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November 07, 2006

Table of Contents

ITI Cross Links: Google Book Search Has Far to Go
Free Resources: Activities for National American Indian Heritage Month
Building Wings: The Autobiography of Software Publisher, Struggling Learner and Student Advocate Don Johnston Resources Now Available to netTrekker d.i. Subscribers
The Schools Interoperability Framework Association Releases New Version of SIF Implementation Specification
Cool Links: Google Joins Rollyo, Yahoo, and Microsoft Live Search in Allowing Users to Create Customized Domain Specific Search Tools
Cool Links: In Teens' Web World, MySpace Is So Last Year
CoSN Launches New Internet & Education Professional Development Webcast Series
Free Resources: Online Archaeology Resources for K-12
AMLA Seeks Proposals for “iPods, Blogs, and Beyond” Sessions

ITI Cross Links: Google Book Search Has Far to Go

Librarian Mick O'Leary has been writing about databases—the traditional ones you first think of if you've been around the profession for a while, and database "descendents" in this age of the Web—for a long time. His experience shows in his "Database Review" in the November 2006 issue of Information Today, where he turns his discerning and skeptical eye to Google Book Search. Just check out his first several paragraphs:

Over the past 2 years, trade journals, magazines, and newspapers have been publishing articles about Google Book Search ( But even if you had read every one of them, you still wouldn't know much about the project itself, because most of the discussion has focused on the copyright controversy with little about the database and how it works. So here are the details.

Book Search is difficult to research because the Google site has little documentation about the project: There's no list of participating publishers, no guidelines for the book selection process, no status reports on the library scanning program, etc. This is not only annoying, it's hypocritical for an organization with a mission "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."

Book Search has three book search services: 1) a library union catalog search of WorldCat and others, 2) books scanned from library collections, and 3) in-stock books provided by publishers. It's ironic that the first and most innovative of these is overlooked, while the second and most rudimentary and problem-ridden gets all of the attention.

Click HERE to read all of Mick's article in Information Today.

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Free Resources: Activities for National American Indian Heritage Month

The folks at the ReadWriteThink Web site—a partnership between the International Reading Association (IRA), the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), and the Verizon Foundation—have an excellent collection of resources of their own making, plus links to many more, to use during National American Indian Heritage Month. From their Web site:

Engage your students in an exploration of Native American heritage through a study of Native American pourquoi tales. Pourquoi tales explain why something or someone, usually in nature, is the way it is. Have your students read a variety of Native American pourquoi tales and then write original texts.

This First People website includes a selection of tales, including many pourquoi or "why" tales. After reading these tales, brainstorm with the class a list of animals with distinctive features or a list of natural events such as lightning, rain, or snow, and then have students write original pourquoi tales. When students finish, they can publish their tales using the ReadWriteThink Printing Press. The "booklet" option allows students to add additional pages in order to accommodate longer stories. After printing the finished product, students can add illustrations to their myths.

There's lots more where that came from. Click HERE to go to ReadWriteThink's free National American Indian Heritage Month resources.

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Building Wings: The Autobiography of Software Publisher, Struggling Learner and Student Advocate Don Johnston

Don Johnston, the founder and leader of the multimedia company that bears his name, has written an autobiography designed to inspire struggling students to become self-learning advocates and to take charge of their own learning process.

The book, Building Wings: How I Made It Through School, tells how Johnston struggled with core reading concepts until his 8th grade teacher, Mrs. Tedesco, recognized his potential and challenged him to discover new ways of thinking and learning.

With age-appropriate text for older readers, Building Wings offers the equivalent of a 3rd grade reading level to enhance the reading experience for all readers. The book was written for the 40% of K-12 students underperforming in literacy skills in every classroom across America.

Johnston's autobiography was created to help struggling students find the right learning strategies, especially students who feel that it's "too late" to catch up. In addition, the book was written as a reminder to teachers to look for signs from struggling students who may be stereotyped as having behavior problems.

