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February 26, 2013

Table of Contents

Free Resources: The Smithsonian Quests Program
Alexander Street Press Announces World Newsreels Online, 1929-1966
PBS Survey Finds Teachers Embracing Digital Resources to Propel Student Learning
Skyward Launches Student Reward System Integrated With its SIS Software
Mimio Announces Interactive MimioProjector
Three New Mimio Tools Expand Collaborative Learning and Integrate with iPads
Britannica Publishes New Elementary Ebooks
Follett Challenge Helps Schools Share their Innovation with the World

Free Resources: The Smithsonian Quests Program

The Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies has announced the launch of Smithsonian Quests, a digital badge program that fosters project-based learning. Smithsonian Quests are intended to inspire students to explore their own ideas and interests online, in school, at home and across the nation. The quests connect and reward learners of different ages and in different regions as they learn through discovery and collaboration.

The Smithsonian Quests program encourages students to have a greater curiosity about the world by presenting learning challenges that have real-world applications. Students complete a series of online activities and submit their work for review by Smithsonian education experts to earn digital badges. A wide variety of activities are offered that include creative writing, photography, oral histories and graph-making. The cross-curricular, standards-aligned program aims to prepare students for college and future careers by incorporating knowledge and skill-building into the quests. Teachers can also earn digital badges for their work.

The Smithsonian Quests badges are integrated with content from the Smithsonian Online Education Conferences. The first badges aligned with the 2013 Smithsonian Online Education Conference Series, "Community Historian" and "Portrait Reader," debuted Feb. 13, during the "Civil Rights: From Lincoln to Today" session. To earn the Community Historian badge, students consider the role that freedom songs and non-violent protests, such as the Montgomery bus boycott and the Greensboro lunch counter sit-ins, had in sparking a long overdue national conversation about desegregation and equality. For the Portrait Reader badge, students learn how to "read" portraiture as a way of understanding more about featured civil rights activists. Students are then encouraged to tell the story of change leaders in their own communities. SCEMS will release new badges throughout the year during each online education conference. In addition, 14 badges piloted during the SHOUT Environmental Conference Series and the recent Inauguration Conference-including Arts Advocate, Dirt Detective, H2O Hero and Symbols Spotter-are currently available.

Information and registration for Smithsonian Quests are available at http://smithsonianquests.org/.

Source: Smithsonian Institution, www.si.edu/

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Alexander Street Press Announces World Newsreels Online, 1929-1966

Alexander Street Press has announced its newest collection, World Newsreels Online, 1929-1966, bringing new immediacy and authenticity to the study of World War II and early 20th century footage, according to the announcement.

The collection brings to life the experiences of international movie-goers from Tokyo to Amsterdam and New York City to Paris, enabling students and scholars to study original newsreels of firsthand from the World War II era and beyond.

The announcement notes that leading up to and during the war, newsreels had a great deal of political and social impact. In war times, the newsreel was an important propaganda tool, but also an important forum for covering topics of health, scientific and industrial progress, religion, sports, fashion, politics, and more. Today, newsreels provide a clear archive of how governments shared news, manipulated facts, and influenced their populace.

The collection launches with 500 hours of authentic content from unique sources, and will grow to include 8,000 meticulously transcribed and indexed reels. It contains nine unique newsreel series, including:

* France Actualités-A 1942-1944 coproduction of the Vichy regime and the Germans.

* France Libre Actualités-1944-1945 segments from an offshoot of the French Resistance.

* The March of Time-The full run of the American series that aired from 1929 to 1966.

* Nippon News-Original 1940-1948 footage from Japan's only WWII newsreel.

* Polgygoon-Profliti-1939-1945 Dutch film clips illustrating how propaganda was presented to occupied countries.

* United Newsreel-A 1942-1946 American weekly newsreel produced by the US Office of War Information.

World Newsreels Online, 1929-1966 is available to academic, public, and school libraries worldwide. No special setup or software is required-all you need is a web browser. Prices are scaled to institutional size and budget. To request a free trial or price quote, email sales@alexanderstreet.com.

