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An Educator's Guide to Technology and the Web
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August 15, 2006

Table of Contents

Free Resources: NOAA’s Marine Science Web Portal
ITI Cross Links: Google Book Search Adds Big, Brave Partner--The University of California
ISTE Updates “Spreadsheet Magic”
UltraKey 5.0 Includes Spanish Features
ConstitutionFacts.com Offers Constitution IQ Challenge
H.W. Wilson Announces Current Issues: Reference Shelf Plus
TLC’s School Products Division Releases Web Circ
Tool Factory Introduces B/D Letter Olympics
Free Resources: Toolkit from ETS and SETDA to Help Educators Leverage Data
Internet Age and Identity Verification System for Kids Launched by NetIDme Ltd

Free Resources: NOAA’s Marine Science Web Portal

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Immersion Presents have launched oceanslive.org  <http://www.oceanslive.org/portal/> a marine science portal that offers live video and special content to educate people of all ages about the ocean, including national marine sanctuaries. Immersion Presents is an after-school science education program founded by ocean explorer Robert Ballard.

In addition to watching live video from research expeditions, the portal's visitors can learn more about oceanography, marine life, conservation and preservation, marine research technologies, and the nation's maritime heritage, the announcement states. To complement the video broadcasts, the portal offers lesson plans, videos, puzzles, and games based on the marine environment.

The portal's first live "telepresence" broadcast focused on a research expedition to the wreck of the Civil War ironclad the USS Monitor, located off the North Carolina coast. The expedition is a collaborative effort between the Institute for Exploration and the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary to generate a digital photographic mosaic of the ship's hull and surrounding wreckage. Live programming was fed via Internet2 to sites across the country, and also was converted for broadcast through the oceanslive.org portal.

The NOAA National Marine Sanctuary Program seeks to increase the public awareness of America's marine resources and maritime heritage by conducting scientific research, monitoring, exploration, and educational programs. The sanctuary program manages 13 national marine sanctuaries and one marine national monument that together encompass more than 150,000 square miles of America's ocean and Great Lakes natural and cultural resources.

In 2007 NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, celebrates 200 years of science and service to the nation. The agency is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners and more than 60 countries to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes.

Source: NOAA: http://www.noaa.gov

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ITI Cross Links: Google Book Search Adds Big, Brave Partner--The University of California

Here, straight from our sister e-newsletter NewsLinks, is text and a pointer to Barbara Quint's latest NewsBreaks article on Google Book Search:

It's been almost 2 years since Google dramatically expanded its book digitization program--originally known as Google Print but now called Google Book Search--from only having publisher partners to including five major research libraries. Now, another major research institution has joined the Google book Search library program <http://books.google.com>. The 100 libraries on the 10 campuses of the University of California (UC)--the largest research and academic library in the world--opened a composite 34 million book collection to Google.

Link to the full story HERE at Information Today, Inc.'s NewsBreaks for August 14, 2006.

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ISTE Updates “Spreadsheet Magic”

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) released the second edition of the book, "Spreadsheet Magic" by Pamela Lewis.

The updated version includes dozens of new lessons and activities designed to demonstrate the flexibility and effectiveness of the spreadsheet as a teaching tool in K-12 classrooms.

Among the features: ideas for using spreadsheets in K-6 classrooms, an introduction to the basic functions and capabilities of spreadsheet software, step-by-step activity descriptions keyed to the NETS*S and content area standards, teaching tips to enhancing thinking skills, a CD-ROM with a set of modifiable lesson templates and samples, 40 lesson plans for K-6, and suggestions for lesson preparation, assessment and instructional support.

Although the book provides detailed instructions for using Excel spreadsheets, the activities can be used with any spreadsheet program.

The price is $35.95 for ISTE members and $39.95 for non-members. Additional information, including chapter excerpts and ordering information, can be found online at http://www.iste.org/bookstore/.

ISTE, 800/336-5191 or http://www.iste.org/.

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UltraKey 5.0 Includes Spanish Features

UltraKey 5.0 now includes new features that enable Spanish-speaking students to hear instructional support in their first language while learning to keyboard in English.

As students work with the program, they can request a Spanish-spoken explanation of any section of the instruction by clicking a button or striking a short key combination. The new feature is available to UltraKey 5.0 users at no additional charge; it is native to UltraKey version 5.0.3.

