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October 02, 2007

Table of Contents

Free Resources: Classroom Resources from ABC-CLIO Support “The War” on PBS
Cool Links: ResourceShelf's Resource of the Week for September 20--Kids.gov
Information Today, Inc. Publishes Listen Up!—Podcasting for Schools and Libraries
Lexia Learning Systems, Inc. Ships New Lexia Reading v5 Software
Don Johnston Releases SOLO Writing Coach
HP, Microsoft, UNICEF Launch Distance Learning Program for Displaced Children
Gale Unveils "Literature Criticism Online"
Inspiration Software Launches Lesson Plan Book for Building Data Literacy Skills
CTB/McGraw-Hill Launches Fox Tracker PDA-Based Early Learning Assessment System
Adobe Introduces New Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements
Free Resources: FileMaker Teacher Materials
ETS Launches New Version of Criterion Online Writing Evaluation Tool

Free Resources: Classroom Resources from ABC-CLIO Support “The War” on PBS

ABC-CLIO expands its free “History and the Headlines” online resources with “Double Victory—Minorities and Women During World War II,” material designed to support the Ken Burns and Lynn Novick PBS/WETA documentary, “The War.”

The classroom materials help students examine the roles of minorities and women during World War II and place their stories within the larger context of the war. The content includes video excerpts from the documentary, access to ABC-CLIO’s five-volume encyclopedia on World War II, essays on the tragedies and triumphs of the war, and complementary lesson plans from national History Day. The free collection will be available online until Dec. 31, 2007.

The site’s four video excerpts from “The War” give students a glimpse into the lives of everyday Americans during this tumultuous time. “Connecting to World War II” gives students an overview of the production of “The War” and its mission of portraying both the triumph and tragedy of World War II. “Munitions Factories” shows how men and women on the home front in the U.S. helped in the war effort. “Mobile Shipyards” provides insight into the shipyards of Mobile, Alabama, where African Americans found work opportunities that led to an increase in racial tensions. “Made Into Any Enemy” examines the tragedy of the internment of Japanese Americans.

The site’s Need to Know section takes students deeper into the global context of the war by providing access to ABC-CLIO’s “Encyclopedia of World War II: A Political, Social and Military History.” This comprehensive material includes an overview, detailed chronology, essays explaining the origins and legacy of the war, and numerous primary sources for gaining insight into the people, places, and events of World War II.

The Point of View section includes three essays by leading historians. The first essay provides an overview of life on the home front for women, African Americans, and Japanese Americans. The second essay focuses on the Japanese American troops of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and includes testimony from the men offering insight into their conflicting emotions over fighting for a country that was imprisoning their family members. The third essay focuses on the experiences of women in the military during World War II.

All of the resources in “History and the Headlines: World War II” can be used to support the accompanying collection of five lesson plans developed by National History Day. Each lesson plan asks students to make connections between the historical period and their own lives. Topics include researching family stories as oral histories, women in the workplace, women serving in the military, progress toward equal work opportunities for African Americans, and legal battles of interned Japanese Americans. Each lesson plan includes a connection to a specific episode of “The War,” relevance to the 2008 National History Day theme “Conflict and Compromise,” background information, primary sources, and classroom activities.

“History and the Headlines: World War II” is located online at www.historyandtheheadlines.abc-clio.com/WWII.

ABC-CLIO Schools, www.abc-clio.com.  


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Cool Links: ResourceShelf's Resource of the Week for September 20--Kids.gov

Resourceshelf's Senior Editor Shirl Kennedy compiled and annotated an awesome collection of education resources largely from government Web sites in the September 20, 2007 version of the Resource of the Week article she does. The article starts:

USA.gov is, of course, "the U.S. government's official web portal." So what is Kids.gov and why is it especially worth your time if you are a student, a teacher ... or a parent?

Kids.gov is the official kids' portal for the U.S. government. It links to over 1,200 web pages from government agencies, schools, and educational organizations, all geared to the learning level and interest of kids. Kids.gov is maintained by the Federal Citizen Information Center (FCIC), those folks in Pueblo, CO 81009.