Watch Clips from World Newsreels Online, 1929-1966 HERE.

Source: Alexander Street Press, http://alexanderstreet.com/

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PBS Survey Finds Teachers Embracing Digital Resources to Propel Student Learning

PBS LearningMedia has released findings from a national survey of pre-K-12 teachers that provides a current snapshot of how teachers are utilizing technology in America's classrooms, the types of technology teachers have access to and their attitudes toward technology. Three-quarters of teachers surveyed link educational technology to a growing list of benefits, saying technology enables them to reinforce and expand on content (74%), to motivate students to learn (74%), and to respond to a variety of learning styles (73%). Seven in 10 teachers (69%) surveyed said educational technology allows them to "do much more than ever before" for their students. 

Teachers are integrating digital learning into their classrooms more than ever. Nearly half (48%) of teachers surveyed reported using technology for online lesson plans, and just under half use technology to give students access to web-based educational games or activities (45%). Additionally, teachers use online video, images and articles (43%). Sixty-five percent of teachers reported that technology allows them to demonstrate something they cannot show in any other way.

Interestingly, a growing number of educators have access to and are adopting new technologies and platforms to support instruction. Ninety percent of teachers surveyed have access to at least one PC or laptop for their classrooms, and six in 10 teachers (59%) have access to an interactive whiteboard. Tablets and e-readers saw the biggest increase among technology platforms available for classroom instruction. More than one-third (35%) of teachers said they have access to a tablet or e-reader in their classroom, up from 20% a year ago. Among teachers with access to tablets, 71% cite the use of educational applications as the most beneficial for teaching, followed by educational websites (64%) and educational e-books/textbooks (60%).

As more educators are adopting technology for a 21st century curriculum, the accessibility of educational content on a variety of platforms is key to bringing lessons to life in classrooms.

PBS LearningMedia provides educators with free access to innovative classroom-ready, curriculum-targeted resources aligned to National and Common Core State Standards. Drawing from critically acclaimed PBS programs such as NOVA, FRONTLINE, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE and PBS KIDS programs like SID THE SCIENCE KID, as well as The National Archives and NASA, the service offers teachers more than 20,000 videos, images and articles to enrich classroom instruction. PBS LearningMedia is currently being used by 650,000 teachers nationwide and is accessible on multiple devices.

Source: PBS LearningMedia, www.pbslearningmedia.org/

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Skyward Launches Student Reward System Integrated With its SIS Software

Skyward, Inc., a provider of K-12 school administrative software, is launching a Student Reward System that uses effective, motivational methods to connect positive, real-life behaviors with rewards provided through its online software. The Student Reward System is a free integrated feature of the Skyward Student Management Suite, the first student information system on the market with this functionality.

Within the system, students can assume a virtual identity, or avatar, and earn points for academic-related activities and game play. When students accumulate points, they are able to customize their avatar, advance to new levels within the system, and enjoy other incentives, including the ability to redeem "virtual" points to purchase items from their school store. Students are able to safely share their avatars and point totals with family members and peers in an engaging and positive online environment.

The reward system is fully customizable, enabling districts to rename the program under their own brands (e.g., "Panther Points") and to set reward parameters, point allotments and other system features to meet their needs. Educators can define point-earning opportunities, such as achieving a particular assignment score, improving their grades, meeting an attendance goal, or exhibiting other positive behaviors. Parents and teachers will be able to monitor their students' progress through the system, while school and district leaders can analyze data by school, grade or class to spot trends.

The Skyward Student Reward System harnesses effective gaming elements for educational purposes to foster motivation and positive academic outcomes. The use of game-based applications is accelerating across industries from healthcare to education as more organizations and individuals experience success. According to game designer and author Jane McGonigal, Ph.D., games instill desirable qualities, such as resiliency in the face of failure, curiosity, determination and optimism. And, bringing gaming elements, including emergent feedback, visual progression and collaboration, into schools can help learners gain these "gamer superpowers."

The system, which is in its final development stages, will be widely available at the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year. In future product releases, Skyward plans to expand its platform and add educational games that supplement classroom lessons in partnership with game developers and providers.

