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October 08, 2013

Table of Contents

Free Resources: Discovery Education's No-Cost Professional Development Sessions for Educators Implementing Common Core State Standards
Shmoop Launches Updated Guides to the AP Chemistry and Spanish Language and Culture Exams
Follett Challenge to Recognize K-12 Innovation at 15 Schools
Net Texts Announces New Version of its Content Management System for Open Educational Resources
ASCD Offers Professional Development Institutes for the Common Core State Standards
Atomic Learning Expands Online Training Library

Free Resources: Discovery Education's No-Cost Professional Development Sessions for Educators Implementing Common Core State Standards

Discovery Education has announced it will be providing its Common Core Academies to educators nationwide at no cost through the end of the school year.

These free, hands-on, professional development sessions will demonstrate how educators can use the latest technologies to support the integration of the Common Core State Standards into classroom practice. Designed specifically to support educators using digital media to enhance instruction and engage students, the Common Core Academies provide practical strategies and tactics that support long-term action planning as well as immediate implementation.

Understanding that effective implementation requires a focus on the fundamentals of curriculum, instruction, assessment and leadership, Discovery Education’s Common Core Academies utilize expert practitioners and thought leaders with years of experience in professional development. Each Academy’s sessions are research-based and personalized, addressing educator-identified needs including:

* Literacy and the Common Core in a Digital World: This session offers English Language Arts (ELA) instruction and assessment strategies to support the development of digitally literate students that are ready for college, careers, and citizenship.

* Teaching and Assessing Common Core Math in a Digital World: An exploration of the Standards for Mathematical Practice and their successful implementation with assessment strategies, this session will support the development of mathematically proficient students.

* Leadership Strategies to Support Digital Literacy and the Common Core: This session will offer practical leadership approaches for administrators that will help support teachers in their implementation of digital literacy instruction and assessment.

Beginning October 18, the Common Core Academies will take place in North Carolina, Colorado, Ohio, Missouri, Georgia, Oregon, Maryland, Michigan and Pennsylvania, and will expand into other states in the new year.

For more information about upcoming Common Core Academies or to register for an Academy, visit www.discoveryeducation.com/CommonCoreAcademies.

Source: Discovery Education, www.discoveryeducation.com

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Shmoop Launches Updated Guides to the AP Chemistry and Spanish Language and Culture Exams

Shmoop has announced the launch of newly updated teacher guides and student diagnostic and practice exams for two Advanced Placement exams: the AP Spanish Language and Culture and AP Chemistry exams.

Guide to the AP Spanish Language and Culture Exam

Imagine a world where people only needed to know seven questions to get by in a Spanish-speaking country:

  • Where's the bathroom?

  • Can I have a fork?

  • I would like two apples.

  • This is her cat.

  • Where did the spider go?

  • Turn left and walk past the post office to arrive at the library.

  • Seriously, where's the bathroom?


If real life isn’t restricted to questions of the mundane and practical, exams shouldn’t be either, no? The College Board doesn’t think so either, which is why they’re introducing a new AP exam format for the Spanish Language and Culture exam. The updates include free response questions that focus on specific interpersonal and presentational communication skills so that students will actually be able to chat with real, native Spanish-speaking people in the not-so-distant future. The written section asks students to write an email and a persuasive essay, and the speaking section will require students to carry on a conversation and present on a cultural comparison...but don’t count on it to help you sound less awkward asking out that chica muy bonita.

The revamped AP Spanish Language and Culture exam features six course themes that range from technology to aesthetics. Students can bet that a selection about a family in a community will have something to do with the theme of la familias y las comunidades—and Shmoop is here to make sure they’re equipped with all the information they need to take that subject and run with it.

Guide to the AP Chemistry Exam

Since chemistry is really all about studying and understanding the building blocks of all materials on Earth and beyond, the AP exam is now focusing on laying down strong foundations in six guided inquiry investigations called “Big Ideas.” Gone are the days of memorizing exceptions to the Aufbau Principle and specific crystal structures. Instead, the exam is all about understanding chemistry—giving students the tools they need to solve problems and think about what is really happening in the lab.

As a complement to completing hands-on chemistry labs in the classroom, Shmoop’s AP Chemistry guide, drills, and practice exams will give students the practice they need to succeed.

Source: Shmoop, www.shmoop.com

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Follett Challenge to Recognize K-12 Innovation at 15 Schools

Schools around the world will vie to be recognized as the most innovative in the third annual Follett Challenge, which has just launched. This year’s contest will reward 15 schools from all levels of education for the best and most effective approaches to 21st century learning. New this year, the Follett Challenge will honor semifinalist winners in four categories: elementary, middle, high school and magnet/parochial/K12 schools.

