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November 24, 2009

Table of Contents

PBS TeacherLine Partners With Universities to Offer Graduate Credit for Online Professional Development
Partnership for 21st Century Skills Releases State Implementation Guides
World Book Introduces 'Dramatic Learning' Classroom Resource
Renaissance Learning, JBHM Education Group Announce SetPoint Consortium
Pearson Introduces New Middle School Interactive Science Curriculum
The Library Corporation (TLC) Optimizes LS2 PAC Software to Work With Google Analytics
Faronics Announces Release of Insight 7.4
Facts On File Announces Launch of Curriculum Video On Demand
Moodlerooms Unveils Joule Enterprise Learning Management Platform
PBS TeacherLine Winter Course Term Opens for Enrollment

PBS TeacherLine Partners With Universities to Offer Graduate Credit for Online Professional Development

PBS TeacherLine has announced that, through new partnerships, teachers can earn graduate credit from Central Michigan University, Northwest Nazarene University, and Madonna University for completing its online professional development services for preK-12 educators courses.

Central Michigan University, Northwest Nazarene, and Madonna Universities are the latest of 28 higher education institutions to partner with PBS TeacherLine, which offers more than 130 online facilitator-led courses in reading, math, science, instructional technology, and instructional strategies. Teachers can chose to earn graduate credit for completion of PBS TeacherLine's online professional development courses through these universities, or through the other 25 national and local graduate credit providers.

Using digital media, and technologies such as audio, video, interactives, and online discussions, PBS TeacherLine courses provide a collaborative learning environment for teachers to enhance their knowledge and skills. Teachers learn practical, research-based strategies that they can apply immediately to their classrooms to increase student achievement, according to the announcement.

Central Michigan University, Northwest Nazarene and Madonna Universities are national graduate credit providers for PBS TeacherLine, along with Adams State College in Alamosa, Colo., and Indiana University Bloomington. When enrolling in courses for graduate credit, teachers can choose from any of the five national providers, or from the local providers, depending on where they live. The local graduate credit providers are: University of Colorado at Colorado Springs; Marian College (Ind.); Iowa State University; Drake University (Iowa); Merrimack College (Mass.); Westfield State College (Mass.); Minnesota State University Moorhead; Mississippi College; University of Nevada, Reno; Plymouth State University (N.H.); University of New Mexico; North Dakota State University; United Tribes Technical College (N.D.); University of North Dakota; Ashland University (Ohio); Cleveland State University (Ohio); Notre Dame College (Ohio); The University of Akron (Ohio); Seton Hill University (Penn.); Tennessee State University; James Madison University (Va.); Seattle Pacific University (Wash.); and Viterbo University (Wisc.).

 

For more information about PBS TeacherLine, or to view the course catalog, visit www.pbs.org/teacherline. Enrollment for the winter term is open, and national online courses start Jan. 27, 2010 (local courses may have a different start date). Courses start at $169. There is an additional fee to take courses for graduate credit.

 

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

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Partnership for 21st Century Skills Releases State Implementation Guides

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) has released the State Implementation Guides – which offer best practices on building standards, assessments, curriculum and instruction, professional development, and learning environments – to help integrate skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and communication more purposefully into core academic subjects.

 

The Partnership released the guides at ASCD’s Fall Conference on Teaching and Learning after receiving extensive feedback from practitioners, policy-makers, academics, business and community leaders and others throughout the year, including during the P21 Cyber and National Summits in June, 2009.  

 

Standards

Standards drive the curricula that schools follow, the materials students are exposed to and the tests they take, according to the Standards Guide. In addition, standards establish the levels of performance that students, teachers, and schools are expected to meet. Against the backdrop of the common core standards initiative (CCSI), which stresses career and college readiness, the Standards Implementation Guide offers guidance for all states that are considering revisions to their core academic content standards.

 

The guide recommends that states:

* Create standards that are an inch-wide and mile-deep by communicating essential understandings or habits of mind for each subject area, rather than focusing on a list of facts

* Integrate 21st century skills into core subject standards and consider the emerging examples set by New Jersey, North Carolina, Wisconsin and West Virginia

* Make standards observable, measurable, and aligned with key 21st century skills such as critical thinking and problem solving.

