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August 21, 2012

Table of Contents

Free Resources: ASCD's Online Needs Assessment and School Improvement Tool
Curriculum Associates Introduces 'Ready Common Core' Program
iEARN Launches New Global Online Collaboration Centre
Compass Learning Expands Middle School Science Offering For New Version of CompassLearning Odyssey
SAS Curriculum Pathways Now Available to All Knovation icurio Subscribers
Kno Launches K-12 Digital Textbooks

Free Resources: ASCD's Online Needs Assessment and School Improvement Tool

ASCD has unveiled its free online ASCD School Improvement Tool, which is based on a whole child approach to education.

Designed for use in schools and school systems around the world, and targeted to schools developing and refining strategic plans, the online tool offers educators a comprehensive needs assessment as they embark on the new school year. Additionally, it connects administrators and teacher leaders with specific professional development resources-books, online courses, and action tools-that can help them make the most significant schoolwide improvements and ensure all learners are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.

Found online at http://sitool.ascd.org, this tool launches a 15-minute survey that evaluates a school's strengths and weaknesses in areas of

  • School climate and culture,

  • Curriculum and instruction,

  • Leadership,

  • Family and community engagement,

  • Professional development and staff capacity,

  • Assessment, and

  • Ability to provide and sustain a whole child approach to education across all aspects of the school experience.

Each user taking the "individual survey" receives a summary of his or her school's greatest strengths as well as areas where immediate improvement is necessary based on the data entered. This enables users to identify possible causes of academic, behavioral, and social challenges at their schools and take strategic action to address them.

Administrators can assess schoolwide results from a dashboard view by adding a school to the online tool and having educators complete that school's survey. District leaders can take this one step further by inputting multiple schools and then analyzing results throughout the district or by specific segments and school types like elementary schools or Title 1 schools.

Based on a school's unique results, the ASCD School Improvement Tool points the user to six professional development resources that can help immediately address schoolwide challenges.

For more information about ASCD and all of its programs, products, and services, or to join, visit www.ascd.org.

Source: ASCD, www.ascd.org

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Curriculum Associates Introduces 'Ready Common Core' Program

Curriculum Associates has introduced a new print program to ensure student success on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Built specifically for the new standards and using the language of the CCSS, Ready Common Core offers students in grades 3-8 rigorous instruction and practice in math and reading while also offering teachers multilevel resources and tools to easily implement these lessons.

Ready Common Core's Student Instruction and Practice Books provide rigorous instruction on the new standards using a proven-effective gradual-release approach that builds student confidence and supports mastery of complex standards, and includes full-length practice tests and interim assessments. Every lesson focuses on a specific standard, allowing teachers the ability to cover each standard when and where it fits in their curriculum and the flexibility to revisit standards as their students' needs dictate.

The reading series meets the text complexity expectations of the CCSS by using multiple leveling criteria as recommended in the CCSS documentation. In addition, it uses an extensive amount of authentic text from acclaimed authors and publications, incorporates a wide range of informational and literary genres, and demands close reading and frequent interaction with the text. Lesson themes build on and deepen understanding of grade-level social studies and science standards.

The math program addresses the Common Core's emphasis on conceptual understanding through reasoning, modeling, and discussion that explores the structure of mathematics, while also developing students' procedural fluency. Lessons strengthen students' ability to use higher-order thinking to solve multistep problems, problems with more than one correct answer, and problems requiring analysis and explanation. The Standards for Mathematical Practice are embedded throughout the instruction.

Teacher Resource Books support teachers with strong embedded professional development, including step-by-step lesson plans and best-practice tips to learn the new approaches to teaching the Common Core. The online Teacher Toolbox provides teachers with invaluable, easy-to-use resources to differentiate instruction and reteach prerequisite skills students may not have mastered in earlier grade levels.

The complete Ready Common Core Achievement Package for grades 3-8, which includes 25 Instruction Student Books, 25 Practice Student Books, one Instruction Teacher Resource Book, and one 1-year Teacher Toolbox subscription, can be pre-ordered now at an introductory price of $339 per subject/per grade. Instructional classroom sets and student book sets can be purchased separately. Grades K-2 will also be available for purchase in Spring 2013.

State-specific versions of Ready Common Core are available for New York, North Carolina, New Jersey, and Kentucky.

For more information, visit www.readycommoncore.com.

Ready Common Core can also be connected with i-Ready Diagnostic & Instruction, a valid and reliable online program that enables teachers to pinpoint needs through assessment and provide automated individualized instruction to students. Special pricing is available. For more information, visit www.i-ready.com/empower.

Source: Curriculum Associates, www.CurriculumAssociates.com

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iEARN Launches New Global Online Collaboration Centre

iEARN-USA has announced the launch of a new iEARN Collaboration Centre (http://collaborate.iearn.org/) a custom-built platform designed to support iEARN's global project-based learning network of over 130 countries worldwide. The site is a safe and secure, multilingual, educational environment, and provides for distributed management required for scalability and worldwide local adaptability. 

Most new online platforms are in search of users. iEARN's task was to create an effective technology-based environment for its existing community of 50,000 member teachers and 2 million student participants.

In order to best serve the needs of the growing network, the teams at Minds On Design Lab and Arkus helped iEARN-USA to develop a number of new functionalities to improve collaboration, accessibility, speed, and user management, while giving teachers and students cutting-edge, industry-standard tools for their collaborative project work.