The feature, dual-language support, can provide any combination of two spoken languages. Future versions will offer German, French and alternative forms of English such as British and other dialects.

Bytes of Learning, 800/465-6428 or http://www.bytesoflearning.com/.

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ConstitutionFacts.com Offers Constitution IQ Challenge

In honor of Constitution Day, September 17, ConstitutionFacts.com offers a Constitution IQ test online at http://www.constitutionfacts.com/

The 10-question Fascinating Facts quiz was developed to raise awareness of the U.S. Constitution. Among the questions: What was our country's first constitution called? and What is the longest possible time a person can now serve as President?

The makers of the quiz hope that everyone who takes it will leverage the power of e-mail and pass it on to 10 more individuals and ask them to pass it on to 10 more people in turn.

The company also offers the 96-page book, "The U.S. Constitution and Fascinating Facts About It." English and Spanish editions are available.

Single copies are offered at no charge, with a shipping and handling fee of $2.00. Bulk orders are available on a sliding pricing scale, beginning at $2.95 (2-19 copies) and $1.50 (20-99 copies) per copy, plus shipping and handling fees.

ConstitutionFacts.com, http://www.constitutionfacts.com/.

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H.W. Wilson Announces Current Issues: Reference Shelf Plus

H.W. Wilson has announced that a new database, Current Issues: Reference Shelf Plus, will be available on WilsonWeb next month. Current Issues: Reference Shelf Plus presents full-text articles from key publications on social, scientific, health, political, and global issues, chosen to make up a well-rounded overview. The database features current articles with periodic updates, plus the option for users to launch preset searches on WilsonWeb or on the Internet.

Current Issues: Reference Shelf Plus will serve as an information hub for students, educators, debate clubs, journalists and others, and will help researchers manage the "information overload" on hot topics with a thoughtful, timely selection of articles, according to the announcement. The database is organized by topic, and a visual display guides users to their subjects of interest.

Issues covered are selected to suit the needs of school and university researchers, reflecting modern concerns and controversies. Users are presented with 30+ articles per topic from respected magazines and journals, hand-picked by Wilson editors to provide balanced and thorough research. Feature articles, editorials, scholarly papers and more are included, to convey all relevant facts and perspectives. Authoritative Web sites are highlighted, including links to primary sources (e.g. the text of the Kyoto Accord in coverage of Global Climate Change).

Coverage stays current for each topic, with WilsonWeb links to articles from thousands of periodicals on other WilsonWeb databases. In addition, page images deliver important information in the charts, graphs, illustrations and other graphics that accompany the full-text articles. The database also links to relevant biographies from the Wilson biographical reference Current Biography.

Primary topics are divided into subtopics, each presenting a selection of articles that, taken together, offer an authoritative overview. Balanced discussion is ensured by the wide range of international perspectives represented, the announcement states.

Current Issues: Reference Shelf Plus will cover some 80 topics by year-end: global climate change, torture, physical fitness trends, doping in sports, ethics in business, globalization, HIV/AIDS, homeland security, immigration and emigration, international disaster relief, the Internet, the paranormal, space exploration, U.S. and the Middle East, youth gangs, and many more. It will grow by 20 topics each year thereafter. The database will also cover the topic of the National High School Policy Debate each year.

Free 30-day trials will be available to reviewers and librarians in September 2006. For more information on Current Issues: Reference Shelf Plus, visit http://www.hwwilson.com/refplus.

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

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TLC’s School Products Division Releases Web Circ

TLC has announced the release of Web Circ, a Web-based circulation interface designed specifically for schools. Web Circ's screens were designed to be used by library media specialists, library assistants, and student helpers with minimal training.

Library media specialists can perform circulation functions from a browser without having to install software at the individual school. Web Circ is an additional interface to TLC's centralized automation system for school districts, Library•Solution for Schools. Web Circ joins TLC's other Web-based modules including OPAC, Reports, Cataloging, Acquisitions, Media Booking, and Textbook Management.

