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September 14, 2010

Table of Contents

PBS KIDS PLAY! Now Available for Classroom Use
Siemens Foundation, Discovery Education, and NSTA Announce Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge
Pearson Launches WriteToLearn v. 6.0
Pearson Debuts Newly Enhanced Website for National Evaluation Series Educator Certification Testing Program
Wilson Launches WilsonWeb Mobile Interface
Tabula Digita Releases DimensionL Literacy-Based Interactive Video Game
Maplesoft Publishes New Edition of The Mathematics Survival Kit - Maple Edition
Shmoop Launches PSAT and SAT Test Prep

PBS KIDS PLAY! Now Available for Classroom Use

PBS KIDS PLAY!, innovative educational games for children in preschool, kindergarten and special education from PBS Kids, can now be licensed for classroom use. The standards-based, cross-curricular program adapts to each student with three learning stages for each of 30 skill areas. The game-based learning program includes content in mathematics, science, language development, literacy, creativity, healthy development, and social studies. The program also features new foreign language learning games in Spanish, French and Mandarin from LITTLE PIM, an award-winning DVD language series.

PBS KIDS PLAY! is a winner of the Association of Educational Publishers' 2010 Distinguished Achievement Award and a 2009 Teachers' Choice Award for the Family from Learning Magazine. The Classroom Edition provides the same content found in the Home Edition, plus these enhancements:

Classroom management for up to 30 students, with individual progress

tracking and personalized learning for each student;

-- Easy classroom setup without IT assistance; and

-- Ease of use in a shared computing environment.

The program is a broadband subscription service, which requires no software installation except Adobe Flash. It runs full-screen on any Windows 7/XP/Vista, Mac OSX or Chrome OS on a desktop, laptop, or interactive whiteboard. A broadband internet connection is required; new content and features are delivered without any need to upgrade. No servers or infrastructure changes are required. The program is scalable to any size school district or state system.

The Classroom Edition costs $499 per account, each of which serves 30 students. A $200 per-account savings is available through Sept. 30, 2010.

Educators may evaluate the program free for 30 days at http://classroom.pbskidsplay.org. Only an email, organization name and ZIP code are required.

Source: PBS KIDS, pbskids.org

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Siemens Foundation, Discovery Education, and NSTA Announce Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge

The Siemens Foundation, Discovery Education, and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) have announced the kick-off of the third annual Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge, a program that educates, empowers, and engages students and teachers nationwide to become "Agents of Change" in identifying and solving environmental problems. The third year of this national sustainability challenge-now expanded to include high school students-encourages all students, from kindergarten through twelfth grade, to team up with their classmates to create replicable solutions to environmental issues in their schools (grades K-5), community (grades 6-8) and world (grades 9-12).

After expanding last year to elementary school students, this year's Challenge is turning to the nation's high school students to identify and address environmental issues that they see as problems in the world. In keeping with the Challenge's overall mission to build a more sustainable world, high school students will be specifically encouraged to focus on energy-related issues using scientific investigation, and create a replicable solution using web-based curriculum tools powered by Discovery Education. 

Over 13,000 students competed in the 2010 Challenge across elementary and middle school grades. Projects ranged from reducing lunchtime waste to saving local trees and encouraging eco-friendly gardens. The grand prize team, "No1Idling" from Novi, MI, focused on reducing community pollution by raising awareness about the environmental impact of vehicle idling among area drivers. 

Teachers, students, and mentors can log on to www.wecanchange.com now to register for the Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge. Student and teacher/mentor prizes, which vary according to grade level, include savings bonds, school grants, exciting trips and more. The website offers resource guides, lesson plans, and teacher materials to accompany each stage of the challenge. These materials are created by Discovery Education, the division of Discovery Communications providing scientifically proven, standards-based digital content and resources to classrooms nationwide, and the NSTA, a science teacher organization dedicated to improving science education and increasing student learning by engaging all teachers of science. A panel of environmental experts, science educators, and the College Board (high school) will judge teams on both their ability to create a positive, measurable solution to a local sustainability issue or challenge using scientific methodology and their ability to explain how the solution can be replicated by other communities

The deadline for all entries is March 15, 2011. Finalists and winners will be announced in April 2011 and the national winners will be announced in May 2011. For more information, visit www.wecanchange.com or www.facebook.com/wecanchange.

Source: Discovery Education, www.discoveryeducation.com

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Pearson Launches WriteToLearn v. 6.0

Pearson has launched WriteToLearn 6.0, the newest version of its complete online tool for building writing skills and developing reading comprehension. WriteToLearn is designed to help students develop essay-writing and summarization skills, and 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, not just grammatical correctness or spelling. This proven technology delivers the accurate, consistent and immediate, quality feedback that is necessary for academic success, according to Pearson's announcement. In addition, WriteToLearn's automated scoring allows teachers more time for teaching and lesson planning. Students develop confidence and skills to improve their literacy levels and test scores, the announcement states.