We recently spotted a press release from the U.S. General Services Administration hightlighting a new design for the Kids.gov site, along with some organizational changes. ... Certainly worth a bookmark in the classroom the media center, the public library ... and on the computer the kids use in your home.

There's plenty more as well. Click HERE to link to the full text of Shirl's article, "Resource of the Week: Kids.gov ... and a few other resources for studetns and teachers."

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Information Today, Inc. Publishes Listen Up!—Podcasting for Schools and Libraries

Information Today, Inc. (ITI)   has announced the publication of Listen Up! Podcasting for Schools and Libraries, the latest book by educational technology specialist and podcaster Linda W. Braun.

Listen Up! is a timely guide for teachers, librarians, and school media specialists who need to get up-to-speed quickly on podcasting. Braun, author of numerous books and articles on educational technology, begins with clear explanations of what podcasting is and why it is a particularly useful tool for schools and libraries. She offers how-to advice for creating great podcasts (covering both content and technical issues), tips for finding and using podcasts and vodcasts, examples of innovative school and library projects, and guidance on getting the word out to students, staff, patrons, and other users.

Listen Up! was designed to provide support to both novices and experienced podcasters in search of new ideas and inspiration. The book’s chapters are:

1. This Thing We Call Podcasting
2. Before You Get Started
3. Real Life Examples
4. What Makes a Great Podcast? Developing the Content
5. What Makes a Great Podcast? The Technology
6. Get the Word Out

In addition, the book features a foreword by nationally syndicated radio talk show host and tech guru Leo Laporte; an introduction by the author; three appendices including a podcast planning sheet, a roundup of podcasting tools featuring recommended hardware and software products, and a sample podcast feed; a glossary; a list of Internet resources mentioned in the book; and an index. As a reader bonus, a companion Web site provides free and easy access to podcasts and podcasting resources mentioned in the book.

An educational technology consultant with LEO: Librarians and Educators Online, Linda W. Braun helps schools and libraries integrate technology into their programs and services. She is an adjunct faculty member at Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Services, where she teaches young adult and technology classes. Her previous books include Introducing the Internet to Young Learners, The Browsable Classroom: An Introduction to E-Learning for Librarians, Hooking Teens with the Net, and Teens, Technology & Literary. She has written numerous articles for professional journals including netConnect, Library Journal, and School Library Journal, and is a columnist for VOYA.

Listen Up! Podcasting for Schools and Libraries (2007/120 pp/softbound/$29.50/ISBN 978-1-57387- 304-8) is published by Information Today, Inc. It is available in bookstores and direct from the publisher by calling (800) 300-9868 [outside the U.S., call (609) 654-6266]; faxing (609) 654-4309; emailing custserv@infotoday.com; or visiting http://books.infotoday.com/books/ListenUp.shtml.

Source: Information Today, Inc., www.infotoday.com

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Lexia Learning Systems, Inc. Ships New Lexia Reading v5 Software

Lexia Learning Systems, Inc. has announced it has shipped Lexia Reading software Version 5, a new release of its research-based reading software for students in grades Pre-K to 12. In an extensive national beta test prior to release, hundreds of teachers and administrators and more than 4,500 students used the new program at 10 elementary, middle, and high schools. Struggling readers who used Lexia Reading v5 during a summer program made between nine and 12 months of grade-level equivalent progress, determined by independent pre and post tests using AGS' "G.R.A.D.E" assessment, the announcement states.

Lexia Reading v5 brings three Lexia titles into one newly-enhanced management system with new reporting features, and an option for delivery over the Web. Lexia began testing the product last spring in different environments in grades K through 12 during the traditional school year, in summer school programs and even in some year-round schools, to ensure that the reporting features and new technology delivery worked properly. The sites were mostly existing Lexia users, who could provide the best insights specifically on the new management reporting features and the online component of the program. Lexia collected feedback from more than 80,000 user sessions of 30 minutes in length on average.

