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January 04, 2011

Table of Contents

Cool Links: Taking a Close Look at Smarthistory
Pearson Launches New Product to Allow Schools Faster, Easier Way to Set Up and Implement Microsoft Live@edu Accounts
PBS TeacherLine Offers INSPIRE's 'Inspire Elementary Students with Engineering' Course
SMART Introduces Entry-Level SMART Board Interactive Whiteboard
PBS Kids and Lima Sky Launch Cyberchase Math Match
DreamCatcher Games Releases Learn Science for Nintendo DS
Indiana and Louisiana Approve Discovery Education’s Digital Science Services for Statewide Use in Elementary and Middle School Classrooms
Varitronics Launches New Software for VariQuest Visual Learning Tools

Cool Links: Taking a Close Look at Smarthistory

Here's a Cool Link to information and insight on a terrific Free Resource: Smarthistory. The link below takes you to an interview Victor Rivero-who writes Internet@Schools' Tools for Learning features-did recently with the creators of Smarthistory, which is, in their words ...

... a free, creative-commons licensed, multi-media web-book designed as a dynamic enhancement or substitute for the traditional art history textbook ... [using] conversation instead of the impersonal voice of the typical textbook in order to reveal disagreement, emotion, and the immediate experience of looking.

Arts education of all stripes is on the chopping block in too many educational institutions and districts these days, so a resource like this, offering tools for understanding visual culture, is one valuable commodity. It's free; its creators are committed to the Open Education movement.

See Victor's interview with Smarthistory creators Beth Harris and Steven Zucker on his edtechdigest blog right HERE.

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Pearson Launches New Product to Allow Schools Faster, Easier Way to Set Up and Implement Microsoft Live@edu Accounts

Pearson has announced its new CloudConnect product to help schools simplify the creation, set-up and management of Live@edu accounts for both students and staff. 

The CloudConnect product from Pearson Data Solutions (formerly Edustructures) allows districts and education agencies that rely on the Microsoft Live@edu free suite of hosted Microsoft applications (email, calendars, document sharing, instant messaging and video chat) to expand the set of services they offer their students and staff.

CloudConnect both simplifies and speeds up the set-up process of Live@edu accounts for district IT administrators - making management of accounts less labor intensive and easier to implement, according to the announcement.

CloudConnect utilizes Microsoft Active Directory and SIFWorks Directory Manager to exchange student and staff records with the Live@edu application and provides automated provisioning of Live@edu accounts using the existing student information system. As students and staff move in and out of a district or transfer between schools, CloudConnect automatically provisions or deprovisions their Live@edu account. This frees up time and resources, as information technology (IT) administrators and coordinators no longer have to individually set up and configure Live@edu user accounts for new or existing students or staff. It also provides automated support for Acceptable Use Policy.

CloudConnect offers synchronized sign-on for Live@edu accounts (based on Active Directory usernames and passwords), which means users can access their Live@edu user account using the same username and password used at the school.

CloudConnect is built on the SIF Certified SIFWorks Directory Manager product, supports multiple versions of SIF for use in mixed environments, and a single CloudConnect application can scale to support individual schools, entire districts or statewide implementations.

Source: Pearson Data Solutions, www.pearsondatasolutions.com

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PBS TeacherLine Offers INSPIRE's 'Inspire Elementary Students with Engineering' Course

Inspire Elementary Students with Engineering, a new online professional development course from PBS TeacherLine, helps pre-K-6 grade teachers build on their subject-area knowledge while learning innovative instructional strategies they can immediately apply in the classroom to teach engineering concepts. Teachers learn how to provide students with an early foundation in engineering through standards-based science and math curriculum, and to develop students' critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. The course was developed by the Institute for P-12 Engineering Research and Learning (INSPIRE) within the Purdue University School of Engineering Education, and is now open for enrollment for the Winter 2010-11 term.

Recent international assessments show that U.S. student performance in science and math is lackluster compared to other developed nations, and the number of engineers graduating from U.S. colleges and universities continues to decline, according to the announcement. Schools can reverse these trends through high-quality instruction, and integrating engineering lessons into core curriculum at the elementary level. A growing number of research studies show interest in engineering needs to be fostered in the early years to inspire more students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, and to better prepare students with the tools and skills needed for success in the digital age.

