District Administration Readers' Choice Top 100 Products
Sylvan Dell Publishing
$7.95 for one-year, one-title license
Sylvan Dell Publishing offers e-book versions of its 50 titles of picture books written to teach science and math to students through illustrated literature. Each e-book features auto-read and auto-flip capabilities, a choice of English or Spanish text and audio, and free teacher resources. www.sylvandellpublishing.com
"A great resource for literature and learning that holds the attention of students and provides a great way to utilize interactive whiteboards," Susan Bartle, library system director at the Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus (N.Y.) BOCES.
Optimum Solutions Corporation
The Educational Assessment Scoring Environment (EASE) System from Optimum Solutions Corporation is a newly developed on-site electronic scoring system that enables districts to score and input data from standardized tests directly into computers, streamlining state reporting and making scores immediately available to administrators. The EASE suite of seventeen applications is customizable to the needs of users and includes components such as Scoring Environment and Workflow Interface to manage every aspect of the scoring process. www.oscworld.com
Schoolwires, Contact Schoolwires for pricing Centricity2 provides tools for districts to create and manage Web sites and social media systems, integrate third-party applications, or develop software applications specific to their own needs. Additional functions enable the creation of podcasts, videocasts, online image galleries, parental notification systems and more. www.schoolwires.com
"Schoolwires has made a huge impact on student and parent communication in our district this year." Leslie Raffelson, technology director of the Plateau (Colo.) School District RE-5.
The Walt Disney Company, Free
Disney's Planet Challenge is a free annual project-based environmental competition for elementary and middle school students that provides lessons and materials for integrating the program into a science curriculum. Students identify an environmental issue in their local community and design a solution that they manage and document from start to finish, developing a portfolio that is then submitted to Disney's panel of experts, who award a variety of prizes to multiple winners, including the grand prize of a trip to Disneyland for the winning teacher and class. disney.go.com/planetchallenge
Contact SchoolFusion for pricing
SchoolFusion offers schools and districts a variety of tools to design a Web site that meets their needs in both classroom instruction and community engagement. Features include a sophisticated content management system, calendar tools, reporting and analytics capabilities, easy integration with existing gradebook or student information systems, e-mail newsletter creation and more. www.schoolfusion.com
"SchoolFusion is easy to use, and has been a fantastic communication tool for our district." Shaun Mueller, technology director at the Ellensburg (Wash.) School District
GOOGLE APPS EDUCATION EDITION
Google offers a suite of free online applications designed for education. These include the e-mail service Gmail, which offers 2GB of storage per account, and the instant messaging application Google Talk, as well as calendar, document sharing, and Web site design tools. All applications are fully Web-based and hosted by Google, requiring no hardware or software installation, maintenance or upgrades, and are developed to be easily customized and integrated into existing district technology infrastructures. www.google.com/apps
MOBILE LEARNING SOLUTIONS
GoKnow, Pricing varies
GoKnow's software is an application for smartphones and other mobile devices developed specifically for classroom use. The program enables teachers to create coordinated, curriculum-based learning opportunities using mobile devices. It includes a suite of creativity applications that allow students to compose, create, report, draw, animate, view grades, upload completed projects and more, all on their mobile devices. www.goknow.com
"GoKnow brought us mobile learning and helped us move into the 21st century." Kyle Menchoffer, technology coordinator for the St. Marys City (Ohio) Schools.
Apple, Starting at $499
Apple's popular new tablet computer is now being used in schools. The iPad is a 9.7-inch touchscreen device that enables users to surf the Web, read and write e-mail, view photos, listen to music, watch movies, read e-books, or use any of tens of thousands of applications, including hundreds of education programs, from reading and math to science and literature titles, and from publishers including Discovery Education, Pearson, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and many more. The iPad is available in 16GB, 32GB or 64GB configurations, and some models include a fast 3G wireless connection. www.apple.com
Netsupport, $49.35 per classroom (25 users)
Classroom management software Netsupport School enables teachers to efficiently manage student computers by instructing and interacting with students, monitoring application and Internet use, tracking language lab activity, restricting printer usage, handing out and collecting fi les and more. Additional tools facilitate remote IT support by administrators. www.netsupportschool.com
"NetSupport allows me to do remote user support from my desktop, and makes installs and file deployments much less tedious." Andy Truesdell, technology coordinator at the Clifton-Fine (N.Y.) Central School District.
Motorola, Pricing varies
Motorola offers a variety of products and services to provide secure, reliable wireless networks to school districts, including its 802.11n wireless LAN system and AirDefense Infrastructure Management tool, which helps administrators track the performance and efficiency of their networks. Motorola's solutions help create an "always-on" campus learning environment where students, teachers and staff can seamlessly access information, people, and learning communities anytime, inside and outside the classroom, from any device. www.motorola.com
STUDY ISLAND V4
Archipelago Learning, Starts at $3.00 per student
Study Island is an online platform that provides Web-based instructional content, practice, assessment and reporting matched to state standards in all grades and subject areas. New features in version 4 include a redesigned teacher dashboard, a new gaming interface, custom assessment designer, new high-school-level content including SAT, ACT and AP exam preparation, and a weekly campus report for administrators. www.studyisland.com
"Study Island allows me to work simultaneously with several students and target instruction, due to the data collection and analysis built into the program." Sue Umpleby, intervention specialist in the Bexley City (Ohio) Schools.
Scenario Learning, $5 per full-time employee annually
SafeSchools is an online safety training and tracking system specifically designed for school employees. Over 150 courses cover safety issues in topics including information technology, emergency management, special education, transportation and more. A compliance management system provides monitoring and tracking of employee training to administrators. www.safeschools.com
"SafeSchools provides an effective way to track training for all staff, including substitutes. It's the best HR decision we have made in years." Darryl Smith, director of human resources and operations at the Jefferson County (Ore.) School District 509J.
