Math and science software
Mathsoft’s StudyWorks Science Deluxe
StudyWorks Science Deluxe, from the Cambridge, Mass.-based MathSoft Inc., offers rich lessons in earth sciences, biology, chemistry, astronomy, physics, internet technology, and science-fiction writing.
Directed at high school students, the thorough tutorials contain plenty of links and diagrams to engage students. In addition to covering scientific topics, the software features a section called Internet Technologies, which offers lessons on various internet protocols, definitions, and more. The Science Fiction Writing component lets students demonstrate their scientific knowledge in an entertaining way. StudyWorks Science Deluxe also contains a section in which professionals describe the importance of science in their careers.
The software, which is not Mac compatible, sells for $39.95.
Curriculum Associates’ Math Problem Solver
Math Problem Solver, a CD-ROM series for grades 1-8, is an easy way to integrate technology into the mathematics curriculum. The software helps students acquire problem-solving skills and strategies and is “a technology that can be used immediately with a variety of learners to extend mathematics and really drive home skills,” said Jackie Dawson, the company’s manager of marketing communications.
The material covers key strands identified as critical by the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics Draft 2000, including algebra, data analysis, operations, measurement, geometry, and number sense. Walk-through tutorials, which guide students through the problem-solving process, pop up when students answer questions incorrectly or ask for help. Open-ended problems let students practice communicating mathematically by manipulating data and creating graphs.
The software, which is Mac and PC compatible, also offers other features, such as “Create Your Own Problem” and “Test-Prep Practice.” It includes a special guide and options for teachers. Prices are $59.95 each for 1-5 CDs, $54.95 each for 6-10 CDs, and $49.95 each for 11 or more CDs.
Edmark’s Space Academy GX-1
Space Academy GX-1 is a scientifically accurate software program that helps children in grades 3-6 develop scientific thought processes and understand space concepts through interactive missions and experiments.
Accompanied by four animated characters on virtual journeys, students compare the nine planets in the solar system; analyze the relationship between the earth, sun, and moon; investigate the astronomical basis for the seasons; and study gravity, orbits, and trajectories.
Space Academy integrates well into the curriculum and supports the National Science Education Standards, Edmark said. Through realistic models, the software helps students develop an intuitive understanding of abstract concepts such as gravitational force or momentum. The program’s record-keeping feature lets teachers easily track their students’ progress.
Space Academy GX-1, for both Macs and PCs, is available for $59.95 for two computers, $159.95 for six computers, and $599 for 30 computers.
Lexia Learning Systems’ Reading S.O.S.
Reading S.O.S. (Strategies for Older Students) v2.2 is the latest reading program from Lexia Learning Systems designed specifically for older students (grades 4 to adult) who have learned the rudimentary elements of reading but need to refine their skills.
Developed to teach basic reading skills to older students who want to be treated with respect, Reading S.O.S. starts with short vowels and single-syllable words and moves as quickly as the student is ready through four levels of increasing complexity, covering topics such as the silent “e,” hard and soft “c” and “g,” multisyllable words, and reading in context. An “automatic branching” feature provides additional work in problem areas, and the software also includes a student performance reporting feature.
More sophisticated graphics, harder material, and a faster pace distinguish Reading S.O.S. from early reading products for younger children, Lexia said. The software is available for both PCs and Macintosh computers with CD-ROM drives and sound cards.
Autoskill’s Academy of Reading 2000
Scheduled for release in the fall, Academy of Reading 2000 is the updated version of the company’s popular reading productivity software. The program helps teachers register their students and assign training in a few easy steps, according to Autoskill.
The software gives teachers a couple of options for assessing students’ abilities and assigning corresponding work. The first assignment option is the AutoTest program, in which students are given a paragraph to read and are immediately evaluated and assigned to a curriculum of skills, based on their measured reading level. The AutoPilot option, on the other hand, examines a student’s profile, including age and grade level, and assigns an appropriate list of skills to master based on this profile.
Once students are assessed through either of these methods, they are guided through phonemic awareness, the subskills of reading, and comprehension exercises. Autoskill has added an AutoIntervention feature to the new version of its software, which notifies both the student and the teacher automatically if a student is having a problem in a specific area.
Edmark’s Stories and More series
Stories and More is a reading comprehension tool that uses well-loved stories to help younger children get the most out of the reading experience. Aimed at creating analytical, involved readers, the program has four sections that help kids understand and enjoy the books they are reading.
In Starting Off, kids complete pre-reading exercises to help them think about what they are going to read. Students are asked to think about the story’s concepts and setting and predict what they think will happen.
The second section, Story Time, allows students to choose whether they want to read the story independently or hear it read aloud with expressive narration. Each page is reproduced to help kids really enjoy the illustrations from these books.
In Thinking About, students are asked to demonstrate their reading comprehension by recalling events from the story. Finally, in the Going Beyond portion of the program, kids are asked to respond to the story by writing, speaking, or drawing about it.
The latest title in the Stories and More series is “Time and Place,” and it’s geared toward students in grades 2 and 3. Students learn the importance of time, culture, and place by reading The House on Maple Street, Roxaboxen, and Galimoto.
A 2-CD school version of the software is $79.95; lab packs, which include 6 CDs, a teacher’s guide, lesson plans, and reproducible activity sheets, are $179.95.