 

Assessments

Today’s K-12 assessments predominantly measure memorization of discrete facts, not the ability to apply that knowledge across disciplines, notes the Assessment Guide. To provide a rigorous education, accountability systems must be improved to measure whether students have deep knowledge of core academic subjects and the ability to think critically, problem solve and effectively communicate information about that knowledge. It is inherently important, but also difficult to create tests that demonstrate which teaching efforts result in better knowledge and skill acquisition. The guide offers several recommendations to states to help build rigorous assessments, including: 

* Incorporate a broader use of performance-based measures that focus on higher order thinking;

* Measure skills alongside content

* Build skills into formative assessment strategies by providing teachers with rubrics, checklists and professional development.

 

Curriculum and Instruction

According to the Curriculum and Instruction Guide, student mastery of core academic subjects and skills should be recognized as two critical outcomes of teaching and learning. Consequently, curriculum and instruction strategies must be designed to enhance content and skill acquisition. The guide notes that educators cannot teach skills devoid of content nor can educators effectively teach core academic subjects without teaching skills.

 

The guide recommends states:

* Develop curriculum that is designed to produce deep understanding of core academic subjects and authentic application of 21st century skills

* Implement "Teach for Understanding" principles to help develop and deliver lessons and units that connect essential concepts and skills

* Create meaningful, real-world opportunities for students to demonstrate content and skill mastery.

 

Professional Development

The Professional Development guide notes that all professional development efforts should exist as part of an aligned system of teaching and learning that includes standards, curriculum, instruction and assessments. To build successful professional development initiatives, focused on integrating skills into content, states should:

* Develop intensive teacher professional development programs that focus on enhancing skills and knowledge acquisition in the teaching of core subjects.

* Build capacity by working with educators to create an environment of differentiated professional learning, risk taking and collaborative relationships, as evidenced by ASCD’s Teacher Leader Capacity-Building Model.

 

Learning Environments

Typically, learning environments are thought of as physical spaces, notes the Learning Environments Guide. However, the Guide suggests learning environments be viewed as the support systems that organize the condition in which humans learn best, i.e., learning environments should accommodate the needs of each student and support the development of the whole child, ensuring their academic as well as their emotional, social, and physical development.

 

To best design environments that promote student achievement, the Guide recommends states:

* Move toward more flexible units of time that enable project-based work and away from the "seat time" approach to gauging student progress.

* Empower the "people network" by moving teachers from isolation to connection and providing educators with the means to refine their knowledge and skills in collaborative and supportive environments.

 

A full set of recommendations are available at www.21stcenturyskills.org/ or on P21’s tools and resources page.

 

Source: The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, www.21stcenturyskills.org

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World Book Introduces 'Dramatic Learning' Classroom Resource

World Book, Inc. has introduced Dramatic Learning, a new classroom resource for building reading fluency and content comprehension. The premiere product of World Book Classroom, Dramatic Learning turns text into original play scripts, skits, monologues, and adaptations of classics that students can perform to help them become more fluent readers, understand core concepts, and internalize content.

 

Dramatic Learning includes more than 40 scripts across a broad range of grade levels and subject areas to enrich the learning experience. Supporting these are activities tied to state and provincial curriculum standards. Accompanying lesson plans provide educators with the information they need to set objectives, select materials, and meet achievement standards. Each lesson features an Educator Page that details the curriculum content, materials needed, objectives, and instructions. All the resources are available online from the Dramatic Learning site. Other features of Dramatic Learning include the following:

 

·         Differentiated learning to improve student comprehension and internalization of content

·         Vocabulary exercises to boost word recognition

·         Assessment rubrics for the teacher and student

·         Standards-based lesson plans that cross a variety of subject areas

·         Links to related encyclopedia content and one-click dictionary to build vocabulary

 

Supporting the play development is background information on each play, a step-by-step guide to make putting on a play easy, video tutorials for educators, and printable programs and posters. Also available to extend the learning experience are mini-inquiry research projects and writing activities to help students generate their own mini-scripts.

  

Through Dramatic Learning, students act out the dialogue, compelling them to work more closely with the text to interpret and project meaning into the experience. According to Critical Links, a study by the National Endowment for the Arts and the U.S. Department of Education, "research shows a consistent positive association between dramatic enactment and reading comprehension."

 

Underscoring this research, World Book produced a series of videos exploring one fourth-grade classroom’s use of Dramatic Learning to:

 

·         Improve reading fluency and sight-word recognition

·         Develop comprehension skills for ESL/ELL and challenged readers

·         Promote task engagement, independent learning, and constructive movement

·         Manage behavior and socialization

  

World Book created Dramatic Learning in collaboration with educational theater innovator Douglas Love, creator/producer of Disney’s "Out of the Box" television series, HBO’s "Jammin’ Animals," and author of more than 20 children’s books and plays. In addition to Dr. Almeida, Dramatic Learning also includes original plays from Albert Cullum, one of the first public school teachers to teach core curriculum using theater.

