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January 22, 2013

Table of Contents

Free Resources: Scholastic's 'Common Sense for the Common Core' Website
OverDrive Announces Streaming Video and Audio Services for Libraries and Schools
Pearson Adds Text Complexity Measure to WriteToLearn
Epson Announces 3D Projectors Designed Specifically for Education
Shmoop Offers New, Improved Teacher Guides
OverDrive and SirsiDynix to Deliver eResource Central Integration
EBSCO Publishing Introduces Poetry & Short Story Reference Center
PLATO Learning Changes Name to Edmentum

Free Resources: Scholastic's 'Common Sense for the Common Core' Website

Scholastic has announced the launch of a new "Common Sense for the Common Core" website that gives teachers, school leaders and parents help inunderstanding and unpacking the new standards, as well as instructional and professional development programs to implement the CCSS.

Built in consultation with Common Core experts, including Carol Jago and Francie Alexander, the new website provides answers to some of the most urgent questions about the standards, and points parents and teachers toward resources to help them understand what is changing and what is not.

The new Common Core site is the latest addition to Scholastic.com, the website for teachers with more than 6 million unique visitors each month.

The "Common Sense for the Common Core" website provides:

  • Nonfiction and Literature Booklists - Sortable lists of literature and nonfiction books for grades K-12, curated by librarians and reading experts, help teachers go beyond the "exemplar texts" in Appendix B of the Common Core standards and find great examples of complex texts arranged according to theme and genre - from nonfiction themes like animals or the solar system, to genres of literature like historical fiction, poetry and drama.
  • Instructional Programs & PD - The site includes detailed information about instructional programs and materials offered by Scholastic which meet the Common Core, professional development for educators, and school improvement services to help districts implement the standards.
  • Free Resources - Teachers and parents can find tips on how to craft effective evidence-based questions, watch videos of experts, download sample lesson plans for using"paired texts" or on teaching multiplication, and click on links to other free information.
  • Frequently Asked Questions - The website provides answers to FAQs, including "Do we need to use the exemplar texts cited in the CCSS?" and "How do we evaluate the complexity of the texts we select?"
  • Glossary of Common Core Terms - A printable CCSS Glossary defines 25key terms to help you better understand the standards and join the conversation.
  • Tips for Parents - A special section for parents provides tips and links to resources to help support the Common Core at home.
  • Ways to Connect - The site gives advice for finding the Common Core conversations on Twitter and links to news and commentary from the On Our Minds @ Scholastic blog and to Scholastic social media channels where teachers and parents can connect, share ideas and talk with each other.

Source: Scholastic, www.scholastic.com

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OverDrive Announces Streaming Video and Audio Services for Libraries and Schools

OverDrive has announced that it will enhance its library service platform with streaming video and audio technology. The new services will improve ease of use and device compatibility for OverDrive-hosted video, audiobook and music collections at libraries and schools around the world. OverDrive is demonstrating its streaming technology at the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting at Seattle's Washington State Convention Center.

Scheduled for launch later this year, OverDrive's streaming services are secure and will extend the reach of libraries' digital collections thanks to virtually unlimited device compatibility, the announcement states. Users will have access to their library's catalog of OverDrive-hosted video, audiobook and music on any device with a web browser and an internet connection. The streaming technology will dramatically enhance discovery and access to libraries' existing collections of WMV and WMA titles, pending publisher approval.

OverDrive's streaming services won't require users to download apps or activate a device. This instant-access technology enables users to check out a video, audiobook or music title and immediately start watching or listening in any web browser. The streaming option will complement the download options already in use via the OverDrive Media Console apps for all major computers and devices.

Streaming services are part of OverDrive's Next Generation platform, which includes completely reimagined library websites featuring One-Step Checkout, a powerful search engine, and the browser-based eBook reading technology OverDrive Read. OverDrive will demonstrate its Next Generation enhancements-which also include APIs that enable libraries to fully integrate digital and print catalogs, and the all-new Content Reserve collection development portal-throughout the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting.

Source: OverDrive, overdrive.com

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Pearson Adds Text Complexity Measure to WriteToLearn

Pearson has announced that WriteToLearn now includes Pearson's text complexity measure, the Reading Maturity Metric (RMM), offering 30 percent improvement over previous readability formulas. RMM has been added to the nearly 1,000 informational reading passages, along with Common Core State Standards' text complexity grade bands. This additional information is now available to teachers to help them select the most appropriate readings for their students using Common Core criteria.

