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April 24, 2012

Table of Contents

State Educational Technology Directors Association Releases Case Studies of Innovative Educational Initiatives
ASCD Makes Catalog of 300 Professional Development E-Books Available Through Barnes & Noble
The Nature Conservancy, Discovery Education Launch ‘Nature Works Everywhere’
Follett Software Company Unveils Destiny 10.1
McGraw-Hill Education Launches ONboard Series for Advanced Placement
Pearson Digital Learning’s NovaNET Now Speech-Enabled with Texthelp Systems’ SpeechStream
Desire2Learn Announces Desire2Learn Learning Suite 10
Inspiration Maps Now Available on the App Store
Pearson Connects Digital Solution for Response to Intervention to Common Core Math

State Educational Technology Directors Association Releases Case Studies of Innovative Educational Initiatives

The State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) has released a series of case studies from 28 states highlighting examples of innovative educational initiatives that it says are playing a crucial role in improving K-12 education across the country (www.setda.org/web/guest/casestudies2012).  
 
The programs identified in these case studies were funded through the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) program (ESEA Title II, Part D) as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) which made available $650 million for the EETT program. For 10 years, EETT has supported states in partnership with school districts to lead in transforming K-12 education to meet the challenges and goals of the 21st century.
 
The case studies are illustrative of unique state grant programs tailored to meet the needs of teachers and students in those states.  While each program is unique, some common themes have emerged among them.
 
•          Scaling Up Successful Programs: ARRA EETT funds enabled states and districts to scale up research-based innovative programs, including the enhancing Missouri's Instructional Networked Teaching Strategies (eMINTS) program, North Carolina's IMPACT, the Texas Immersion Pilot (TIP) and other successful high-access initiatives.
•          Innovating for Learning: Many grantees supported the development of project-based learning curricula and the development of digital and open educational resources through technology-rich learning environments.
•          Supporting Educator Effectiveness: States and districts provided high-quality professional development through coaching/mentoring, communities of practice, and train-the-trainer models for teachers who were implementing significant changes to their instruction using technology.
 
Teachers and students across the country continue to benefit from these innovative programs as shown by higher formative and standardized test scores, increased technology literacy and technology integration, improved access to both digital curriculum resources and project based learning initiatives and increased student engagement.
 
Since the elimination of EETT in the FY11 budget, direct federal support for educational technology initiatives has been extinguished. "These case studies demonstrate the power of federal funds leveraging state and district efforts. It is unfortunate that both the Administration and Congress have chosen to eliminate federal funding for technology at precisely the time when they are most needed to support the implementation of the Common Core State Standards and their new, online assessments; the shift to digital textbooks as recently exemplified by the joint efforts of ED and the FCC; continued scale-up of innovative models; and the ability of states and districts to better reach all students, especially those not being well-served today. A reconsideration of this short-sighted funding decision would go a long way to ensuring that students are college and career ready," stated Douglas Levin, Executive Director of SETDA.
 
Source: State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), www.setda.org 

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ASCD Makes Catalog of 300 Professional Development E-Books Available Through Barnes & Noble

ASCD has made its entire professional development ebook catalog of more than 300 titles available to Barnes & Noble NOOK Study users.

ASCD ebooks in the NOOK library range in topic from leadership to homework to instructional planning, and encompass everything in between-from employing the Understanding by Design framework to differentiating instruction. Featured authors include many of the top thinkers in education, among them Robert J. Marzano, Charlotte Danielson, Carol Ann Tomlinson, Grant Wiggins, Jay McTighe, Ronald A. Wolk, Mike Schmoker, Robyn R. Jackson, Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey, Wade Boykin, and Pedro Noguera. Recent releases like Classroom Instruction That Works: Research-Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement, 2nd Edition; Turning High-Poverty School into High-Performing Schools; and A World-Class Education: Learning from International Models of Excellence and Innovation are also available.