With a total prize value of $200,000 in products and services from Follett, the overall winner will earn a $60,000 prize, plus a celebration at the school, while each of the other three semifinalists will earn $30,000 prizes. Ten $5,000 prizes will be awarded to the “People’s Choice” winners—those schools that receive the highest number of online votes from the public. Judges will select the grand-prize winner from among the four semifinalists.

To participate, entrants must complete an online application and upload a three- to five-minute video describing their program. The judges will be seeking applications that illustrate critical thinking, communication, creativity and collaboration between students and among teachers and other members of the school staff. The overall score for the semifinalists will be based on the final rubric score from the panel of judges plus the number of votes the submitted video receives. Seventy percent of each score will be based on the judges’ opinion of the entry. Because the remaining 30 percent of the final score is based on the number of votes generated for the school’s video, the winning schools will ultimately be those that aggressively spread the word about their programs.

Key contest dates are:

· Oct. 1: Contest formally launches on www.follettchallenge.com.

· Nov. 1: Entries open.

· Feb. 28, 2014: Entries close.

· March 7, 2014: Video voting begins.

· April 4, 2014: Video voting ends.

· April 14, 2014: Four semifinalists and 10 video winners announced.

· May 16, 2014: Grand prize winner announced.

According to Follett School Solutions, the Follett Challenge exists to spotlight educators who are doing an exceptional job with the limited resources they have and to give them a platform to share their innovative efforts with their peers.

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

Source: Follett, www.follettlearning.com/

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Net Texts Announces New Version of its Content Management System for Open Educational Resources

Net Texts has unveiled a new release of its free, web-based content management system for educators and schools implementing 1:1 computing programs. The latest version of the Net Texts solution includes a variety of upgrades and new features that allow teachers to more quickly and easily create and deliver lessons, units and complete courses using free, high-quality open educational resources (OER).

Thousands of schools around the country are implementing 1:1 computing programs for their potential to customize and extend student learning. But considerable time and cost are involved in finding, creating and delivering high-quality digital content to students, according to the announcement. Net Texts was created to address this.

Net Texts is a free, easy-to-use resource that allows teachers to create and customize courses via its robust content management website. The site includes more than 50,000 high-quality resources from leading OER providers such as the CK-12 Foundation, Khan Academy, and Project Gutenberg, organized by subject, grade level, objectives and standards. Teachers can select existing courses from the Net Texts library or mix and match items with their own educational materials. Using a free app for iPads or Android tablets students then download and interact with the courses. And, because the content is stored locally on the devices, there is no need for students to have Wi-Fi access to complete their assignments, thereby extending learning outside the classroom.

Available now, the new Net Texts content management system includes upgrades that make it easier for teachers to create challenging, engaging, and customized lessons using free OER. For example, the upgraded browser feature allows teachers to move quickly between content vetted and selected by Net Texts and lessons posted by other teachers, making it easier to find relevant material. Then with the new ‘drag and drop’ option, they can pull together all the items they want for a lesson or a complete unit, and even reorder or replace items to customize lessons for individual students.

The Net Texts Test Creation Module has likewise been improved, allowing teachers to more quickly create a test and add it to a unit. The system includes more than 400 tests that teachers can use as is, or remix with their own test items.

Source: Net Texts, www.net-texts.com

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ASCD Offers Professional Development Institutes for the Common Core State Standards

ASCD has announced 23 face-to-face learning opportunities focused on helping educators align instruction to the new Common Core State Standards. The one- and two-day institutes will be held in nine U.S. cities between November 2013 and February 2014 on five Common Core topics.

Each one- or two-day institute targets a specific audience of educators with skills they need to implement the Common Core in their particular role. Among the institute instructors are ASCD faculty members Judy Carr, Donnell Gregory, Janie Smith, Tim Westerberg, Nicole Clifton,Jennifer Beasley, Allison Zmuda, and Opal Davis. Upcoming institute topics are listed below.

Lead the Change to Common Core State Standards: Get Essential Tools for School and District Leaders

This two-day institute will give school leaders the tools and information necessary to lead staff in implementing the Common Core State Standards. School leaders will find out why leading the change demands fundamental shifts in classroom instruction. Leaders also will receive action steps to ensure that each staff member contributes to the success of implementation. The institute will run

  • November 20–21, 2013, in Little Rock, Ark.

  • December 2–3, 2013, in Long Beach, Calif.

