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September 30, 2008

Table of Contents

Banned Books Week 2008
SAM Learning Adds Science Content and Audio Resources for HS Exit Prep
NYT/Carnegie Corp. Awards Now Include SMLS Nominees
Authors/Illustrators Selected for AASL "Knowledge Quest" Columns
With Adobe Creative Suite 4, Adobe Introduces New Education Curriculum and Licensing Programs
PBS TeacherLine Releases New Version of Peer Connection
kidthing Announces New Online Digital Media Platform
Children’s Way Foundation’s “Every Kid Votes” Campaign Launches
EBSCO Publishing Introduces “Research Starters”
Inspiration Debuts New Lesson Plan Books for Building Data Analysis Skills, Learning Science and Social Studies
Pew Publishes Study—Teens, Videogames, and Civics
Inspiration Publishes “Kidspiration in the Classroom: Writing Essentials”

Banned Books Week 2008

Welcome to Banned Books Week—Sept. 27 to Oct. 4, 2008.

This is the 27th anniversary of Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read, an annual American Library Association event held during the last week of September to remind Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted.

Banned Books Week, endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, American Library Association, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of American Publishers, and the National Association of College Stores.

The American Library Association provides links to Banned Books Week resources and events online at http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/oif/bannedbooksweek/bannedbooksweek.cfm.

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SAM Learning Adds Science Content and Audio Resources for HS Exit Prep

SAM Learning, publisher of Web-based curriculum for high school exit exam prep, now offers science content in biology, chemistry, and physics.

In addition, "Improvement Lessons" with audio support have been added to selected objectives to help students refresh their understanding of intermediate and advanced mathematics or to learn critical concepts in another manner.

The new content is aligned to national learning standards and state standards for California, Florida, Georgia, Texas, and New York. Seven additional states will be added in fall 2008.

SAM Learning uses a scaffolded pedagogy and student-driven learning that enables students to navigate through the program in a manner that makes sense to them. Teachers can assign exercises or allow self-directed student work.

SAM Learning, www.samlearning.com.  

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NYT/Carnegie Corp. Awards Now Include SMLS Nominees

The New York Times/Carnegie Corporation of New York "I Love My Librarian" award program is now open—for the first time—to school library media specialists.

The 2008 award program will select as many as 10 librarians from public, school, college, community college, or university libraries. Each awardee will receive $5,000, a plaque, and a $500 travel stipend for travel to the awards ceremony hosted by the New York Times at The Times Center on December 9, 2008.

An online nomination form can be found at http://www.ilovelibraries.org/lovemylibrarian/school.cfm. Nominations must be completed by October 15, 2008.

I Love My Librarian Awards, www.ilovelibraries.org.  

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Authors/Illustrators Selected for AASL "Knowledge Quest" Columns

The American Association of School Librarians and the Children’s Book Council released the names of the contributors selected for the AASL Knowledge Quest journal’s "Meet the Author/Illustrator" column during the 2008-2009 school year.

The contributors are:

September/October 2008 -- Nontraditional Settings: Simon Basher (Kingfisher). Basher, a designer and artist by trade, is the author of The Periodic Table, Physics, and the forthcoming Biology.

November/December 2008 -- Evidence-Based Practice: Josephine Nobisso (Gingerbread House). Nobisso, the author of many children’s books, presents 100 writing workshops annually.

January/February 2009 -- Doing Honest Work: Julie Crabtree (Milkweed Editions). Crabtree, author of Discovering Pig Magic, has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, Highlights for Children, MotherVerse, and Green Prints.

March/April 2009 -- Social Scholarship: Blue Balliett (Scholastic, Inc.). Balliett is the author of the art mystery books Chasing Vermeer, The Wright 3, and The Calder Game.

May/June 2009 -- AASL Conference: Joan Bauer (Penguin Group USA) with co-editor Sara Kelly Johns. Bauer, a winner of the Newbery Honor, is the author of numerous young adult novels including the recently-released Peeled.

Knowledge Quest is published quarterly and includes an online component at www.ala.org/aasl/kqweb/.

AASL, www.aasl.org.