  

Educators can try Dramatic Learning free at www.worldbookonline.com/training/dramatic_learning/html/dl_11.htm. Dramatic Learning is sold on a subscription basis. It is available now from World Book’s school and library sales force at 800-975-3250 (U.S.) or 800-837-5365 (Canada) and from the school and library ordering site (www.worldbookonline.com/sales).

 

Source: World Book, Inc., www.worldbook.com

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Renaissance Learning, JBHM Education Group Announce SetPoint Consortium

Renaissance Learning and JBHM Education Group have announced the formation of SetPoint, a consortium that pairs classroom technology with intensive coaching to build capacity for sustained change within the local district. The consortium is designed to offer a research-based approach for transforming chronically struggling schools into successful learning environments without requiring mass dismissals of staff, school closures or turnover to charters or outside management organizations.

 

The two organizations come to the consortium with complementary backgrounds and skills. Since 1986, Renaissance Learning has produced software for classroom assessment and data-driven decision-making. JBHM was founded a decade ago to help schools struggling to meet No Child Left Behind requirements, and has built a team of experienced superintendents, principals and other educators who help failing schools by working day to day with educators – monitoring, modeling and mentoring.

 

SetPoint meets or exceeds criteria for federal funding under the "transformational" model for school change described in two programs of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA): the "Race to the Top" initiative and the newly expanded School Improvement Grant (SIG) program. SIG funding is aimed at the bottom five percent of U.S. schools, the group the SetPoint program of intensive intervention targets most directly. Together, the two programs will provide about $8 billion for school improvement. Both require that districts choose among four change models for low- performing schools: closing the school, turning it over to a charter or outside "educational management organization," a "turnaround" process requiring the dismissal of at least half the faculty, or the transformation model.

 

With the SetPoint process, most staff members remain in their positions and receive intensive coaching and modeling in best instructional practices from experienced principals and school leaders. Mentors are in the school daily to provide teachers, staff and administrators with the support they need to adhere to an approach called the "Five Essential Practices." This model for improving schools was developed by JBHM over decades in close consultation with experts on effective instruction.

 

The "Five Essential Practices" are designed to turn a dysfunctional school into a thriving learning community. 1) The school must use a research-based curriculum, aligned with district, state and national standards and taught with fidelity to all students. 2) The school environment and culture must be safe, secure and orderly so that learning can happen. 3) Both the amount and quality of instructional time must be increased for all students, particularly in reading, math and writing, including substantial time for guided practice of acquired skills. 4) Student achievement must be monitored constantly and consistently, using technology to both assess and analyze the data. 5) School policies and procedures must support the ongoing implementation of educational best practices.

 

Meanwhile, students have access to the most highly rated and advanced instructional technology for both learning and assessment on their own wireless-network laptops. Educators rely on a steady stream of assessment data to personalize instruction for every student, providing more intensive intervention for struggling students as called for in the evidence-based Response to Intervention (RTI) model.

 

For more information about SetPoint, go to www.setpointschools.com.

 

Source: Renaissance Learning, Inc., www.renlearn.com/

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Pearson Introduces New Middle School Interactive Science Curriculum

Pearson has announced its Interactive Science middle school program. The research-based approach of the program brings science to life for students, the announcement states, and offers teachers the option of a single digital pathway, a "write-in- the-book" print version, or a blended online and print combination.

Available for purchase in January 2010, Interactive Science enables middle school students to read, write, draw, graph, and self-assess all in one place, actively engaging students with real-world content. With Pearson’s Interactive Science, today’s middle school students can foster a sense of ownership in their science learning and connect concepts to their daily lives, according to the announcement.

Taking advantage of technology to personalize learning, Interactive Science’s online learning environment, MyScienceOnline.com, utilizes videos, virtual labs, interactive activities, vocabulary games, research opportunities, content-related math problems, and self-assessments. Each lesson opens with a Planet Diary feature where students read about a specific problem, issue, factoid, real-life event, or misconception and then blog about their reactions to one or two open- ended questions about the example.