Features of Web Circ include the following:

* Student pictures: View student pictures in circulation. A search for a teacher yields a class list with pictures. Click on the student picture to check out books.
* Class set functionality: Request multiple copies of a title from across the district. Web Circ determines where the copies are available and sends requests to the appropriate schools.
* Integrated access to Web applications: Tabs provide integrated access to the district's OPAC, TLC's Report Manager, or any other Web site. Standards-compliant sites will maintain their view when switching between tabs to allow staff to easily move back and forth between applications.
* Automated Cataloging: Create a brief record in Web Circ and have a full MARC record the next day. The record is automatically updated to full MARC overnight.
* Student Self-Check: Students can check out their own materials.

 Source: TLC, http:www.tlcdelivers.com

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Tool Factory Introduces B/D Letter Olympics

The B/D Letter Olympics, a new reading program for K-2 students, helps young readers develop visual discrimination of the letters b and d.

The software uses the theme of six Olympic events to reinforce learning with letter-forming activities and auditory stimulation. The events include tennis, bowling, skiing, hurdling, race car driving, and golf. The activities initially focus on distinguishing between the letters b and d and eventually progress toward more difficult tasks, such as mixed double letter identification.

Teachers can assign skill level settings for individual students and create tailored assignments. The sound controls can turn off reward sounds or auditory letter sound reinforcement.

Student records reveal student scores, the duration of play on each event and printable visual records of each letter chosen incorrectly. The program comes with 35 printable PDF worksheets for practice outside of the classroom and clip art for teacher-created worksheets.

The accessibility settings allow a variety of student accommodations. Text can be displayed in blue on yellow or yellow on blue settings, making reading easier for students with dyslexia.

B/D Letter Olympics is available for PC, MacX, and Linux. The program is networkable and switch accessible.

The single user cost is $69.96. The site license cost is $529.95.

Tool Factory, 800/220-8386 or http://www.toolfactory.com/.

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Free Resources: Toolkit from ETS and SETDA to Help Educators Leverage Data

ETS and the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) have released a free informational toolkit of resources that will assist educators at the state, district, and school levels to leverage available data to impact teaching and learning.

The toolkit, called "Using Data for School Reform," includes the following:

* Independent research conducted by ETS that supports the need for statewide data systems, which SETDA members can use to make their case to state-level policy makers
* A policy recommendation regarding data for the reauthorization of NCLB
* Case studies on statewide data systems from five states
* Leadership documents and sample templates that help state-level tech directors explain the benefits of why statewide data systems are so important to the success of schools today including the opportunity for cost savings, individualized instruction, and consistent reporting methods

"Many states are moving to statewide data systems, but to date only a few districts and states are truly using data to change teaching and learning," said SETDA's Executive Director, Mary Ann Wolf, PhD. "As states develop plans for data infrastructure, the end goal should always be about increasing student achievement."

"Using Data for School Reform" is one component of SETDA's 2006 Leadership Summit Toolkit and is available free online at http://www.setda.org/content.cfm?sectionID=265.

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

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Internet Age and Identity Verification System for Kids Launched by NetIDme Ltd

NetIDme Ltd. has announced the launch of a tool for young people to check the identity and age of people they talk to online.

The technology - a virtual ID card that can be swapped online - will help make online chat and social networking a safer place for young people and guard against Internet grooming, according to the announcement. It has been tested at U.K. schools over the past two years and is available to buy from the company's Web site at http://www.netidme.com in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Australia.

It was developed by the founder of Glasgow-based Internet ID verification company NetIDme Ltd. after he was concerned over his daughter using instant messaging. Alex Hewitt was astonished to find that of the 150 people on his daughter's buddy list - online friend list - she could verify the age and identity of fewer than 50.

Buying a Net-ID is similar to applying for a passport. Kids register the Web site for a Net-ID with the consent of their parent or guardian, verified by credit or debit card. Parent and child then complete a form, which must be signed by a professional who knows the child or stamped by the child's school. Other checks are applied by NetIDme using software designed and developed by the company. Annual subscription costs are $18.99.

Users are awarded points for staying safe online by using their Net-ID. They can exchange points for rewards such as cinema tickets and CDs. Initial registration takes a couple of minutes while the verification process takes between two and 14 days. Net-IDs list only a person's first name, age, and general location.

In addition, the company is launching ChatShield, which works with MSN Messenger. This product is aimed at younger children who may be too young to appreciate the idea of stranger danger, but wish to use instant messaging. Once it is installed, parents can set ChatShield to only allow their child to chat with a person under a certain age who has been verified and has a Net-ID.

Source: NetIDme Ltd., http://www.netidme.com

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