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With Adobe Creative Suite 4, Adobe Introduces New Education Curriculum and Licensing Programs

Adobe Systems Incorporated has announced new Adobe Creative Suite 4 education curriculum and licensing programs for higher education and K-12 schools. The newly released Adobe Creative Suite 4 product family sets new standards in education by engaging students as they embrace new media and experiment with more hands-on approaches to learning, the announcement states. With the Adobe Creative Suite 4 product family, educators can strengthen 21st century learning and student career development, leveraging enhanced integration of Flash technology across products, streamlined design and application development, and expanded access to services.

 

Along with the release of Creative Suite 4, Adobe is introducing comprehensive career curricula, including Visual Design: Foundations of Design and Print Production; Digital Design: Foundations of Web Design; and Digital Video: Foundations of Video Design and Production. The standards-aligned, project-based curricula enable educators to develop students' digital communication and career skills, with each project building on skills learned in previous projects. The new curricula have the Seal of Alignment to National Technology Standards for Students published by the International Society of Technology Education (ISTE). With the programs incorporating the new curricula, as well as Adobe certification programs that validate students' communication skills using digital media, educators have a strong foundation to support students' future success, according to the announcement.

 

With Creative Suite 4, Adobe is also introducing many new licensing programs. Adobe will continue the successful K-12 School Site Licenses for an entire school and is adding a new program for K-12 institutions that allows all North American teachers, staff and students in middle and high schools with a Contractual Licensing Program (CLP) to buy selected Adobe products at a steep discount. Higher education institutions with existing CLP contracts can also buy discounted licenses of Adobe Creative Suite 4 through an Adobe Authorized Education Reseller for redistribution or resale to students, faculty, and staff at up to 80 percent off the full retail price.

Source: Adobe Systems Incorporated, www.adobe.com

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PBS TeacherLine Releases New Version of Peer Connection

PBS TeacherLine has released a new version of PBS TeacherLine Peer Connection that is designed to enhance the user experience for instructional coaches and teachers. The upgrade improves the way content is viewed, according to the announcement, and offers more professional development modules that address coaching strategies and effectiveness. PBS TeacherLine Peer Connection is an expansive online suite of media-rich resources, instructional strategies, and tools that support educators with coaching responsibilities. The latest version is the result of more than a year spent conducting in-depth research and soliciting feedback from coaches.

Increasingly, districts are adopting instructional coaching programs, but methods and needs vary across the country. Through PBS TeacherLine Peer Connection, coaches can augment their current professional development programs to create a customized, practical learning experience for teachers whether they support teachers face-to-face, online, or with a blended approach. Featuring thousands of research-based, standards-aligned content in K-12 math, reading, and instructional technology, PBS TeacherLine Peer Connection enables school-based professional developers to deliver on specific district initiatives and student performance goals, the announcement states. In addition, PBS TeacherLine Peer Connection offers online communication and collaboration tools to share and discuss resources with one or more teachers. Multimedia resources, such as videos on best practices and research-based articles, are accessible in one searchable location along with a system to rate, tag, and comment on all resources within the library.


To provide effective teacher professional development, coaches need to understand the interventions they are sharing and how to productively employ the coaching process. In response to coaches' requests for more content designed to help them be more effective, PBS TeacherLine created eight professional development modules specifically for coaches and mentors, with 40 more in development. These modules address topics such as facilitating data-driven instruction, differentiating instruction, establishing trust and improving communication, facilitating discussion about technology and change, and the roles of an instructional coach. The self-paced, flexible design of PBS TeacherLine Peer Connection's professional development modules allow coaches and mentors to identify and select specific skills they want to develop and work at their own pace.
 

Other enhancements to PBS TeacherLine Peer Connection include a new feature that allows users to attach documents to announcements and online discussion forums, visual changes to improve the way users view and access content, and easier navigation through content and modules.

