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April 22, 2014

Table of Contents

ASCD Announces New Teaching and Learning Framework for Schools and Districts: The FIT Teaching Tool Kit by Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey
Siemens Foundation, Discovery Education Announce Winners of the 2014 Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge
New Agreement between EBSCO and NewsBank Adds Readex Content to EBSCO Discovery Service
Odysseyware Enhances Notes Feature In Online Curriculum Platform
MindPlay Goes Mobile With New Online Reading Fluency Trainer
Alliance for Excellent Education Publishes Connected Learning Report
PBS LearningMedia Announces Educators Selected for the PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators Program

ASCD Announces New Teaching and Learning Framework for Schools and Districts: The FIT Teaching Tool Kit by Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey

ASCD has announced a new teaching framework designed for schools and school systems to ensure that high-quality teaching and learning occurs in every classroom. The new teaching and learning framework, called FIT Teaching (Framework for Intentional and Targeted Teaching), is based on the work of Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey.

The FIT Teaching tool kit provides teachers with the resources to ensure the success of every learner and is based on four essential elements:

  1. School and Classroom Culture: The framework enables school leaders to build a school culture that is mission-driven, welcoming, and integrates academic outcomes.

  2. Establishing Purpose: The framework establishes intentional planning for designing instruction that provides students with a clear understanding of what they will know after the instruction, what specific skill they will learn, and how the lesson relates to other learning.

  3. Gradual Release of Responsibility: Teachers and instructional leaders will use the framework to learn how to intentionally design, deliver, and scaffold guided instructional practices that maximize student collaborative and independent learning.

  4. Formative and Summative Assessments: The framework also assists educators by offering descriptive and actionable feedback while using classroom data to inform targeted future instruction.

The FIT Teaching tool kit builds on an extensive body of work from Fisher and Frey, including the following best sellers:

  • How To Create a Culture of Achievement in Your School and Classroom (2012)

  • The Purposeful Classroom: How to Structure Lessons with Learning Goals in Mind (2011)

  • Checking for Understanding: Formative Assessment Techniques for Your Classroom(2007)

  • The Formative Assessment Action Plan: Practical Steps to More Successful Teaching and Learning (2011)

  • Better Learning Through Structured Teaching: A Framework for the Gradual Release of Responsibility (2008)

  • Guided Instruction: How to Develop Confident and Successful Learners (2010)

Professional development using the FIT Teaching tool kit is offered through the new ASCD Professional Learning Services, which customizes PD solutions based on the needs of a district or school. ASCD Professional Learning Services focuses on capacity building to enhance local expertise and ensure sustainability, preparing educators for continued success. The unit’s programs create opportunities for job-embedded learning, enabling professional development growth as part of the day-to-day work of educators. With a variety of signature capacity-building models to choose from and ASCD Faculty with expertise in a wide range of K–12 topics, ASCD Professional Learning Services offers the tailored professional learning and coaching support administrators and teachers need to succeed.

Douglas Fisher is professor of language and literacy education in the School of Teacher Education at San Diego State University and a classroom teacher at Health Sciences High & Middle College.

Nancy Frey is a professor of literacy in the School of Teacher Education at San Diego State University. Before joining the university faculty, she was a special education teacher at Broward County Public Schools in Florida, where she taught elementary and middle school students.

Source: ASCD,

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Siemens Foundation, Discovery Education Announce Winners of the 2014 Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge

The Siemens Foundation and Discovery Education have announced the national winners of the sixth annual Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge, a national environmental sustainability challenge designed to provide K-12 students with the tools and inspiration to improve their schools, communities and world.

As part of the 2014 Challenge, elementary, middle and high school students across the country identified environmental issues in their schools and communities and created replicable solutions using digital curriculum designed by Discovery Education.

A panel of environmental advocates, STEM professionals, science teachers and professors selected this year’s winners based on each project’s viable solution to a real world environmental challenge. Projects were also evaluated on their ability to engage the support of the local community and ability to be replicated globally.