Barnes & Noble's free NOOK Study application enables PC and Mac users to purchase and download etextbooks and academic and trade titles from Barnes & Noble's digital library, take searchable notes, and interact with content in meaningful ways. The application also enables student users to access and organize all course materials made available by participating professors, from lecture notes to syllabi.

Many of ASCD's titles are also available for purchase in the online ASCD Store in ebook bundles that comprise three formats: PDF, EPUB for the NOOK e-reader, and MOBI for the Kindle e-reader. The multiple formats enable educators to more easily and conveniently access ASCD's new content.

For more information about ASCD, visit www.ascd.org. To learn more about our books program or to read sample chapters from past publications, please visit www.ascd.org/books.

Source: ASCD, www.ascd.org

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The Nature Conservancy, Discovery Education Launch ‘Nature Works Everywhere’

The Nature Conservancy and Discovery Education have launched Nature Works Everywhere, a partnership designed to help students learn the science behind how nature helps our everyday existence and the importance of environmental conservation.

This new online destination, www.natureworkseverywhere.org, provides middle school teachers, students and families with free tools and resources to explore and understand nature. The site includes videos, interactive lesson plans and an interactive game designed to teach students that nature is more than just a beach or mountain - it's a fantastic factory that produces the building blocks of our lives.

Unique classroom resources on the site, including video tours from around the world that show nature at its productive best, enable teachers to take their students beyond the walls of their classrooms, exploring a wide range of topics and locales - from forests in Maine to coral reefs in the Pacific Ocean. In addition, the site provides related interactive lesson plans designed to immerse students in the world of nature and science, focusing on the themes of food, clean water, clean air and protection (nature protecting people).

A ‘Conservation Connection' game allows students to learn how nature works to create their favorite things, such as ice cream, sandcastles and lemonade. Students and teachers alike will be surprised by some of the strange connections that are made in nature.

In addition, a ‘Meet the Scientists' section allows teachers to introduce their students to real-life scientists from The Nature Conservancy who are working to keep nature thriving.  Students can learn how modern scientists protect natural areas, restore natural systems, and help nature adapt to change to benefit people in all climates.

Nature Works Everywhere is made possible by a grant from the Morgridge Family Foundation.

Source: Discovery Education, www.discoveryeducation.com

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Follett Software Company Unveils Destiny 10.1

Follett Software Company has released Destiny 10.1, with new features for the K-12 software product that will allow customers to perform more efficiently and connect with their students in an entirely new way, according to the announcement.

Highlights of the 10.1 release include Destiny's integration with Titlewave - the collection development and management tool from Follett Library Resources - and Aspen - Follett Software's student information system (SIS). FollettShelf integration allows student to have an enhanced ebook reading experience anywhere, anytime by reading a Follett ebook on a tablet or downloading it to a personal computer.

Here is a closer look at Destiny 10.1 features:

* Integration with Titlewave: Direct connection with Titlewave gives customers an easy way to order the new materials they need from Follett and to import MARC records into Destiny seamlessly. Also, with Titlewave, customers are able to see a complete view of their order history and have the ability to analyze and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses in their library collection. Plus, customers can now submit data from Destiny to TitleWise - a comprehensive online collection analysis tool from Follett Library Resources that analyzes data in the customer's collection and helps identify its strengths and weaknesses. Data can be submitted without having to download from Destiny and then upload to Titlewave, thus dramatically enhancing the ease for performing regular collection analysis.

* Direct integration with Aspen: Aspen gives districts the opportunity to house all of their student data, easily find it, report on it, analyze it and use it to the fullest extent. The Destiny integration allows Aspen users to search and access Destiny resources from the newly introduced Aspen Curriculum and Learning.

* Better ebook reading experience for students: Direct integration between Destiny and FollettShelf lets students browse their library's Follett eBook collection, check out using the free Digital Reader app and read their Follett eBooks - anytime, anywhere - from their own tablet devices or personal computers.

