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March 29, 2011

Table of Contents

Free Resources: Online Professional Development Modules From PBS TeacherLine on Teaching About Climate Change
e2020, Inc., Adopts Common Core State Standards
Follett Software Company Releases TetraData 8.5
Lexia Learning Releases Survey Results from ASCD
CTB Integrates SMART’s Interactive Response Systems with Acuity UnWired
ABC-CLIO Announces the 2011 “Hunt for History”
Pearson Makes Interactive Learning Resources From enVisionMATH Available on Pearson Perspective

Free Resources: Online Professional Development Modules From PBS TeacherLine on Teaching About Climate Change

PBS TeacherLine has announced it is offering 10 free self-paced lessons for teachers to explore best practices for teaching about climate change to middle and high school students. The on-demand, video-based modules are designed to deepen teacher knowledge of global climate and earth system change, while providing a resource that can also be used with students.

Four modules are available now in the PBS STEM Resource Center, and six more will be developed by June 2011. Each module addresses a particular aspect of climate change beginning with "Introduction to Earth's Dynamically Changing Climate," which compares sea level measurements, land ice, Arctic sea ice, and carbon dioxide in past decades to provide perspective on what's happening today. The next lesson, "Earth's Warming Climate: Are We Responsible?" examines the correlation between human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation, and climate change. The third module, "Going Local with Global Warming," looks at recent temperature data from local areas to understand the significance of recent temperature records as evidence of a warming climate. The fourth module, "The Climate Change Skeptic's Argument: Natural Solar Cycles or Human Activity?" investigates the degree to which patterns of contemporary climate change can be explained as natural factors, such as changes in incoming solar radiation to the Earth. The online modules take approximately three to five hours to complete at the individual's preferred pace.

Each standard-based module features a data activity and summary, objectives and tips for note-taking, and background information on the main topic. These professional development resources enable teachers to examine resources and content through the five "E's" - engage, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate. Educators learn STEM instructional techniques that they can transfer to the classroom to investigate climate change with their students.

In 2009, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) awarded PBS TeacherLine approximately $600,000 in funding from the NASA Global Climate Change Education grant to improve the quality of the nation's science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. With the grant funding, PBS TeacherLine developed the online, graduate-level professional development course, STEM412: Global Climate Change Education for Middle School, along with the on-demand modules.

The free modules and a primer on climate change terminology and concepts, "20 Questions & Answers About Climate Change," are available at: www.pbs.org/teachers/stem/professionaldevelopment/.

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

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e2020, Inc., Adopts Common Core State Standards

e2020, Inc., a provider of core and elective instruction in a virtual school setting for students in grades 6-12, has announced all existing courses have been aligned to the Common Core Standards. Additionally, new courses developed by the company will utilize Common Core State Standards to create the course matrix, and scope and sequence. To provide schools and districts with a more comprehensive eLearning program model for students, the e2020 Inc., Common Core Standards alignment process is manually configured, resulting in more accurate and granular results.

Adopting Common Core State Standards can be problematic when states and districts are required to sort through numerous alignment claims based solely on keyword search. By utilizing a manual analysis and comparison method, e2020, Inc., offers a more accurate system for schools and districts, improving outcomes for students. In addition, e2020, Inc., offers custom alignment to district pacing guides to more accurately depict standards and increase alignment efficiency.

As an endorsing partner of the Common Core State Standards Initiative, e2020, Inc., supports its mission to ensure every American student graduates high school with the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in the 21st century.

e2020, Inc.'s web-based model, teacher-led video delivery, and instructional approach offer engaging and individualized virtual online instruction solutions to public and private schools for use in traditional classrooms, blended school, and online programs, according to the announcement. e2020, Inc., has implementations in 39 states with over 800 school districts and more than 2,500 schools served.

Source: e2020, Inc., www.education2020.com

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Follett Software Company Releases TetraData 8.5

Follett Software Company has announced the release of version 8.5 of TetraData, the company's suite of K-12 data management, analysis and vision alignment tools that enables districts to more quickly user their data to make informed decisions, drive continuous improvement, and impact student success.