Scholastic’s READ XL
Scholastic Inc. recently announced the launch of READ XL, a new reading improvement package for struggling students in grades 6-8 who are reading one to three years below grade level.
The program provides students with engaging reading materials through “Anthologies” that motivate struggling readers with high-interest content in unique formats, Scholastic said. The Anthologies include plays, stories, articles, debates, and other reading materials designed to become increasingly challenging as students make progress.
The program comes with student practice books, shared reading titles, and leveled text on CD-ROM. Teachers receive instructional materials that address the literacy needs and individual learning styles of middle school students who read below their grade level. The READ XL Teacher’s Guide provides lesson plans, skills and strategies for literacy instruction, language development activities, English as a second language skills, test preparation activities, reading reinforcement, assessment tests, and best practices for classroom instruction.
Curriculum Associates’ CARS and STARS
The newest reading software from Curriculum Associates is designed to improve the reading skills of students in grades 3-8. At the start of the school year, teachers use CARS (Comprehensive Assessment of Reading Strategies) to diagnose reading strengths and weaknesses for each student and chart a course for reading instruction. The CARS program assesses students using 12 key reading strategies and also allows for student self-assessment.
Once diagnosis is completed, teachers can move on to the STARS (Strategies to Achieve Reading Success) program, which provides focused instruction in each of the 12 strategies assessed by CARS. Each strategy is covered in a student workbook, which features high-interest reading passages and multiple choice questions. Each STARS lesson is broken down into four parts, allowing students to work independently. After every third strategy lesson, students are required to complete a review lesson.
Once students have completed STARS, they move on to the last component, CARS II, which measures their improvement in reading comprehension. During the testing phase, students are again asked to assess their own abilities to help instructors understand the level of reading confidence each student has developed.
Educators can buy the complete classroom collection, containing 25 student books and one teacher guide from all three programs, for $199 and management software for each grade level for $19.95.
Knowledge Adventure’s HyperStudio 4
HyperStudio 4, by Knowledge Adventure, lets students create interactive multimedia reports, projects, and presentations with easy drag-and-drop technology. The new version builds upon the original software’s features to increase its functionality.
“HyperStudio 4 represents a new generation of HyperStudio that is specifically tailored to the needs of today’s students and teachers,” said Martha Connellan, school group senior vice president and general manager of Knowledge Adventure.
The software’s internet functions make it easy to edit projects through a web browser and send projects by eMail. Students can use HyperStudio 4 to add sound, video, and animation to their projects. The software’s Curriculum Content Library is an updated version of the HyperStudio Media Library, with more than 1,400 graphics and photos, 170 backgrounds, 290 sound clips, 195 animations, and 30 digital movies.
HyperStudio 4 also includes 32 real-world projects for students to do. The Teacher’s Guide is packed with project ideas, curriculum guidelines, and add-on resources. All the documentation has been updated, revised, and reviewed by teachers. HyperStudio 4 is Mac and PC compatible. The suggested price is $199.95 for teacher editions, which include two copies of the software, a Teacher’s Guide, and a User’s Guide. Lab packs are $295 for five users and $795 for 15 users. Upgrades to earlier versions of HyperStudio also are available.
CCC’s SuccessMaker Internet
SuccessMaker Internet (SMi), from Computer Curriculum Corp., provides a complete curriculum with full reporting and assessment capabilities via the internet. This new instructional service uses the internet to deliver and manage CCC’s SuccessMaker curriculum, which is customizable and correlated to national standards and objectives.
The product’s rich multimedia and graphics make CCC’s curriculum highly motivating, the company said. “SMi will allow many more schools to take advantage of technology, because its standards-based learning solutions are easier to use and more affordable to install and maintain,” said Jim Bowler, vice president of marketing at CCC.
SMi offers more than 4,000 hours of math and reading content, activities, and educational resources that are quick and easy to access. Teachers can plan lessons, customize instruction, and track students’ progress securely via the web.
A key feature of the service is Results Manager, a management and assessment system developed for the internet. The management system resides on a CCC server and tracks student work and progress over the internet, no matter where students or teachers log on. The Results Manager’s flexible reporting system lets teachers keep administrators and parents informed of students’ progress.
If they prefer, schools can run SuccessMaker courseware from their own local network or a single computer using a CD-ROM, which is an alternative for schools with low bandwidth.
iView, by CompassLearning and WRC Inc., is an interactive teaching and learning tool for teaching civics and social studies to middle and secondary students. With a rich mix of current events and historical, geographic, and research material, iView stimulates student learning while offering teachers technology and content to integrate into their classrooms, according to CompassLearning.
“Educators ask for contemporary resources to teach social studies and history. With the vast instructional and research materials of WRC Media, we have assembled a teacher-directed resource that works,” said Martin E. Kenney, Jr., CEO of WRC Media and CompassLearning.
iView is built on CompassLearning’s courseware, content, and assessment materials. It also integrates the vast resources of WorldView Software, Weekly Reader’s Teen Newsweek, the World Almanac Reference Suite at Facts.com, and USA Today. iView connects CompassLearning’s standards-based curriculum with timely news stories, documents, activities, maps, and globes. It features an interactive learning mode, graded tests, document-based questions, essays, and skill development projects.