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January 06, 2015

Table of Contents

ABC-CLIO Solutions Announces 2015 “Think Out Loud” Innovation Grant
New Mobile App from itslearning Keeps Students Updated on School Work and Teacher Feedback
National Geographic Learning Expands Adoptions of Reach for Reading Program
Follett Challenge Deadline Set for Jan. 9

ABC-CLIO Solutions Announces 2015 “Think Out Loud” Innovation Grant

ABC-CLIO Solutions has announced the 2015 “Think Out Loud” Innovation Grant. The program supports the authentic thinking skills needed for college, career, and civic life through the use of ABC-CLIO Solutions 15 online curriculum collections. Educators are encouraged to infuse technology into their instruction and increase collaboration with other educators to collectively boost student achievement. The goal is to develop effective methods to assess students’ abilities to:

  • Find, examine, and understand multiple points-of-view.

  • Synthesize disparate resources in a meaningful way.

  • Form and present their own conclusions.

Grant recipients will have access to ABC-CLIO Solutions’ comprehensive library of digital content to integrate into daily instruction with other technology tools. During the course of the grant, recipients will:

  • Attend a 30-60 minute introductory webinar.

  • Complete a brief survey at the beginning, mid-point, and conclusion of the grant.

  • Provide a two-minute video summary of the innovative practices that occurred, and the impact that they had on student thinking and learning, as a result of the grant.

At the conclusion of the grant, ABC-CLIO will publish all findings to expand the education community’s repertoire of innovative practices. Practicing teachers in grades 6-12 can apply at by Jan. 9, 2015. Winners will be announced on Jan. 16, 2015. 

Source: ABC-CLIO Solutions,

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New Mobile App from itslearning Keeps Students Updated on School Work and Teacher Feedback

itslearning has created a mobile app for iPhones and Android phones to help improve learning and teacher-student communication. Available for free download from the Apple App Store and Google Play, the itslearning app gives students a quick and easy overview of their upcoming tasks and events and also lets them send and receive messages.

Once the app is installed on their smartphones, students automatically receive notifications of upcoming events and tasks, such as homework and tests, as soon as their teacher posts the information within the itslearning platform. If teachers make a change to tasks posted within the platform, the app once again alerts students, and it also sends them reminders when a task is due. Additionally, users can sync their itslearning account calendar with their phone calendar so that school or class events are displayed on their phones.

The app automatically notifies students when teachers post grades, assessments, comments or other feedback in the itslearning platform. The immediacy gives students more time to make any suggested changes for an assignment or simply allows them to absorb feedback while the relevant task is still fresh in their minds.

Users can customize their notification alerts, selecting whether they will get a sound alert, push notification on their lock screen or just a badge notification icon. To see the full task, event or feedback, the student simply clicks the notification’s link, activating their phone’s web browser.

Additionally, the itslearning app alerts students when teachers or schoolmates send them messages and enables them to read the messages on their smartphones. Users can also send messages to teachers, individual students or groups via the app instead of logging on to the platform. This makes communication more reliable and immediate, particularly when users need to send a quick and relatively urgent message, such as letting others know of a classroom change.

Teachers benefit from the enhanced communication without having to change anything about how they teach or how they use the highly regarded itslearning platform. The app allows them to send messages to students’ phones without making their own phone numbers known, and they don’t even have to download the app themselves to send messages.

To further enhance its user-friendliness, the app gives users quick and simple access to the full itslearning interface through their smartphone while ensuring their privacy. The app’s login screen has been designed to be extremely easy to use, and each user has to choose a four-digit PIN for login so no one else can access that user’s account and see confidential information.

Source: itslearning,

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National Geographic Learning Expands Adoptions of Reach for Reading Program

National Geographic Learning (NGL), part of Cengage Learning, has announced a series of significant new adoptions of its Reach for Reading program for the 2014-2015 school year in 14 school districts across Arizona, Oregon and Massachusetts.

The Reach for Reading program exposes students to reading with content and imagery from National Geographic’s vast library of multimedia and narratives from world-renowned explorers – leading to more engaging learning experiences. The program was designed to instill the passion for reading in all content areas, inspiring students through authentic multi-cultural literature, amazing visuals and compelling topics that bring learning to life. Reach for Reading includes a balance of print and digital resources, including the award-winning myNGconnect, to maximize learning and is flexible to meet the varying needs of every student.

The Reach for Reading program was built around Common Core State Standards, which were implemented as a way to provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students across the country are expected to learn and were designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that young people need for success in college and careers. Reach for Reading goes above and beyond simple compliance with these standards and thoroughly applies the shifts of the Common Core to the program.

For more information on Reach for Reading, and all other programs offered by National Geographic Learning, please visit

Source: Cengage Learning/National Geographic Learning,

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Follett Challenge Deadline Set for Jan. 9

Follett Challenge contest organizers have streamlined the application process and now provide resources and tips to help schools and districts make their entry stand out among their peers. The deadline to enter the fourth annual Follett Challenge competition is Friday, Jan. 9, 2015.

A total of $200,000 in products and services from Follett will be awarded to the winning entries. The Follett Challenge is designed to empower educators with a platform to tell the world about how their innovative teaching and learning programs are preparing students for the demands of the 21st century.

Applicants are required to submit an online application, plus a three- to five-minute video. To help entrants, the contest's website ( features a comprehensive, online resource guide, including links to free images, video, music, and audio to help save entrants time searching for these resources. Also, Sue Adelmann, a Follett Challenge judge since the inception, is featured in a video where she lends perspective into what makes a successful application.

Organizers have also shared a case study from Belleville (Ill.) West High School – the most recent Follett Challenge grand-prize winner – that outlines how to make entries work within the parameters of the judges' scoring rubric. Eighty percent of each entrant's score will be based on the judges' opinion of the entry, with the remaining 20 percent based on the number of votes generated for the school's video.

After the entry period closes, entrants will promote their Follett Challenge entry to their district, school and local communities. At entrants will also find a convenient toolkit of downloadable materials to help garner exposure, as well as a series of answers to FAQs.

The contest's three semifinalists each will earn a $30,000 prize, while the grand-prize winner (selected from the semifinalists) will earn an additional $30,000, plus a celebration at their school. Ten $8,000 prizes will be awarded to "People's Choice" winners — those schools whose videos receive the highest number of online votes from the public.

Key 2015 contest dates are:

* Jan. 9: Entries close

* Jan. 19: Video voting begins

* Jan. 30: Video voting closes

* Feb. 13: Semifinalists and 10 People's Choice winners announced

* April 30: Grand-prize winner announced

For more information on the Follett Challenge, visit

Source: Follett,

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