Inspire Elementary Students with Engineering helps teachers understand the engineering design process and the development of a "model eliciting activity," an instructional strategy for effectively integrating hands-on, problem-solving engineering lessons into the classroom. During the 30-hour, two-credit course, teachers design an original model eliciting activity that aligns with their curriculum, and pilot it in the classroom with their students. Teachers can earn graduate credit from Purdue University, continuing education units, or professional development points for course completion.

INSPIRE developed the new online professional development course based on its research and evidence-based curriculum in engineering education. The Institute selected PBS TeacherLine to deliver the course nationally through its online, facilitator-led model for teacher professional development. PBS TeacherLine courses provide a collaborative learning environment for teachers to hone their knowledge and skills and to gain practical instructional strategies and multimedia resources they can use in the classroom. Facilitators guide educators through the courses and foster a supportive professional learning network that teachers rely on after they've completed the courses.

The first offering of Inspire Elementary Students with Engineering is in the Winter term, now open for enrollment. Courses begin Jan. 26, 2011. For more information or to enroll, visit www.pbs.org/teacherline.

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

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SMART Introduces Entry-Level SMART Board Interactive Whiteboard

SMART Technologies has announced the SMART Board 400 series interactive whiteboard, its new line of entry-level interactive whiteboards and interactive whiteboard systems. The 400 series extends the company's interactive whiteboard product line, which includes the SMART Board 600 series interactive whiteboard and the new SMART Board 800 series interactive whiteboard.

Using SMART's patented DViT (Digital Vision Touch) technology, the 400 series recognizes both pen and finger inputs, enabling teachers and students to easily interact with digital content. The series comprises the SMART Board 480 interactive whiteboard, the SMART Board 480iv interactive whiteboard system with short-throw SMART V25 projector, and the SMART Board 480iv-A interactive whiteboard system with SMART V25 projector and integrated speakers.

The SMART Board 400 series interactive whiteboard is targeted to educators who want a cost-effective, entry-level interactive whiteboard or interactive whiteboard system. The 400 series supports both the Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems and ships with SMART Notebook collaborative learning software. The 400 series integrates seamlessly with SMART's other education products. Educators also have access to the SMART Exchange website, an online community that offers more than 48,000 digital resources available in 20 languages via 43 country-specific sites.

Source: SMART Technologies, http://smarttech.com/

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PBS Kids and Lima Sky Launch Cyberchase Math Match

PBS Kids and Lima Sky have launched Cyberchase Math Match, a new app for iPhone and iPod Touch that offers a fun way for kids 8 years and older to test their math mettle.

Developed by Cyberchase, the Emmy Award-winning animated math series and website for 8- to 11-year-olds on PBS KIDS GO!, and Lima Sky, the team behind the hit app Doodle Jump, Cyberchase Math Match tests young players' basic math facts.

In classic memory game style, kids tap tiles in Cyberchase Math Match to pair up math problems with their solutions, along with pairs of favorite Cyberchase characters.  To keep players coming back, the game becomes a little more difficult with each successive play, and tracks high scores and best times to encourage competition. 

Cyberchase, now in it's eighth year of broadcast on PBS KIDS GO!, has consistently proven its track record in creating effective media for kids. Several independent studies have confirmed that Cyberchase TV episodes and related interactive games significantly strengthen children's mathematics learning.

Cyberchase Math Match is available now on the App Store for $0.99: http://bit.ly/cyberchase-math-match.  Optimized for the iPhone 4 Retina Display and iPod Touch, it's also playable on the iPad.  Periodic updates will unveil more secret images and math problems.

Source: PBS Kids, http://pbskids.org/

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DreamCatcher Games Releases Learn Science for Nintendo DS

DreamCatcher Games has announced the release of Learn Science for Nintendo DS. Learn Science helps children learn basic principles of light and sound, physics, the human body, biology, and geography while playing a variety of engaging mini-games. Unlock new mini-games by scoring high marks in Career Mode and then perfect your skills by mastering unlocked mini-games in Game Mode on one of three difficulty levels. Kids can challenge their friends in multiplayer mini-games, or they can co-operate and challenge the AI.