In addition to other prizes, the high school first place winning team receives $50,000 in scholarship money. Each student on the middle school first place winning team will receive a $10,000 savings bond along with a Discovery Student Adventure trip to Alaska. The first place elementary school winners in K-2 and 3-5 are each invited to a Discovery Education assembly focusing on sustainability, at which time a $5,000 grant will be given to each school.

Past winners have presented their projects at the United Nations and the White House Science Fair, to the Chief Administrator of the EPA, and to other national, regional and local officials. Many projects have gone on to change schools’ policies and inspire new ideas for politicians to craft green legislation.

High School Winners

First Place Winners:

Water Bottle Warriors - A Novel Biosensor and Filter from Recycled Bottles for Water Pollution

North County Senior High School

Glen Burnie, MD

Second Place Winners:

Vehicle Vindicators - Cars Producing Oxygen: The Power of Photosynthesis

Marvin Ridge High School

Waxhaw, NC

Third Place Winners:

Team Excelsior - An Inquiry Into Sustainable Solutions for Colorado Coal Mine Waste Revegetation

Animas Charter High School

Durango, CO

Middle School Winners

First Place Winners:

Zero Waste Team Delaware - Toward Zero Waste

Cab Calloway School of the Arts

Wilmington, DE

Second Place Winners:

Detergent Detectives - Let's Switch to Environmentally Friendly Detergents

Novi Middle School

Novi, MI

Third Place Winners:

Hudson Lake Doctors - Hudson Lake Doctors Doctoring our Lakes and Rivers

Hudson Middle School

Hudson, WI

Elementary School Winners Grades 3-5

First Place Winners:

Lynn Woods Grade 3 - Stop Dumping and Start Helping

Lynn Woods Elementary School

Lynn, MA

Second Place Winners:

King’s 4th Grade - Green Team Challenge - Plastic Waste Reduction

King’s Elementary School

Seattle, WA

Third Place Winners:

Zero Waste - Peabody Team

Pine Ridge Elementary School

Auberry, CA

Elementary School Winners Grades K-2

First Place Winners:

Earth Agents - Precious Water

Snyder Elementary School

Snyder, TX

Second Place Winners:

The Zero-Waste Zealots - Reducing Trash

Kindi Mont Academy

Naperville, IL

Third Place Winners:

Riverside Elementary Gifted - Grade 2 - The Textile Troops: Operation Main Street

Riverside School District

Taylor, PA

For additional details about prizes, visit:

• High School:

• Middle School:

• Elementary School:

For more information on the Challenge, the national winners and their projects, visit

Source: Discovery Education,

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New Agreement between EBSCO and NewsBank Adds Readex Content to EBSCO Discovery Service

EBSCO Information Services has announced that American historical collections from NewsBank’s Readex Division will be searchable via EBSCO's discovery service, EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS). The new agreement will add metadata from Readex’s digital collection, Archive of Americana, into EDS and provide seamless access and full text searching for mutual customers, enabling them to search many of the most widely used collections of primary source research alongside their own library’s collection.

The addition of the Readex collection to EDS will enhance the discovery experience for libraries. The collection of historical books, newspapers and government publications enables researchers, teachers and students to explore every aspect of United States history, culture and daily lives across three centuries. The Archive of Americana collection from Readex includes:

* U.S. Congressional Serial Set, 1817-1994

* Early American Imprints, Series I: Evans, 1639-1800

* Early American Imprints, Series II: Shaw-Shoemaker, 1801-1819

* Early American Imprints, Series I: Supplement from the Library Company of Philadelphia, 1670-1800

* Early American Imprints, Series II: Supplement from the Library Company of Philadelphia, 1801-1819

* American Broadsides and Ephemera, Series 1, 1760-1900

* Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia

NewsBank is part of a growing list of publishers and other content partners that are taking part in EDS to bring more visibility to their content. Partners include the world’s largest scholarly journal & book publishers including Elsevier, Wiley Blackwell, Springer Science & Business Media, Taylor & Francis Informa, Sage Publications, Nature Publishing, IEEE, ACM and thousands of others. Partners also include content providers, such as LexisNexis, Thomson Reuters (Web of Science), JSTOR, ARTstor, Credo Reference, Encyclopedia Britannica, World Book, ABC-CLIO, The HathiTrust and many others.