Epson, $1,799 through Brighter Futures program
This new interactive whiteboard system from Epson utilizes a new technology to detect touch. The ultra short- throw projector is able to detect the movement of the included stylus pen when it enters the light beam, eliminating the need for additional hardware to detect a user's movements, as in traditional interactive whiteboards, and adding interactivity to any surface. This model also uses a 3LCD chip projecting XGA or WXGA resolutions at 2,500 lumens of brightness. www.epson.com/brightlink
STUDENT INFORMATION SYSTEM
Tyler Technologies, Pricing varies
Tyler Technologies' Student Information System suite is a comprehensive, full-featured product for managing nearly every aspect of a school district. Features include an attendance tracker, sophisticated gradebook, discipline management module, testing and assessment data program, financial system, human resources module and many more. The online suite is continually enhanced by Tyler's "perpetual upgrade process," a steady stream of improvements made with minimal disruption to the user experience. www.tylertech.com
Blossom Learing, $95
Blossom Learning's online professional development course provides teacher training on making the best use of SMART interactive whiteboards. The host avatar, "Mrs. Blossom," guides users through the eight-chapter course, covering everything from the most basic operations to creating interactive and effective lessons using SMART's Notebook user software. www.blossomlearning.com
"The course is helpful and very easy to follow, plus the assessments help me figure out how much I know." Nancy Garvey, technology specialist in the Coppell (Texas) Independent School District.
EMPLOYEESAFE AND STUDENTWATCH SUITES
PublicSchoolWORKS, Contact PublicSchoolWORKS for pricing
PublicSchoolWORKS combines Web-based administrative tools, content and support to implement and maintain a district's staff and student health, safety compliance, and behavior management plans. EmployeeSafe includes courses, plans, procedures, checklists and other tools to train school employees. StudentWatch includes a behavior management system to address and report discipline issues, bullying incidents or accidents involving students. www.publicschoolworks.com
"These comprehensive modules have enabled us to streamline training and offer it on an anytime, anywhere basis." Kathe Monroe, director of human resources in the West Linn-Wilsonville (Ore.) School District.
Learning.com, $2 per student annually
Learning.com's Sky platform provides a centralized, single sign-on resource for teachers to access all the digital learning resources in their districts. Users can find and browse through curriculum resources by keyword, subject or standard, create interactive lessons, distribute and manage assignments and more with any of the digital online curriculum resources that their district uses. Reporting features enable administrators to see which digital resources are being used, and their effect on student achievement. www.learning.com/sky
Amazon, $139, $189 and $379
The Kindle is a wireless reading device and supporting software platform from online retailer Amazon. Users can purchase, download and store up to 3,500 electronic books on the Kindle, and choose from over 700,000 titles in the Amazon store or from over 1.8 million free, out-of-copyright titles, as well as read newspapers, magazines and blogs. Books download to the device in 60 seconds. It is available in Kindle Wi-Fi ($139) or Kindle Wi-Fi+3G ($189) models, each with a 6-inch screen, or as the larger Kindle DX ($379), which has a 9.7-inch screen. www.amazon.com/kindle
dataMetrics Software, Starts at $3 per student annually
TestWiz is DataMetrics' Web-based assessment and reporting tool, providing a central application from which administrators can conduct and track national, state and local tests, formative assessments and more. Data are stored securely and allow tracking and reporting over several years and across multiple assessments, and customizable tools enable disaggregation of results by a variety of subsets, including subtests, strands, cut scores or demographics. www.testwiz.com
"The comprehensive reporting allows teachers to modify instruction daily." Christine Gates, K12 assessment liaison in the Grand Blanc (Mich.) Schools.
Luidia's eBeam Edge is a portable, inexpensive option for turning almost any surface into an interactive whiteboard. The product uses a small receiver and stylus to enable annotation and control over projected images, by connecting with an existing classroom computer, projector and whiteboard or wall. The user software also includes a unique feature that allows educators to wirelessly upload their whiteboard lessons onto their students' Amazon Kindle electronic readers for later study. www.luidia.com
Lexia Learning, $9,350 for 10-user, three-year license
Lexia's Web-based reading program uses engaging activities to help K12 students acquire and improve reading skills, and provides a variety of tools to educators and administrators to assess and monitor progress at the classroom, school and district levels. It also includes an automatic placement tool, diagnostic screening test, and age-appropriate content divided into early reading, primary reading and older student modules. www.lexialearning.com
"We've had a 30 percent increase in English language proficiency scores for our ELLs in our first year using it." Jennifer Throndsen, ELL coordinator for the Matanuska-Susitna (Alaska) Borough School District.
TANDEM FOR SCHOOLS
Intand, $599 to $999 per school annually
Tandem for Schools provides a central online calendar for all district events, accessible by students, staff, parents and community members. Calendar updates automatically notify stakeholders via e-mail, text messages, calendar subscriptions or RSS feeds. Other tools include directions through Google Maps, privacy and permissions settings and a new facilities rental feature to organize the use of school facilities by outside groups. www.intand.com
"Tandem for Schools is a huge improvement over working with multiple district calendars." Janet Wodjenski, administrative assistant for the Coupeville (Wash.) School District.
PARTNERS IN LEARNING
Partners in Learning is a 10-year, $500 million initiative from Microsoft to help turn schools into 21st-century-learning communities, utilizing the company's many resources in partnership with educators, schools, districts, states and other organizations. Most famously, Microsoft designed Philadelphia's School of the Future through its Partners in Learning program and now offers educators a variety of strategies to replicate elements of the school in other districts, as well as professional development sessions, an online teacher community, 21st-century teaching techniques, Web seminars and more. www.microsoft.com/education
Promethean, Pricing varies
Promethean's ActivClassroom suite includes products such as student response systems, interactive whiteboards, document cameras, audio systems and more, all designed to integrate with one another. One such product is the new ActivBoard 387 Pro Mobile System (pictured), an interactive whiteboard on a wheeled stand. www.prometheanworld.com
"ActivClassroom tools have given ELL students a way to share and express themselves without worrying about their limited language abilities. And as their confidence increases, so do their test scores." Shannon Wentworth, instructional technology teacher in the Aurora (Colo.) Public Schools
Peoples Education, Pricing varies by state
K12 print and online publisher Peoples Education offers its Measuring Up materials aligned to 10 different state assessment exams, to be used as test preparation, incorporated into any curriculum, or as an intervention for a class, small groups or individuals. The complete program includes instructional worktexts and diagnostic practice tests, and Spanish editions of the worktext for reading in grades 2-4 and science in grade 5 are also available. www.peopleseducation.com
NEC has recently updated and replaced its popular NP-410 portable projector model with the new M260X. The unit features 2,600 lumens of brightness, XGA resolution, a 2,000:1 contrast ratio and optional wireless networking. Energy saving features include an eco mode for extended lamp life, a carbon savings meter, energy saving standby mode, quick startup and direct power off. www.necdisplay.com
"NEC projectors have been instrumental in allowing our teachers to use document cameras and integrated whiteboards in every subject area." Ruby O'Bryant, technology coordinator for the Thomasville City (Ala.) School District.
