Get reading resources from A to Z with this new Kaplan program

To help schools meet the literacy demands of the No Child Left Behind Act, Kaplan Inc.’s K12 Learning Services division and Canadian software firm AutoSkill International have teamed up to launch Kaplan Reading Empowerment, a software-based literacy intervention program for K-12 schools.

Kaplan Reading Empowerment is an individualized, self-paced program tailored to students’ needs. More than just a piece of software, the program also provides teachers with the training and support they need to integrate the program into their daily instruction and monitor student progress effectively.

Kaplan K12 educators collaborate with district and school staff to define goals and develop a broad reading intervention plan using AutoSkill’s Academy of Reading software. The software identifies specific learning requirements of individual students and creates customized courses of study. Through the software’s database-driven management functions, teachers are able to oversee and track student progress. Throughout the program, Kaplan K12 provides a wide range of implementation services, including project management, professional development workshops, ongoing progress reporting, and follow-up meetings to review student results.

Prices for the program range from about $15,000 to $28,000, depending on the number of students and schools that are using it. (888) 527-5268 http://www.kaplank12.com

Take control of internet use with this network monitoring software

Instead of merely blocking access to inappropriate web sites, a new network management tool from Security Software Systems Inc. of Illinois, called Policy Central, monitors internet use according to a school’s acceptable use policy (AUP).

Policy Central displays your school’s AUP before students and employees can access specified applications. After accepting the terms of the policy, should a user violate these terms, Policy Central will take a screen capture of the individual’s inappropriate computer use. It also will log the violation by user, date, time, and application.

School network administrators can monitor students’ computer use for pornographic or sexually explicit content right out of the box with Policy Central’s built-in library of keywords. The software also allows you to customize which words and phrases are inappropriate with a user-definable library, and it helps you analyze the effectiveness of your AUP with a variety of reports.

Rather than “snooping” on all user activity, Policy Central will only monitor and report those activities that violate your AUP, according to the company. Because students and employees are aware of your AUP, the software places the responsibility squarely on their shoulders if they choose to violate this policy. (888) 835-7278 http://www.securitysoft.com

Project Macintosh content to a TV screen with this plug-and-play device

FOCUS Enhancements Inc., which specializes in video production and conversion technology, has created a a desktop-to-video output solution designed specifically for Apple’s iMac and eMac computers.

iTView Mac allows computer content from an iMac or eMac machine—such as DVD movies, the internet, or classroom presentations—to be displayed on any TV monitor so the whole class can see. “We created the iTView Mac to provide Mac users with the best TV-out image possible,” said Jason Overhulse, consumer product manager for FOCUS Enhancements.

iTView Mac automatically detects computer resolutions up to 1,024 pixels by 768 pixels and synchronizes them with television, resulting in a high-quality, flicker-free image. It also lets users record directly from their iMac or eMac to a VCR. The device’s software interface allows users to control image adjustments such as size, pan, position, zoom, sharpness, brightness, and color.

The suggested retail price of iTView Mac is $139. (408) 866-8300 http://www.focusinfo.com

This CD-burning package is one hot item

From making your own DVD movies, to editing photos, to creating a video library, the Total Burn Platinum Suite from Broderbund Software—a division of Cambridge, Mass.-based Riverdeep Inc.—makes burning CDs and DVDs easy.

The suite consists of five software programs that focus on creating multimedia elements and burning them to CDs and DVDs. For CD or DVD burning, the suite includes NTI CD-Maker 5.5, which handles burning data, music, video, and photos. An application called MovieShop allows you to edit videos by adding transitions, special effects, music, or titles. For photo editing, the suite includes the Print Shop Photo Workshop, which features more than 1,500 project templates for creating albums, calendars, cards, and more. The remaining two components, Print Shop Label Creator and MediaShop, help you organize the discs and media you’ve created for easy access.

The suggested retail price for the Total Burn Platinum Suite is $99.99. (800) 223-6925 http://www.broderbund.com

Taking pictures of microscope slides is a snap with this digital camera

The M*Eye digital camera, from Ken-A-Vision, is a digital camera that can be used on or off a microscope. Students can use the device to document their experiment in progress or to capture the intricate details of microscopic slides to use in their science reports.

The camera can hold between 20 and 220 photos at a time and connects to a computer through a USB port. It can take pictures ranging from basic, JPEG-sized images to photo-quality, 1.3-megapixel images.

For $549, the M*Eye comes with a 28-millimeter microscope adapter, a USB cable, a CD ROM with software for sharing and editing photos, a carrying case, and four AAA batteries. When connected to a computer, the camera uses power from the computer. Optional accessories include a 34-millimeter eyepiece adapter, a USB-integrated flexible stand for hands-free operation, and a USB extension cable. (800) 501-7366 http://www.ken-a-vision.com

QuickMind launches a new instructional web portal

Sunburst Technology and QuickMind Inc., a new ed-tech firm with offices in the United States and Russia, has developed a subscription-based web portal that offers schools a wealth of standards-based content for K-12 instruction, as well as interactive software tools for generating projects that teachers and students can access at school or home.

Called QuickMind.net, the product features curriculum materials, interactive homework assignments, project templates, lesson plans, reference materials, and online professional development activities, all accessible through a password-protected web site.

Using the Project Generators tool, teachers easily can create activities and lesson plans with their own content or choose from hundreds of existing ones. This tool also helps teachers create tests, quizzes, work sheets, web projects, multimedia presentations, word searches, or crossword puzzles in a few simple steps. As students complete their assignments, their scores and time on task is recorded and automatically reported to the teacher.

The site’s Reference Center contains pre-screened web resources, such as the World Book Encyclopedia, maps, and news sites, that can be integrated into lessons. In addition, QuickMind.net provides an online word processor and presentation software (complete with thousands of curriculum-related clip art pieces, fonts, and templates), as well as animated, interactive lessons—available in English and Spanish—that reinforce key math, language arts, and science concepts. During these interactive lessons, teachers can monitor their students’ progress in real time and send instant messages, even if the student is logged on from home.

QuickMind.net is available through an annual subscription that allows teachers and students to access the site from school or home computers as much as they want. Licenses are based on a classroom, school building, or district. A license for one to three classrooms costs $1,200 per year, and an entire building license costs $5,500. (800) 624-2962 http://www.quickmind.net

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