EBSCO Discovery Service creates a unified, customized index of an institution’s information resources, and an easy, yet powerful means of accessing all of that content from a single search box—searching made even more powerful because of the quality of metadata and depth and breadth of coverage.

Source: EBSCO Information Services,

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Odysseyware Enhances Notes Feature In Online Curriculum Platform

Odysseyware has announced the addition of further refinements to the Note feature of its online curriculum platform. The previous version of Odysseyware allowed teachers to write notes in an individual box on lessons. Although customers appreciated this ability, teachers asked for a way to leave multiple notes in a single assignment. They also wanted to extend this function to students. Responding to this user feedback, Odysseyware gave customers what they asked for.

With the redesigned Notes feature, both students and teachers can now write multiple notes directly in the margins of every assignment. This allows teachers to create more context-specific notes, and saves students the hassle of flipping between tabs to study more effectively. For intuitive organization, teachers’ notes appear in red while students can choose from a variety of note colors. All notes can also be printed for offline learning.

Source: Odysseyware,

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MindPlay Goes Mobile With New Online Reading Fluency Trainer

MindPlay has announced a new reading fluency with comprehension program for K-12 schools, FLRT - a fluent reading trainer. This personal trainer for silent reading has been updated for text complexity and to include comprehension, now at the heart of Common Core State Standards. Stories are certified by MetaMetrics to meet Common Core text complexity and Lexile reading level requirements.

MindPlay’s FLRT is designed to help students measurably improve their reading level and speed after using the program for at least 10 hours by differentiating practice for each student and enabling them to work at their own pace. This new version is fully mobile and now enables educators and students to use FLRT on any computer with an internet connection, as well as on iPads and other tablets.

Earlier versions of FLRT were proven by research and best practices at schools to improve students’ reading performance by grade levels. FLRT automates the process of providing students with differentiated practice that targets their specific skills and helps them improve to become fluent readers. It also significantly extends the amount of time that students can spend on their silent reading.

FLRT is intended for students who are reading at or above grade level with good phonics skills. It accelerates their reading fluency in preparation for the higher demands of the Common Core State Standards and state tests that now focus on higher levels of reading complexity. Its goal is to take students from where they are now up to 400 or more words per minute with accuracy before they graduate high school. This is the current expectation for college-bound students. The program features over 1,000 narrative or expository stories. Each story can be read in six minutes or less. The story library includes authentic literature and 100 public domain classics that were edited to be grade-level appropriate.

FLRT consists of four self-paced practice activities: Effective Eye Movement, Single-Line Reading, Multi-Line Reading, and Word Match.

The engaging practice activities in FLRT help students stay focused and accelerate their progress. In the Multi-Line Reading, text genre is selected randomly between expository and narrative. Grade level equivalencies and Lexile measures for all stories are reported. Twenty different types of comprehension questions are asked at each level. The library contains content-rich authentic stories.

FLRT is available now. For information and ordering, schools and districts can visit MindPlay at, or education resellers. The program includes 24-hour access for students within a school district from any computer or tablet with Internet access. The price is by single-user or number of students, starting at $34 per student for an annual subscription.

Source: MindPlay, Inc.,

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Alliance for Excellent Education Publishes Connected Learning Report

A new report from the Alliance for Excellent Education introduces connected learning, a promising educational approach that uses digital media to engage students’ interests and instill deeper learning skills, such as communication, collaboration, and critical thinking. The report, Connected Learning: Harnessing the Information Age to Make Learning More Powerful, lists four elements constituting connected learning’s emphasis on bridging school, popular culture, home, and the community to create an environment in which students engage in and take responsibility for their learning.