LEARNING PLANS ON DEMAND
International Learning Corporation, $1,500 to $3,500 per school annually
Learning Plans on Demand is a Web-based tool to enable differentiated instruction. Teachers select subject area, grade level, topic and learning objectives, and the program develops a custom assessment to determine a student's knowledge level, then provides an appropriate lesson plan with lists of necessary materials, worksheets, and detailed teaching techniques and strategies. www.learningplansondemand.com
"This program has helped us to look back up to four years, identify gaps in mastery of objectives, and address specific skills that students were missing." Edith Skipper, a principal in the Pender County (N.C.) Schools.
Tom Snyder Productions, $3,000 for 60 licenses
Math curriculum program Fraction Nation, from Tom Snyder Productions, focuses on delivering fluency in fractions and decimals through explicit instruction, extensive practice and ongoing assessment for grades 4-8. Sixty-four lessons of 15 minutes each guide students to fluency, while actionable reports aid administrators in monitoring progress and student placement. Additional educator support resources include a comprehensive teacher's guide for facilitating every aspect of the program. www.tomsnyder.com/fractionnation
LG, Contact LG for pricing
LG's new Network Monitor system is a virtual desktop computing solution, allowing one PC to be shared by up to 11 students or staff members without reducing performance or negatively impacting the user experience. Virtualization costs less than buying individual PCs, reduces energy use and the amount of noise produced and lowers costs of ownership and ongoing maintenance. LG also has an N+ system, a virtualization solution that expands the capability to up to 31 users from a single machine, from anywhere in the building. networkmonitor.lge.com
Blackboard, Pricing varies
Mass notification systems developer AlertNow was acquired by Blackboard this year, but it lives on as a service of Blackboard Connect, a notification product. The Web-based solution enables administrators to send out voice messages, e-mails and text messages immediately to thousands of parents and students, from routine announcements to emergency alerts. www.alertnow.com
"Using AlertNow to notify parents of student absences instead of calling them has saved our student records clerks as much as two hours per day." Terri Camp, a software specialist in the Union County (S.C.) School District.
WORKFORCE MOBILE SCHEDULER
Contact Kronos for pricing
Kronos provides a variety of applications for streamlining corporate workforce management, as well as that of school district employees. Its Workforce Mobile Scheduler is designed to help administrators create and manage schedules, control labor costs, anticipate staffing needs and quickly and efficiently deal with unexpected absences by automatically sending text or voice messages to substitute teachers to alert them of a staffing need. Kronos also offers a range of complementary staffing programs including payroll, human resources and performance analysis applications. www.kronos.com
Polar, Contact Polar for pricing
Polar's new Polar Active is a wrist-worn training computer that allows students to measure and record their physical activity level throughout the day. The product provides a continuous, 24/7 measurement of daily activities, including calories burned, active steps and time spent in each activity zone. Online tools available at PolarGoFit.com enable students and physical education teachers to monitor and track progress. www.polarusa.com
"Having the ability to collect data related to individuals' exercise habits allows us to impact student health as never before." Rick Schupbach, co-director of the PE4life Academy in the Grundy Center Community (Iowa) School District.
Student Stats is a comprehensive product for delivering assessment results across a district, from online education application developer OnCourse Systems. Administrators use the application to upload data such as demographics or test results, create custom reports and instantly send them to teachers or other administrators, identify at-risk students, and monitor progress and performance at the student, school and district levels. As a completely Web-based, subscription product, Student Stats requires no installation or ongoing maintenance. www.oncoursesystems.com
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt $18.95 for one-year student edition/practice book bundle
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's Go Math! K6 textbook series—first piloted in Florida last year—is the first textbook series made of 100 percent recycled material, receiving the publishing industry's "Green Edition" seal for environmental stewardship. Students can record their strategies, explanations, solutions, practice and test preparation in the accompanying workbooks, and a variety of digital multimedia teaching resources are available online to complement coursework on a PC or interactive whiteboard. www.hmhco.com
K12 Inc., Pricing varies
The foreign language coursework of online learning provider K12, powerspeaK12 is designed for grades 3-12 and includes a variety of pedagogically refined games, simple narratives, and regular writing and speaking challenges to reinforce language instruction. Courses are available in Spanish, French, German, Latin and Chinese, and instruction includes vocabulary, grammar, culture lessons, an ongoing adventure story for illustration, interactive activities, multimedia presentations and regular assessments to measure progress. www.k12.com
Ident-A-Kid's Complete Campus Security System (CCSS) is a free visitor management and check-in program for schools. CCSS stores all visitor information in a database for recordkeeping, and prints custom name badges for all visitors to wear. A student module records tardy or early dismissal students. www.ident-a-kid.com
"This program allows us to monitor who is in the building, how long they have been there and why, and is part of the reason our school has won three safety awards from our Alabama district attorney." Kenny Clay, an assistant principal in the Blount County (Ala.) Schools.
Tech4Learning, Pricing varies
Pixie is a multimedia software program for K5 students, who can use painting, text, clip art, voice recording and standards-based curriculum activities to create online digital storybooks, audio or video podcasts, and Flash animations in a variety of content areas. Students can print or share their creations online, graphic organizer templates enable the tools to be used across the curriculum, and all content can be viewed in Spanish. www.tech4learning.com/pixie
"Because of the array of tools in Pixie, it has replaced two programs used in our computer labs, making it easier to work with our tightened budget." Fred Koch, K4 technology coach in the Lake Forest (Ill.) School District 67.