The Lexia Reading v5 collection of software titles are all aligned to national standards. Lexia Early Reading is designed to increase phonological awareness among 4 to 6 year olds; Lexia Primary Reading helps all children ages 5 to 8 master basic reading skills; and Lexia Strategies for Older Students, for students ages 9 to adult, helps older students learn to read through intensive skill practice. Each program provides students with leveled activities that automatically branch in response to students' performance. The activities provide practice in areas of difficulty and move on to more challenging areas when the student is ready.

Lexia Reading v5 is available now in both Macintosh and Windows formats via Lexia's hosted, Web-enabled option, or at the beginning of 2008 as a network version. Internet access is required only for the Web-enabled option. The price will be customized depending on the number of simultaneous users. An implementation of 25 simultaneous users on one of the Lexia Reading programs would cost a school $200 per simultaneous user for a total of $5,000. Typically this would serve a population of 125 students based on a student-to-computer ratio of 5 to 1. For more information, visit www.lexialearning.com.

Source: Lexia Learning Systems, Inc., www.lexialearning.com

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Don Johnston Releases SOLO Writing Coach

Don Johnston Inc. announced the release of SOLO Writing Coach, a writing implementation framework designed for at-risk students writing at or below proficiency levels.

The program is used with the SOLO Literacy Suite, a reading and writing scaffolding technology developed to support struggling learners in any writing curriculum in a school or district’s Title I or IDEA initiative.

SOLO Writing Coach offers a Response to Intervention (RTI) solution and guides educators to explicitly teach the key writing strategies of summary writing, goal setting and paragraph writing. The program includes three lesson books, a CD with writing assignments for independent practice, an administrator’s walk-through and a step-by-step implementation guide.

The SOLO Literacy Suite features the Co:Writer linguistic word prediction program, the Write:OutLoud talking word processor, the Draft:Builder graphic organizer, and the digitized text reader Read:OutLoud.

Don Johnston, Inc. 800-999-4660 or www.donjohnston.com.  

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HP, Microsoft, UNICEF Launch Distance Learning Program for Displaced Children

The Clinton Global Initiative announced that UNICEF has teamed with Microsoft, HP and the International Rescue Committee to launch a new $30 million distance learning initiative that will help 150,000 displaced children, including children affected by the Iraq conflict and children in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The program will test and scale interactive learning methods using radio, television, laptop computers, and cell phones to enable displaced children to connect with their home communities and participate in appropriate education lessons.

The partners estimate the combined value of their commitment to be $30 million during the next three years.

The Clinton Global Initiative is a project of the William J. Clinton Foundation, an organization that brings together a community of global leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges.

Clinton Global Initiative, www.clintonglobalinitiative.org.  

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Gale Unveils "Literature Criticism Online"

Literature Criticism Online provides access to hundreds of volumes from 10 Gale literary series—Contemporary Literary Criticism, Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism, Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism, Literature Criticism from 1400-1800, Shakespearean Criticism, Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism, Poetry Criticism, Short Story Criticism, Drama Criticism and Children’s Literature Review.

The material offers centuries of analysis in the scholarly and popular commentary from books, journals, magazines, broadsheets, pamphlets, diaries and newspapers. Included are comprehensive treatments of traditional and contemporary literature; topical treatments to draw readers into discussions on race, class, gender and society; and contextual materials to help students better understand the social, political and historical implications of a work.

The database is designed for readers of all ages and skill levels. Users can search across and within each of the 10 series.

Gale, www.gale.com.  

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Inspiration Software Launches Lesson Plan Book for Building Data Literacy Skills

Inspiration Software has announced the publication of Developing Data Literacy with InspireData, offering teachers a collection of ways to engage students in exploring and analyzing data and helping them to build data literacy skills. The new lesson plan book will help teachers integrate InspireData <http://www.inspiration.com/productinfo/inspiredata/index.cfm>, Inspiration's software to visually explore and understand data, into their science, mathematics, and social studies curriculum.