The new student performance reports in WriteToLearn 6.0 provide administrators with critical information to make informed decisions about current and future performance. The enhanced reports offer insights into the amount of time that students and classes are using WriteToLearn and the progress they are making.

To help schools meet the needs of struggling readers and English Language Learners, WriteToLearn 6.0 now features expanded text-to-speech capabilities. Using Texthelp System's embedded reading support technology, SpeechStream, students can have reading passages, essay feedback and their own writing read aloud to them. The text-to-speech feature allows students to gain a deeper understanding of the writing development process and where they need to focus their efforts in future drafts.

Grammar-checking capabilities in WriteToLearn have also been expanded, providing students with more feedback on errors.

Schools and districts with current WriteToLearn accounts will receive the update free of charge. WriteToLearn is available for purchase on a concurrent or individual student license basis, with district-level subscriptions now available.

WriteToLearn qualifies for federal funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. For more information, visit www.School.WriteToLearn.net.

Source: Pearson, www.pearson.com

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Pearson Debuts Newly Enhanced Website for National Evaluation Series Educator Certification Testing Program

The Evaluation Systems group of Pearson has launched the newly enhanced website for the NES (National Evaluation Series) educator certification testing program. Now at NEStest.com, teacher licensure candidates and faculty members will find complete testing information, candidate preparation materials, and college and university faculty preparation resources for the contemporary, 100 percent computer-based testing program.

The NES is designed to help states ensure that the educators they certify are prepared to teach effectively in 21st century classrooms. NES tests provide states with comprehensive exams aligned to professionally accepted national learning standards, covering areas such as essential academic skills, professional knowledge, reading instruction and commonly taught elementary, middle and secondary grade-level subjects.

Through NEStest.com's new "My Account" feature, teacher licensure candidates have a single, online point of access for all of their testing information and services. "My Account" users can register for tests, manage existing registrations, access score reports and view testing history at their convenience through a streamlined interface. Each candidate's account requires a unique password and is securely protected by Pearson's encryption technology. The redesigned site also includes policies and procedures for taking all 33 NES tests, including the rules of test participation and alternative testing arrangements for candidates with disabilities.

NEStest.com features a number of different resources to help candidates prepare for the exams, such as NES Profile and NES Practice. NES Profile is a series of free, online study guides that are accessible from school, home or wherever the candidate has internet access. Each NES Profile includes the essential information a candidate needs about the test, such as the format and content covered, as well as sample test questions.

NES Practice is a series of full-length, online, interactive practice tests designed to simulate the experience of taking a NES test. NES Practice tests are available for all 33 NES tests and include authentic test questions developed for the NES program. For each practice test, candidates will receive immediate, comprehensive feedback on their multiple-choice and essay performance. Once scored, examinees can review their answers to the practice test questions along with explanations of each test question's correct response. Pricing for NES Practice starts at $17.50 per test.

In a special Faculty Resources section developed specifically for faculty members at teacher preparation programs, NEStest.com offers tools, strategies and materials for preparing candidates for the exams. Resources include worksheets and advice for mentoring candidates through the teacher certification testing process, and information about understanding NES content, helping candidates prepare to take the NES tests and interpreting candidate test results.

For more information about the Evaluation Systems group of Pearson, go to http://teacher.pearsonassessments.com.

Source: Pearson, www.pearsonassessments.com/

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Wilson Launches WilsonWeb Mobile Interface

H.W. Wilson has announced the launch of its new WilsonWeb Mobile interface for smart phones and other mobile devices. A free service for WilsonWeb subscribers, WilsonWeb Mobile provides "anytime, anywhere" access to WilsonWeb reference databases, marrying WilsonWeb's versatile searching, trusted information, and practical tools with smart-phone convenience, according to the announcement.

For users whose libraries subscribe to Wilson full text databases, articles from thousands of publications are now available whenever, wherever. And with WilsonWeb Mobile's ReadSpeaker text-to-speech converter, they can listen to the articles as well, making the small screen of the typical hand-held device a moot point. Thousands of articles on any research or personal interest-ready for listening while in line at the post office, relaxing in the park, commuting or doing housework-are just a WilsonWeb Mobile search away. Planned features such as "My WilsonWeb" accounts for storing search results will allow users to effectively compile custom "playlists" of articles on any subject (or from favorite magazines or authors), making WilsonWeb Mobile an attractive source of recreational listening as well as time-saving research.

For librarians, WilsonWeb Mobile customization options represent a way to promote awareness of the library. WilsonWeb Mobile "co-branding" allows the placement of two logos on the interface (and future innovations will allow custom hotlinks). Library patrons will carry a bit of their library with them at all times--and appreciate the service their library provides--with each use of the interface. WilsonWeb Mobile usage will be reflected in the library's WilsonWeb statistics report.

Other WilsonWeb Mobile features include:

  • Full text article translations into any of 13 languages
  • Images (on Wilson biography and art image databases)
  • Basic and advanced searching
  • Multiple database searching
  • WilsonWeb All-Smart searching
  • Relevancy ranked results
  • Emailing of search results
  • Referring page authentication, and more...


