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The Latest in Hardware, Software, Books & Materials, Facilities and the Internet



The Teachers Academy, Program, $1,900 average per teacher (varies by number participating and amount of customization)

Isolation and frustration are common feelings among new teachers, and administrators are all too aware that negative first-year experiences can cause teacher turnover. The New Teacher Academy, launched by a non-profit arm of Teachers College, Columbia University, aims to improve retention and enhance teacher effectiveness at the elementary school level. Blending onsite and online learning, the program is the initial offering of a new K-12 professional development system that’s customizable to district needs.

Called The Teachers Academy, the career-long, research-based system has been piloted in several locations in New York City and state, as well as Dallas and three sites in Mississippi. “What we see in it is a very accessible opportunity for new teachers to come together with other new teachers in a learning environment where the curriculum is really targeted to their needs,” says Gene Silverman, assistant director of the department of curriculum, instruction and technology at Nassau BOCES, a Long Island regional service agency. The region’s 56 districts started with the new teacher program this school year.

Its five courses, which include about 30 hours of face time and four to five hours of online work each, are:

--“Learning the Ropes,” offering advice, mentor panels and breakout sessions customized to the district

--“Organizing Your Classroom for Learning,” covering strategies and techniques for creating a positive classroom climate

--“Teaching About and Across Social and Cultural Difference,” providing the basics about developing approaches to diversity

--“Setting High Standards in Reading Literature,” which inspires teachers to better appreciate literature’s role in the curriculum

--“Technology in the Classroom,” introducing teachers to Web resources and development tools.

TC Innovations works with districts to tailor parts of the curriculum. Programs run through regional service agencies like Nassau BOCES can be customized both regionally and within each district.

The site chooses one or more program facilitators, who are hired and then trained in Teachers College best practices by TC Innovations. Facilitators can be teachers or administrators, and Nassau plugged into its network of retired principals and curriculum administrators, as well. “By training the onsite facilitator, we are building capacity within our partner districts,” says Mike Cole, chief operating officer of TC Innovations.

Future Teachers Academy offerings will include programs for secondary school teachers and principals. CIRCLE #505 FOR INFORMATION


Total Traffic Control 3.0, Software, $3,995-$6,995

This network traffic management tool has been enhanced with version 3.0. The software’s reporting functions aim to help school administrators identify and address issues that affect compliance with the Child Internet Protection Act and other federal and state regulations.

A significant new feature is the Total Traffic Control Spam Blocker. Providing five levels of protection, it monitors, prevents and reports on spam e-mail in real time. The blocker analyzes thousands of spam e-mails and regular e-mails a day, statistically sampling them for words and patterns to produce an up-to-date spam-pattern file, which helps determine that to block. Users can custom configure a list of Realtime Blackhole List servers to query, so known spam sources can be instantly cut off. Administrators can also maintain a “white list” of e-mail senders who are always welcome, as well as a “black list” of addresses and domains that are never welcome. In addition, subject-line scanning blocks pornographic subjects from making it to employee mailboxes. CIRCLE #506 FOR INFORMATION


NICSI Mountain, Manipulatives, $249

NICSI (Now I Can See It) Mountain aims to teach counting, computation, fractions, proportions, data analysis and other math skills to students in kindergarten to ninth grade. The pyramid-like structure comes with 732 colored, numbered tokens and more than 100 lesson plans. The visual, hands-on approach is designed to accelerate learning, deepen understanding, and improve problem-solving abilities, and teach the joy of math. Equivalent values are at an equal height on the NICSI structure. This allows students to see, for example, that 2x10 has the same result as 4x5 and that it is less than 7x3. CIRCLE #507 FOR INFORMATION


Deluxe PowerPro PA-750, Hardware, $1,295-$2,878

This speaker system features a built-in cassette recorder, and CD player in an all-in-one unit on wheels. Designed for presentations in large groups, the system can include (depending on user needs): two adjustable tripod stands, a handheld dynamic low impedance microphone and floor stand, a handheld wireless UHF microphone and a 75 watt RMS amplifier with built-in speakers. Also available are a companion speaker with 50 feet of speaker cable, a UHF receiver, an AC/DC rechargeable battery, a wireless/wired microphone mixer, an audio link and a voice priority switch. The system’s plug-and-play design was designed for easy set-up and use. CIRCLE #508 FOR INFORMATION


Mac OS X: The Missing Manual, Second Edition, Book, $29.95

Apple’s new Jaguar operating system contains 150 new features and is more customizable than its predecessor, Mac OS X. To help users master these changes, author David Pogue has re-written and expanded his earlier manual for Mac OS X. Besides new material on almost every page, there are now chapters on iChat instant messaging software, the Web search tool Sherlock 3 and the new Finder—all written in Pogue’s humorist style. CIRCLE #509 FOR INFORMATION


eSembler/School Messenger Suite, Internet service, One-time licensing cost average $1.25-$2.70 per student

Premio’s eSembler can now communicate student information to SchoolMessenger, allowing educators to deliver telephone messages to parents about their child’s grades, test scores and class performance. The two products are now available in a bundle, and a Joint Solutions Center has been established to support customers in integrating the two applications.

eSembler for Education is a Webbased application designed to manage student information and assessment. Recently-released v4.0 offers new grade submission templates, enterprise support that promotes tighter security measures, and parent access to grades and other student information. SchoolMessenger is an automated telephone-messaging program that allows administrators and educators to record messages in their own voice, personalized with the student’s name. Combining these two systems helps educators send up-to-date information to parents through the phone. CIRCLE #510 FOR INFORMATION


AG-527DVDE, Hardware, $835

The AG-527DVDE is a 27-inch TV, DVD and VHS VCR combination unit. Besides traditional VHS tapes and DVD discs, it offers a variety of play options, including DVD-R, Video CD, CD-R, CD-RW and MP3. Users can also view videos that were originally recorded on either an analog or digital camcorder and then transferred to a DVD video recorder, and saved to DVD-R discs. The unit can record a program on its VHS VCR while playing a disc on its DVD player. In addition, users can listen to audio files saved in the MP3 format on CD-R or CD-RW discs. CIRCLE #511 FOR INFORMATION


NetOp School v2.5, Software, $179-$1,210

The latest version of this network classroom software allows independent work groups to be created within a class. Teachers can also assign group leaders to each work group, while still retaining full control.

