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New Products

The latest offerings in books, hardware, Internet and software

Lexia Learning Systems

Lexia Cross-Trainer: Visual-Spatial, Software, $800 (1 workstation)-$40,000 (unlimited workstations)

This application aims to help learning disabled, special needs and mainstream students ages six to adult strengthen their thinking, memory and problem solving abilities. The first module focuses on improving 22 skills that include visualization, visual memory, mental rotation, visual tracking, spatial orientation and multi-perspective coordination.

The interactive software works with a standard video game controller. Its five activities include: Waterworld, where students improve their figure-ground perception by creating patterns; Tangram, where students enhance their spatial relations skills by completing puzzles from memory; Spatial Delivery, where students strengthen their spatial directionality and memory by completing a three dimensional navigational activity; Flips, where students improve their visualization of objects by duplicating shapes after they've been rotated; and Cubes, where students visualize objects from different perspectives.

Among its features are a built-in assessment tool, which places students at the appropriate skill level within the different activities, and a summary screen at the end of each activity that displays progress.

Future modules of Lexia Cross-Trainer will address logic, following instructions, verbal expression and sound imaging.

Holt, Rinehart and Winston

Teaching Mathematics to All Students, Grades 6-8, Software, $200 (single user)- $4,000 (25-user package)

The five modules in this professional development course include "best practices" video segments demonstrated by master teachers. As trainers implement the five lessons included in each module, teachers study standards-based instruction, ongoing assessment and monitoring, organizational planning and successful work with parents. The modules can be self-paced or "as directed" by the trainer.


FinalsiteSurvey, Software, $500/setup, plus $3,500-$5,000/year

Using this software and a Web browser, educators can create, edit, track and analyze results from forms, surveys and quizzes. They can gather information from parents and the community, store it in a database for later evaluation and view real-time results. The quiz component can show students correct answers after the quiz is submitted, and real-time grading allows students to see how they did and receive a copy of their submission immediately. Results can also be posted for public view. A free 60-day trial is available.

Finalsite has also partnered with the Web-based messaging firm BlueTie to launch ($1.50 and up per user/month). The Web-based software package includes e-mail with protection against spam and viruses, shared calendars, contacts, files, tasks and instant messaging. It enables access of information in a secure and private online environment, from any computer or wireless device with Internet access. Free 15-day trials are offered.


FileMaker Pro 7, Software, $299/$149 upgrade

The latest version of this database software lets users import, store and export any file or document ranging from PDFs and video to music, create a digital library, store proposals within client records or link schedules and files directly to a student. Multiple windows can also be opened in the same database at the same time to give users access to different views of their information.

Other features include increased database capacity, new developer enhancements, functions and calculations and the ability for users to produce reports with calculation-based formatting. New background and portal options are also included.

Dynamic Knowledge Transfer

DyKnow 3.0, Software, $5,000 and up

This software allows students to participate in electronic note delivery and interactive two-way communication in the classroom, and then deconstruct and replay teachers' lessons later. The latest version can be used more effectively on Tablet PCs and enhance an instructor's ability to deliver meaningful, interactive lessons.

While students now can navigate, capture and annotate Web content, teachers can lock them into the application by disabling other programs on the desktop, such as Web browsers and games. Other improvements include a multiple document interface, XML serialization and enhancements designed for greater efficiency.


Macromedia Director MX 2004, Software, $1,119/$399 for upgrades

Students can use this authoring tool to develop multimedia projects, such as school yearbooks and learning games, then save them as CDs or DVDs. They can create interactive content for fixed media and the Internet and incorporate photo-quality images, full-screen or long-form digital video, sounds, animation, 3-D models, text, hypertext, bitmaps and Macromedia Flash content.

The software adds support for JavaScript, Macromedia Flash MX 2004 content and DVD-video playback, while offering the ability to create projector files for both Mac and Windows platforms. It delivers multimedia content to CDs, DVDs, Intranets, kiosks or the Internet and supports most major video, audio, bitmap, 3D and vector formats. Its video capabilities allow developers to incorporate video files in DVD-Video, Windows Media, RealMedia, QuickTime and Flash Video formats. Users can also embed, control and playback DVD-Video content within multimedia projects.

The workspace is entirely customizable, enabling educators to tailor both the stage and movie-in-a-window docks for better workspace management.

Also new is Macromedia Breeze ($9,750), which allows Web users to participate in live, online meetings without downloading special plug-ins or media players. Collaboration features include application sharing, trackable live polls, file transfer and vector-based whiteboards that can be edited.