ELMO USA, $845 alone, $1,640 or $1,740 in a Doc-Tor bundle
ELMO's TT-02RX includes several features of higher-end models but at an entry-level price. A Sony 1.39-megapixel camera captures video at 30 frames per second and offers image capture at a choice of resolutions: XGA, SXGA or WXGA. The control arm can be rotated to place the camera on the eyepiece of a microscope, and a remote control is included. ELMO also now offers this model as part of its new Doc-Tor (short for "document camera and projector") value package, bundled with either the company's new CRP-22 or CRP-26 projectors. www.elmousa.com
WEEKLY READER CONNECT
Contact Weekly Reader for pricing
The new Web-based Weekly Reader Connect combines the cross-curricular, timely nonfiction content matched to K6 reading levels found in the print magazine with video clips, audio, slide shows, text-to- speech read-aloud content, pop-up dictionaries and more. www.wrconnect.com
"Weekly Reader provides economical yet informative and entertaining reading to my district's English language learners." Lynne Ewing, ESOL program director in the Queen Anne's County (Md.) Public Schools.
Dymo Mimio ITT, $799
Dymo Mimio ITT (formerly mimio) has updated and improved upon its successful Interactive Xi interactive whiteboard system with the new MimioTeach, a product that adds interactive capabilities to an existing wall or whiteboard. MimioTeach mounts to a board magnetically, connects to a PC wirelessly using a USB hub, and uses a wireless rechargeable stylus pen for operation. Setup is further streamlined with a quick automatic calibration feature included in the MimioStudio user software. www.mimio.dymo.com
CTB/McGraw-Hill, Starts at $9.50 per student
Acuity is an online assessment designed to help teachers gauge student performance and deliver targeted classroom instruction. In addition to diagnostic and predictive assessments with immediate scoring and reporting, the program provides additional instructional resources such as extra practice and homework. www.ctb.com
"Our teachers are constantly using data from the Acuity assessment to make important instructional decisions." Mike Kimbrel, director of research, evaluation and assessment in the Park Hill (Mo.) School District.
Automated Logic Corporation, Pricing varies
Automated Logic's EnergyReports application enables facility managers or administrators to create a wide variety of reports about building energy use. Dynamic and animated color graphs illustrate energy consumption or demand over different time periods to allow for easy comparison. The program also allows users to normalize consumption data, convert data to cost or carbon dioxide emissions, and change engineering units on the fly, enabling them to minimize energy consumption, maximize comfort and achieve sustainable building operations. www.automatedlogic.com
General ASP, Pricing varies
AppliTrack is an all-in-one software solution for streamlining and managing a school district's hiring process. It includes custom tools to recruit qualified candidates through online advertising and e-mail campaigns, assess job applicants with detailed and specific questions, track applicants and generate progress reports, and manage the interview and hiring recommendation process. www.generalasp.com
"Having applications available online has assisted many applicants in applying to jobs while they are still in college in another state." Tammi Millar, communications coordinator for the Toms River (N.J.) Regional Schools.
Advanced Technology, Pricing varies
SubFinder is a fully automated employee absence management and substitute placement system for school districts. The program is designed to integrate with and streamline human resource and payroll systems, as well as improve the efficiency of absence reporting for employees, substitute placement for administrators, and schedule management for substitutes. SubFinder provides fully configurable settings, options and functions to meet the specific needs of districts, and it is accessible by phone or online. www.crsadvancedtechnology.com
eBOARDsolutions, Pricing varies
eBOARD is an online governance program designed to streamline communications and data storage for school boards and communities. Modules provide tools for managing and tracking a strategic plan, making meetings more efficient, enhancing the evaluation process, publishing policies publicly, managing communications, and storing documents online. www.eboardsolutions.com
"eBOARD provides the information, technology and data our members need, in the way they want it. Data are easier to manage and board meetings are paperless and smooth." Denise Berkhalter, director of public relations for the Alabama Association of School Boards.
CORE K12, Pricing varies
Seedplay.com provides a safe and secure way for middle and high school students to raise money for projects online. Students conceive an entrepreneurial project to improve their school or community and then use Seedplay's online planning, budgeting and social networking tools to attract fans, "microfunders" and advisors from their extended communities, who can then follow the students on subsequent projects. The experience also helps students build valuable personal networks and connections that could be useful in the future. www.seedplay.com
PERPETUAL ONE-TO-ONE INITIATIVE
CDI, Pricing varies
Certified refurbished computer provider CDI has created this program for K12 schools and districts to help them maintain an ongoing lifecycle for their computers. Customers who sign up for CDI's Perpetual One-To-One Initiative make an initial purchase of refurbished desktop or laptop computers—at a significant cost savings over buying new—and CDI delivers the units, provides ongoing support, and eventually removes and replaces them with newer refurbished units. Schools can continue this cycle indefinitely with a steady scheduled payment stream. www.cdicomputers.com
Apangea Learning, Pricing varies
Apangea Math is a Web-based program that provides one-to-one differentiated math instruction aligned to state standards by combining virtual tutor technology and live certified teachers online. Ongoing formative assessments and quizzes monitor student work and help adjust their individual learning paths. www.apangea.com
"54 percent of our students who previously failed the state math assessment were able to pass after working with Apangea Math in a computer lab on a daily basis." Nate Carman, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction in the Pine Tree (Texas) Independent School District.
StarrMatica, Starts at $900 per school annually
StarrMatica provides a variety of online resources to help teachers create multimedia lessons in reading and math for grades K-6, particularly using interactive whiteboards. These include over 3,800 virtual manipulatives, animations, activities, games and assessments, and a search engine to narrow content by grade, topic, state standard, common core standard or textbook curricula. www.starrmatica.com
"These teaching materials made a tremendous difference in our use of interactive whiteboards, and the reinforcement/practice lessons are used by students in our computer lab." Nancy Buikema, K8 learning resource center media director in the River Bend Community (Ill.) Unit District #2.