* New social media features: Students can now post or share links to items in Destiny to Facebook or Twitter.

* Complete a search of your district's assets in record time: Advanced searching capability in Destiny Asset Manager 10.1 allows customers to expand their search criteria for assets by department, home location, funding source, custodians and purchase price.

Source: Follett Software Company, www.follettsoftware.com

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McGraw-Hill Education Launches ONboard Series for Advanced Placement

McGraw-Hill Education has announced the launch of the ONboard Series for  Advanced Placement, an all-digital learning solution designed to improve students' performance in AP classes and on exams by developing the skills they need to succeed before they enter the course.

Developed with input from an AP Expert Advisory panel, which consists of experienced AP teachers, workshop leaders and College Board consultants, ONboard is a robust, research-based program that is appropriate for students taking AP courses and for all students as an introduction or review of core topics. The program is available to schools via subscription and can also be purchased for individual student use. Seven courses are available:

  • AP* Biology
  • AP* Economics
  • AP* Environmental Science
  • AP* Psychology
  • AP* United States Government and Politics
  • AP* United States History
  • AP* World History

Each ONboard course includes a series of interactive online modules that provide students with multiple ways to master content and improve preparedness. With its modular format, ONboard allows students to learn at their own pace and revisit challenging topics and concepts as needed to prepare them to make relevant content connections to their AP coursework. The program is designed so that teachers and school districts can assign modules during the summer to give motivated students the opportunity to complete work independently prior to the start of their AP course.

The seven ONboard courses can be accessed on any Flash-enabled device. All courses will be iOS compatible by fall of 2013.

For more information, visit: www.onboard.mcgraw-hill.com.

Source: McGraw-Hill Education, www.mheducation.com/

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Pearson Digital Learning’s NovaNET Now Speech-Enabled with Texthelp Systems’ SpeechStream

Pearson Digital Learning has announced that NovaNET Courseware is now speech-enabled with Texthelp Systems' SpeechStream, an intuitive text-to-speech toolbar that gives students the ability to read while hearing text read aloud by a high-quality, digitized human voice. This research-proven method helps improve word recognition, vocabulary and comprehension. Students can also use the toolbar's Translator feature to translate any unfamiliar words. They can have the translated words read aloud in Spanish and can even control the speed of the playback so they are better able to comprehend the content.

Serving more than 3 million students over the past 10 years, NovaNET provides personalized, comprehensive online learning paths to provide middle school through adult learners - especially those most at risk of falling behind - with the necessary skills and competencies for college and career readiness. NovaNET Courseware meets schools' needs for credit accrual, dropout prevention, summer school, credit recovery, virtual schools and virtual learning opportunities, the announcement states.

Texthelp Systems provides literacy software solutions for individuals, K-12, higher education and publishers. Texthelp's products include: Read&Write GOLD, Web Apps, Fluency Tutor, Lexiflow and SpeechStream. For more information, go to www.texthelp.com.

Source: Pearson, www.pearsonschool.com

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Desire2Learn Announces Desire2Learn Learning Suite 10

Desire2Learn has announced the upcoming release of Desire2Learn Learning Suite 10, its most advanced, personalized, easy to use, and engaging platform to date.

Desire2Learn Learning Suite 10 combines its feature-rich, flexible learning environment, with a simpler, more intuitive, and engaging experience. Building on the core strengths of the platform, this latest release enables educators to take learning to the next level while delivering an enjoyable and user-friendly experience for instructors and learners, the announcement states.

Included among the developments in Desire2Learn Learning Suite 10:

* Engaging User Interface - With a new navigation minibar, streamlined navigation, and a new layout, users are provided with an interface that enables instructors and learners to create and engage with courses quickly and effortlessly.

* Personalized User Experience - Provides immediate access to resources where and when it is needed based on the individual preferences of the learner and personalized learning paths. Learners and instructors can tailor the Desire2Learn Learning Environment based on their own preferences for navigation, communication, notifications, calendar integrations, and more.