The report identifies four key facets of the connected learning approach. First, learners are the focus. By connecting a student’s interests to academic studies, civic engagement, and career opportunities, student engagement increases, and learning outcomes improve.

Next, students are supported by mentors and peers through the use of technology. In the twenty-first century, technology can easily connect students with like-minded peers around the state, region, country, and world with similar interests, as well as experts and mentors in students’ interest areas. The report notes that connected learning is not the use of a specific platform or digital tool; rather, it “seeks to design experiences for learners that take advantage of today’s abundant learning opportunities,” many of which are available through the power of technology.

Thirdly, connected learning takes place any time and anywhere—at home, school, and in the community. Social media, web-based communities, online platforms, and digital tools all offer students the opportunity to work during non-school hours.

Finally, students become “makers and producers,” meaning they are tasked with creating, producing, and designing end products, a process that allows students to take ownership and responsibility over their work.

As Connected Learning describes, in a connected learning environment, teachers become designers and creators who aid students in connecting their personal interests to academics and deeper learning skills. Teachers in a connected learning environment prepare students for success in a career and life by equipping them with the know-how to turn their interests into academic excellence and a career.

The full report is available online at

The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington, DC–based national policy and advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring all students, particularly those traditionally underserved, graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship.

Source: Alliance for Excellent Education,

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PBS LearningMedia Announces Educators Selected for the PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators Program

PBS LearningMedia has announced the 100 educators selected for the 2014 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators program. The program rewards tech-savvy K-12 educators from across the country who are serving as leaders in the education technology space and incorporating digital media in classrooms to promote student engagement and achievement through year-long hands-on and virtual professional development opportunities.

The 2014 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators will receive year-long professional development opportunities that include virtual trainings, access to premium and exclusive resources, and invitations to special events. In addition, the top 16 applicants will serve as leads of the program and will receive an all-expense paid trip to Washington, DC, to participate in a two-day digital education summit where participants will engage in hands-on learning, collaborate with peers and hear from digital technology thought leaders.

The 2014 Lead PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators are listed below. The full list of PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators is available at

  • Steve Beard – Thomas Edison High School, Portland, OR (Oregon Public Broadcasting)

  • Stephanie Berry – Basic High School, Henderson, NV (Vegas PBS)

  • Leslie Ceballos – Carolyn Bukhair Elementary, Dallas, TX (KERA)

  • Alice Chen – Suzanne Middle School, Walnut, CA (PBS SoCal)

  • Robert Culp – Joliet Public School District 86, Joliet, IL (WTTW)

  • Ryan Devlin – Brockway Area Junior/Senior High School, Brockway, PA (WPSU)

  • Scott Frizzell – Harding Academy of Memphis, Memphis, TN (WKNO)

  • Susan Gauthier – Sherwood Middle Academic Magnet School, Baton Rouge, LA (LPB)

  • Don Goble – Ladue Horton Watkins High School, Saint Louis, MO (Nine Network of Public Media)

  • Mig Hayes – Carolina Friends School, Durham, NC (UNC-TV)

  • Julie Hildebrand – Patton Elementary School, Austin, TX (KLRU)

  • Kimberly Lynch – Francis Wyman School, Burlington, MA (WGBH)

  • Lesley McClendon – Shiloh Middle School, Atlanta, GA (Georgia Public Broadcasting)

  • Philip McIntosh – Challenger Middle School, Colorado Springs, CO (Rocky Mountain PBS)

  • Morgan Nickolai – Sidney High School, Sidney, OH (ThinkTV)

  • Holly Whitt – Walnut Grove Elementary, New Market, AL (Alabama Public Television)

PBS LearningMedia received hundreds of applications from leading teachers throughout the U.S. and its territories. A group of judges selected the 100 educators based on submissions of videos and written essays that addressed how they are leading innovation in digital teaching in their classrooms and schools.

Source: PBS LearningMedia,

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