Moodle is a free open-source learning management system, enabling educators to create dynamic online sites for conducting online learning or supplementing face-to-face instruction. Activity modules also allow the creation of wikis, databases and forums to foster collaborative learning communities. The product has recently been enhanced by the new Microsoft Office Add-In, a feature that enables teachers to find, open and save Office documents housed in Moodle, and allows documents stored in Moodle to be quickly opened from Office. moodle.org
RM Education, Starting at $1,997
RM's Math Player is an instructional software program specially designed for interactive whiteboards and slates, and in middle school or high school editions to cover grades 6-12. Over 4,000 interactive lessons and activities, printable follow-up assignments, and partnerships with Geometer's Sketchpad and Wolfram's Mathematica provide a wide variety of interactive and engaging math content. www.rmeducation.com
"RM Math Player has opened up numerous resources for our teachers, giving them the ability to bring difficult concepts into clear focus." Michael Purdy, director of technology at the Hanover (Mass.) Public Schools.
PLATO Learning, Pricing varies
Curriculum publisher PLATO Learning has added content to its existing online courses and expanded into AP coursework for the first time. New course platform features allow for greater collaboration between students and teachers through enhancements including a digital drop box and threaded discussions. Revamped biology and chemistry semester-long courses feature updates in science education such as inquiry science activities, labs and online simulations. New AP Edition courses from PLATO include AP Biology, AP English Literature and AP Calculus, each of which lasts two semesters. www.plato.com
School Improvement Network, $3,000 per site
PD 360 is a Web-based, on-demand professional learning solution from School Improvement Network. The product includes nearly 1,000 video segments presenting real classroom examples of research-based teaching techniques, strategies and insights from respected researchers on a wide variety of topics, and also provides follow-up, tracking, reflection tools and an online community. www.schoolimprovement.com
"The professional development provided by PD 360 is what we needed to bring best practices to our work." Shari Huene-Johnson, coordinator of leadership development programs in the Collier County (Fla.) Public Schools.
Hitachi's CP-A200 is an upgraded version of its base ultra-short-throw projector model, providing a brighter image at 3,000 lumens. The design of this projector allows it to project a 60-inch image from just 18.5 inches away, making it ideal for interactive whiteboards or for general projection use in classrooms, where adequate distance away from a screen is often limited. The CP-A200 projects at XGA (1024x768) resolution and with a contrast ratio of 500:1, and it utilizes Hitachi's Perfect Fit image-adjustment technology to ensure clear display. www.hitachi-america.us
Emerald Data Solutions, Starting at $2,700 annually
Emerald Data Solutions' BoardDocs is an online governance and document management program designed to help school boards organize and store information from meetings and make it available online to the public or school community. It is available in a Pro or a more affordable LT version, and is newly compatible with the Apple iPad. www.boarddocs.com
"BoardDocs has created greater transparency with our community. Our board members can view the information easily, and all of our agenda items are archived and searchable." Kristy Rodri, executive assistant to the superintendent and board of education in the Durango (Colo.) School District 9-R.
A+NYWHERE LEARNING SYSTEM
American Education Corporation, Pricing varies
The A+nywhere Learning System is a comprehensive collection of K12 online courseware from curriculum publisher American Education Corporation. The program follows AEC's four-step strategy for guiding school improvement efforts: assess, prescribe, instruct and report. The system contains over 5,400 lessons and over 200,000 content pages of research- and objective-based, problem-solving courses in content areas including math, language arts, science and many more, as well as assessment, alignment and curriculum management tools for administrators. www.amered.com
Wyse Technology, $379
Thin- and zero-client computing company Wyse provides low cost, low-maintenance alternatives to traditional computing for schools. Users connect a monitor, keyboard and mouse to a model such as the V10L, which has a processor but does not store any data, so it is faster to operate, as well as more secure and more energy efficient. Data and software are instead installed on and accessed from a central server. www.wyse.com
"I replaced PCs with chronic maintenance issues with 600 Wyse V10L thin clients, saving our district money on hardware and maintenance. There is no way I could maintain 600 PCs by myself." Willie Marlin, network and student data technician for the Byron Union (Calif.) School District.
Scholastic, Contact Scholastic for pricing
Scholastic's new Read 180 is a reading intervention program for students in grades 3-12, as well as special education and ELL students. It enables differentiated instruction through adaptive and instructional software technology; printed literature; direct instruction in reading, writing and vocabulary skills; and professional development. Read 180 also makes use of the publisher's Scholastic Achievement Manager application, which provides tools for administrators by collecting and organizing districtwide student performance data. www.scholastic.com
Orbit Software, Pricing varies
BusBoss is a comprehensive student transportation routing and scheduling program from Orbit Software. Developers convert all of a district's student, school and district boundaries, as well as driver, vehicle, bus stop, address and routing information, into a database and preload it into the software. This allows administrators to use the program to more efficiently plan routes, assign bus stops, track student incidents, schedule school transportation calendars and more. BusBoss is available in Express, Professional, Enterprise or Software-as-a-Service editions. www.busboss.com
SMART Technologies, $4,299
The SMART 685ix interactive whiteboard includes an ultra-short-throw projector that can project images from just 12 inches away and at a 16:10 aspect ratio, which provides a 20 percent larger viewing and working area than standard aspect ratio. This model also includes a multimedia control panel for connecting and controlling additional devices, such as speakers, DVD players, document cameras and more. www.smarttech.com
"SMART's user software, Notebook, is the best part. My students and I use it daily to create math stories and record the stories as movies." Lani Black, a teacher in the Naches Valley (Wash.) School District.
NEW TEACHER PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT KIT
Just ASK Publications and Professional Development, $795
The New Teacher Professional Development Kit is one of a number of resources from education publisher and consultant firm Just ASK. Intended for teachers with less than three years of experience, the kit focuses on connecting theories and concepts learned in college with the realities of the teaching profession, and on building a positive and productive learning environment. www.justaskpublications.com
"This kit has been invaluable as a tool for our new teacher induction process. Our retention rate has significantly improved." Linda McGinley, assistant superintendent for instruction in the West Irondequoit (N.Y.) Central School District.