  • December 2–3, 2013, in Denver, Colo.

  • December 4–5, 2013, in Los Angeles, Calif.

  • December 11–12, 2013, in Atlanta, Ga.

  • January 16–17, 2014, in New Orleans, La.

  • January 27–28, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn.

  • February 3–4, 2014, in Las Vegas, Nev.

  • February 5–6, 2014 in Honolulu, Hawaii

Common Core and the Understanding by Design® Framework: Planning Units with the End in Mind

This two-day institute will enable teachers, curriculum leaders, district leaders, school-based administrators, and higher education faculty to unpack the Common Core State Standards and create the high-quality curricula and assessments needed to prepare students for the demands of college and the workplace. The institute will run

  • November 18–19, 2013, in Little Rock, Ark.

  • December 9–10, 2013, in Atlanta, Ga.

  • January 14–15, 2014, in New Orleans, La.

  • February 3–4, 2014, in Honolulu, Hawaii

Using Formative Assessments to Meet the Demands of the Common Core

In this one-day institute, teachers, curriculum leaders, district leaders, school-based administrators, and higher education faculty will learn how to use tools and develop strategies to implement formative assessments that link to the instructional shifts in the Common Core. The institute is also an opportunity for educators to explore ways to use multiple measures to ensure that their assessments lead to a system of data collection and analysis that results in higher levels of student achievement. The institute will run

  • December 4, 2013, in Denver, Colo.

  • January 28, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn.

Implementing the Common Core State Standards: English Language Arts and Literacy Focus

This one-day institute will engage teachers, administrators, literacy specialists, and higher education faculty in activities to understand the instructional shifts of the Common Core State Standards. The institute will also explore the resources and processes available to support implementation of the standards. Key concepts will include close reading, writing scope and sequences, clustering standards to integrate appropriate strands of language arts, and the implementation of reading and writing across the curriculum. The institute will run

  • December 5, 2013, in Los Angeles, Calif.

  • December 9, 2013, in Atlanta, Ga.

  • February 3, 2014, in Honolulu, Hawaii

  • February 5, 2014, in Las Vegas, Nev.

Implementing the Common Core State Standards: Mathematics Focus

In this one-day institute, teachers, curriculum leaders, district leaders, school-based administrators, and higher education faculty will learn to use the actual language of the Standards for Mathematical Practice. Educators will unpack and cluster the standards to form manageable units. The institute will run

  • December 6, 2013, in Los Angeles, Calif.

  • December 11, 2013, in Atlanta, Ga.

  • February 5, 2014, in Honolulu, Hawaii

  • February 6, 2014, in Las Vegas, Nev.

Visit www.ascd.org/ccpdi to register for the Common Core Professional Development Institutes of your choice.

Source: ASCD, www.ascd.org

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Atomic Learning Expands Online Training Library

Atomic Learning has recently expanded its online training library to include a training workshop on moving to the cloud for teachers. This online training workshop covers some of the key features and benefits of cloud-based computing for teachers including the anytime, anywhere access for storage, retrieval and collaboration, increased student accountability, backup and storage, as well as cost and resource savings.

Along with this workshop, Atomic Learning has also added in-depth training on many Google applications, iOS 7, Weebly, and flipping the classroom, as well as workshops on rewarding students with badges and using an iPad as an eReader to help educators fully integrate technology in their classrooms.


Other training added or updated to the training library includes:

Adobe Media Encoder – Creative Cloud Training

Aperture 3 - Organizing & Sharing Training

Badges in the Classroom Workshop

Blackboard SP 11 (additions)

Camtasia 8 - What's New? Training

eReaders: Getting to Know Your Device (iPad) Workshop

Flipped Classroom Training

Gmail Training (update)

Google Calendar Training (update)

Google Documents - Creating & Organizing Training (update)

Google Documents - Editing & Formatting Training (update)

Google Documents - Sharing & Collaborating Training

Google Forms Training

Google Presentations - Collaborating & Sharing Training

Google Presentations - Creating & Editing Training (update)

Google Spreadsheets - Basics Training (update)

Google Spreadsheets - Chart & Formulas Training (update)

Google Spreadsheets - Collaborate, Share & Publish Training (update)

Google Spreadsheets - Editing & Formatting Training (update)

iOS 7 - Getting Started Training

Moving to the Cloud for Teachers Workshop

Office 365 - Basic User Training (update)

Pro Tools for Aspiring Musicians Training

Weebly Training

Source: Atomic Learning, www.atomiclearning.com/k12

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