writing prompts in personal folders.
* Improved search functionality, including drill down features that allow searches by keyword, subject, grade, or curriculum standards.
* Professional development enhancements, including a video library of best practices with topics such as differentiated instruction, technology integration, and classroom management.
* Technology integration demonstrations, which provide weekly teaching tips and "classroom quick start" ideas.
* New media assets, including an expansive audio library of sound effects, songs, and animations searchable by keyword; animated text diagrams to add dimension to key concepts; and a new library of primary images of shapes, colors, and objects.
* New Teacher Tools to support creation of teacher-selected content for student access, and a new Writing Prompt Generator that works with any image on unitedstreaming.
* Upgrades to administration tools, including a New Server Manager and Network Manager that provide easier management of server storage space, content downloads, and auto-updating of the software application.
* Updated teacher-managed student access features to encourage student exploration with teacher-selected assignments, quizzes, and media.

Source: Discovery Education, http://www.discoveryeducation.com

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Net Neutrality and the U.S. Senate

Keep an eye on the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, June 13, as it holds hearings on "net neutrality," the concept that Internet content should be uniformly and freely accessible without interference from Internet service providers (ISPs). Pending congressional legislation could permit ISPs to provide access selectively—to sites whose owners have paid fees to move their content more quickly (or exclusively) to ISP subscribers.

Organizations representing all parts of the political spectrum have joined a coalition that seeks to keep all Internet traffic "neutral," with no site or search engine receiving preferential treatment. For more information, check out the coalition's Web site, http://www.savetheinternet.com/.

In addition, the Alliance for a Media Literate America is keeping an eye on the issue on its Web site, http://www.amlainfo.org/.

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Science Reference Center Now Available From EBSCO

EBSCO Publishing has announced the availability of Science Reference Center, a resource designed to support middle and high school curriculum by encompassing all disciplines of science. In addition, EBSCO announced it has aligned relevant articles to over 70 science-oriented educational benchmarks to help ensure that curriculum and/or science-specific educational standards are being met.

Science Reference Center is a comprehensive research database that provides access to full text science-oriented content. It is designed to meet all students' science research needs, according to the announcement. Science Reference Center contains more than 630 full text titles including leading science encyclopedias, reference books, and periodicals, as well biographies and images. Topics covered include biology, chemistry, earth & space science, environmental science, health & medicine, history of science, life science, physics, science & society, science as inquiry, scientists, technology and wildlife.

Source: EBSCO Publishing, http://www.epnet.com

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BrainPOP Releases Titles on Leonardo da Vinci and the Fibonacci Sequence

Thanks to a best-selling novel and blockbuster film, Leonardo da Vinci and the mathematical numbers known as the Fibonacci sequence are in the spotlight more than ever before. So BrainPOP has announced the release of two new titles - "Leonardo da Vinci" and "The Fibonacci Sequence" - that provide a kid-friendly introduction to these two subjects. BrainPOP characters Tim and Moby "star" in the films, which tackle the topics at hand in an accessible, informal style while providing teachers with a framework for timely classroom discussions, according to the announcement. 

Focusing on da Vinci's scientific and artistic imagination, Tim and Moby bring children deep into the life and times of the original Renaissance man in "Leonardo da Vinci."  Touching on Leonardo's linguistic talents and unique use of images, they link his interest in science to his artistic achievements.

Then, with the help of some local rabbits, the pair tackles the Fibonacci Sequence, calling on examples from nature to explore and explain this set of numbers and its unusual properties. Related activities including a timeline and 10-question quiz support the movie's content and provide another learning tool for educators' use.

"Leonardo da Vinci" and "The Fibonacci Sequence" are available at http://www.brainpop.com. Note that "The Fibonacci Sequence" is, for a limited time, the "Featured" movie and can be viewed without a subscription. Also, free trial subscriptions are available.

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

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GTCO CalComp Announces Two New Wide-Format Interactive Whiteboards

GTCO CalComp has announced the new InterWrite SchoolBoard 1071 and 1085 - two new wide-format interactive whiteboards with a 16:9 aspect ratio. The new wide-format SchoolBoards will be available later this year. The InterWrite SchoolBoard 1071 and 1085 support the industry's movement toward the use of widescreen laptops and wide-format projectors, according to the announcement.

The new models retain all the features of the current InterWrite SchoolBoard models, which also remain in production, while providing educators with more usable work space. The InterWrite SchoolBoard 1071 and 1085 include high-precision electromagnetic technology; optional wireless Bluetooth connection; a durable interactive surface; and InterWrite Software, the announcement states.

In addition to these new wide-format interactive whiteboards, GTCO CalComp also announced a new interactive pen charging option for its entire line of interactive whiteboards.  The new SchoolBoard Interactive Pen Charger mounts to the side of any InterWrite SchoolBoard.

Source: GTCO CalComp, http://www.gtcocalcomp.com/

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