One of the key requirements of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts is that students comprehend texts of steadily increasing complexity as they progress through school. In response to the Common Core requirement for a more accurate measure of text complexity than offered by standard readability formulas, Pearson's Knowledge Technologies researchers developed RMM based on empirically derived growth in individual word meanings.

With WriteToLearn, students build the literacy skills outlined in the new Common Core State Standards by practicing essay writing and summarization skills, and their efforts are measured by Pearson's Knowledge Analysis Technologies (KAT) engine. WriteToLearn places strong emphasis on the comprehension and analysis of the types of informational texts detailed in the new standards. With this release, WriteToLearn also adds writing prompts specifically targeted at the informational and argumentative skills required by the Common Core.

WriteToLearn qualifies for federal funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. For more information, visit www.writetolearn.net. To learn more about the Reading Maturity Metric, visit www.readingmaturity.com/.

Source: Pearson, www.pearsonassessments.com

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Epson Announces 3D Projectors Designed Specifically for Education

Epson has introduced two 3D projector solutions designed to enhance the learning experience in classrooms - the PowerLite W16 and W16SK. Epson is offering two 3D projection choices - one based on active 3D technology and the other on passive 3D technology - which both deliver three times brighter colors than most competitive projectors, allowing 3D content to be easily viewed in typical, well-lit classroom settings. The projectors also offer a wide range of features including easy setup and connectivity options, bringing ease of use and convenience to the classroom at an affordable price point.

By offering both an active and passive model, Epson is able to provide broader choices for educators selecting the right 3D projection solution for their classroom. The PowerLite W16 and W16SK deliver WXGA widescreen resolution and, unlike most 3D-ready projectors, support multiple HDMI 3D formats4 out of the box, with no external converter box required.

The Epson PowerLite W16 is designed for educators interested in an active 3D projection solution and offers great image quality, brightness and ease of use with Epson's active shutter 3D RF glasses. The PowerLite W16 also offers a dynamic 2D visual experience with 3,000 lumens of color brightness and 3,000 lumens of white light output5. The PowerLite W16 requires minimal set-up with automatic vertical and horizontal keystone correction, 3-in-1 USB Plug ‘n Play and the option to install or remain as a portable projector.

The PowerLite W16SK dual projection system is the industry's only stacked projector kit available today made specifically for education. This highly cost effective 3D solution includes two projectors, polarizing lenses and a stack mount to deliver ultra-bright passive 3D projection. The PowerLite W16SK uses inexpensive passive 3D glasses, priced at only $3 a pair and sold as a box of five pairs. It delivers up to 6,000 lumens of color brightness and 6,000 lumens of white light output5in 2D mode when stacked, making them bright enough for well-lit classrooms.

Epson also offers the Brighter Futures program, a unique sales and support initiative available specifically for schools. Designed to help educators select and implement the best products for their classrooms while making the most of their budgets, Brighter Futures offers special pricing, extended Epson limited warranty coverage for three years, dedicated education account managers, and toll-free technical support for all Epson projectors and associated accessories.

The Epson PowerLite W16 ($849) and W16SK ($1,899) will be available in January 2013 through pro audio/visual dealers, mail order, distribution, commercial channels, and at www.epson.com. Epson's PowerLite projectors come with a two-year limited warranty (three years for Brighter Futures customers) that includes two elite technical support services - Epson PrivateLine phone support with direct access to an expedited support telephone line, and a two-year Road Service projector replacement program that includes projector exchange in one business day with paid shipping. For additional information, visit www.epson.com/projectors.

Source: Epson, www.epson.com

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Shmoop Offers New, Improved Teacher Guides

Shmoop has announced additions and improvements to its suite of Teacher Guides. Priced at $10.66, Shmoop's materials open views on literature, which even well-seasoned teachers may have not considered. The affordable guides include - among other helpful hints - detailed activity ideas, essays on how to tackle the toughest aspects of each book, and potential essay and discussion questions.

Here's what's new in the world of Shmoop Teacher Guides:
--New activities and reading quizzes have been added to some of Shmoop's most beloved guides including The Great Gatsby, Of Mice and Men, and Macbeth.
--These popular Guides also have a brand new vocab section.
--Shmoop has completed a total overhaul of many of the activities for each Guide.
--Many new Guides have been produced for young adult lit, bringing Shmoop square into the world of middle school.

These teacher materials have become a hit on Shmoop, and the company is rapidly producing more across a variety of topics like African American literature, drama, and female authors.

