Key in for Greater Productivity, Creativity
FileMaker Pro 6
www.filemaker.com, $299 (upgrade $149)
Getting hooked on Filemaker is easy. After all, the database software can be used by districts in any number of ways. And even a system crash doesn’t mean re-keying any information, since it’s automatically saved.
Assistive Technologist Susan Riden of Clovis (N.M.) Public Schools has been using the latest version, FileMaker Pro 6, since the beginning of this school year and the software itself for more than a decade. “It is a vital part of our everyday work,” she says. More than 30 separate databases currently run the district’s Special Education Web Program, allowing teachers to keep track of students and what they’re learning. Clovis also uses the software to record lunch counts, work orders and warehouse supplies. Riden adds that the databases are also tied into e-mail for the district.
Another seasoned user is Will Lucey, assistant principal and curriculum resource for North Star Academy, a magnet school in Redwood City, Calif. The school, for gifted students in grades 3-8, built a database of student interests to help in planning courses and matching students to existing courses.
One new feature in FileMaker Pro 6 is the ability to easily import large numbers of images from a folder into a database. In the Mac OS X version, users can even capture digital images and image-data directly from cameras.
With integrated XML import and export, users can now integrate and exchange data with many applications, without complex converting of data between formats.
To jumpstart creative solutions that benefit from data exchange and application integration, a new Web site has been created, www.filemaker.com/xml.
Version 6 also offers 20 new templates, some designed for education. Faculty Staff, for example, can help maintain data such as hire date, salary, department and grade. Also available are templates for field trips, student records and general administrative purposes.
In addition, FileMaker has unveiled a new professional training series for advanced users to optimize FileMaker Pro. Customizable courses may be held on-site or at a training facility.
KURZWEIL EDUCATIONAL SYSTEMS
Kurzweil 3000 Version 7
www.kurzweiledu.com, Single unit $349-$1,095, 5-student Lab packs $1,895-$2,695 (volume discounts available)
The latest version of this software for students with learning and visual disabilities allows teachers to selectively link classroom and standardized tests to a range of additional, customizable accommodations. These include writing and decoding tools such as annotations, voice notes, definitions, personalized toolbars and word prediction.
Among other new features, the software automatically resizes text fields for long or short answers to help students focus on the content of their responses. Answer blanks are highlighted by color and an audible pause, helping to ensure that students respond to all questions. To simplify note-taking, students can drag-and-drop froman image document directly into a waiting notes field or an external text document.
Global spell checking and a search-and-replace function for both text and images were also added. The software can automatically search multiple Web sites forelectronic text materials, including Bookshare.org, a site with more than 10,000 public domain and copyrighted books for people with reading-related disabilities.
Also new from Kurzweil is a professional development program designed to help districts integrate Kurzweil 3000 into the classroom. The on-site workshops for approximately 20 teachers cost $2,000 for a half-day or $2,500 for a full day.
WICKED GOOD SOFTWARE
www.wickedgoodsoftware.com, Software, $1,500 per module (demographics module is free), plus recommended $400 per system/year service contract
This school administrative application includes student demographics, attendance, health, grade reporting, teacher gradebooks, scheduling and discipline modules, which can be purchased as a complete system or separately to suit district needs. It can be run on a standalone computer, on an internal network or across the Internet, and it works on a variety of platforms, including Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac, Unix, and Linux.
With a promotion running through June 2003, districts can receive both demographics and attendance modules free with the purchase of a oneyear service contract.
www.dukane.com, Hardware, $7,995
This DLP projector is suitable for larger conference rooms or classrooms where the lights will be kept on. It is portable or can be mounted on the ceiling and has color-coded cables and connectors. Features include: 2500 lumen brightness; XGA resolution with resizing to SXGA; ethernet connections for projection control and management from a PC over the user’s existing network; remote with mouse/cursor control and laser pointer; 4 W stereo audio; and compatibility with all types of video, including digital HDTV.
MAUPIN HOUSE PUBLISHING
Marcia Freeman’s K-5 School-Wide Writing Program
www.maupinhouse.com, Video series, $3,500 per school
This program combines internationally known writing educator Marcia Freeman’s Target-Skill-based writing curriculum and instructional methodology with ongoing staff development. The 16-video resource delivers everything a school needs to manage a coordinated K-5 writing program emphasizing expository writing genres.
The package features a detailed curriculum of grade-appropriate activities, lessons and models. A separate workshop video covers techniques for teaching emergent writers in K-1. Ten videos cover the development of K-5 writing skills, and five classroom demonstration videos model writing instruction in actual elementary classrooms.
UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA YOUTH LEADERSHIP INITIATIVE
A More Perfect Union
www.virginia.edu, Software, Free
Students take on the role of campaign managers in the fictitious state of Franklin with this software that teaches about American government. Throughout the campaign simulation, students will learn about issues concerning the citizens of Franklin, schedule the candidate’s appearances, purchase polls and advertisements, listen to debates and try to defeat the political challenger on Election Day. Companion Internet-based projects are available, such as the e-Congress, which allows schools from across the country to share in a policy-making exercise. To obtain the software, which is aimed at all grade levels, educators must register a classroom or school at www.youthleadership.com.
Logitech io pen
www.logitech.com, Hardware, Starter kit $199
Teachers and administrators can use this personal digital pen to share, store, organize and retrieve their handwritten notes. An optical sensor embedded in the pen captures handwritten images on special digital paper and stores up to 40 pages in memory. Captured information can be transferred to a PC by syncing the pen via a USB cradle, and then notes can be exported to Microsoft Word, Adobe Illustrator and other applications, as well as calendar tools such as Microsoft Outlook and Lotus Notes.
The system starter kit includes the pen, a USB cradle, Logitech software, one digital notebook, Post-It Notes-Lite software, one Post-It Notes notebook, an AC adapter and five ink refills. Also available, from FranklinCovey, are iScribe Digital Planning Pages for use with the Logitech pen.
KLUWER ACADEMIC PUBLISHERS
The Second International Handbook of Mathematics Education
www.wkap.com, Book, $400
The latest installment of the Handbook is a follow-up to the 1996 edition. The book features changes and developments that have occurred in the field since then, and it is segmented into four sections: Political Dimensions of Mathematics Education; Responses in Mathematics Education to Technological Developments; Issues in Research in Mathematics Education; and Professional Practice in Mathematics Education.
HARCOURT INTERACTIVE TECHNOLOGY
www.iloli.com, Internet, $3,900 per school
This standards-based, online instructional reading assessment system provides instant feedback and immediate test results. It gives students in Grades 2-10 test practice, and teachers can measure student performance prior to state tests.
In a research study at a Florida elementary school, iloli’s reading diagnostic, prescriptive, and assessment capabilities helped increase the number of students who scored at high levels on the 2002 FCAT reading test by 10 percent over the prior year.
Tough Fronts: The Impact of Street Culture on Schooling
www.routledge-ny.com, Book, $22.95
Drawing on more than 70 interviews, the author offers street-savvy students’ own perspectives on the social incongruity between school culture and their nonmainstream culture. The book provides a detailed picture of at-risk students’ lives, both in classrooms and on the streets.
Virtual PC for Mac 6.0
www.connectix.com, Software, $129-$249 (depending on OS), $99 upgrade
Designed to make running Windows programs, accessing PC networks, using Windows-only Internet applications and sharing files with PC users simple for those with Mac’s, this software has been improved for greater productivity. Jaguar users will find an overall speed boost of up to 25 percent and have the ability to launch Windows applications directly from the Mac OS X dock. Both Mac OS X and OS 9 users get increased video RAM and automatic detection of USB printers with the software.
INTERNATIONAL READING ASSOCIATION
www.reading.org, Internet, Free
This online resource for teachers and students offers standards-based lesson plans, peer-reviewed Web resources and classroom-tested activities for teaching reading and language arts in K-8.
The lesson plans are written by teachers and developed from research-based journal articles and books. The site also provides links to instructional and student Web sites, as well as web-based student tools such as Venn diagrams, which are used to compare and contrast ideas. The site’s lessons align with national standards.
Intellimetric Version 8.0
www.vantage.com, Software, $36/year
The latest version of this automated electronic essay scoring engine incorporates new features for a 5 percent improvement in accuracy rates.
The software offers line-by-line student writing feedback on several dimensions of writing, as well as legitimacy detection, which provides assurance to educators that scores are based on legitimate submissions from students. The software can be trained to score essays using 200 sample papers.
Gardening in the Minefield
www.heinemann.com, Book, $21
Veteran teacher, principal and consultant Laurel Schmidt’s book offers school principals insight into tackling management issues. The book advises weeding out poor staff and hiring the best; nurturing productive relationships with parents, board members and staff; reducing stress; cultivating effective strategies for improving instruction; rooting out efforts to undermine principals’ leadership; and mastering the communication glut of voicemail, e-mail and in-boxes.
