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March 18, 2008

Table of Contents

‘Class of 2k8’ Young Adult, Middle Grade Author Website Now Online
MMIS Xtra News: Internet@School West Call for Speakers Open
Pearson Releases WriteToLearn 5.0
CoSN Names 2008 Board of Directors
Software & Information Industry Association Announces Vision K-20 Initiative to Help Students Succeed in Global Marketplace
Free Resources: Don Johnston and's Text Reader Software for Print-Disabled Students
Merit Software Introduces New Online Versions of Writing Programs
New Books from ISTE
ITI Crosslinks: Facebook 101—Ten Things You Need to Know About Facebook
Former Random House Editor in Chief Launches Internet Book Show ‘Titlepage.TV’
Visual Learning Company (VLC) Launches Digital Science Collection for Use with iPods

‘Class of 2k8’ Young Adult, Middle Grade Author Website Now Online

It's been said that everyone has at least one book inside, waiting to be written. Yet first books often sink faster than an anvil without water wings. Twenty-eight energetic children's book authors have banded together as The Class of 2k8 to help each other stay afloat in the turbulent seas of publishing.

The Class of 2k8 is a group of young adult and middle grade authors with novels debuting this year from major publishers such as Harcourt, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Random House, and more. Aimed at child and teen readers, the books offer a selection from many genres, including mystery, teen romance, historical, fantasy, adventure, and mainstream literary fiction. It’s a broad range of new books from new authors—all easy to keep track of on one website:


The Class of 2k8 is a collaborative publicity and marketing effort and was inspired by last year’s Class of 2k7 http://www. Enthusiasm for 2k7 books resulted in movie deals, multi-city book tours, TV spots, starred reviews, a spot on the New York Times bestseller list, and a National Book Award finalist.


The website is dedicated to helping booksellers, librarians, teachers, and readers find exciting new books from among the more than 6,000 new children's and young adult books released each year. The interactive site includes information about the books, the 2k8 blog, book videos, links to author websites, teaching material, and reading group guides, with more content being added as the books are released.


Class of 2k8 authors are from every part of North America and are available for school and library visits, signings, readings, conferences, panel discussions, and book festivals.


Source: Class of 2k8,

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MMIS Xtra News: Internet@School West Call for Speakers Open

Call for Speakers

Internet@Schools West

October 20-21, 2008

Monterey, CA

Deadline: April 21, 2008


We’re seeking presenters for our Internet at Schools conference, to be held in Monterey, California, October 20-21, 2008. Sponsored by MultiMedia & Internet@Schools magazine, the conference covers practical and timely technology-related topics and technology-based tools and resources for K-12 media and technology specialists. It is held in conjunction with the Internet Librarian 2008 conference.


If you’re somehow keeping up in this age of the participatory, "content creationary," interactive, 2.0 Internet and all that it offers educators and students! …  and in the ongoing era of NCLB mandates, shrinking budgets, mushrooming lists of curriculum standards … not to mention all the new literacies—from information, to visual, to technology, to online social literacy—to teach to your students … then 1) you’re remarkable, and 2) we want to hear from you! Please consider volunteering to speak at Internet at Schools West.


All speakers receive a full, complimentary registration to the Internet@Schools West and Internet Librarian 2008 conferences, plus great recognition from their peers. So think over your latest success stories or technology ventures and go to



Thanks! We look forward to hearing from you soon. The deadline for proposals is April 21, so think quickly and send in your ideas!


Conference Co-Chairs


David Hoffman

Editor, MultiMedia & Internet@Schools Magazine


Susan Geiger

Librarian, Moreau Catholic High School

Hayward, California

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Pearson Releases WriteToLearn 5.0

WriteToLearn 5.0 updates the Web-based learning tool for developing writing and reading comprehensions skills with new text-to-speech capabilities, a new teacher comment feature, and more.

The new text-to-speech capabilities make it possible for the hundreds of reading passages in WriteToLearn to be read aloud to students, a helpful feature for struggling readers or English language learners. The added dictionary and spot word translation ability help students instantly retrieve a dictionary definition or Spanish translation of any word in a reading passage.

A new teacher comment feature provides students with direct feedback from their teacher. Teachers can add comments on an essay or summary; students can view the comments when they review the summary or essay scoreboard.

The summary and essay scoreboards give students scores for copying, spelling, redundancy, and irrelevancy. The essay scoreboard also includes scores for each of six traits of writing—ideas, organization, conventions, sentence fluency, word choice, and voice.

All schools and districts with current WriteToLearn accounts will receive the updates free of charge during March and April.

The WriteToLearn program helps students practice essay writing and summarization skills while their efforts are measured by Pearson’s Knowledge Analysis Technologies (KAT) engine. The KAT engine is an automated assessment technology that evaluates the meaning of text by examining whole passages, not just the grammatical correctness of spelling.