* Support for Advanced, Sophisticated Assessment - Enables key learning insights and tracking for advanced assessments including enhancements to the competency/learning objectives structure, and advanced analytics for learner success and retention. It also enables instructors to use assessment data in a meaningful way to create custom learning paths for students.

* Extensible and Mature Next Generation Learning Platform - Enables clients and partners to easily create unique learning experiences by integrating best of breed technology from around campus and the web.

To learn more, visit http://desire2learn.com/products/learning-suite/.

Source: Desire2Learn, http://desire2learn.com/

 

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Inspiration Maps Now Available on the App Store

Inspiration Maps, the app that brings visual thinking and learning to iPad, is now available on the App Store. Created by Inspiration Software, Inc., Inspiration Maps allows all types of learners to capture their ideas, work smarter and build knowledge.

Inspiration Maps is designed to have students take an active role in learning when they use it. Rather than passively absorb information or play games, they build maps and outlines that stimulate creativity and aid comprehension. In addition, the visual learning methodologies in Inspiration Maps help develop the critical-thinking, cross-curricular literacy and writing skills that are delineated in the Common Core State Standards.

Using Inspiration Maps, students visualize ideas and information in a diagram or in an outline - and flip between views with a tap. They can get a fast start on projects and assignments using the app's template library. Built specifically for iPad, Inspiration Maps features the same visual thinking and outlining tools familiar to students using Inspiration and Webspiration Classroom.

Inspiration Maps is available on the App Store for $14.99. Pricing for volume purchases is available by contacting Inspiration Software at sales@inspiration.com. A free preview of Inspiration Maps - Inspiration Maps Lite, is also available for download on the App Store.

To learn more about Inspiration Maps, visit http://inspiration.com/ipad

Source: Inspiration Software, http://inspiration.com

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Pearson Connects Digital Solution for Response to Intervention to Common Core Math

Pearson has announced the pairing of AIMSweb, its web-based benchmark and progress monitoring system, with enVisionMATH Common Core, a print and digital curriculum for students in kindergarten through grade 6, and focusMATH Intensive Intervention, an intensive, K-6 math intervention program. Students in schools teaching with these programs will now have their AIMSweb math results linked to recommended lessons in enVisionMATH Common Core as well as exercises in focusMATH Intensive Intervention, providing them with immediate practice on concepts and skills that they may be struggling to understand. 

With full support for the RTI Framework, AIMSweb allows teachers and administrators to assess and monitor student progress, address deficiencies, and recheck results quickly and often. AIMSweb provides multiple assessments designed to efficiently benchmark and progress-monitor academic skills in reading, writing and math for students in kindergarten through eighth grade. A key component of AIMSweb is a method of monitoring student progress through frequent, short assessments of basic skills. Administration takes between one to eight minutes and can be done individually or in groups depending on the assessment.

Now the results of AIMSweb math assessments will point the teacher to the appropriate enVisionMATH Common Core lessons to help close gaps in student learning. The first K-6 mathematics program written entirely to the new Common Core State Standards,envisionMATH Common Core is an innovative research-based curriculum that enhances the understanding of concepts through visual instruction and increases the student's ability to solve problems through the use of bar diagrams. The curriculum, with embedded support for English learners, differentiated instruction, and a full digital path, utilizes the instructional model of the Scott Foresman-Addison Wesley envisionMATH.

Students who need more in-depth practice will be linked to resources in focusMATH Intensive Intervention, Pearson's intensive, K-6 math intervention program for students who are performing below grade level.  Developed based on the National Council Teachers of Mathematics Curriculum Focal Points for Grades PreK-8, the program provides  a balanced approach to math instruction by exposing students performing below grade-level to an active learning environment supported by explicit teaching on focal point topics.

For more information, about AIMSweb, go to http://www.aimsweb.com.

Source: Pearson, www.pearsonschool.com

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