Featuring performance enhancements to speed queries, expanded analysis and reporting capabilities and enhanced security reminders to protect student data, TetraData 8.5 also supports the new federal race and ethnicity reporting requirements.

The key features in TetraData 8.5 include:

  • More intuitive user interface features an improved toolbar that guides users through building a basic query simply by following the order of the buttons on the screen.
  • Added security reminders protect student information from exposure to non-authorized viewers.
  • Improved report viewing options such as the ability to search for text in a report; TIFF, XML and CSV export options; and more user-friendly parameters.
  • Expanded analysis and reporting capabilities for districts looking to monitor performance against benchmarks, item level and standards data.
  • Support for the new federal race and ethnicity reporting requirements.
  • Increased ethnicity analysis and reporting for districts with Native American populations.

In addition to an array of 8.5 user's guides and documentation, Follett Software has produced a complimentary webinar, "What's New in 8.5," that provides a guided tour of the new enhancements. Existing TetraData customers may view the webinar by visiting www.FollettSoftware.com and logging on to the Customer Portal.

Source: Follett Software Company, www.FollettSoftware.com

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Lexia Learning Releases Survey Results from ASCD

Lexia Learning Systems has released the results of an informal survey of superintendents, supervisors, principals and teachers who attended the recent Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) Annual Conference in San Francisco, Calif. The results suggest that, while most educators agree effective learning requires differentiated practice, timely and detailed assessment data, and targeted instructional methods to address skill gaps, those same educators feel they lack the data and instructional tools to deliver effective learning.

Lexia polled more than 200 education professionals at the ASCD Conference. Attendees were asked about their school or district's ability to gather and use data to provide targeted, differentiated learning. 

One out of four educators indicated that it is too difficult for teachers to obtain the data they need to affect classroom instruction, while more than a third feel they spend too much time testing. In addition, less than one-third of teachers felt they had the resources to offer targeted instruction, and fewer (25 percent) believed their students receive enough differentiated instruction.

To help address this problem for reading education, the comprehensive reading software program Lexia Reading provides the needed differentiated, data-driven and targeted system to deliver independent, individualized practice and differentiated instruction, according to the Lexia announcement. 

Lexia offers support for critical reading skills development for all students in grades pre-K-4, as well as for students in grades 5-12 needing to accelerate their reading skills progress. The program includes more than 900 age-appropriate activities conforming to federal guidelines and focused on the five major areas of reading. Students using the web-based, SIF certified program work independently as the software automatically differentiates the content to match each student's skill level, detecting when additional practice is needed and advancing students to the next level when skills have been mastered. Lexia's Assessment Without Testing technology gives administrators and teachers access to performance data gathered from students' daily activities in the program-without stopping the flow of instruction to administer tests or wait for results. The software quickly identifies students at risk for reading failure, highlighting specific skill deficits and aggregating student performance data at the student, class, school or district level.

Teachers are automatically provided with Lexia Lessons and Lexia Skill Builders, a set of explicit, scripted lesson plans and paper and pencil practice sheets for targeted skill instruction and offline practice.

Source: Lexia Learning, www.lexialearning.com

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CTB Integrates SMART’s Interactive Response Systems with Acuity UnWired

CTB/McGraw-Hill and SMART Technologies, Inc. (SMART) have announced that Acuity UnWired now supports three SMART Response interactive response systems, through a collaboration between CTB and SMART. The collaboration further expands the use of Acuity by classroom teachers to track student performance directly and use SMART Response interactive response systems in their formative instruction.
 
In May 2011 students will be able to take Acuity UnWired assessments using SMART Response PE  and SMART Response XE instead of pencils and paper or computers. SMART's previous model, Senteo interactive response system, is no longer available for purchase but is supported and integrated with Acuity UnWired.