Discovery Education, $2,570 per K-8 building, $3,095 per 9-12 building
Discovery Education's streaming Plus is an online resource featuring some 9,000 full-length videos segmented into 71,000 content-specific clips tied directly to state and national standards, as well as thousands of images, audio clips and encyclopedia articles. Students can choose from skill-building activities and educational games based on video content to reinforce concepts. Over 150 educational publishers such as PBS and Reading Rainbow contribute content, and teacher tools include hundreds of lesson plans, an assignment builder, a quiz center and a writing prompt generator. www.discoveryeducation.com
Certiport, Pricing varies
Certiport provides IT certification and training for a wide variety of digital skills. These include the company's Internet and Computing Core Certification, Microsoft Office Specialist certification, and Adobe Certified Associate programs. Certiport also partnered with Educational Testing Service to create iCritical Thinking, an assessment of critical- thinking and problem-solving skills.
"Students involved in obtaining these IT credentials have remarkably higher than average standardized test scores and higher graduation rates." Denise Spence, a technology magnet school teacher in the Lee County (Fla.) Public Schools.
BrainPOP, Pricing varies
BrainPOP provides animated curriculum resources including movies, quizzes, experiments, timelines and activity pages covering topics within math, science, social studies, English, technology, arts, music and health. Special editions include BrainPOP Jr. for grades K-3, BrainPOP Espanol and BrainPOP ESL. An online teacher community features free lesson plans, video tutorials, professional development tools, graphic organizers, best practices and other strategies to make the best use of the site's content. www.brainpop.com
Herff Jones/Nystrom, Starts at $309 for a five-year license
Social studies publisher Herff Jones/Nystrom has taken advantage of Google Earth technology to create StrataLogica, a program that makes its famous globes, maps, atlases and charts engaging and interactive. Completely Web-based, StrataLogica enables users to zoom down from a globe view to cities and terrain in 3D, display simultaneous maps to contrast history with current events, and mark and annotate with text or video to create custom maps. www.stratalogica.com
"StrataLogica makes history and geography really 'pop' for our students."
Brainchild, $3,995 for a 10-pack with 20 cartridges
Brainchild's Study Buddy handheld is a self-paced, differentiated instruction and cooperative learning device for mathematics, language arts and science in grades K-8. Content is supplied by a cartridge, which holds up to 25 lessons, 1,000 activities and a 10-question quiz for each content area. All content is aligned to individual state standards, audio is provided through a speaker or headphones, and Spanish and Haitian Creole versions are available. www.brainchild.com
Knowledge Delivery Systems, Pricing varies
Knowledge Delivery Systems delivers online professional development to teachers, districts and states using video lectures from renowned experts, interactive discussion forums, reflective journals, study guides and more. A built-in learning management system provides user tracking, assessment and comprehensive reporting. www.kdsi.org"The courses allowed us to provide a differentiated experience for our new teacher induction program. Teachers have options on which course to choose, depending on their interest or need."
Linda Leib, a principal in the Downingtown Area (Pa.) School District.
Pearson, Equal to $45 per student with perpetual site license
Pearson recently released version 3 of its K8 one-on-one personalized reading and math program intended to supplement core instruction. SuccessMaker includes a new initial reading skills assessment for K2 students, as well as practice activities, games and multimedia lessons for each subject area. A new Web-based delivery option provides student access from anywhere via a standard browser, and a new SuccessMaker Collaborate feature makes content available for small group or whole class learning with an interactive whiteboard. www.pearsonschool.com
LABQUEST, LAB PRO
Vernier provides a variety of science instructional hardware and software, including its flagship product for schools, LabQuest. This durable, rechargeable, touchscreen data collection device can be used alone in the lab, interfaced with computers or alone in the field, and is available in packages with a variety of sensors and tailored to distinct subject areas. www.vernier.com "The accompanying Lab Pro software program is very intuitive to use and flexible enough that it can be used in various science disciplines as well as in the math and engineering fields."
MIND Research, Pricing varies
ST Math is a group of products from neuroscience and education-research-based nonprofit organization MIND Research. The program focuses on engaging students' spatial-temporal reasoning capabilities to explain and help them understand and solve multistep math problems. It is available in K-5, Fluency, and Math+Music modules, as well as a Secondary Intervention unit, which builds upon the visual-foundational approach of the elementary programs for struggling students or as a complement to curriculum. www.mindinstitute.net
Digital Directions International, Pricing varies
Digital Directions' HELP Math is an online intervention for English language learners and special education students in grades 3-8. The program provides over 200 hours of standards aligned instruction in multimedia lessons, builds background knowledge and develops students' vocabulary, and gives teachers grade-level and adaptive assessments, as well as progress monitoring and reporting. www.helpprogram.net
"HELP Math has given us a great way of meeting the needs of those of our students who have fallen many grades behind. It also helps teachers who are struggling to provide interventions."
CREATIVE SUITE 5
Adobe, Pricing varies, education discounts available
The latest version of Adobe's massive collection of creative software is available in special editions for education and at discounted prices. Creative Suite 5 includes upgraded versions of Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, InDesign and more to enable educators and students to design and create engaging, professional content across print, Web, video, audio and mobile device platforms. Resources for educators include free standards-aligned curricula, professional development workshops and Adobe certification programs. www.adobe.com
ClassLink, $9 per student for first year, $5 per student each subsequent year
ClassLink's LaunchPad program provides a central point of access for all software applications from any computing device, in school or at home. Teachers can use a calendar feature to plan classes and a printer manager to control access and limit printing. Interactivity tools allow teachers to collaborate with students via chat, to send files or to take control of screens. www.classlink.com
"With this solution we are able to repurpose older legacy desktops, and we have all but eliminated the constant repairs and fixes to operating systems caused by student modification."