WilsonWeb Mobile functions seamlessly with all of today's most popular mobile devices and browsers, including Android, Blackberry, IPhone, IPad, Internet Explorer mobile, Opera mobile, and FireFox browsers.

An FAQ detailing the capabilities of WilsonWeb Mobile, and set-up procedures are available at www.hwwilson.com. Free trials are available for members of the press.

Source: H.W. Wilson, www.hwwilson.com

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Tabula Digita Releases DimensionL Literacy-Based Interactive Video Game

Tabula Digita has expanded its game-based learning platform with the release of DimensionL, a literacy-based, interactive video game for students in grades three through nine. Part of the DimensionU Learning System that includes the DimensionM series of three-dimensional math games, DimensionL gives students an exhilarating way to practice their essential literacy skills, according to the announcement.

With almost 200 literacy skills embedded in curriculum packs for elementary, middle and high school students, the highly interactive DimensionL instructional software introduces and reinforces such topics as language conventions, parts of speech, reading and writing processes, spelling, and vocabulary. Students encounter challenging curriculum delivered in a series of quick-paced, immersive missions that incorporate 3D graphics, sound, animation and storylines comparable to those in most popular commercial video games. By successfully navigating the hundreds of embedded questions, students rack up points while reinforcing language arts concepts discussed during the school day.

Teachers use the game's broad content for concept introduction, practice, enrichment, intervention, as well as test preparation. And, because the DimensionL games are designed as a supplemental tool, teachers may easily integrate the games and their content with a variety of instructional models - from classrooms to computer labs and even extending learning beyond the bell into student's homes.

The enhanced ‘Educator Portal' on DimensionU.com includes comprehensive reporting functions that offer a beneficial look at each child's progress and mastery, including playtime logged at school versus at home, which can be shared with parents. Improved formatting of on-screen and spreadsheet-based reports, as well as graphical representation of data, will help teachers track student progress against important 21st century skills including fluency with, and identification of, specific grammatical forms, conventions and rules.

For pricing information for schools and individuals, please go to www.dimensionu.com

Source: Tabula Digita, www.dimensionu.com/

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Maplesoft Publishes New Edition of The Mathematics Survival Kit - Maple Edition

Maplesoft has announced the publication of the second edition of The Mathematics Survival Kit - Maple Edition. This ebook is designed to give students the information they need to overcome difficulties encountered while working on homework or assignment problems. It gives students the opportunity to review exactly the concept or technique they are struggling with, learn what they need to know, work through an example, practice as much as they want using randomly generated and automatically graded questions on that exact topic, and then continue with their homework.

The ebook was written by award-winning teacher Jack Weiner and is based on the recent second edition of his printed book, The Mathematics Survival Kit, published by Thomson Nelson. Drawing from his 30 years of teaching experience, Weiner identified topics that both university and high school students find most problematic. The latest release of The Mathematics Survival Kit - Maple Edition contains 25 additional topics, bringing the total to 140. All of the new topics were created by Weiner in direct response to requests from readers of the first edition of the book, including students, teachers, and even parents. New materials range from basic operations such as factoring and fractions, to graph sketching, vectors, and integration.

The new version of The Mathematics Survival Kit - Maple Edition is available from the Maplesoft web store at http://webstore.maplesoft.com. Students may purchase a specially priced bundle containing Maple 14 Student Edition and the Mathematics Survival Kit - Maple Edition starting at $109 USD. As a stand-alone purchase, the Mathematics Survival Kit is available for $29 USD.

Source: Maplesoft, www.maplesoft.com

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Shmoop Launches PSAT and SAT Test Prep

Shmoop has announced the launch of its online PSAT Test Prep service, available at $19 per student. Shmoop is almost certainly the only source for rigorous PSAT preparation that uses examples ranging from Mario Brothers to the history of Coca-Cola to "I am the Walrus," the announcement states. Shmoop also announced that it will donate 20 percent of its proceeds to student groups or Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) who promote its Online Test Prep services as a group fundraiser.


Shmoop Online PSAT Prep, by the numbers:
--43 References to Tetris and other old-school video games
--701 Practice Problems in PSAT Reading, Writing and Math
--3 full-length timed Practice Exams with interactive scoring
--47 In-Depth Review Topics
--10 Shmoop t-shirts awarded to students who rack up the most Shmoints by successfully completing Drills and Practice Exams
--Now available online at a price that all families can afford: www.shmoop.com/psat/
 
The details on the Shmoop Student Club Fundraiser:
--Shmoop will provide each organization that signs up a unique promotion code
--Each time that promotion code is used while purchasing Shmoop Test Prep services, Shmoop will credit that student organization for the sale
--For every $400 increment of sales credited to a student organization, Shmoop will write an $80 check to the organization

--More info at: www.shmoop.com/fundraiser/

Source: Shmoop,  www.shmoop.com

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