IntelliTools Classroom Suite, Software, $299 (single copy)-$1,349 (five pack) through June 30

This cross-curricular software, designed to follow students from kindergarten to middle school, contains: IntelliPics Studio 3, a multimedia presentation tool; IntelliMathics 3, a virtual math manipulatives tool; and IntelliTalk 3, a talking word processor and writing tool. Students can practice age-appropriate and standards-based activities in the four subject areas, and teachers can track student responses and print student records.


Young Mathematicians at Work: Professional Development Materials, Software, $65 for each resource package (overview, guide and CD), $15 for CD only

This three-part professional development program is based on the teacher enhancement project Mathematics in the City, designed to help young children construct a deep understanding of numbers and of addition and subtraction operations. Video clips, children's work samples, reflective questions and interviews with students and teachers are used to help teachers examine children's thinking and study the development of "big ideas." The program's three levels are: Kindergarten-Grade 1, Grade 2 and PreK-Grade 3.

Temple University Press

Closing the Book on Homework: Enhancing Public Education and Freeing Family Time, Book, $16.95

In this sequel to The End of Homework, author John Buell extends his case against homework, arguing that it obstructs the growth of children's minds and robs both parents and children of unstructured time for play and intellectual and emotional development. He says he believes the importance of play is culturally under-appreciated and that homework is an outgrowth of broader cultural anxieties about the sanctity of work. The book also offers an alternative approach for learning to benefit children, parents and teachers.

Facts on File

Math on File, Software, $449/set, $149/individual title

This three-volume CD-ROM series contains approximately 150 problem sets in algebra, calculus and geometry. It covers arithmetic series, balancing equations, angles and lengths of sides of polygons, derivatives, integrals and more. Exercises can be used for additional practice, as supplements to classroom instruction or for testing. Each page is reproducible and contains an introduction, text and diagrams.

Alliance International

Digital Class Tablet PC, Hardware, $3,595

This pen-controlled tablet PC is now bundled with special software for presentations and collaboration. Users can annotate over any image that appears on the screen, ranging from Web sites and spreadsheets to PowerPoint slides.

The software offers electronic whiteboard functions, drawing tools, a pressure-sensitive highlighter and recording of voice and notes in a compressed file format that can be posted to the Web or e-mailed.

The tablet PC, which features a processor for wireless use, comes with a USB plug-in keyboard and a monitor-out connector for wired connections to a projector or other large screen display.

Committee for Children

Woven Word, $516-$877 (depending on grade level)

This newest addition to the Second Step violence prevention curriculum combines social skills and early literacy into one research-based program. It uses a proven technique to promote emergent literacy, or "dialogic reading." Teachers read picture books aloud to children using carefully structured dialogue, tapping into a child's natural interest in stories to build pre-reading skills. Social-emotional story content is reinforced in readings and skill-building activities.

SchoolKiT International

Edclass, Software, $495/30-computer license

This library of K-12 learning activities aims to simplify the technology integration process by offering hundreds of classroom-ready, integration exercises covering core learning areas. By changing the way students use Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint, it enhances their conceptual understanding, higher-order thinking capacities and creativity.

Activities are presented as small, interactive electronic books that open on students' and teachers' computers to guide them through effective curriculum-based lessons. Each activity focuses on key curriculum concepts and the development of technology skills.

Inspiration Software

Inspiration for Palm OS, Software, $29.95

This visual learning tool is now available for Palm-powered handheld computers, including Dana by Alpha-Smart. Teachers and students can use the stylus to create graphic organizers by sketching symbols and arranging thoughts directly on the screen. The integrated outline view also enables students to create a foundation for their writing. To complete a project, they can transfer information to a handheld word processor, sync their handheld to a desktop computer or beam to a printer. Other features include special zoom options and ready-to-use templates.

eLearning Dynamics

Learn Tracfx, Software, Approximately $50 per student (discounts available)

This teacher-controlled platform enables teachers to wirelessly send and collect classroom materials, such as homework, tests, research material and notes from an entire class, selected group or individual students simultaneously.

The software resides in a teacher's laptop or desktop computer and beams the selected materials to students' wireless-enabled Palm-powered handheld computers. Besides increasing the amount of class time available for teaching, it also provides instructors with a record of exactly what files were transferred, when they were sent and who received them. Other features include instant messaging and anonymous hand raising within a classroom.

Knowledge Adventure

JumpStart Study Helpers Spelling Bee and Math Booster, Software, Teacher edition $59.95, Network version $699.95

These software programs for grades 1-5 feature arcade-style games that can be customized for individual learning by entering students' weekly word lists or math equations. The games include 2,000 pre-programmed words and more than 800 math problems for additional practice. Both come with printable extension activities and a progress report feature that enables teachers to monitor student progress.