The Robin Williams Mac OS X Book: Jaguar Edition
www.peachpit.com, Book, $29.99
Those familiar with Robin Williams’ Little Mac Book will want to have this guide, which is updated for Mac OS X Jaguar and written in the same informative, jargon-free style.
Readers will learn how and why to take advantage of Mac’s multiple-user features, how to use iChat to communicate with others around the world, where all of the popular old features have gone, how to customize the Mac with the System Preferences and more.
The author doesn’t neglect the basics either. Readers will find logical, easy-to-follow sections on how to complete a variety of everyday tasks: printing, sending e-mail, exchanging files and surfing the Web.
ASPIRE LEARNING CORP.
www.aspire.com, Software, Building license $2,000-$3,600
The latest version of Aspire’s teaching, reporting, grading and communications software for K-12 offers new roup communications features and time-saving tools for teachers.
The features include: automatic recording of worksheets and quizzes into a teacher’s gradebook; attendance review for parents; and schoolwide personal or group calendars, providing one location for teachers, students and their families to check school-related schedules. The software also features message board posting for group, class or team discussions facilitated by a designated moderator.
School Safety Essentials
www.lrp.com, Books, $119.40 (plus $14.50 s/h), or $14.95 (plus $3.50 s/h) per book
Concerned educators can look to this 12-booklet series for advice on creating safe school environments for students and staff.
The booklets, which are written by experts in each safety area, are 40 to 57 pages long and provide educators with safety strategies on several topics, including: developing emergency operations plans; creating secure school safety zones; handling bomb threats; reuniting students and parents when a crisis hits; and reducing weapons in schools.
www.leapfrogschoolhouse.com, Hardware, Single unit $59, 6-platform set $330
This school-version of the Quantum Pad learning system is designed for students in Grades 3 and up. The system is an interactive, multi-sensory learning tool that assists students in
continuing reading, language arts and math. The Quantum Pad platform supports the library of interactive books offered by LeapFrog SchoolHouse for upper elementary students. This version is shipped with headphones so students can work independently, as well as one set of batteries and an AC adapter so teachers won’t have to replace batteries.
In other LeapFrog news, the Mac version of its LeapTrack Assessment and Instruction system is available and has been upgraded to include districtwide reporting for Windows customers.
www.schoolnet.com, Internet, $5 per student/year plus data integration fees
This Web-based instructional management system provides a unifying instructional platform for districts. It allows teachers and administrators to track standards mastery and instructional coverage, and the curriculum and instruction staff to align and disseminate state and local standards and curriculum. Weekly lessons can be submitted for approval, and units, lessons and standards are scheduled in the pacing calendar. The system is built upon a data warehouse with assessments, demographics, programs and grades for each student. This allows educators to analyze class strengths and weaknesses by each standard.
MERIDIAN CREATIVE GROUP
Staff Development Workshops
www.meridiancg.com, Workshops, $120-$135/teacher
These day-long workshops designed to improve confidence and classroom instruction for teachers of Grades 5-8. “Empower Your Teaching with Data-Driven Instruction,” taught by Larson software co-author Robyn Silbey, provides simulations and activities that incorporate the use of student data to assess students’ knowledge and to plan effective lessons. Fifth-grade math teacher Chris Triola’s “Measure Mints and Geometreats—Math Standards Done with Eats” workshop demonstrates how snack food can be used to help students more quickly grasp and retain mathematical concepts.
i-know Online Assessment System
www.ctb.com, Internet, $3/student for unlimited use in one content area; $9.25/student for unlimited use in all content areas
This Web-based assessment system helps teachers measure student skills by hosting the i-know family of online resources, the first of which are classroom reading and math tests for Grades 3-8. Teachers can use the system’s test or can build their own tests from item banks to match curriculum and state standards. The system also scores tests and provides a range of individual and class reports. Version 2.0 also includes a district-level report offering a summary of all tests administered in individual classes and schools, as well as other new features.
The i-know architecture is fully scalable and extensible, and provides compatibility across PC and Mac platforms. Language arts, science and social studies resources will be added this year.
The Little Digital Video Book
www.peachpitpress.com, Book, $19.99
Digital video expert Michael Rubin wants to empower others to tell stories via video and demystify filmmaking so anyone can create short movies in just a few hours. This book will give steps on how to gather shots and easily edit them into finished projects. All a reader needs is a digital video camera and a computer equipped with video-editing software to create videos. The book also outlines which camera features are needed and not; reveals simple editing techniques that yield professional results; and shows how to create a polished music video in less than a day.