Another new feature is “Pass the Chalk,” which enables the teacher to hand over control of an ongoing demo screen to any student in the class. Teachers can now automatically include students in ongoing activities if they are joining the class late or invite students to join a class with a text message. Teachers can also create virtual seating plan using their own classroom-layout and save them individually for each class.

Answering the need for more security, NetOp School now incorporates maintenance passwords for both the teacher and student modules. CIRCLE #512 FOR INFORMATION


Education Package, Manipulatives, $450

Playstages materials aim to support language learning, character education and story telling while fostering creativity and expression in classrooms and afterschool programs of all grade levels. The package includes a durable play theater, 16 marionettes, 16 backdrops, 20 role and fashion costumes, several props, a storage case and a curriculum guide.

Elementary level uses for the materials relate to storytelling, character education and free play. Script writing, character and drama education, media literacy and youth leadership are applications suitable for older students. CIRCLE #513 FOR INFORMATION


Audio Plus digitally recorded textbooks, books on CD, $300 (25 titles) to $800 (100 titles) per year

Visually impaired or learning disabled students have more access to textbooks and other educational materials with the release of digitally recorded textbooks on CD from Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic. The books can be borrowed by schools, based on a yearly subscription fee. RFB&D is converting the most frequently requested recorded textbooks in its CV Starr Learning Through Listening Library in Princeton to digital format. A collection of more than 6,000 digitally recorded educational titles will be added to RFB&D’s collection of 91,000 accessible textbooks.

In addition to better audio quality, digital recordings allow instant access to any page, chapter or subheading in a book with the touch of a button. The contents of a standard textbook, which require up to 12 RFB&D cassettes, now fit onto a single CD. CIRCLE #514 FOR INFORMATION


Firefly, Software, Single user $49, 30 users $659, 50 users $899

This Windows-based application for K-8 students is designed to simplify the citing, collection and classification of Web-based information. Students use it to help retrieve individual text and graphic elements from Web pages, instead of the entire content of each page. Through a series of prompts, the software also helps them think about their research results and clearly identify and manage Web content.

Firefly tags all found content with URL and date information, creating an opportunity for teachers to address such issues as the correct attribution of electronic sources, copyright observance and plagiarism. In addition, it integrates with Scribblebug writing software by helping students enrich their writing assignment’s with Web content. CIRCLE #515 FOR INFORMATION


Internet Coach Digital Photo Activity Kit—Bilingual Edition, Software, $64.95

The Digital Photo Activity Kit—Bilingual Version aims to: help strengthen children’s writing, language and bilingual abilities; develop spatial relationship skills; and promote essential technology literacy. The teacher’s guide includes projects and writing activities.

A Spanish-English toggle switch enables users to use both languages at any point in the program—a way to increase bilingual vocabulary and comprehension. The program allows students to combine their own photos with a variety of writing projects to create unique newsletters, book reports, picture frames, stickers and other assignments. CIRCLE #516 FOR INFORMATION MANDARIN LIBRARY AUTOMATION

Mandarin M3 Version 1.5, Software, $3,500 first year site license

New features of the Mandarin M3 library automation solution include the ability to: display graphic images in the patron and item panes in Circulation; simultaneously search from a library’s collection and SIRS Publishing online databases; search on Study Program fields for building and accessing curriculum-based study and reading programs; and more than 850 packaged reports. Enhancements are a Cataloging Find/Replace function, an “Undo-Save” feature and a new “In Process” status for collection items. Version 1.5 also includes the Authority Control Option Module, which is integrated into the cataloging module. CIRCLE #517 FOR INFORMATION


DVP505 Digital Presenter, Hardware, $3,245

The DVP505 is a digital presenter with a high-resolution color camera on a moveable extendable arm mounted over a stage with a back-light. There are also lights on arms located on each side of the stage for illumination of the subject. The presenter camera output images can be directed to a projector or computer monitor for display. A micro-phone input combined with an output for an amplifier and speakers enhances the sound, and a mouse connection permits menu control or movement of an electronic pointer over the image. CIRCLE #518 FOR INFORMATION


BoardDocs, Software, $1,000 per month for online subscription (BoardDocs standard, installed on site, costs $15,000- $22,000 for implementation, plus $3,000 annual fee)

Developed for administrators and school boards, BoardDocs provides a means of immediately publishing and revising agenda items, support documents and other board information via the Internet. Users can also publish policies and procedures online.

Once BoardDocs is implemented, departments submit items for the agenda. Administrators compile the items and supporting documents into a final agenda. In addition to accessing the current meeting, users can review previous meetings and documents. Security features control access to documents. CIRCLE #520 FOR INFORMATION


Gateway Presentation System, Internet, Typical district fees (for system that includes entire framework): $5,000 set-up, plus license costs ($4-$15 per user/year)

GPS is a Web portal that helps organize and manage a district’s online resources. With Web-based information, online professional development programs, education applications and administrative tools collected and organized into Web channels, GPS helps administrators and teachers find resources they need. Administrators can reach a target audience within the district by using a customized newsletter creation application that helps end the traditional method of sending all announcements out to all employees. CIRCLE #519 FOR INFORMATION