Acuity UnWired instantly displays student responses and percent-correct scores, enabling teachers to track progress in real-time. When an assessment is complete, Acuity UnWired uploads student performance data to Acuity, generating standards-aligned reports within minutes. The feedback gives educators the ability to modify their instruction, making true data-driven instruction a reality.
 
Using Acuity UnWired benefits both teachers and students in the following ways, according to the announcement:

Today's tech-savvy students are familiar with and prefer using hand-held, electronic devices.

Acuity UnWired enables teachers to test quickly and easily, get instant results, and immediately adjust instruction as guided by test results.

Using interactive response devices frees-up computer labs for other instructional purposes, eliminating lab scheduling conflicts.

Students report feeling more at ease taking assessments in their classrooms with interactive response systems, compared to taking assessments in computer labs.

Using Acuity UnWired eliminates costly and time-consuming printing, barcoding, distributing, collecting, and scanning of answer sheets.
Since its release in 2009, Acuity UnWired has been deployed in hundreds of schools, with universally successful results. In informal classroom surveys, students noted almost unanimously that they preferred interactive response system devices, not only to paper and pencil, but also to online testing. Teachers also reported a high level of comfort and ease of use, and district officials were very satisfied.
 
Source: CTB/McGraw-Hill, http://ctb.com/

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ABC-CLIO Announces the 2011 “Hunt for History”

ABC-CLIO has announced the 2011 "Hunt for History" competition and is calling for school library media specialists and social studies teachers around the country to join in and win valuable prizes such as iPads and subscriptions to the company's suite of databases and ebook collections. 

To take the Hunt for History challenge, school library media specialists and teachers sign up for a free 60-day preview of the 13 ABC-CLIO online databases, and then use these history resources to find and submit the answers to 15 questions about worldwide historical events, people, issues and dilemmas. Prizes will be awarded weekly during the month-long contest, providing many opportunities to win. The competition launches on March 22, and the deadline for submitting answers is April 30, making it a great way for school library media specialists and teachers to celebrate National Library Week in mid-April.

This year's Hunt for History five grand-prize winners will receive an Apple iPad and subscription to the ABC-CLIO databases for one year. The ABC-CLIO collection of 13 databases meets the needs of today's learners with authoritative reference materials from leading scholars, resources that focus student research and understanding, and analytical essays that model critical-thinking approaches and stimulate scholarly debate.

Sixteen first-prize winners will receive a one-year school-wide subscription to any four ABC-CLIO databases, and 24 second-prize winners will receive access to the ABC-CLIO eBook Collection for one year.

Hunt for History is open only to teachers and librarians in accredited, public and private schools in the United States and U.S. territories and is limited to one entry per individual. For more information, go to www.abc-clio.com/huntforhistory.

Source: ABC-CLIO, www.abc-clio.com

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Pearson Makes Interactive Learning Resources From enVisionMATH Available on Pearson Perspective

Pearson has announced it has combined interactive learning resources from its elementary math program enVisionMATH with the Pearson Perspective program's capabilities in tying assessment to instruction.

Perspective takes the results from students' high-stakes assessments and identifies areas where they are struggling. Then, its Learning Locator connects them with content such as the resources from enVisionMATH that they can use to get back on track.

The effectiveness of enVisionMATH is validated by the student gains reported in an independent, scientific research study, based on the rigorous standards required by the Department of Education's What Works Clearinghouse, the announcement states. This study found that fifth-graders learning with the program jumped the equivalent of five grade levels in math computation achievement in just two years. And the findings from the second year of this two-year randomized control study by Planning, Research and Evaluation Services (PRES) Associates showed that enVisionMATH students overall significantly improved in the areas of math concepts, problem-solving, computation and vocabulary. Pearson recently launched a new edition of the elementary math program, enVisionMATH Common Core, written specifically to the new Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. 

enVisionMATH materials for third and fourth grades are now available, and additional grades will be added over the next several months.

To learn more about Perspective, visit www.pearsonperspective.com.

Source: Pearson, www.pearsonschool.com/

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