 

Full subscription service is available to schools, districts and coaching consultants.  For more information or to preview PBS TeacherLine Peer Connection, visit www.pbs.org/teacherline/peerconnection

 

Source: PBS TeacherLine, www.pbs.org/teacherline

 

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kidthing Announces New Online Digital Media Platform

kidthing has announced the availability of its browser-free and ad-free digital media platform for kids. kidthing offers a free downloadable player and growing library of digital books, games, and videos from leading publishers including HarperCollins Children’s Books, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, Penguin Young Readers Groups, Wee Sing and many more.

 

While kidthing uses the internet to connect to the kidthing store and download purchases, it is not a web browser so kids can’t click on ads or type in Web site addresses, and kidthing content can be played without being connected to the internet. 

 

After browsing and purchasing digital content like the read-along books from the Berenstain Bears series by Stan, Jan and Mike Berenstain, The Cat in The Hat by Dr. Seuss, and Corduroy by Don Freeman, purchases automatically download to the free kidthing player. The purchased content resides on the computer and, if downloaded to a laptop, is a portable entertainment and education option.  There are no subscription fees. Products in the kidthing store start as low as 99 cents.

 

kidthing has been selected to be the exclusive digital distribution partner for the National Education Association’s Read Across America 2008–09 resource calendar and guide (www.kidthing.com/nea/).  As part of this literacy program, kidthing offers teachers a free digital download of select titles featured in NEA’s Read Across America calendar for use in the classroom each month. To kick off the alliance, kidthing was beta tested by nearly 40,000 teachers and parents last spring on Read Across America Day.  In partnership with Dr. Seuss, kidthing provided the animated, read-along Horton Hears a Who!  to schools across the country.

  

kidthing is currently in its beta release. The roster of top children’s content partners and titles in the kidthing store are growing each week. There will be more than 200 titles by the end of the year. 

 Source: kidthing, www.kidthing.com

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Children’s Way Foundation’s “Every Kid Votes” Campaign Launches

Children’s Way Foundation’s Woogi World, a children’s virtual social site, has announced the "Every Kid Votes" campaign, a program designed to teach elementary children about the right and responsibility of voting in America. Upon completion of this adventure children will have earned the privilege to cast their ballot for either Senators Barack Obama or John McCain, with the results of this vote aired in the national media.

 

On Woogi World children learn the importance of being an informed citizen and the responsibilities of voting to sustain democracy, according to the announcement. As they engage in the "Every Kid Votes" program, students learn about the voting process and civic responsibility, and in turn will more likely become informed and civic-minded adults who will take an active role in the democratic process.

 

Partnering in the campaign is the academic classroom supplement "Studies Weekly."

 

To participate in the "Every Kid Votes" campaign, go to www.woogiworld.com/ekv/eguardian/kid-count.php and register your children and students today for the national kid vote in October.

 

Children’s Way Foundation/Woogi World Program, a national non-profit organization, uses its website, www.woogiworld.com, to help elementary children worldwide become responsible internet users and goodwill ambassadors (good influences in their homes, schools, and communities), according to the announcement.

Source: Children’s Way Foundation, www.childrensway.com/

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EBSCO Publishing Introduces “Research Starters”

EBSCO Publishing has announced the introduction of a series of new databases designed to provide researchers and students with a starting point for their research and assignments.

 

Research Starters are topic overviews, relevant to key areas of academic study, including links to key articles in associated EBSCOhost databases. Research Starters follow an easy to use format. The topics correlate directly to courses taught at colleges and universities and provide students with authoritative, discipline-specific articles offering comprehensive overviews of important academic subject areas and topics. The databases aim to provide a gateway to resources needed for assignments, including quick access to key, related articles from EBSCOhost, which have been hand-picked by subject-matter experts and scholars. 

 

Each Research Starters database initially consists of 500 topics, with approximately 25 to 50 new topics added each year. Each database includes a collection of summary articles written by subject-matter experts exclusively for EBSCOhost — approximately 3,000 words each. Articles are also available in both HTML and PDF versions.

 

Summary articles include Abstracts; an Overview section; and charts, graphs, and tables for visual reference. In addition, articles contain Application of Concepts, Definitions of Terms and Concepts, Extensive Bibliographies, Links to Articles on EBSCOhost from the Bibliographies, a "Suggested Reading" section, and Author Biographies.