Source: Shmoop, www.shmoop.com

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OverDrive and SirsiDynix to Deliver eResource Central Integration

SirsiDynix has announced its intent to integrate the OverDrive API toolkit into the soon-to-be-released eResource Central. SirsiDynix' eResource Central will provide one-click electronic resource and e-book delivery. The initiative with OverDrive is a major step forward in the project, making available OverDrive content in a meaningful integration that will benefit both libraries and their users.

eResource Central simplifies the discovery and delivery of e-content to users however, wherever or whenever they need it. eResource Central will be available to 100% of both SirsiDynix Symphony and Horizon ILS customers via the BLUE Cloud clients, which include the SirsiDynix Enterprise and Portfolio discovery solutions, as well as through SirsiDynix Social Library on Facebook and the BookMyne mobile app. eResource Central bridges the gap between content providers and users, enabling libraries to manage and deliver e-resources seamlessly and cost-effectively, while also handling traditional collections with proven solutions used by more than 3,600 libraries worldwide, the announcement states.

For library users, eResource Central provides simple access to library resources, including ebooks and ejournals, via a single user interface. This simplifies requests, downloads and matching of compatible ebooks and ereader formats. eResource Central will include full support for many e-readers as well as other econtent formats, along with their associated digital permissions. For libraries and library staff, eResource Central enables cost savings and simplifies the process of delivering content of disparate sources and formats to users by managing licensing and access rights; maintaining MARC records and metadata for library e-resources; integrating e-resource usage into circulation reporting; and managing electronic content acquisition and creation. To further support SirsiDynix library customers, eResource Central also provides end-user tools to simplify the eresource access and download process.

Source: SirsiDynix, www.sirsidynix.com 

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EBSCO Publishing Introduces Poetry & Short Story Reference Center

EBSCO Publishing (EBSCO) has released a new library resource featuring a comprehensive digital collection of poetry and short stories available for use by students, teachers and researchers. Poetry & Short Story Reference Center offers users access to a historically rich collection of hundreds of thousands of classic and contemporary full-text poems, as well as short stories, biographies, and authoritative essays.

The full-text database includes more than 500 ebooks and provides hundreds of thousands of original works of poetry from major literary publishers spanning several centuries. Information is included from books, literary journals as well as major respected reference works including exclusive titles from Salem Press such as the newly released Critical Survey of Poetry and Critical Survey of Short Fiction.

Poetry & Short Story Reference Center has extensive works of American and English poets along with international poetry, and features classic and contemporary poems, short stories, plays, speeches, classic books, biographies, critical analyses, contextual essays and explications for important works. It also includes essays on poetic forms, techniques and movements; multimedia presentation, including over 2,200 audio and video recordings of poets reading their work; as well as discussions and interviews. In addition, Poetry & Short Story Reference Center includes teaching and learning resources for students and educators, including lesson plans and assignments.

More information about Poetry & Short Story Reference Center and other literary resources for high schools, public libraries and academic institutions is available the EBSCO Publishing website at www.ebscohost.com/academic/subjects/category/literary-poetry-studies.

Source: EBSCO Publishing, www.ebscohost.com

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PLATO Learning Changes Name to Edmentum

PLATO Learning has announced it has changed the company name to Edmentum. From the creators of PLATO and Study Island, Edmentum brings together the people and products from PLATO Learning, Archipelago Learning and Educational Options to redefine the 21st century classroom, the announcement states. The full range of Edmentum learning solutions are built to comply with all state and federal standards, including Common Core.

"The explosion of learning technologies, both in and out of the classroom, combined with our success in expanding our learning technology solutions necessitated a new identity," Edmentum Chief Executive Officer Vin Riera said. "The focus today is no longer just meeting the needs of learners and supporting curricula, but also harnessing the capabilities of exciting new technologies and connecting with the learners who are eager to use them. Edmentum enables educators to support every kind of learner need - from remediation and acceleration to diagnostic assessment and special needs - from pre-kindergarten through adult learners."

Recent acquisitions of learning technology companies such as Archipelago Learning and Educational Options helped prepare PLATO Learning for its transition to Edmentum. The company has expanded beyond the PLATO Learning product brand to include a comprehensive portfolio of award-winning, multi-platform learning technologies.

PLATO Courseware remains a key brand for Edmentum, along with Study Island, which provides online instruction, practice, assessment and reporting to enable learners to master state and Common Core standards, and EducationCity, an online instruction resource for test preparation and standards mastery. Additional Edmentum brand segments include the EdOptions Academy, Edmentum Reading Suite, Edmentum Assessments and Edmentum College + Career.

Source: Edmentum, Inc., www.edmentum.com

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