More than 450 companies were at this year’s NECC displaying their technology solutions for educators. Here are some of the highlights of companies displaying curriculum software and solutions:
AIMS Multimedia has updated the look and feel of DigitalCurriculum, the company’s curriculum-on-demand teaching and learning system. In addition to a more streamlined look for its concept video clips, photo archive, teacher guides, lesson plans, and encyclopedia articles from Encyclopaedia Britannica, the site now offers a Calendar of Events section that provides information about what happened on that day in history for six different subject areas: science, social studies, language arts, mathematics, health and guidance, and arts and humanities. Each Daily Event is linked to videos and other supportive curricular elements. The new version will be officially released in July, but educators can try a 30-day free trial version at a development site, www.eduvid.com.
|News from the exhibit hall|
The world’s largest internet provider, America Online, continued beefing up its no-cost online AOL@SCHOOL service by announcing an alliance with Hotmath Inc., one of the nation’s leading math homework-help web sites. The alliance will give students and teachers unlimited access to more than 200 math practice problems per math subject, along with tutorial solutions. Targeting middle and high schools, the Hotmath problems and tutorials currently encompass pre-algebra, Algebra 1, and Algebra 2, with future plans to offer geometry, pre-calculus, and calculus. AOL@SCHOOL now boasts unique content offerings from more than 30 partners, 200,000 pages of online content, and more than 10,000 tested lesson plans from educators.
Inspired by popular crime investigation dramas on television, the new Science CSI Kit from Bodelin Technologies, in collaboration with Vernier Software and Technologies, aims to engage middle and high school students in the study of science. At a suggested education price of $1,099, the Science CSI Kit includes a Bodelin ProScope handheld digital microscope, lenses, and accessories; Vernier Logger Lite software and a complete set of pH, conductivity, and temperature probes; a durable, easy-to-carry case; and curriculum that integrates with Apple iLife and is written by Apple distinguished educators.
Compass Learning followed up on the recent announcement of its newest product, CompassLearning Odyssey for English Language Learners (ELL), due in classrooms this fall. The software helps American educators address the growing number of students who have yet to master English language basics. Under NCLB standards, ELL children are tested on their progress in learning English. CompassLearning’s product development team worked with the Q Group, which specializes in language learning products, to create Odyssey ELL. The software presents real-world situations to involve the user and is designed to meet the needs of students from diverse backgrounds. The browser-based Odyssey ELL is offered in two versions, Levels K-6 (Elementary) and Levels 7-12 (Secondary). The Elementary Level is designed for children ages 5-12 with little or no previous knowledge of English. CompassLearning vice president Sloane O’Neal described the release of an English-Language learner product as a “big departure” from the company’s previous offerings but noted the emerging need and important role for such a product in the era of NCLB.
Educational Insights introduced Jeopardy! Link, a tool that makes it easier and more time-efficient for teachers to create, organize, customize, and share quiz content for the company’s popular, award-winning Classroom Jeopardy! product. Before Jeopardy! Link, most teachers wrote their games on a computer, then retyped the entire games into a game storage cartridge with a special keyboard that attached to the Classroom Jeopardy! scoreboard. With Jeopardy! Link, teachers simply type the game on their PC or Mac, the same as before, then download the game directly and instantaneously onto the cartridge with a simple key command. Jeopardy! Link will be available in October for $79.95, but orders received by Aug. 31 will cost only $49.95. At NECC, Educational Insights also introduced its Loud & Clear line of audio devices designed for use in educational settings, including listening center equipment and a waistband voice amplifier.
Evan-Moor Educational Publishers released a software program for first- to fifth-graders, called Take it to the Computer: Writing Sentences and Paragraphs. Using the software, students learn basic computer skills while engaging in motivating activities that guide them through the multiple stages of the writing process. Each grade-specific edition of Take it to the Computer, which retails for $399 for the classroom edition or $599 for the lab edition, includes 48 Computer Activity Cards with step-by-step instructions for students on the front and lesson and extension ideas for teachers on the back. Evan-Moor also released Daily Paragraph Editing, a new daily practice series designed to improve writing among students in grades 2-6. Each grade-specific edition of Daily Paragraph Editing is 176 pages and retails for $19.95.