 

EBSCO will provide the first two Research Starters databases, Research Starters – Business and Research Starters – Education, on an extended free trial basis through June 2009. The appropriate Research Starters collections are available on an "opt-in" basis to all EBSCOhost customers subscribing to applicable databases such as Business Source, Academic Search, and Education Research Complete.

Source: EBSCO Publishing, www.epnet.com

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Inspiration Debuts New Lesson Plan Books for Building Data Analysis Skills, Learning Science and Social Studies

Two new additions to  Inspiration Software, Inc.’s library of lesson plan books will  support teachers as they use InspireData to help students build data  analysis skills, and strengthen their critical thinking skills while  learning about topics in science and social studies. "InspireData and Science: Question, Analyze and Predict" and  "InspireData and Social Studies: Explore, Analyze and Understand"  each include 20 easy-to-use lessons for grades 4-12, aligned to  national academic standards.

 

Students use InspireData to investigate, analyze, and represent data and  information in dynamic plots and graphs. Students can change variables and plot types so they can explore data  in multiple, meaningful ways. This encourages them to investigate  data analytically, ask more questions, and apply their understanding  of the data to form better conclusions and to continue exploration, the announcement states.

 

Students will use data to learn about the steps of  scientific inquiry when teachers use the lessons in "InspireData and  Science: Question, Analyze and Predict." Targeted at grades 4-12, the  20 lessons in this new book are aligned to National Science Education  Standards. They focus on core content strands, including science as  inquiry, the nature of science, physical sciences, life sciences, and  earth and space sciences. Designed to support science laboratory  activities and science instruction using InspireData, these lessons  will help students build data collection, analysis and prediction  skills while they study topics such as animal longevity,  air quality, and the characteristics of stars, the announcement states.

 

With the lesson plans in "InspireData and Social Studies: Explore,  Analyze and Understand," teachers can help students use data to learn  important concepts in history, geography, economics, civics, and  government. Each lesson includes suggested grade levels,  standards alignment, a description, step-by-step instructions, ideas  for assessments, and adaptations for differentiating instruction and  extending the lesson. Students will use historical and current data  to explore topics such as the economics of using credit cards,  characteristics of past presidents, and political advances women have  made around the world.

 

Single copies of the lesson plan books are $39.95.  School-wide licenses, available in electronic  format, are $199. Sample pages from the books can be downloaded at  www.inspiration.com/newbooks.

 

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

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Pew Publishes Study—Teens, Videogames, and Civics

A newly released Pew Internet & American Life Project survey, "Teens, Videogames, and Civics," finds that virtually all American teens play computer, console, or cell phone games and that the gaming experience is rich and varied, with a significant amount of social interaction and potential for civic engagement.

 

The primary findings in the survey of 1,102 youth ages 12-17 include:

– Game playing is universal, with almost all teens playing games and at least half playing games on a given day.

– 97% of American teens ages 12-17 play some kind of video game.

– 99% of boys say they are gamers and 94% of girls report that they play games.

 

Game playing experiences are diverse, with the most popular games falling into the racing, puzzle, sports, action, and adventure categories.

 

A typical teen plays at least five different categories of games and 40% of them play eight or more different game types.

 

While some teens play violent video games, those who play violent games generally also play non-violent games.

 

Game playing is social, with most teens playing games with others at least some of the time.

– 76% of gaming teens play games with others at least some of the time.

– 82% play games alone at least occasionally, though 71% of this group also plays games with others.

– 65% of gaming teens play with others in the same room.

 

Game playing can incorporate many aspects of civic and political life.

– 76% of youth report helping others while gaming.

– 44% report playing games where they learn about a problem in society.

 

Game playing sometimes involves exposure to mature content, with almost a third of teens playing games that are listed as appropriate only for people older than they are.

– 32% of youth 12-16 in this sample play games that are listed as appropriate only for people older than they are.

– 32% of gaming teens report that at least one of their favorite games is rated Mature or Adults Only.

– 12-14 year olds are equally likely to play Mature and Adults Only rated games as their 15-17 year old counterparts.