Building Wings has been selected by Fairfax County, Virginia, schools as the core of a student self-advocacy learning initiative.

"Don's book is sad, funny, engaging and inspirational and details his personal and painful journey as a struggling learner," said William Reeder, Fairfax County's Director of Special Education, Assessment, Assistive Technology and Support Services. "When our students read Building Wings, they related to his experience and took charge of their learning."

According to Illinois 7th grader Alex F., "Don was brave to tell us his story. It made me think about my learning difficulties. I knew I needed more quiet time, so I asked my teacher if I could take tests in the hallway. It made a big difference."

Johnston began his software company in 1980. Since that time, he has partnered with literacy authors, psychologists, teachers, researchers and scientists to study and test the strategies developed around the science of how people learn.

Building Wings: How I Made It Through School is available at a cost of $9.95. Volume discounts are available. Call 877-253-2892.

Don Johnston, Inc., 800/999-4660 or

Back to Contents... Resources Now Available to netTrekker d.i. Subscribers

Thinkronize, Inc., developer of the netTrekker suite of educational search products, has partnered with to provide educators and students with new online content and resource options.

Schools and districts can now purchase access to as a content upgrade to netTrekker d.i. for as low as $0.60 per student per year. Proven to increase math scores, according to the announcement, the research-based program provides helpful step-by-step explanations for odd-numbered homework problems from over 150 math textbooks.

"Incorporating more content options, like, into netTrekker d.i. offers our users access to the quality resources they need in one central location, without having to log into multiple products," said Christine Willig, president of Thinkronize.

Designed to help users safely search for reliable educational resources online, more than 9.3 million students in 47 states currently use the netTrekker suite of products.

Source: Thinkronize, Inc.,

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The Schools Interoperability Framework Association Releases New Version of SIF Implementation Specification

The Schools Interoperability Framework Association (SIFA) has released a new major version of its SIF Implementation Specification and the first Web Services Reporting Specification. Both of these releases have been developed to support greater out-of-the-box interoperability for school software products and to reduce the data reporting demands placed on schools and states today.

The 2.0 Implementation Specification is the fourth official release of the specification, adding improvements to its infrastructure and expanding the current SIF data model. There are now 118 SIF data objects defined for exchange and interoperability between educational software applications.

Highlighted changes and additions to the SIF Implementation Specification include the following:

- a new online presentation format
- leveraging XML Schema for definition and data typing
- removal of deprecated code sets and elements, and more consistent design across all objects
- the introduction of SIF_ExtendedQuery to support queries spanning multiple SIF objects
- a redesigned set of assessment-related objects
- grade book integration and student period attendance
- student record exchange objects to support the exchange of demographic, academic, special education-related and other records between schools and districts, including eTranscripts
- calendar objects
- discipline incident data
- the new SIF Metadata common elements available in all SIF data objects

With the new release, the Association is nevertheless assuring existing SIF users that the it will continue to support, utilize, and certify the previous versions of the SIF Implementation Specification.

SIFA has also released its first version of the SIF Web Service Reporting Specification, version 1.0. It leverages SIF's reporting infrastructure to open up the wealth of educational data in SIF Zones to applications over popular Web Services technologies. With the capability of this specification, state agencies, districts, schools, and other entities have an industry-standard method for sharing report data from SIF Implementations.

Both specifications are accessible at Comments on the specifications may be e-mailed directly to

Source: The Schools Interoperability Framework Association (SIFA),

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Cool Links: Google Joins Rollyo, Yahoo, and Microsoft Live Search in Allowing Users to Create Customized Domain Specific Search Tools

That's a long, dry article title, but the article on ResourceShelf is not long, just good and useful … and the concept it covers is cool. The story will catch you up on the companies with tools that allow you to create customized search retrieval engines … as in, you specify just what/where will be searched when your students do a search. Read, learn, compare, and then use one or tell your colleagues about it. Find "Google Joins Rollyo, Yahoo, and Microsoft Live Search in Allowing Users to Create Customized Domain Specific Search Tools" right HERE at ResourceShelf.