For more information on Skyward K-12 administrative software, visit www.skyward.com.

Source: Skyward, www.skyward.com

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Mimio Announces Interactive MimioProjector

Mimio has announced the newest addition to the MimioClassroom family of products, the MimioProjector interactive projector, which rounds out Mimio's ability to provide devices that address the interactive display needs of every classroom, according to the announcement.

The MimioProjector device is an affordable and easy-to-use solution that includes built-in tracking technology, a stereo amplifier, speakers, and MimioStudio classroom software. Teachers can quickly and easily create multimedia lessons and then display those lessons, graphics and images on a dry-erase board or any other flat surface. An accompanying pen or stylus allows users to manipulate MimioStudio software's projected images. Dual-pen operations allow two students to simultaneously interact with the same projected image, increasing teachers' capacity for including collaborative learning and small-group instruction in their classrooms.

Schools or districts with budget constraints can begin with a high-quality, entry-level version of the MimioProjector device and expand its functionality over time through in-field upgrades. That means that a basic, non-interactive model can be upgraded to a single or dual-pen interactive solution, right in the classroom.

The MimioProjector device supports all common video formats, including VGA, HDMI, S-Video and Composite. Its high image resolution produces true-to-life images and color for enhanced display of charts, graphs, artwork and simulations. The stereo sound of its audio playback system boosts users' auditory experience. The projector also allows for the display of 3-D content.

The MimioProjector interactive projector integrates with other MimioClassroom products - including the MimioVote assessment, MimioView document camera, and MimioPad wireless pen tablet - through MimioStudio software. The projector also integrates with Mimio content such as Mimio reading programs and other Mimio content partnerships. The MimioProjector interactive projector will begin shipping to schools on March 28, 2013.

Source: Mimio, www.mimio.com

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Three New Mimio Tools Expand Collaborative Learning and Integrate with iPads

Mimio has announced three new tools that allow simultaneous use of iPads, other manufacturers' interactive tablet displays and MimioClassroom products. Designed to create more flexible and collaborative learning environments, the new MimioMobile application for the iPad, the MimioStudio 10 classroom software and MimioPad wireless pen tablet are scheduled to ship Feb. 28, 2013.

MimioMobile: With a single MimioMobile license for the teacher's computer or laptop, every student with an iPad can interact with lessons displayed on the classroom's interactive whiteboard. Additionally, teachers can use the MimioMobile app to control an interactive whiteboard and display lessons in MimioStudio software from anywhere in the room.

The application can be used on iPads and iPad minis. Like other Mimio tools, the MimioMobile app integrates seamlessly into the MimioClassroom family of products so that it can be used simultaneously or in tandem with the MimioPad tablet and Mimio interactive hardware whiteboards and devices. The MimioMobile app can also be used by students in place of a traditional "clicker" for student response or voting sessions using MimioVote assessment.

MimioStudio 10: The latest version of the classroom software, MimioStudio 10 software includes a new Collaborate feature that automatically divides up to nine devices into collaborative windows on a whiteboard and allows each group to use their individual window at the same time. Once students' work is done, the Collaborate feature automatically saves the work for future use or review.

Available on the Windows, Mac and Linux platforms, additional MimioStudio 10 enhancements include users' improved ability to manage content libraries created via other interactive software. Teachers also have more options when using MimioStudio Gradebook, which now allows users to export grades and student answers to a comma-separated value (CSV) report format, the most common format required by third-party grade-book products. Teachers can also create reports and export all detailed student activity data in addition to the previously supported summary data.

The software's ActivityWizard offers a built-in knowledge engine for teachers to generate educationally sound and engaging teaching activities in minutes. Users can export content created in MimioStudio software to HTML, PDF, Common File Format (IWB) and image formats. Teachers can also use the software's audio notification as an alert for the end of timed tests.

MimioPad: The MimioPad wireless pen tablet is the next generation of the original MimioPad tablet. The new version offers improved functionality and ease of use in a durable, elegant design. It features shortcut keys that give teachers one-touch access to the most common functions of MimioStudio 10 software, and it works with any interactive content.