In September, Inspiration Software launched an update to InspireData, the visual learning tool used by students in grades 4-12 to build data literacy skills. Students use InspireData 1.5 to actively explore and analyze data, interpret information, and draw conclusions using Venn diagrams and bar, stack, pie, and axis plots. New features include an e-Survey tool for online data collection, additional plot options, more than 100 subject-specific databases and expanded educator resources. Developing Data Literacy with InspireData includes 27 content-rich, standards-based lesson plans with step-by-step instructions that are easily adapted for students in grades 4-12. These hands-on lessons can be used with students working individually or in teams.

Three free sample lesson plans from Developing Data Literacy with InspireData can be downloaded from the Inspiration Software <http://www.inspiration.com/download/pdf/DDL_sampler.pdf> Web site. Single copies of the lesson plan book are $39.95. Customers who purchase 20 copies or more of InspireData 1.5 will receive a complimentary copy of the new lesson plan book.

Educators interested in previewing InspireData 1.5 can download free, fully functional 30-day trial copies from the Inspiration Software Web site at www.inspiration.com/freetrial. Single copies of InspireData 1.5 are $79. Special pricing is available for volume purchases and volume updates.

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

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CTB/McGraw-Hill Launches Fox Tracker PDA-Based Early Learning Assessment System

CTB/McGraw-Hill has announced the release of Fox Tracker, the latest addition to the First Performances system of developmentally appropriate assessments for pre-K through grade 3 students. With Fox Tracker, teachers will be able to conduct early reading and mathematics assessments more efficiently with individual students, using a handheld personal digital assistant (PDA), improving the accuracy of observational assessments, and providing immediate test results, the announcement states.

Fox Tracker will enable teachers to replace paper-and-pencil observation and scoring records by tapping in assessment data on a PDA, securing it online in a single step. Benefits to educators include the following:

* Shortens administration time with PDA-based assessment process that individually records student answers and automatically calculates scores, displaying a student’s skill levels
* Ensures consistency in assessing all children with scripted directions and instructions for teachers
* Enables online reports to monitor progress and promote data-driven instruction and curriculum development
* Provides summary data by individual student, class, school, district and grade

Fox Tracker, powered by Tango Rx software from Liberty Source, is a Palm software test administration system on a PDA with Web-based reporting capabilities.

First Performances is a system of observational assessments for children in the early grades. Three interconnected products contain developmentally appropriate, hands-on assessments that allow the measurement of critical early developmental milestones in literacy and mathematics. Assessments include:

* Fox Letters and Numbers Pre-K literacy and math assessments
* Fox in a Box K-3 literacy assessment
* Fox Adds Up K-3 mathematics assessment

For more information, visit http://CTB.com/FoxFP/Tracker.

Source: CTB/McGraw-Hill, http:// CTB.com

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Adobe Introduces New Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements

Adobe Systems Incorporated has announced two major upgrades to its digital photo and video software for consumers: Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 for Windows and Adobe Premiere Elements 4 for Windows. Tight integration and a shared Organizer, with a common database accessible from either application, allow users to do more with their photos and videos. Available separately or together in a single retail package, Photoshop Elements and Adobe Premiere Elements software give photo and video enthusiasts more creative ways to organize, edit, create, and share digital photos and home movies.

Photoshop Elements software helps users achieve desired results quickly and easily. New Photomerge technology helps solve the challenge of taking group photos by combining the best facial expressions and body language from a series of shots to create a single new cohesive group shot. The new Quick Selection Tool reduces the select-and-adjust task to a single click. Addressing all levels – beginner to expert – there is an opportunity to select one of three edit modes, each geared toward a different experience level. A new Guided Edit mode helps walk users through the steps of improving a photo.