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CoSN Names 2008 Board of Directors

The Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) announced its new Board of Directors for 2008. The Board is made up of 18 public and private sector education technology leaders.


The 2008 CoSN Board officers are:


Sheryl Abshire, Chair

Chief Technology Officer

Calcasieu Parish School system

Lake Charles, LA


Ed Zaiontz, Chair-Elect

Executive Director, Information Services

Round Rock ISD

Round Rock, TX


Bob Moore, Past Chair

Executive Director of IT Services

Blue Valley USD #229

Overland Park, KS


Maria Davenport, Secretary

Director of Learning & Technology


St. Paul, MN


Marianne Pack, Treasurer

Director, Delta Sierra Region 6

California Technology Assistance Project

Stanislaus County Office of Education

Modesto, CA


Newly elected to the CoSN Board for 2008 are:

Denise Atkinson-Shorey

Chief Technology Officer

Centennial Board of Cooperative Educational Services

Longmont, CO


Donna Boivin

Chief Information Officer

Springfield Public Schools

Springfield, MA


Returning to the CoSN Board for 2008 are:

Mike Hall, Ed.D.

Chief Technology Officer

Glynn County Public Schools

Brunswick, GA


Karen Greenwood Henke

Writer and Consultant

Nimble Press

San Francisco, CA


Kathy Hurley

Sr. Vice President, Strategic Solutions and Partnerships


Upper Saddle River, NJ


Sharnell Jackson

Chief eLearning Officer

Chicago Public Schools

Chicago, IL


Lil Kellogg

Vice President

Education Networks of America (ENA)

Nashville, TN


Arjan Khalsa

President and CEO

Cambium Learning Technologies

Petaluma, CA


Darryl LaGace

Chief Technology Officer

Lemon Grove School District

Lemon Grove, CA


Amy Perry-DelCorvo

Assistant Superintendent of Technology and Information Services

Monroe BoCES

Rochester, NY


John Q. Porter

Oklahoma City, OK


Stephen Sanders

Director, Instructional Media and Technology Team

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

Madison, WI


Beverly White

Chief Technology Officer

Wake County Public School System

Raleigh, NC


CoSN Board Members are elected by the CoSN membership and serve three-year terms.



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Software & Information Industry Association Announces Vision K-20 Initiative to Help Students Succeed in Global Marketplace

The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) has announced the launch of its Vision K-20 Initiative intended to help educators and administrators integrate technology tools into day-to-day instruction and decision-making. In the announcement, SIIA notes that American students use 21st Century technologies in their personal lives everyday to learn, create content, and communicate with peers. SIIA education companies worked together to develop the Vision to serve as a guide for educational institutions to implement technology district and campus-wide.


The Vision K-20 Initiative calls for a coalition of education stakeholders - including teachers, administrators, university leaders, business executives and policymakers - to prepare students to thrive in an increasingly competitive and global marketplace. It promotes the combination of proven, well-implemented and well-supported technologies with solid educational approaches to sharpen America's innovative edge and increase the opportunity for every person to fulfill their promise through education, the announcement states.

This Vision is the first to go beyond an acknowledgement of the need for 21st Century learning and offer clearly-defined goals and benchmarks that will lead to large-scale, systematic change, according to the announcement. It outlines seven goals that address educational technology and five ways for academic institutions to measure their progress toward these goals on an annual basis From anytime/anywhere access to differentiated learning and assessments, the next three to five years should see increased accessibility to technology and efficient administration become standard. With those and other guidelines in place, K-20 institutions can use educational software and e-learning tools to support instruction and assessment, while motivating students through deepened learning and extended opportunities for creativity and collaboration.


SIIA has partnered with several organizations to promote the Vision and encourage educators and administrators nationwide to review and incorporate these goals into their institution's mission. "With help from our partners, we will give every education institution in the United States an opportunity to take a short, online survey to evaluate their current technology use," said Karen Billings, VP of Education for SIIA. Institutions will be able to use the Vision's benchmarks to monitor their progress and can complete the survey periodically as they work towards this Vision for K-20 education. SIIA will release the aggregated results and implications of this survey annually, beginning this year.

To celebrate and announce the Vision K-20 Initiative, SIIA's partnerships and the survey to monitor progress, SIIA hosted a dinner at the National Press Club March 12, 2008. Special guests included the partners committed to supporting SIIA in the Vision implementation: American Association of School Administrators (AASA), Campus Technology, Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), eSchool News, International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), Project Tomorrow, Schools Interoperability Framework Association (SIFA) and T.H.E. Journal. Education industry leaders from around the country and attendees of SIIA's Ed Tech Government Forum attended and showed their support for cooperation in building a competitive education system that prepares students through 21st Century learning.

