The Latest in Hardware, Software, Books & Matrials, Facilities and the Interent
Sunburst Technology and Quickmind
www.quickmind.net, Internet, Classroom License $1,199, Lab or Library license $3,999, Site license $7,499 (all prices are per year for 1-year subscription; discounts for 2-3 year subscriptions
Many teachers have the chance to log into their districts from home. But accessing server files isn't always a simple process. "Because of the nature of security, there are more hoops to jump through than [when teachers] are at a flat Web interface," says Ron Place, director of instructional technology at Harrison School District Two in Colorado Springs, Colo.
That's one worry Harrison teachers no longer have, thanks to a new subscription resource that helps teachers plan lessons and assessments online from anywhere. Called QuickMind.net, the K-12 resource provides teachers, parents and students with 24-hour access to a variety of standards-based curriculum, interactive homework assignments, project templates, tools, lesson plans, reference materials and online professional development. Access is through a password-protected Web site.
"QuickMind.net brings the classroom home for students, enables parents to see what their children are doing at school and where they need help, and gives teachers the flexibility to assign lessons, grade projects and create reports on student progress," says Forest Barbieri, CEO of QuickMind, which partnered with Sunburst Technology to create the product.
QuickMind.net's Teacher Admin Center features an online management system allowing educators to create a student roster. Once students are enrolled in the roster, teachers can assign projects, tests or activities to one or more students. Assignments completed by students online are tracked and statistics are stored for the teacher in this area.
The product's main Web interface is divided into six main channels:
--Project Generators, with pre-made or custom templates for creating tests, projects, labs and activities
--Tool Box, offering presentation and report generators with images
--Web Studio, featuring more than 120 QuickMind print products converted for interactive online use
--Professional Development, with a training guide and quick reference guides for popular software application programs, plus classroom activities for technology integration
--Complete Reference Center, with access to thousands of teacher-approved Web sites
--Curriculum, offering interactive math and language arts activities for pre-K-3 students
Harrison's teachers began using QuickMind.net early this school year. Place says the district arranged for three days of formal training from QuickMind, with each of the 19 school's technology curriculum specialist attending along with two or three tech-savvy teachers from their schools. With the buy-in of these tech advocates, use of the product "has been trickling down [to the rest of the staff] at what we could consider a fairly good rate," Place says, adding that the project and exam templates have helped in supporting the district's focus on differentiated instruction.
A free 30-day trial subscription is available to any teacher.
www.casio.com, Hardware, $249.95
This calculator features a collection of applications, such as 3D Graph, Geometry and eActivity, to support students' self-study. The cross-curricular tool has a 160 x 240-dot LCCD touch screen with stylus-based operation, and it enables input of fractions, differentials, integrals and lim calculations. It supports drag and drop, copy and paste and other pen-based operations. Teachers can use the calculators to create activities for students. Screen shots can be captured, combined into a presentation and played back in a slideshow format. The calculator also includes auto play, manual play and page editing functions.
Geometric graphing features include constraint geometry, geometric figure graphing, geometric figure analysis and animation. Three-dimensional graphing features include trace, zoom and rotate. The ClassPad 300 weighs less than 10 ounces and requires four AAA-size alkaline batteries for operation.
Also new from Casio is the FX-9750G PLUS calculator ($49.99), which performs fraction and mixed-fraction operations and converts between hexadecimal, binary and sexagesimal. Students can graph conic sections, then determine and display their characteristics.
Alternative Schools: A Reference Handbook
www.abc-clio.com, Book, $45
This handbook provides educators with the history, purpose and impact of alternative education in the U.S., ranging from Ben Franklin's academy (which broke the Latin curriculum standard) to recent court decisions on public funding of private and parochial schools.
The book can be used as a resource for ways to support school improvement. It offers information on alternative education organizations, conferences and resources, and gives descriptions of alternative education models, including "schools without walls" and the school-within-a-school. Profiles of influential educators and insight into alternative education agendas and funding are also included.
www.luxeonusa.com, Hardware, $2,995
This SVGA multimedia projector uses LCD technology and features a 1300 lumens, native SVGA resolution (800 x 600) and XGA (1024 x 768) compressed. It includes a wireless remote control, a laser pointer, three-watt speakers, a security lock and a soft carrying case. OSD controls, manual zoom and focus, 2000-hour lamp and digital keystone correction are other features.
Luxeon has also released its D520P multimedia projector ($3,899), which features a 1500:1 contrast ratio, 2000 ANSI lumens, Picture-in-Picture function, native XGA resolution, HDTV compatibility Video, and RGB digital and analog inputs
www.bluesquirrel.com, Software, $23.96/single user, $119.95/5 user site license to $499.95/50 user site license
Schools can block unwanted junk e-mail with this anti-spam software. The software analyzes e-mail messages for spam and virus characteristics, removes executable attachments that may launch viruses, provides detailed reports for every e-mail message received, allows set-up of multiple accounts and works with all POP3 e-mail accounts and programs, including Eudora, Lotus Notes, Pegasus, Outlook, Outlook Express and Netscape.
Learning in Motion
Knowledge Forum 4.0
www.learn.motion.com, Software, Classroom subscription $350/year, Site license $4,990/year (for districts using their own server; other pricing options available)
The latest version of this browser-based K-12 software allows students and teachers to share information and collaborate on projects in any curricular area. Users can contribute ideas as text, graphics, movies or attachments, and others can respond to the ideas by using features such as quoting, references, build-ons, co-authoring, annotations and publishing. The software also includes features such as multiple languages and improved search capacity, and it supports multiple curriculum applications.