 

A focus of the survey was the relationship between gaming and civic experiences among teens. The goal was to test concerns that gaming might be prompting teens to withdraw from their communities. It turns out there is clear evidence that gaming is not just an entertaining diversion for many teens; gaming can be tied to civic and political engagement. Indeed, youth have many experiences playing games that mirror aspects of civic and political life, such as thinking about moral and ethical issues and making decisions about city and/or community affairs.

 

Not only do many teens help others or learn about a problem in society during their game playing, they also encounter other social and civic experiences:

– 52% of gamers report playing games where they think about moral and ethical issues.

– 43% report playing games where they help make decisions about how a community, city or nation should be run.

– 40% report playing games where they learn about a social issue.

 

Moreover, the survey indicates that youth who have these kinds of civic gaming experiences are more likely to be civically engaged in the offline world. They are more likely than others are to go online to get information about current events, to try to persuade others how to vote in an election, to say they are committed to civic participation, and to raise money for charity.

 

"We need to focus less on how much time kids spend playing video games and pay more attention to the kinds of experiences they have while playing them," noted Prof. Joseph Kahne, Director of the Civic Engagement Research Group at Mills College, and co-author of the report. "Games that simulate aspects of civic and political life may well promote civic skills and civic engagement. Youth, parents, teachers, and others who work with youth should know about the wide diversity of video games – so they can take full advantage of games and their civic potential."

 

The study also found that these civic gaming experiences occurred equally among all kinds of game players regardless of family income, race, and ethnicity. These data stand in contrast to teens’ experiences in schools and other community situations, where white and higher-income youth typically have more opportunities for civic development.

 

"Digital media and specifically games are a robust part of the lives of young people," explains Connie Yowell, Director of Education at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which is funding a $50 million initiative to help determine how digital media are changing how young people learn, play, socialize, and participate in civic life. "This study offers us a glimpse into the potential of these new tools to foster learning and civic engagement, yet the findings about mature content suggest that parents and other adults need to be involved in young people’s game play, helping to realize the potential benefits while moderating unintended consequences. We see these results as the beginning of an important discussion about the role of digital media in learning, community, and citizenship in the 21st century."

 

"Teens, Videogames, and Civics" is available from the Pew Internet & American Life Project website at www.pewinternet.org/

 

Source: The Pew Internet & American Life Project, www.pewinternet.org

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Inspiration Publishes “Kidspiration in the Classroom: Writing Essentials”

Inspiration Software has launched "Kidspiration in the  Classroom: Writing Essentials,"  the most recent addition to the company’s series of lesson plan books for using the visual learning tools in Kidspiration 3 to help  students in grades K-5 build thinking skills. This book joins  the previously published "Kidspiration in the Classroom: Math Made Visual" and "Kidspiration  in the Classroom: Reading Essentials."

 

Kidspiration 3 supports students in  kindergarten through fifth grade as they build conceptual  understanding in math, strengthen reading and writing skills and  develop thinking skills across the curriculum. For a limited time,  schools that purchase a Kidspiration computer-license lab pack will  receive the complimentary Lesson Plans and Training Tutorials Bonus  Pack. This special offer, available through Nov. 26, includes  schoolwide licenses for all three "Kidspiration in the Classroom"  lesson plan books and up to a six-month subscription to Atomic  Learning’s more than 110 Kidspiration training videos with the  purchase of a five-, 10- or 20-computer license for the visual  learning software.

 

"Kidspiration in the Classroom: Writing Essentials" is designed to  teach students the complete writing process and includes standards-aligned chapters and lessons on prewriting, drafting and revising,  editing and publishing, in addition to forms of writing. Lesson  topics include: planning for writing, revising drafts, exploring  different genres of writing and developing catchy titles. The book  also includes references to suggested reading materials and other  resources for teaching students the nuances of quality writing.

 

Single copies of Inspiration’s lesson plan books are $29.95.  Volume licenses for individual schools, available in electronic format, are $199. Sample pages from the books can  be downloaded at www.inspiration.com/kidsclassbook.

 

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

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