Photoshop Elements 6 streamlines editing with clean, uncluttered screens that bring focus to the photo. New tabs provide simple access to the capabilities of the program. Additional enhancements include an improved conversion tool that dramatically converts color images into elegant, nuanced black-and-whites. The streamlined Organizer speeds performance and eases importing, tagging and retrieving.

Adobe Premiere Elements 4 makes it possible to create movies in minutes. The new Organizer, the same found in Photoshop Elements, helps sort video clips and still photos with visual tagging options for people, places, or events. Video enthusiasts can apply comprehensive movie themes to a sequence of scenes in just a few clicks, creating a movie complete with transitions, effects, and DVD menu. Background music and sound effects help underscore emotions, add emphasis, or create a mood. The new Audio Mixer works like a mixing board in a recording studio, adjusting the relative volumes of different audio with sliders. The new Sharing Center centralizes available ways to show off videos. Users can upload and share videos in multiple ways, including Blu-ray disc, the Web, and mobile devices such as the Apple iPhone. Videos also can be exported in a video format based on Adobe Flash to Web sites like YouTube, without requiring any special encoding.

Adobe’s digital imaging and digital video products are available immediately at www.adobe.com, at online retailers including Amazon.com, and at retail outlets. Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 & Adobe Premiere Elements 4 for Windows is available as a bundle at an estimated street price of US$149.99. Photoshop Elements 6 and Adobe Premiere Elements 4 for Windows are available separately for an estimated street price of US$99.99 each. Photoshop Elements for the Macintosh platform is expected in early 2008.

Source: Adobe Systems Incorporated, www.adobe.com

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Free Resources: FileMaker Teacher Materials

FileMaker Pro Basics provides a comprehensive downloadable set of training materials designed to help K-12 educators learn the essentials of creating FileMaker Pro databases. The free training materials can be downloaded with a free 30-day trial of FileMaker Pro 9 at www.filemakertrial.com/k12training. 

FileMaker Pro Basics includes two modules, each containing a PDF file of exercises and two databases—one to perform the exercise and a second to check the tasks against. The material can be used for individual self-paced training or as part of instructor-led professional development training in a school or district.

The training program provides guidance for a variety of FileMaker Pro tasks, including building and modifying custom forms; entering and finding data; creating labels, letters, and reports; adding security to a FileMaker Pro database; and sharing a FileMaker Pro database on the Web.

FileMaker, Inc., 800/325-2747 or www.filemaker.com.  

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ETS Launches New Version of Criterion Online Writing Evaluation Tool

ETS has released Criterion Online Writing Evaluation v7.2, featuring enhancements to score reporting and an increased emphasis on student planning and instructor training.  Instructors are now able to complete training sessions online and, with the click of a button, access more information about student writing performance.

The Criterion service is a Web-based instructional tool that helps students in grades 4 through upper-level college plan, write, and revise essays. Students work independently to plan and write their essays, and then submit them for feedback. The Criterion service provides immediate annotated diagnostic feedback on multiple basic elements of writing and a holistic score so that students can quickly review the feedback, revise their essays, and resubmit them for further feedback. A context-sensitive Writer’s Handbook provides additional definitions and lessons on grammar, word usage, mechanics, writing style, and essay organization and development.

Instructor involvement is integral to the successful use of the Criterion service. Instructors select from a library of topics or create their own, and set the parameters for the assignment. For example, they can elect to activate a time limit, give options for students to save and revise essays, and determine whether students can see sample essays, scores, or diagnostic functions. Instructors can also review students’ essays and the Criterion feedback, provide their own comments using pop-up notes, and generate reports about their students’ writing progress. 

Version 7.2 includes a more user-friendly score report that enables instructors to easily analyze their students' performance and an expanded resources section with additional information for Criterion users. A new structure for packaged online training modules assures an improved instructor experience. Instructors are trained before using the program within the classroom setting, and can return for additional trainings to delve deeper into the program and learn about topics of particular interest to their schools or institutions.

For more information about the Criterion service and an online tour, visit www.ets.org/criterion.

Source: ETS, www.ets.org

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