Aligned to NSTA standards, Interactive Science utilizes Dr. Grant Wiggins’ Understanding by Design model and focuses on interactive, visual, and differentiated learning strategies to help teachers provide personalized learning for all students.

Visual cues throughout the text are designed to help struggling readers and English Learners to better understand core science concepts, and integrated print and digital formative self-assessments keep students on track throughout the school year. When students need extra help, they can access MyScienceCoach, an online interactive tool that brings students up to speed with additional activities, links to external websites that support key science topics and educational content passages, which cover chapter topics and can be set to their individual Lexile reading levels.

To view the Interactive Science digital path in action, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHfvzvrvXWI. For more information about the program, see www.InteractiveScience.com or http://interactivescience.com/videos.html.

Source: Pearson, www.pearson.com

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The Library Corporation (TLC) Optimizes LS2 PAC Software to Work With Google Analytics

The Library Corporation (TLC) has optimized its LS2 PAC software to work with Google Analytics, the service that tracks web traffic and trends, enabling customer libraries to find answers to questions such as: Which of the library’s titles are searched for most often? How much time do borrowers spend looking through the library’s collection? Or which subjects merit the most interest from card holders? Google Analytics, working with LS2 PAC, can show:

The most frequently used search terms.
The number of hits to each web page.
The types of internet browsers used by visitors to your website.
Patron trends from week to week, month to month, and year to year.

Weekly website reports, tables, charts, and graphs can now be customized to provide as much or as little information as desired. Local system administrators can set up the analytics service and use that data to better frame and package their libraries to serve their communities.

Google Analytics integration is offered at no charge to LS2 PAC customers. Once a library establishes a Google Analytics account, the TLC Support Department will complete the process of activating the service. (TLC cannot provide support for the application beyond the activation process.

LS2 PAC is a flexible, multi-application platform that merges library automation with the amenities of Web 2.0. LS2 PAC features the Book River, a representation of a library’s titles, as well as RSS news feeds that highlight current events and related library books; maps that show where items are located within a library; federated searching of in-house and online content; integrated searching of subscription databases; and more, including:

List creation and sharing capabilities
Patron ratings, reviews, and search tags
Faceted, manageable search results ranked by relevancy
Customized display of search results
Genre browsing
Smart promotion window
Administrative access to custom-published lists for display case
Patron recommendations based on ratings

To learn more about LS2 PAC visit www.tlcdelivers.com/. For information about Google Analytics, visit www.google.com/analytics.

Source: The Library Corporation (TLC), www.tlcdelivers.com/

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Faronics Announces Release of Insight 7.4

Faronics has announced the release of Insight 7.4. Insight enables instructors to teach, monitor, and communicate with an entire class from one central computer. Students are kept on task and engaged in an environment where technology accelerates their learning. The latest version of Insight allows teachers to run the console within the Mac OS X operating system. This version also features expanded internet controls for Internet Explorer 8 and Mozilla Firefox.

Faronics Insight is a classroom technology management solution that enables teachers to share their screen with students, control student access to applications and websites, and monitor classroom screens to ensure students are on task. Students are able to interact with the teacher directly through Insight’s chat, voting, and remote assistance capabilities. Insight gives instructors the ability to monitor user computers; blank user screens; mute audio; remote into their computers; and open, close, or block applications and web activity on user workstations.

A free 30 day evaluation version of Faronics Insight for Windows or Mac OS X can be downloaded from www.faronics.com/.

Source: Faronics, www.faronics.com

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Facts On File Announces Launch of Curriculum Video On Demand

Facts On File, an imprint of Infobase Publishing, in conjunction with Films for the Humanities & Sciences (FFH&S), has announced the launch of its comprehensive new Curriculum Video On Demand subscription service, offering unlimited access to more than 5,000 streaming educational programs for the high school curriculum.

 

Curriculum Video On Demand is a compilation of high-school-level video content from producers around the world, covering six core subject areas: science and mathematics, social studies, literature and language arts, health and nutrition, business and economics, and visual and performing arts. Each full-length video has been segmented into predefined clips—50,000 segments in all—to aid in finding specific pieces of content quickly.

 

Highlights include:

·        Streaming Video, Easy Access 24/7—Users can stream the 5,000-plus high-quality educational videos in the subscription anytime and anywhere, and anyone at the subscribing institution can have access. The videos can be displayed in a classroom using a projector or interactive whiteboard. Full titles and segments are searchable and can be saved, organized, and shared by email; custom playlists can also be created.