SchoolTube is a free online video hosting and sharing resource exclusively for K12 students, teachers and school communities. All videos are produced by students and approved by moderators to ensure appropriateness before posting. Students can explore topics such as academic subjects, sports, news and current events, and teachers can integrate relevant videos into classroom curricula. Administrators can also use the site to communicate school news and events with parents and the community. www.schooltube.com
FLIP VIDEO CAMERAS
Cisco Systems, $179-$279
Flip Video, recently acquired by telecommunications giant Cisco, makes inexpensive digital camcorders popular with schools. The $149 UltraHD shoots in 720p resolution, includes a choice of 4GB or 8GB of storage, and has image stabilization and 2X digital zoom. The $179 MinoHD has similar features to the UltraHD but in a smaller, sleeker unit and with rechargeable batteries. The $279 SlideHD boasts 16GB of memory and a larger 3-inch widescreen display. Users can customize the look of their camera by choosing from thousands of designs or by uploading their own image. www.theflip.com
DOGONews is a free online newspaper and Web guide for elementary and middle school students, providing short articles about current events with photos, videos, a dictionary for challenging words, and maps for geographical context. Teachers can create a custom online newspaper for their students by choosing articles and Web sites based on content area. Students can post news or discuss articles with other users in a safe, education-focused environment. www.dogonews.com
"The stories always grab students' attention, are written at their level, and incorporate images and video that assist with their comprehension."
Verizon Foundation, Free
The Verizon Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the telecommunications giant, with education as one of its main areas of activism. The foundation's Thinkfinity Web site features free curriculum resources for teachers, librarians, students and parents created by education and literacy organizations. These resources include thousands of K12 lesson plans, video, audio, worksheets, links to high-quality Web sites in a wide variety of content areas and professional development Web seminars. www.thinkfinity.org
Serif, Starts at $2,400 for 50-user license
Serif's fl agship Design Suite is a software collection that includes photography program PhotoPlus, graphic design program DrawPlus, crafting program Digital Scrapbook Artist, Web site design program WebPlus, desktop publishing program PagePlus, and video editing program MoviePlus. Comprehensive teacher resources help guide the integration of this creative software into K12 curriculum. www.serif.com
"Using Serif, we've seen elementary students with special needs instantly enthusiastic about creative design projects."
Job searches free, prices vary for other services
SchoolSpring is a job search Web site exclusively for educators. The company aggregates school job postings from around the country, allowing teachers to search for jobs by location, category, grade or type for free, administrators to search for executive level positions, and district employers to recruit for open positions through single or unlimited postings for a small fee. A variety of services facilitate every aspect of district recruiting, including job postings, interview schedules, applicant evaluations and job offers. www.schoolspring.com
PBS, Courses start at $199
PBS TeacherLine provides online professional development coursework for preK-12 educators. More than 130 graduate- level, facilitated courses in multiple subject areas are available, as well as collaborative learning communities with educators around the country and Peer Connection, a resource for instructional coaches to communicate strategies and share tools with teachers. www.pbs.org/teacherline
"These online courses are full of teaching strategies that can be used directly in the classroom, providing immediate results."
BrighterLogix, Pricing varies
SideKick is a Web-based lesson-plan program from developer BrighterLogix. Teachers use the product to create detailed lesson plans, align them to state standards, color code by any criteria, and submit them to administrators for review. It also includes an interactive calendar, search functions and summary reporting tools. www.sidekickplanner.com
"SideKick allows us to determine the best time to address skills with students, identify areas in which teachers might need professional development and foster positive collaboration among teachers."
MINI 100E EDUCATION EDITION
Hewlett-Packard, Under $300 (varies based on quantity)
HP's new mini-netbook is designed for students, with features like Microsoft Office 2010 installed, a spill-resistant keyboard that is 92 percent of full size and a 10.1-inch LED backlit display, all in a durable design that weighs just 3.19 pounds. An Intel Atom N455 processor runs cool, uses little power and extends battery life; an integrated webcam fosters online learning; and an integrated carry handle adds to the mobility of this student-centered netbook PC. www.hp.com
DESTINY RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
Follett Software, Pricing varies
Follett's Destiny software enables administrators to monitor crucial information, including status and location, of all the resources in their school systems, from textbooks to laptops and other technology. The browser-based platform requires no site-based installation and is available as a complete system or in specific Library, Textbook or Asset Manager modules. www.follettsoftware.com
"The data clearly showed that after using Destiny along with coordinated efforts by the district, individual schools and textbook clerks have cut our textbook losses by more than half."
K12 APPS LIBRARY RESERVATION SYSTEM
Verfirm, $699 (without hosting) or $999 (hosted) annually
Verfirm's application provides a central location for schools to manage room reservations in libraries. It enables all faculty and staff to view library reservations, uses an automatic conflict detection feature to prevent simultaneous booking, and includes tools to measure library attendance and create annual reports. www.verfirm.com
"Verfirm has revolutionized our library system. Instead of recording by hand, the reservation system does it for us, produces Excel sheets filled with data and generates charts for quarterly and annual reports."
K-12 PROGRESS MONITORING BUNDLE
Turning Technologies, $1,999
Turning Technologies recently released this value bundle to streamline the implementation of their student response and assessment products. The bundle includes six prepackaged assessments in core subject areas, the new TurningPoint RF student response system, professional development tools, and a one-year subscription to the Progress Monitoring Module, a comprehensive Web-based data analysis program. The response system includes TurningPoint user software, 32 clickers, an RF receiver and a subscription to an online, standards-aligned question bank. www.turningtechnologies.com
VISUAL LEARNING TOOLS
Variquest, $2,995 to $5,995
Variquest's line of visual learning technology, which includes its Poster Maker, Awards Maker and Cutout Maker, enables educators to design and create plaques and awards, laminated posters and classroom manipulatives. A central touchscreen Design Center device controls all Variquest products, and its user software includes more than 1,300 curriculum-based templates and over 2,800 graphics. The system also allows for easy uploading of school graphics, mascots, student photos and more. www.variquest.com
Qwizdom, Starting at $2,045 for 24-remote set
The Q6 is the latest student-response system from Qwizdom. Each remote includes a large LCD display with 127-character input, a familiar keypad design similar to that of a cell phone, and has a 100-meter range. Each host can support up to 1,000 remotes. The user software integrates with PowerPoint and Keynote, and each remote is durability tested to withstand the rigors of classroom use. www.qwizdom.com.
"Q6 remotes allow me to instantly assess students and determine the next steps within a lecture, problem set or assessment."