The MimioPad tablet works only with MimioStudio 10 software. Like the original tablet, it allows teachers and students to collaborate on interactive whiteboard lessons up to 30 feet from a computer, but the new model can be used with both Mimio and non-Mimio interactive whiteboards, or as a stand-alone whiteboard controller with MimioStudio 10 software and a projector.

A battery-free stylus acts as a mouse, so students can draw or write in MimioStudio 10 software or control the desktop via the tablet. Users can directly import into MimioStudio 10 software their existing resources, in file types such as Word, PowerPoint, Adobe, SMART, and Promethean.

Source: Mimio, www.mimio.com

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Britannica Publishes New Elementary Ebooks

Britannica Digital Learning has announced it is publishing hundreds of new non-fiction ebooks for grades preK-6 in a wide range of school subjects. More the 300 titles in science, social studies, language arts and math will be available by June, each of them curriculum-aligned, covering topics such as animals, colors, holidays, elementary math concepts, astronomy, famous people and hundreds of others.

The new e-volumes represent a significant addition to Britannica's ebook title list, which is set to surpass 850 volumes this year, and a big boost in its elementary-school offerings. The new books are rigorously edited, extensively illustrated and designed to be enjoyable and engaging to students, according to the announcement. They provide schools and libraries with a large selection of high-quality texts for classroom study and research and will help satisfy the non-fiction reading requirements of the new Common Core State Standards.

Britannica ebooks are whiteboard ready. They can be accessed 24/7 by students, teachers and library patrons through any web connection. They require no special reading device and can be read on a PC, tablet computer or smart phone. All titles in a school's or library's holdings can be searched with a single keyword. Password-protected notes can be saved and the material can be printed.

The first 15 pages of each Britannica title are available free at ebooks.eb.com. Pricing, titles and more information are available from the company.

Source: Britannica Digital Learning, www.britannica.com/

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Follett Challenge Helps Schools Share their Innovation with the World

Follett Software Company's second Follett Challenge is well underway. Nearly 120 entries have been submitted, and now contest organizers are calling on the public to crown the Follett Challenge winners. The Follett Challenge will award $200,000 worth of Follett products and services to six winning schools, and also provide educators with a platform to show off their innovative teaching programs to the world through traditional and social media.


Now, schools, local communities and the general public are encourage to help choose the Follett Challenge winners by voting for the best video submission once a day between now and March 18.

All of the video entries can be found on the Follett Challenge website (www.FollettChallenge.com), and the entry with the most votes from the public will take home the People's Choice award.

The stakes are higher this year because schools cannot win unless they earn votes. Thirty percent of each entry's total score is based on how many votes it receives; an expert panel of judges scores the remaining 70 percent.

The first Follett Challenge sought entries solely from school libraries. For 2012-13, the company has expanded the contest, seeking entries from schools that are designing programs that develop critical thinking, communication, creativity, and collaboration between students and among educators. Yet, many entries in this year's contest focus on their innovative library programs.

Follett added that the contest rules were designed so that schools must show they have more than just a great program. The rules encourage schools to be "advocates for learning," by promoting their entries to their local communities and school boards, and through media outreach. "Follett is giving schools a platform to show off its innovative teaching programs to the world through traditional and social media," Follett said. "It's all about collaboration and working together across the district. We hope people will take the time to view the Follett Challenge entries for themselves-we think they'll be inspired and see that innovation is very much alive and well in today's schools."

All Follett Challenge winners, including the People's Choice, will be announced April 5 and receive the cash value equivalent of products and services from Follett Corporation's K12 divisions. The two grand-prize winners each will earn $60,000; third place $35,000; fourth place $25,000; fifth place $15,000; and sixth place (People's Choice winner) $5,000. The final score for the top five submissions will be based on the final rubric score from the panel of judges plus the number of votes the submitted video receives.

For more information on the Follett Challenge, visit www.follettchallenge.com.

Source: Follett Software Company, www.follettsoftware.com

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