Space Holdings

Starry Night EDU 2.0, Software,$59.95

This supplemental software includes the Starry Night astronomy program for Windows and Macintosh and a CD-ROM with space art. The updated 124-page teacher manual contains added lesson plans, fun space facts and Internet links for additional space and astronomy information. Teachers can also print a detailed star map and make short movies.

Emerald Data Solutions

BoardDocs LT, Service, $450/month for eAgenda, plus $150 per month for ePolicy or eNews

This version of the BoardDocs service, a paperless meeting solution, is designed for smaller districts. Three modules are available: eAgenda offers a way for administrators to manage and publish any meeting-related document for public viewing; ePolicy allows administrators to develop, maintain and publish policies online; and eNews provides a way to manage and distribute information not associated with a particular meeting. On-site training is available for $1,000 plus expenses.

In addition, the company's service for larger districts has been enhanced. The document publisher software used to load documents into the database now offers more control over the BoardDocs interface, as well as quicker publication and management. Senior staff can now submit agenda items into draft meetings for the document publisher to review, and a new level of security allows agenda items to be specified for executive access only.

Harvard Education Publishing Group

School Reform in Chicago: Lessons in Policy and Practice, Book, $22.95

This case study tracks Chicago's school reform effort for a decade, starting in the late 1980s after the U.S. Secretary of Education embarrassed the city by calling its public schools the worst in the nation. The city became a huge laboratory for school reform innovations in the areas of governance, leadership, accountability and community involvement. The book highlights everything from lessons learned and successes to spectacular flops.

Dantz Development Corp.

Retrospect 6.0, Software, $799

This software protects Power Mac G4 and G5 computers running Mac OS X Panther, backs up Xserve RAIDS hosting multiple terabytes of data and supports SCSI and Fibre Channel tape libraries. Advanced features include an improved user interface to manage drives, tapes and cleaning tapes and backups to disks that span multiple FireWire or USB hard drives.

There's no longer a terabyte limit or size restriction on volumes that can be backed up or data stored in a Backup set. Incremental backups save time while avoiding flawed restores that incorrectly return previously deleted, renamed and moved files and folders. The software also aims to simplify the creation and rotation of onsite and offsite sets of backup media to protect against disasters.

Besides the server version, users can purchase: Retrospect Desktop ($129), which backs up one local Mac desktop or notebook computer and two networked desktops or notebook clients; or Retrospect Workgroup ($499), which backs up one local Mac computer plus 20 networked desktop or notebook clients. It avoids flawed restores and eliminates the need to write customized backup scripts.

LeapFrog Schoolhouse

Read-It-All Summer Program, Program, $1,100 per kit

Built upon the Read-It-All book series and aimed at improving reading achievement for struggling readers, this four-to-six week instructional program is for grades 3-6. Multisensory instruction, combined with interactive skill cards and classroom activities, features themes such as Awesome Athletes, Nature's Fury, Masters of Survival and It's a Mystery. The focus is on comprehension, word analysis, vocabulary and fluency.

Each kit includes 18 books, 45 skill cards, a teacher's manual, a planning guide with daily lessons, 20 pre-assessments, 20 post-assessments and six Quantum Pad units with AC adapter, headphones and batteries. Kits without Quantum Pads are available for $765 each.

Routledge Farmer

Lessons to Learn: Voices from the Front Lines of Teach for America, Book, $24

Former Teach for America member Molly Ness has surveyed other alumni about their experiences spending two years serving in America's most troubled public schools. The book contains the inside story of more than 8,000 recruits and includes interviews and essays from them, as well as from administrators, parents and education experts. While the educational community often cites their lack of pedagogical training, Ness reports that about 40 percent of alumni remained as classroom teachers after their two-year stint, and 20 percent have gone on to careers in educational leadership.

Tom Snyder Productions

Thinking Reader, Software, 10-student license $500 per title

Designed by researchers at the Center for Applied Special Technology, this reading improvement program targets struggling and special needs students in grades 6-8. It offers a combination of authentic literature, comprehension skill-building activities and immediate corrective feedback. This allows for differentiated instruction and individualized support.

A student management system automatically records each reader's progress, and the data can be viewed on screen, printed or exported to a spreadsheet program. Teachers can analyze aggregated data for an entire class or study each student's quiz results by skill. Nine titles with unabridged text, including Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor and A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, are currently available.

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