 ·        Superior Video Quality, Cross-Platform Compatible—All programs are available for streaming in Adobe Flash Player-compatible Flash 400k and 700k mb format. Many programs are also available in a Flash 1.5 mb stream for higher quality viewing. The videos retain their quality at full screen.

·        Exceptional Content—Programs from more than 700 quality producers are included in this subscription—including Films for the Humanities & Sciences, ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, PBS, the BBC, National Geographic, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, Bill Moyers Journal, Shopware, Cambridge Educational, and many more. Most titles are exclusive to Facts On File and Films for the Humanities & Sciences.

 ·        Correlated to the High School Curriculum— Curriculum Video On Demand contains more high-school-level videos than any other streaming video subscription, according to the announcement. The video content is intended for basic through AP courses. All material is correlated to state and national educational standards.

 ·        New Content Added Regularly—Subscriptions continue growing, with new titles added monthly. Approximately 400 new titles are added per year, all geared to the high school curriculum.

 ·        A Wealth of Features—Curriculum Video On Demand features seamless integration of videos and playlists into online card catalogs and Distance Learning systems; robust search tools; usage tracking and reporting statistics; a variety of authentication options; closed-captioning on many titles; dynamic citations in multiple format; public performance rights; and other features.

 

For a free trial, go to www.factsonfile.com/trial.

Source: Infobase Publishing, www.infobasepublishing.com/

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Moodlerooms Unveils Joule Enterprise Learning Management Platform

Moodlerooms, Inc., has announced joule, an enterprise learning management platform with next-generation functionality, dedicated service, a growing partner program, and the open-source LMS Moodle at its core. joule enables institutions and organizations to connect people, systems, and data to make online learning more engaging and accountable, according to the announcement.

 

joule is designed as an  adaptable solution that gives learning management customers the options they need to boost their learning programs, with outcomes-based learning, enhanced reports and notifications, federated content management, batch course conversion, supported integrations, simplified administration, and a customizable streamlined user interface.

 

Features include the following:

• Outcomes-Based Learning: Instructors can enhance classroom activities with online quizzes, assignments, resources, and forums that are linked to outcomes and standards.

• Reports and Notifications: Organizations can efficiently monitor student activities and provide notifications to promote successful learning behaviors.

• Content Management: Course designers can streamline course creation by developing useful tags for learning objects that are catalogued in a federated repository.

• Authentication and Enrollment: Administrators can reduce data entry errors and maximize resources by automating administrative tasks.

• Branded Themes: Organizations can promote consistency throughout courses with a look and feel that reflects the organization’s identity.

• In-Program Help: Participants can access tutorials and Frequently Asked Questions from within the platform to get immediate end-user support.

• Modules and Blocks: Organizations can select from a wide range of tested open-source and third-party applications to create engaging courses, including an integrated web conferencing tool from WebEx, Turnitin plagiarism tools, and a portable e-portfolio solution from eFolioWorld, a product of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities.

• Batch Course Conversion: Educators can transfer their courses and content from an existing LMS for a smooth transition.

 

With open-source Moodle at its core, joule is a flexible, open platform with continuous development to meet changing needs, according to the announcement. joule customers can add tested, supported, and fully integrated functionality from a growing list of partners through Moodlerooms’ mPower Program. Features are also continually added and updated through free Moodle upgrades.

 

For more information or to purchase joule, visit www.moodlerooms.com/joule.

 

Source: Moodlerooms, www.moodlerooms.com

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PBS TeacherLine Winter Course Term Opens for Enrollment

PBS TeacherLine has opened enrollment for its 2010 Winter Course Term, with courses starting Jan. 27.

Through standards-based, graduate-level courses, PBS TeacherLine offers teachers professional development opportunities in an accessible online format designed to make learning flexible and collaborative. Teachers can earn graduate credit, professional development points, or continuing education units while gaining strategies and resources they can use in their classrooms. The Winter Course Term features more than 130 courses in science, math, reading and language arts, instructional technology, and instructional strategies offered through PBS TeacherLine's national service and local PBS station services.

The courses are designed to leverage the use of technologies such as audio, video, interactives, and online discussions to provide an engaging, collaborative learning experience, to address multiple learning styles, and to serve as a model for ways to effectively integrate technology into the classroom. A study last year by the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers indicated that teachers don't feel adequately prepared to use technology to enhance their lessons and need further training and support.


For more information about PBS TeacherLine and to access the course catalog, visit www.pbs.org/teacherline.

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

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