Features:

 ·         Learn the basic principles of light and sound, physics, the human body, biology, and geography

  • Integrated age check with traffic light system offers gaming fun for every level of knowledge
  • Two different in-game guides to help with explanations and examples
  • Multiplayer mode: Hot seat, Single card and Multi card for common learning with parents and friends through mini games

The game is priced at $19.99 USD and is available in retail stores across North America. Rated ‘E' for everyone.

Source: DreamCatcher Inc., www.dreamcatchergames.com

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Indiana and Louisiana Approve Discovery Education’s Digital Science Services for Statewide Use in Elementary and Middle School Classrooms

Discovery Education has announced that Indiana and Louisiana have joined Oregon in adopting the Discovery Education Science Techbook as a digital core instructional resource for elementary and middle school science instruction through their state textbook adoption processes.   

The Indiana State Board of Education officially adopted the Discovery Education Science Elementary Techbook for Indiana and the Discovery Education Science Middle School Techbook for Indiana.  Also, the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education officially adopted the Discovery Education Science Elementary Techbook for Louisiana and the Discovery Education Science Middle School Techbook for Louisiana. 

Each edition of the Discovery Education Science Techbook series is built from the ground up to address individual state standards and is intended to serve as the new primary instructional resource for Indiana and Louisiana elementary and middle schools. The dynamic, interactive resources included in each state's edition support the 5E model of instruction. A real-time assessment component that measures students' progress and recommends individualized resources that reinforce classroom instruction is also included.

In addition to meeting the way today's students learn, Discovery Education Science Techbooks are easy to implement.  Built around state-specific courses, each Techbook is a holistic learning system that integrates the nature of science and inquiry into every phase of learning. 

Also aiding implementation of this new service is a variety of teacher resources, ranging from "5 Minute Preps" that provide educators valuable refreshers on science content, to full days of custom, in-person professional development that build educators' capacity to leverage the power of digital content to engage students.  Finally, the Discovery Education Science Techbook is a substantially less expensive option per student than traditional textbooks, with additional savings derived from a lack of textbook replacement or inventory costs.

Source:  Discovery Education, www.discoveryeducation.com

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Varitronics Launches New Software for VariQuest Visual Learning Tools

Varitronics has announced the launch of VariQuest Design Center Software v2.0, designed to save teachers time and increase their capabilities when creating instructional aids to support curriculum with VariQuest Visual Learning Tools. Intended to help improve student achievement and teacher efficacy, this comprehensive suite of products includes the Design Center 1000, Poster Maker 3600, Cutout Maker 1800, and Awards Maker 400.

By upgrading to the latest version of VariQuest Software, schools will gain access to added Poster Maker and Awards Maker templates and graphics. New features in the VariQuest Design Center Software v2.0 include the ability to browse for content based on instructional and grade level needs, type in Spanish, and access advanced editing tools for further customization options, including importing lists from Microsoft Excel for faster creation of multiple award plaques, nametags, desk labels and parking permits. Current users can upgrade to the new software for free at www.variquest.com/software-update.

With VariQuest Software v2.0, schools can use VariQuest Visual Learning Tools with the new VariQuest Learning Modules. VariQuest Learning Modules allow teachers to use posters, cutouts, flashcards and awards to support instructional activities across the curriculum, particularly accommodating students with visual and kinesthetic learning styles. The 12 Learning Modules available for grades PK-6 support teaching science, math, English language arts, and social studies. Each Learning Module comes with 10 standards-aligned learning activities that support schools' curriculum and a CD with 30-118 scalable cutout shapes, fonts and/or collections. Learning Module activities are quick and easy for teachers to implement, and provide both modifications and extensions to accommodate a wide learning spectrum. 

VariQuest Software v2.0 also allows teachers to create custom magnetic and vinyl words and shapes using the Cutout Maker with the new magnet blade, VariQuest Magnetic Sheets, and VariQuest Vinyl Sheets. VariQuest Magnetic Sheets cut repositionable manipulatives that can be used on display boards for hands-on learning and cooperative small group work. With VariQuest Vinyl Sheets, teachers and students can cut intricate shapes with adhesive backing for immediate use on outdoor banners, informational school signage, and for fundraising initiatives with car window and bumper decals.

Source: Varitronics, www.variquest.com

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