For further information on SIIA's Vision K-20 Initiative, including the survey and additional resources, visit

Source: The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA),

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Free Resources: Don Johnston and's Text Reader Software for Print-Disabled Students and Don Johnston, Inc. are participating in a partnership to provide qualified print disabled students with free text reader software to access electronic books from the library, beginning in September 2008. 

The offer is available to students who receive special education services and qualify under the 1996 Chafee Amendment.

Beginning at the start of the 2008-2009 school year, the Don Johnston Read:Outloud Edition text reader (Windows version) will be available for use by qualified students to access more than 36,000 books, magazines, and newspapers in the library.

The text reader offers embedded reading comprehension strategies and instructional supports that align with state educational standards. The text reader software includes audio feedback, electronic highlighting and note-taking features that allow students to capture ideas. A Macintosh version is scheduled for release in 2009.

The goal of the partnership is to provide print disabled students with the tools needed to ensure access to educational texts. is an online community that allows people with print disabilities to legally download books and periodicals to be read as Braille, large print, or synthetic speech. The digital books are produced from the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) and delivered to students in the BRF Braille file format and the Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY) standard for digital talking books.

Don Johnston, Inc.,  

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Merit Software Introduces New Online Versions of Writing Programs

Merit Software has announced the launch of a new online edition of Paragraph Punch and Essay Punch—tools designed to improve students' writing skills. The Punch programs guide students through the process of writing an effective paragraph or essay. Unlike most educational supplements that are either assessments or drill and practice, the Punch programs are tutorials that respond to student inputs with personalized help and tips.

With the Punch writing programs, students select a topic and use the program's pre-writing notepad to collect relevant words and phrases. Working interactively with the software, students develop an idea, craft a topic sentence, compose the body of a paragraph or essay, and draft a conclusion.

The Punch programs provide questions to guide users, step-by-step, through pre-writing, organizing, writing, editing and rewriting. Written works can be copied and pasted into other word processors or text editors. Instructors are able to monitor their pupils' work through an easy-to-use management system.

The online version of the Punch programs works with the Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari browsers. Windows, Macintosh, and Linux operating systems are supported. One full year's access to each program costs $45(US). Classroom and school district licenses are available. A free edition of Paragraph Punch and Essay Punch is also available online; no login is required.

For more information, visit one of the following websites:,,

Source: Merit Software,

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New Books from ISTE

"RSS for Educators: Blogs, Newsfeeds, Podcasts, and Wikis in the Classroom" by John Hendron explains how educators working with grades PreK-12 can use a news aggregator to harness the power of RSS (Really Simple Syndication) for a variety of purposes including classroom projects, professional development, and keeping students and parents informed.

The book tells how to use free and inexpensive software such as Garage Band and Audacity to manipulate audio files and create podcasts. Also examined are the pros and cons of various blogging platforms.

The material provides a complete introduction to RSS technology, suggested ways to harness the power of RSS for educational purposes, the pros and cons of low-cost and free Web 2.0 software, a glossary, and an extensive list of online resources.

The price is $20.95 for ISTE members and $29.95 for nonmembers.

"PowerPoint Magic" by Pamela Lewis, developed for educators working with grades 1-8, shows how to employ PowerPoint software to help students tap into creativity and skills beyond the traditional pen-and-paper approach to projects. The book provides lessons that encourage students to select, organize, and integrate verbal and pictorial material to make sense of information and build understanding.

Lesson plans are included that integrate the software into regular content area curricula. Also provided are an introduction to the software’s basic functions and capabilities, step-by-step activity descriptions keyed to the NET*S and content area standards, teaching tips and extension ideas for promoting higher order thinking skills, and a CD-ROM with a complete set of modifiable lesson templates and samples.

The book is priced at $27.95 for ISTE members and $39.95 for nonmembers.

The ISTE online bookstore offers more information about the Society’s books, including table of contents information and free downloadable excerpts.


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ITI Crosslinks: Facebook 101—Ten Things You Need to Know About Facebook

Facebook is getting increasing recognition, and use, in the education community. Thomas Krivak, writing for our sister publication Information Today, has put an excellent primer together for you on this important social networking site.


From the top of the article:


When Mark Zuckerberg was 19 and a student at Harvard University, he wanted to find a way for his fellow Harvard colleagues to connect with each other. So in February 2004, Zuckerberg introduced Facebook ( and a new era of networking began.

Today, the social networking site has more than 60 million active members, roughly the same population as the U.K. These users can now upload photos, have group discussions, and even play games on their individual profiles; they can also add one another as "friends" and connect with users who share sim­ilar interests, regardless of where they are in the world. Nowadays, more businesses and corporate folks are joining Facebook too, adding their pages to the Facebook network. Advertisers are even turning their attention to this growing market for good reason—there is strength in numbers. So what should you know about Facebook? Here are 10 things for starters. …


Click HERE to read the article in Information Today online.