Professional Development Workshops
www.digi-block.com, Workshops, $250 and up/teacher (plus materials cost)
These classroom instruction workshops for K-8 math teachers are tailored to meet individual district requirements as well as state and national standards. Topics include: Transitioning from Whole Numbers to Decimals; Moving from Manipulatives to Algorithms; Raising Test Scores; Algebraic Thinking; Focus on Special Needs; and Problem Solving Strategies in Standards-based Learning. Educators can personalize workshops to match preferences in three additional areas: standards, textbooks and tests.
Teaching Reading in Social Studies, Science and Math
www.scholastic.com, Book, $27.95
Educator and author Laura Robb shows how to apply the three-part learning model of preparation, self-monitoring and application and absorption to content teaching in grades 3 and up. The 384-page book features case studies of children's responses to the different techniques, and it offers ways to support students at their individual levels of understanding through multiple text use, small-group discussions and scaffolding. Included are actual stories from classrooms and real student and teacher voices.
Vocational Research Institute
CareerScope Release 6
www.vri.org, Software,$500 and up per license
The latest version of this career interest and aptitude assessment software features a five-minute multimedia introduction that gives students an understanding of the software's assessment process. The software measures general learning ability, verbal, numerical and spatial aptitude, form and clerical perception, and an interest inventory that corresponds to the U.S. Department of Labor Interest Areas. New career awareness activities can help students link their results to the educational planning process and the world of work. The Windows-based system's reports can be imported into word processing software for editing or comments. A series of reports can be generated to save time printing and collating.
For CareerScope Audio System users, an audio template can now be set as a default administration template. Metered System users can now transfer records between their local management system and an online account that can be established on the Web at www.careerscope.net.
Harvard Education Press
The 21st Century Principal: Current Issues in Leadership and Policy
gseweb.harvard.edu/hepg, Book, $19.95
This book explores the major issues confronting today's public school principals, including changes in immigration, technology and social policy, as well as the effects that changing standards and demands for accountability will have on their jobs. The challenges of the black/white achievement gap and the impact of privatization and choice on public schools are also examined. The 100-page book features discussion questions at the end of each chapter designed to facilitate conversations within schools and communities.
www.hwwilson.com, Internet, $250-$2,000, based on size of school (discounts available)
The newest version of the WilsonWeb electronic reference database features WilsonLink, an SFX-powered software that provides access to full-text articles in addition to other full-text references available in the database. The updated service gives administrators more control of user access to the WilsonWeb databases, as well as more in-depth evaluation on how they're being used. Librarians can set unique IP address ranges or user passwords for specific user groups, and they can track usage by standardized criteria.
9g and 9s calculators
www.hp.com, Hardware, 9g $39.95, 9s $14.99
Designed for the education market, these calculators are the first products launched as part of HP's plans to develop a range of Reverse Polish Notation and algebraic calculators.
The HP 9g graphing calculator is suitable for secondary school students to graph and solve problems. Among its features are a split screen for equations and graphing, metric conversions, varying system modes and a graphing key.
The HP 9s scientific calculator helps middle and secondary school students solve basic math- and science-related problems. It features six common metric conversions, decimal point selection, four basic operation modes and a one-touch button to edit statistics.
www.schoolmatch.com, Internet, $50 set-up fee, plus $10-$25 per report card/month
This new service gives teachers, administrators, parents and relocating families who visit a school or district Web site access to SchoolMatch Report Cards. The report cards rate K-12 districts using auditable data, including national percentiles, lists of school buildings and school community information, as well as information about extra-curricular, athletic and academic programs provided by the district. SchoolMatch has data on every school system in the country, so districts do not need to have retained SchoolMatch in order for their information to be included in its databases. A district may provide access to only its own report card, or to report cards from similar or neighboring districts, as well.
Minicom Advanced Systems
www.minicom.com, Software, $625-$1,500 per classroom (educational discounts available)
This software lets teachers darken or disable students' screens during lectures and broadcast one screen to others. Students can discreetly request help, and they can communicate using chat, two-way audio or messaging systems. The software's newest features include: voice-over IP, which gives the teacher a two-way duplex conversation with any student; a Web Cam that broadcasts images directly to students' screens; pairing, which allows teachers to pair random couples of students to work together; and the ability to transfer multimedia files, such as DVX, AVI and MPEG files, to student screens.
LV-5200 LCD Projector
www.usa.canon.com, Hardware, $2,499
This portable LCD projector features 1.5X motorized zoom, complete connectivity and quiet operation. Its short-throw distance allows for 100-projections at 10.4 feet, providing large-screen imagery in classrooms and other small rooms. The 1700 ANSI lumens projector also has a DVI-I terminal and analog input/output port that links to laptops, DVD players, VCRs, video game consoles and external monitors.
It can present content created on Canon DV camcorders and digital cameras.
A wireless remote is included.
Qwiz Online 2.1
www.qwiz.com, Internet, $30 per test
Districts can use this Web-based online assessment service to aid in their hiring processes. As an Application Service Provider, Qwiz stores scores and account data on its server.
One new test, Qwiz Factor 6, measures a job candidate's cognitive and personality competencies; ability to follow rules and policies; planning abilities; and emotional maturity. It also measures cognitive competencies, such as speed of learning and logical thinking. Another new test, Contact Center Scenario, simulates on-the-job scenarios to measure a candidate's skills in handling bilingual communication.
www.go.grolier.com, Internet, $415/year for schools of 300 or fewer students
Students with disabilities can use these versions of encyclopedia databases that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA-compliant version of the Encyclopedia Americana offers more than 45,000 articles for students in grades 8 and up. The New Book of Popular Science covers science, technology and medicine for grades 5 and up. Databases include limited use of graphic buttons for the visually impaired, text alternatives for graphic images for the visually impaired and measures to avoid page flickering that can affect people with photosensitive epilepsy.