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May 19, 2015

Table of Contents

Free Resources: NOVA's New Online Game for Exploring the History of Life on Earth
Apex Learning Launches Educator Academy
Teachscape Partners with Swivl to Help Educators Capture Authentic Classroom Practices
TIME for Kids Announces Time Edge
Gale Launches Research In Context Middle School Research Tool

Free Resources: NOVA's New Online Game for Exploring the History of Life on Earth

NOVA, from WGBH Boston and PBS, has created a free online game for its growing NOVA Labs platform that helps players explore how human beings are related to the millions of species currently alive--and far more that have gone extinct over the 3.5 billion year history of life on Earth--and to understand the process behind it: evolution.

In NOVA's Evolution Lab, phylogenetics--the study of the evolutionary relationships between species--is explored in depth as players evaluate similarities in the traits and DNA of species and conduct their own investigations in a virtual tree of life. Along the way, players can watch short animated videos that explain the evidence of evolution and illustrate it with specific examples.

NOVA's Evolution Lab contains two major components:

* Build A Tree: Players build phylogenetic trees themed around the evidence of evolution including fossils, biogeography, and similarities in DNA. Players use both morphology and analysis of DNA sequences to identify relationships between species and organize species and traits into phylogenetic trees.

* Deep Tree: Players explore an interactive tree of life and trace the shared ancestry of numerous species. Deep Tree helps players understand the scope of deep time and the points at which speciation occurred throughout the evolutionary history of life on Earth.

Build A Tree and Deep Tree--made available online for the first time--were developed by the Life on Earth project based at Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and led by principal investigator Chia Shen, director of the Scientists' Discovery Room (SDR) Lab. Shen's team, including lead developer Florian Block and collaborators around the country, worked for several years to find the most effective ways to make the tree an open-ended space to explore how life formed and continues to evolve.

The Evolution Lab meets the need in science education for engaging digital resources that address the evidence for evolution and confront common misconceptions that make learners susceptible to confusion and doubt.

For educators looking to use the Evolution Lab with their students, there are built-in assessments in Build A Tree that check for understanding as well as educator resources that provides tips and content for teaching evolution.

NOVA Labs is partnering with prominent STEM education/advocacy organizations to promote the Evolution Lab to educators, including: the National Center for Science Education, Khan Academy, UC Berkeley's Museum of Paleontology, Shape of Life, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and more.

About NOVA Labs (
The Evolution Lab is the latest in a series of free, online STEM projects for teens and lifelong learners, called NOVA Labs, which first launched in April 2012 and is developed by WGBH Boston. Each Lab focuses on a different area of active research, but all of them illustrate key concepts with engaging and informative videos, and guide participants through games and interactives that foster authentic scientific exploration. The Sun Lab brings the feed from NASA solar telescopes to users, to help them understand and try to predict space weather that can affect us on Earth. The Energy Lab challenges users to design renewable energy systems for major cities based on realistic data models. The Cloud Lab leverages NASA earth science satellites to help users understand clouds and their role in weather and climate. The RNA Lab teaches users how to play a game called Eterna, where their RNA molecular designs might someday help scientists develop therapies to fight cancer and other diseases. The Cybersecurity Lab teaches users how to keep their digital lives safe, spot phishing scams, and understand the basics of coding.

Source: WGBH Boston,

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Apex Learning Launches Educator Academy

Apex Learning, a provider of blended and virtual learning solutions, has announced Educator Academy, a portal for teachers and administrators implementing Apex Learning digital curriculum.

Developed to offer immediate access to information at the critical moment it's needed, the new Educator Academy is one component of the comprehensive services offered by Apex Learning. The Academy enables educators to complete on-demand training at their convenience, learn about best practices and successful implementation models, access a range of resources, and connect with other educators.

In much the same way schools are incorporating online and blended learning into instruction, Apex Learning is applying these models to professional development and support for teachers and administrators. Educator Academy is a complement to the traditional onsite and web conference delivery models also offered by Apex Learning.