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Former Random House Editor in Chief Launches Internet Book Show ‘Titlepage.TV’

Former Senior Vice President and Executive Editor-in-Chief of Random House Daniel Menaker has launched an Internet book show entitled "Titlepage," for which he will serve as host and editorial producer Each episode of the show will feature four writers discussing their new books in a roundtable format. The debut season will include 6 episodes, the first of which went  live on March 3, 2008.


"Titlepage is the perfect way to share my enthusiasm for books and their authors--in an instantly and permanently accessible format--with as many readers as possible," said Menaker. "I've always sought out literary conversations, and I think we can make them surprising and entertaining for anyone who might want to stop by."

Titlepage is the result of a collaboration between Menaker and Brown Hats Productions, headed by Odile Isralson and Lina Matta. It draws its inspiration from the classic French program "Apostrophes," PBS’s "Charlie Rose," and "Dinner for Five," the actor's roundtable discussion once seen on IFC.


Isralson and Matta feel that bringing the program to viewers on the internet made more sense, and was clearly more cutting-edge, than producing it for network or cable television. "The line between screens has become blurred," Matta said. "Computer, TV, iPhone, iPod—they are all the same. People catch their shows whenever and wherever they can. The Internet allows viewers to manage their own entertainment and cultural resources in ways that traditional TV just can't match--such as interactive participation, watching supplementary content, selecting content according to one's own very specific interests, all of which add up to advantages for sponsors and advertisers."


Isralson made the point that "one shouldn't have to have to live in New York City and pay $150 to some elite festival in order to be part of literary culture. From now on, if we have anything to do with it, you can be having dinner in Gillette, Wyoming, and enjoy a great hour of conversation about writing with your dessert and coffee. And thanks to Daniel, ‘Titlepage’ will be provocative, smart, and fun. I think we'll demolish a great many rules about what a book program should look and sound like."


"Titlepage" will be produced as though for television broadcast, making its quality far superior to most online video programs. Each new episode can be watched on the program's website—in its entirety or in parts—and can be downloaded and viewed on an MP3 player, or transferred to a home theater system for viewing.


To take advantage of the instant responsiveness of the net, the website will also offer links to online vendors so that viewers can purchase the books being discussed, and other books by these writers, with a click of their mouse. Visitors can also interact with the show's hosts and guests through comments, discussion forums, and email.

"Authors of all kinds will appear on the program in the coming months," Isralson said. "We are aiming for the greatest possible diversity and variety. We are looking to have poets, novelists, journalists, Americans, foreigners -- we will talk to anybody, about anything to do with books, as long as it strikes us as worth talking about, timely, and deserving of a wide audience's attention."


Source: Titlepage.TV,


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Visual Learning Company (VLC) Launches Digital Science Collection for Use with iPods

Visual Learning Company (VLC), an independent producer of core-curricular science videos for elementary and middle school classrooms, has launched the Digital Science Video Library, one of the first educational science video collections specifically formatted for iPods. Over 130 middle school and elementary full shows and 1,000 video clips are available in H.264 digital format, which uses the latest video compression technology to provide high quality video in a small file. VLC is one of the first companies to offer this next generation file format, which works seamlessly with iPods and does not require re-encoding, the announcement states. 


H.264 is the preferred format for iTunes and iPods owing to its ability to produce a crisp, clear image from a small amount of video data. This saves bandwidth, downloads faster than other digital files, and takes up less space on a hard drive. Older generations of digital video formats can be re-encoded for use with iPods, but doing so is time consuming and reduces video quality, resulting in blurred images that quickly lose students’ attention.


After importing the Digital Science Video Library into iTunes, a user can quickly search by keyword through over 1,000 one- to three-minute video clips, each covering a specific topic. This eliminates the time-consuming task of manually searching through full-length videos. These clips can be integrated into a classroom lesson, enabling teachers to show a brief video segment and then provide an in-class demonstration or discussion. Teachers have the option to play the clips and full videos at individual computer workstations, project them to a larger screen, or sync them to an iPod.


Educators have found that iPods engage students and get them excited about learning, accommodate students’ multiple learning styles, limit outside distractions and help students focus, and are ideal for individualized instruction. iPods also enhance reading comprehension by combining visual reinforcement with audio information, which is particularly helpful for English Language Learners. In addition, their portability enables teachers to plan their curriculum at home and students can use them to reinforce concepts learned in class.


Owned by video producers who are also experienced educators, VLC produces award-winning science videos for grades 3-8. It is their mission to help students meet national and state standards, while experiencing the joy and thrill of science. VLC videos feature live-action footage that is filmed on location around the world, and computer animations to illustrate real-world examples of science concepts. 

Source: Visual Learning Company,

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