Failure Free Reading made a major announcement just prior to the start of NECC when the company, in partnership with Teaching Gear, laid out plans for the new Intelligent Tutor system. The program, which works with Failure Free Reading’s research-based reading comprehension program for non-readers and the very lowest-literacy students, is designed to document every move a student makes. The Intelligent Tutor allows the teacher, tutor, or administrator to better track the progress and milestones in a student’s work and will be featured as part of the company’s online solution as well as its LAN-based software.
New to NECC, Nortel Networks Kidz Online (NNKOL) exhibited many free resources available to educators through its internet portal. NNKOL’s integrated lesson plans use a peer-based learning approach, in which students create learning materials targeted to other kids. In addition to its repository of learning resources, NNKOL provides professional development support to help educators teach technology-infused lessons that engage and motivate students to learn.
Pearson Digital Learning demonstrated the new Level Two and Level Three components of its Waterford Early Math & Science program, adaptive computer-based instruction developed by the nonprofit Waterford Institute in Utah. It encourages hands-on exploration and inquiry-based learning, giving K-2 students a solid foundation in math and science skills. Waterford researchers have found that children should have at least 3,000 hours of pre-literacy activity by the time they reach kindergarten. The researchers also discovered dramatic advantages in the reading and learning skills of children who were read to by their parents on a daily basis. In the case of students who do not receive such attention, the Waterford Early Reading and Early Math & Science programs aim to bridge the gap through technology–enabling young students to have a valuable, personalized learning experience. The latest releases continue the use of engaging songs and first-rate, entertaining computer graphics to introduce topics such as elementary counting, numbers, and even astronomy.
Riverdeep introduced new versions of some of its popular curriculum software programs. Kid Pix Deluxe 4 for Schools, a digital art application, helps students express creativity, build organization and presentation skills, and document learning across the curriculum. The new version includes a powerful set of Teacher Tools that help educators use Kid Pix to teach standards-based curriculum content. Riverdeep also released new versions of two titles in its Carmen Sandiego geography series designed specifically for the classroom: Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? for Schools and Where in the USA is Carmen Sandiego?
SAS inSchool, the education division of North Carolina-based SAS Institute Inc., showcased two new educational software programs at NECC. Curriculum Pathways 2005, for students in grades 8-12, includes new, online educational materials in algebra, earth science, English language, Spanish grammar, and contemporary world history. JMP Intro is a new statistical visualization tool designed specifically for use by students and teachers. SAS inSchool also held a drawing at the conference for State Educational Technology Directors Association members for five 5,000-seat Curriculum Pathways licenses, valued at $25,000 each.
Synergistic Systems, a division of Pitsco, produces hands-on, minds-on math, science, and technology learning solutions for grades 7-12. Its tools come complete with assessment features and multimedia-delivered, integrated curriculum. The company’s computer-based, interactive, and self-directed curriculum reportedly has been particularly effective with at-risk students. The New Orleans Public Schools District has implemented Synergistic Systems Science to help ninth-graders meet local and national standards, the company announced. Synergistic Systems Science features science labs that address 97 percent of the National Science Teachers Association’s Physical Science standards for grades 9-12 and 100 percent of the New Orleans Physical Science standards.
Texas Instruments (TI) joined with USA Today to announce a new publication called Science TODAY. Written by experienced science educators, Science TODAY is a resource of free classroom activities based on USA Today‘s articles and signature graphics, for use with TI’s educational handhelds. Science TODAY activities are available for use with these TI graphing calculators: TI-73 Explorer, TI-83 Plus family, TI-84 Plus family, and the TI-Navigator Classroom Learning System. Activity resources include a teacher guide, student handout, graphic transparency, technology guide, and LearningCheck assessment files.