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Cool Links: In Teens' Web World, MySpace Is So Last Year

Washington Post staff writer Yuki Noguchi takes a look at MySpace and other online teen social sites in the Sunday, October 29, edition of the newspaper.

Click HERE  to read "In Teens' Web World, MySpace Is So Last Year."

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CoSN Launches New Internet & Education Professional Development Webcast Series

The Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) recently announced the lineup for its 2006-2007 series of Internet & Education webcasts.

Each webcast is a 60-minute interactive online session. For the first time, this season's webcasts will be available as podcasts after the real-time sessions end.

Upcoming sessions include:

Keeping Students Secure in a MySpace World - November 15, 2006

Planning for the Inevitable: IT Disaster Preparedness - January 17, 2007

Bridging Individualized Learning & High Stakes Accountability - February 14, 2007

What Does Internet2 Mean for K-12? - April 18, 2007

Implementing Open Source in K-12 - May 16, 2007

Session participation is free for CoSN members. Non-member pricing is $59 per webcast.

For information or registration, go to or call 866/267-8747, ext. 115.

The 2006-2007 CoSN Internet & Education webcast series is sponsored by IBM, Apple, SAS inSchool, Gateway, Mitel and SchoolNet.

CoSN, 202/861-2676 or

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Free Resources: Online Archaeology Resources for K-12

The Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) offers a variety of free online resources for K-12 educators and students, including curriculum information, lesson plans, bibliographies, and teacher workshops.

Lesson plans and activities are available for general archaeology and culture-specific projects. The Introduction to Archaeology and Excavation: Definitions, Concepts, Procedures curriculum includes: Layer Cake Archaeology, Transparent Shoebox Dig, Shoebox Dig, Designing a Schoolyard Dig, and Mystery Cemetery Project. The Culture Specific curriculum currently offers one Classical Archaeology project, Greek Black Figure/Red Figure Vase Painting.

New Classical projects coming soon include Eratosthenes Math/History Lesson, Dolls in Tunics and Teddies in Togas: Roman Clothing Project, Hosting an Inter-Disciplinary Greco-Roman Feast, and Roman Wax Tablets. An upcoming Near East project focuses on the Rosetta Stone; an upcoming Medieval World project focuses on illuminated manuscripts.

Teachers may submit lesson plans and proposals to the AIA. Lesson plan guidelines are available online.

Also offered at the AIA Web site are: Introduction to Archaeology materials including bibliographies and a glossary, a list of teacher resources and workshops, information on archaeology-related films and television programs, and an Ask the Experts e-mail feature and FAQ section.

Archaeological Institute of America (AIA), 617/353-9361 or

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AMLA Seeks Proposals for “iPods, Blogs, and Beyond” Sessions

The Alliance for a Media Literate America (AMLA) is accepting session proposals for its 2007 National Media Education Conference, "iPods, Blogs, and Beyond: Evolving Media Literacy for the 21st Century," to be held June 24-26 in St. Louis, MO.

Proposals should include topics related to the latest theory, practical research, and strategies in media literacy education and should present media literacy programs designed for individuals, families, PreK-16 public and private school settings, and after-school and community programs. The sessions may focus on research, media production, or pedagogy and provide practical applications in the areas of K-12 education, parent education, or professional development or informal education.

Submission categories include one-hour sessions, two-hour workshops, one- or two-hour panels, one-hour graduate student research round tables, or 30-minute to one-hour media screening sessions.

Session proposals must be submitted online by midnight, November 1, 2006. Guidelines and the submission form are located at

The 2007 AMLA National Media Education Conference will be preceded by the organization's first media Literacy Research Summit, to be held June 23-24 in St. Louis.

AMLA, 888/775-AMLA or

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