The platform uses cloud computing to convert videos to web- and-mobile compatible formats through Zencoder, the largest cloud-based video encoding service in the market. Through support from the Salesforce Foundation, the site also provides country coordinators with new user management tools to effectively manage the thousands of teachers and students who are engaged in online collaborative educational projects.

The result is an intuitive, secure, collaborative online space in which an expanded number of teachers and students will be able to learn with the world and go beyond simply learning about it.

The mission of iEARN is to enable young people worldwide, working in collaboration and respectful dialogue, to make a meaningful contribution to the health and welfare of the planet and its people. This new platform is a key piece of fulfilling that mission.

Source: iEARN, www.iearn.org/

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Compass Learning Expands Middle School Science Offering For New Version of CompassLearning Odyssey

Compass Learning has announced the expansion of its Middle School Science curriculum with the latest release of CompassLearning Odyssey. The updated science curriculum includes hundreds of new activities, quizzes, and tasks that empower teachers to engage students in key tenants of science and exploration.

The new version of CompassLearning Odyssey's Middle School Science curriculum offers:

  • 45 new interactive Flash activities expanding on key topics, including Forces, Evolution, Ecology, Chemical Reactions and Human Interactions with the Environment;
  • 45 new quizzes;
  • 187 new Odyssey Writer, Odyssey Community and Authentic Tasks throughout the Middle School Science courses; and
  • New Authentic Tasks that engage students in possible STEM careers.

The Middle School Science offering is bolstered by other summer 2012 release features, such as:

  • More flexibility to customize, control and add curriculum, content and authentic tasks for a teacher's unique teaching situations; and
  • Innovative course and grade-management features that help teachers spend more time teaching by reducing administrative tasks;

The expansion of the Middle School Science program supports core science and STEM programs and provides advanced opportunities for kids to apply and enhance their understanding of science tenets, as well as explore careers in science and related fields to meet the demands of the 21st century, the announcement states.

For more information on CompassLearning Odyssey, visit www.compasslearning.com/odyssey. A video interview about the new Middle School Science offering is available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XuUBKOlqP8&feature=plcp

Source: Compass Learning, www.compasslearning.com/

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SAS Curriculum Pathways Now Available to All Knovation icurio Subscribers

Knovation has announced it has expanded its collaboration with SAS to help schools transform from print to digital curriculum. Under the new agreement, SAS' interactive curriculum product SAS Curriculum Pathways will be available via icurio, Knovation's digital curriculum content solution for personalized learning. Available to icurio subscribers at no additional cost, SAS Curriculum Pathways provides interactive, standards-based resources featuring hundreds of interactive tools, inquiries, web lessons and audio tutorials in every core subject for grades 6-12 in traditional, virtual and home schools.

With the addition of SAS Curriculum Pathways, icurio subscribers will gain access to a greater depth and breadth of interactive content. SAS Curriculum Pathways focuses on topics where doing, seeing and listening provide information and encourage insights in ways conventional methods cannot. Aligned to state and Common Core standards, SAS Curriculum Pathways targets higher-order thinking skills and engages students with quality content that can be differentiated to meet their varied needs.

Knovation's icurio enables districts to bridge from fixed traditional content to flexible digital content that can be targeted to meet the unique needs of learners across the learning continuum. A curriculum content solution that delivers a comprehensive collection of 330,000 digital learning resources aligned to state and Common Core standards, icurio provides teachers more time and flexibility to engage students and address their individual needs and gives students the content and tools they need to take charge of their own learning, according to the announcement.

Available at no cost to all U.S. educators, SAS Curriculum Pathways features over 200 Interactive Tools, 200 Inquiries, 600 Web Lessons and 70 Audio Tutorials. With that content, icurio will now have an even broader variety of instructional strategies as well as supplemental curriculum resources to augment existing curriculum. Using unique personalized learning tools such as the Read Aloud text-to-speech feature for auditory support and the dictionary/translation tool, icurio enables students to become independent learners, improve comprehension and attain a higher level of success.

Source: Knovation, www.knovationlearning.com

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Kno Launches K-12 Digital Textbooks

Kno, Inc. has announced that the company is entering the K-12 education market through a new partnership agreement with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Previously only available to college students, Kno will offer interactive K-12 textbooks for the iPad, the Web, Android and Windows 7.

The agreement gives children and parents the resources and power to supplement classroom learning through enhanced digital content at home. Just in time for the back-to-school season, parents can now rent digital textbooks for their children, including subjects aligned with Common Core standards, for a one-year rental rate of $9.99 or less per book.

The Kno digital textbook app is available for the iPad and web and will be available for Android tablets and Windows 7 in time for back to school. With Kno's app, parents can enhance their children's learning experience with more than 70 interactive features that bring academic content to life, making learning more engaging and fun, the announcement states. All of the app's features are engineered to help students retain information more easily and ultimately help improve their grades and comprehension of material.

The interactive features that allow students to engage with the content better and study more efficiently include:

  • A digital Journal that automatically saves a student's notes and highlights them in a study notebook.

  • Automatic Flash Cards of key terms in a book to help students study more efficiently and better retain information.

  • 3D models that bring difficult chemistry concepts to life to make them easier to understand.

  • Quiz Me feature, which automatically turns any diagram in a book into a multiple choice quiz for easy self-quizzing before tests.

  • SmartLinks that deliver instructional videos, images, and photos to formulas and concepts in a textbook in real-time for easy reference.

  • Coming soon, an analytics feature that will enable active engagement between parents and students to better measure reading progress.

Source: Kno Inc., www.kno.com

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