Apex Learning offers a comprehensive catalog of rigorous, standards-based online courses that meet high school graduation requirements. Apex Learning Comprehensive Courses are used by schools nationwide for both initial credit and credit recovery. The company's latest digital learning solution —Tutorials — are a key component of effective blended learning, providing classroom teachers with the critical resources they need to meet the needs of all students including preparation for high stakes assessments, targeted intervention and just-in-time remediation and enhanced instruction for all students.

Source: Apex Learning,

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Teachscape Partners with Swivl to Help Educators Capture Authentic Classroom Practices

Teachscape has partnered with Swivl to further support educators in meaningful video-based professional development. Through the partnership, educators can use the Swivl Robot, in conjunction with their mobile devices, to capture classroom videos of their own instructional practices and then upload them to the Teachscape Effectiveness Platform to receive meaningful feedback, engage in self-reflection, and collaborate and share best practices with their colleagues.

Swivl, recently named a “Cool Vendor” in education by Gartner, enables educators to capture videos from anywhere, at any time using their own mobile devices. Once the tablet or smartphone is attached, Swivl’s robotic mobile accessory tracks, follows and records educators as they move around the classroom and interact with students.

Teachscape customers that were early adopters of the technologies, including Fort Worth Independent School District and Texas Tech University, have already received immense value from using Swivl in conjunction with Teachscape. “These technologies have been an asset in allowing our coaches, evaluators and teachers to work together to improve professional practice,” said Andrew McKenzie, TIF Project Manager of Fort Worth Independent School District.

Source: Teachscape,

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TIME for Kids Announces Time Edge

TIME for Kids has announced TIME Edge, a new digital platform specifically for seventh and eighth grade classrooms that delivers original multimedia content to support digital literacy and global citizenship, a variety of engaging learning tools for students, lesson plans and resources for teachers, and Common Core-aligned quizzes.

TIME Edge features in-depth current events articles enhanced with interactive features to support close reading of nonfiction texts. Students can access definitions of challenging vocabulary words to improve skills. Audio and Spanish-language versions of select text and a variety of multimedia tools allow students to engage deeply with the content. They can also read select articles at a lower reading level, which allows teachers to focus on the same content with all students.

Additionally, TIME Edge gives teachers access to the TIME Vault, an archive of nearly 90 years of TIME content that connects current events with historical primary sources. Teachers will have access to teaching guides containing discussion questions, close-reading tips, and Common Core resources.

TIME Edge is a web-based platform available on any device through an Internet browser. A free preview of TIME Edge is available now, and schools can purchase classroom subscriptions for the 2015-16 school year that include full access to articles, Common Core-aligned quizzes, lesson plans, audio read-alouds, Spanish-language translations and TIME Vault access for teachers.

For more information, visit

Source: TIME For Kids,

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Gale Launches Research In Context Middle School Research Tool

Gale, a part of Cengage Learning, has announced Research In Context, a new online resource geared specifically to middle school students. Built entirely on feedback from librarians and students, Gale’s Research In Context is aligned to national and state curriculum standards and brings together cross-disciplinary, authoritative content with multimedia in a student-friendly, mobile-responsive interface. Designed to bridge the gap between elementary resources and more advanced high school databases, Research In Context meets the need for an engaging, modern experience for the middle school researcher.

Research In Context features a modern interface and toolset consistent with the award-winning Gale In Context suite, with content spanning literature, science, social studies, and U.S. and world history topics, among others. Students can access engaging books, images, biographies, audio, video, magazines, newspapers, creative works, primary sources, and more, all curated and assembled specifically for the middle school student. Some of the tools and features include:

· alignment to curriculum standards

· a fully mobile-responsive design, adaptive to any devices

· highlight and note-taking capability

· content translation into 12 languages to accommodate diverse student populations

· ReadSpeaker text-to-speech technology for 12 languages

· unlimited printing, emailing, and downloading of articles and media

· citation tools

The mobile responsive design of Research In Context is particularly important for supporting BYOD and 1:1 initiatives. Studies show that using educational technology improves student achievement, but finding credible content that works across all devices is a challenge. Gale’s Research In Context meets these needs for administrators looking to expand or grow their digital programs and is an engaging tool for students.

For more information on Research In Context or to request a demo, visit

Source: Cengage Learning and Gale, or

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