SAFARI Montage, Pricing varies
The SAFARI Montage video-on-demand solution for schools comes preloaded with educational content from publishers and sources such as PBS, National Geographic, The History Channel, Disney and many more. The product also allows districts to upload their own video content at the district level and distribute it to classroom teachers throughout the school system. www.safarimontage.com
"SAFARI Montage transformed the way educational services and information are delivered. All of our digital media are now tied to the state curriculum."
Spectrum K12, $7.50 per student
Spectrum K12's EXCEED Student Management Suite is a Webbased platform for managing, administering and prescribing the personalized learning process of special or general education students. The suite includes Response-to-Intervention and individual education plan (IEP) modules, and it consolidates student information into one platform to enable teachers and administrators to plan day-today activities, manage interventions and monitor progress at the student, class, grade, group or district level. www.spectrumk12.com
TreeRing, Pricing varies
TreeRing is an online program that allows students to personalize their own yearbooks. It provides districts with a more affordable option by not charging upfront fees or requiring a minimum purchase. Schools design and create a core yearbook, while students and parents log in to the TreeRing Web site to add their own personalized pages and purchase them online. www.treering.com
"Our 62-year-old school is scheduled to be demolished, and we were able to truly commemorate our last year with this innovative product."
MEASURES OF ACADEMIC PROGRESS (MAP)
Northwest Evaluation Association, Pricing varies
The NWEA's Measures of Academic Progress is a computerized adaptive assessment, available in three content area modules—a reading, math and language unit, a science unit— or a unit for primary grades. The assessments dynamically adjust as a student answers questions, are aligned to state and national standards, scoring is immediately available to teachers, and MAP users also have access to a variety of professional development resources from the NWEA. www.nwea.org
"The MAP assessment has been a monumental norm-referenced growth measure for our district."
Renaissance Learning, $2,899 plus annual per-student fee
Accelerated Reader is a K12 reading software program from Renaissance Learning. Students select a book at their own reading level and read at their own pace, and teachers choose from a bank of over 140,000 quizzes to assess reading and vocabulary progress. All data is stored in a central Web-based location accessible to everyone in the district. A Renaissance Home Connect application increases parental involvement by enabling students and parents to log in from home and view the number of books and words read and the number of quizzes passed. www.renlearn.com
RoomPro ONE is an all-in-one integrated classroom audiovisual system that includes a wireless infrared microphone system, four speakers, an amplifier, a switcher and projector mount, all in an enclosure that fits into a standard ceiling tile opening. It also includes a wallmounted control panel as well as a virtual control panel application so teachers can control devices from a PC, wireless tablet or interactive whiteboard. www.roomprotech.com
"Because of the RoomPro system, our students are more tuned in, because they can clearly see and hear lessons."
Vertex Standard Contact Vertex Standard for pricing
Vertex Standard's VX-350 Series of portable two way radios have many features useful in a school setting. These include a compact and easy-to-carry size, extended battery life of up to 15.5 hours, an alarm to alert users when they have moved out of range, an emergency alert function that transmits the user ID and live audio to a designated emergency channel when activated and remote disabling capabilities for use in the event a radio is lost or stolen. This series offers 16 channels of capacity, programmable keys and an option of an 8-character alphanumeric display. www.vertexstandard.com
Tangent, $6,190 to $49,990
Tangent's DataCove is an e-mail archiving server that can be used in virtually any type of school district network. The appliance archives all incoming, outgoing and internal e-mails, offers advanced search capabilities, and is available in a number of configurations with choices of between 500GB and 8TB of storage. www.datacove.net
"Tangent's DataCove has not only allowed us to be compliant with state and federal mandates, but it does so seamlessly and hassle free. The cost was also well within our very tight budget."
IN2100 SERIES PROJECTORS
InFocus, $549 to $1,099
InFocus has designed its IN2100 series of projectors with the needs of educators in mind, offering high brightness and useful features at an affordable price. The IN2112 ($549) projects images at SVGA (800x600) resolution, the IN2114 projects at XGA (1024x768) resolution, and the IN2116 ($1,099) is a widescreen unit projecting at WXGA (1280x800) resolution. All three feature 3,000 lumens of brightness, use filterfree DLP chip technology and include a five-year warranty. www.education.infocus.com
ROURKE READING WEB
Rourke Publishing, Package prices vary
Rourke Publishing's Reading Web is a program combining nonfiction books with software to engage struggling readers in grades 4-10 and motivate them to read on their own. The software reinforces reading with research-based comprehension activities including word matching and "echo reading" exercises, and it automatically saves student progress and voice recordings on a scorecard for teacher monitoring. Several separate, multilevel assessment programs are also available.www. rourkeclassroom.com
STUDENT MANAGEMENT SUITE
Skyward, Pricing based on enrollment
The Student Management Suite is one of two main product suites offered by Skyward as part of its comprehensive School Management Suite. The base product tracks and manages data such as student attendance, demographics, discipline and transfer information. Optional add-on modules include tools for managing food service, graduation plans, health records, response-to-intervention implementation and more. www.skyward.com
"Skyward has helped to streamline procedures, implement policies consistently, and create a culture of data accuracy in our district."
X2 Development Corporation
Contact X2 for price X2's Web-based student information system is a district-level tool that includes customizable pages, reports and procedures to simplify the management of even vast amounts of student data. A fully automated master scheduler coordinates class times, lunches, bells and learning communities, and the gradebook includes grades and assignments as well as staff attendance and professional development data. www.x2dev.com
"Aspen allowed us to consolidate our disparate databases into one high functioning product. We are more efficient as a result."
TextHelp Systems, Licensing starts at $645
TextHelp Systems' assistive technology Read&Write GOLD is a toolbar that "floats" on top of any mainstream Windows application, such as Microsoft Word or Internet Explorer, and provides support for any struggling reader or writer, including students with disabilities or ELLs. Features include a selection of text-to-speech voices to review passages, an online "fact mapper" to help students organize graphics and notes, and a customizable word prediction function that enables teachers to provide tailored levels of help for an individual student or lesson. www.texthelp.com