What They Play offers parents a practical online guide about the videogames their kids want this holiday season

San Francisco – November 26, 2007 – Don’t know what Halo or Super Mario Galaxy are all about? Unsure whether you want your son or daughter to become a “Guitar Hero”? Need help determining which videogame system is ideal for your family? What They Play (whattheyplay.com) is providing valuable relief to moms and dads everywhere by offering Making Holiday Wishes Come True, the first-ever objective online guide written for parents, rather than gamers, about this season’s most-wished-for videogames and videogame systems. What They Play is a new online destination that presents parents with a vast collection of unbiased information resources and insight to help them better understand the themes, content and player experience of the latest and most popular videogames.

What They Play’s Making Holiday Wishes Come True demystifies the world of videogames at the year’s peak gift-giving time when practical information is most needed. The comprehensive guide is highlighted by accessible write- ups of the most popular videogames and wide-ranging profiles of nearly every videogame platform, including console, hand-held and PC.

The Making Holiday Wishes Come True guide also features a convenient “Buy This Game” link to What They Play’s retail partner, Amazon.com, giving parents direct, one-click access to the online retailer’s vast videogame software and hardware product catalog.

“Kids know exactly what they want when it comes to videogames, and trying to make sense of it all can be incredibly daunting for parents,” says John Davison, president of What They Like, Inc. “The partnership WhatTheyPlay.com has with Amazon.com enables us to benefit from their insight into what games are the most popular, and which ones are featuring on holiday wish lists. Rather than making recommendations, Making Holiday Wishes Come True provides parents with helpful insight about the games their kids are asking for. Much like our website, WhatTheyPlay.com, the guide ultimately empowers parents to make easier and more informed decisions.”

“ESRB ratings help parents make informed decisions when buying video and computer games for their children, but the ratings are just one tool among many that parents can and should use,” says ESRB President Patricia Vance. “Especially during the peak holiday gift-buying season, we encourage parents to go beyond checking ESRB ratings information on the front and back of every package sold. By visiting hatTheyPlay.com, parents can read write-ups and view other materials to better familiarize themselves with a game’s content to determine if it’s suitable for their children.”

WhatTheyPlay.com, the first online product from What They Like, Inc., does not advocate or provide recommendations about videogame software and hardware, instead it offers useful resources to assist parents in determining what they feel is most appropriate for their children.

About What They Like, Inc.
What They Like, Inc. (whattheylike.com) offers comprehensive resources designed to empower parents with information to better understand the various forms of popular entertainment that engage their children. What They Like provides succinct insight and guidance within an unbiased and independent environment, along with features to encourage community participation through information-sharing, opinion and interaction amongst parents.

Founded by entertainment and media industry veterans Ira Becker and John Davison, What They Like’s first product, What They Play (whattheyplay.com), offers parents a deep, searchable collection of information that objectively describes the themes, content and player experience of the latest and most popular videogames.

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Non-Profit MIND Research Institute receives $500,000 grant from Cisco Foundation to deliver math education programs over the internet

Santa Ana, CA — Nov. 26, 2007 — The non-profit education researcher and publisher MIND Research Institute announced that it received a new grant of $500,000 from the Cisco Foundation. This donation, which represents the largest single cash gift in the MIND Research Institute’s history, will fund an upgrade of MIND’s elementary and middle school math education programs to make them deliverable online over the Internet. Combined with a recent product grant, Cisco’s support this fall to the MIND Research Institute represents a million-dollar investment in the non-profit.

MIND Research, which has invested over a decade of research, development, and real-world implementation into interactive computerized math lessons, currently delivers its educational software programs via CD-ROM. MIND’s supplemental courseware includes the ST Math™ software suite for grades K to 5 and ST Math: Algebra Readiness supplemental software for middle and high school students. ST Math, which requires manual installation and subsequent software upgrades on each individual computer where the program will be accessed, develops a balance of mathematical-reasoning, procedural-skills development, and problem-solving abilities through a unique visual approach. Multiple research studies have consistently shown dramatic double-digit increases in student math proficiency levels on standardized tests, and because of this success, the MIND Research Institute is focused on national expansion of its programs.

“With this latest and largest grant, the Cisco Foundation has demonstrated a solid commitment to the MIND Research Institute’s innovative, research based approach to math education,” said Ted Smith, MIND Research Chairman. “Cisco has been a key supporter of our efforts to improve the educational outcomes for children, and we are tremendously grateful for this latest demonstration of their support.”

Last year, the Cisco Foundation granted MIND Research $376,000 in support to significantly enhance the content and improve implementation of the ST Math education software. That grant helped pave the way to a web-based platform by specifically funding the integration of new and improved research-driven features, including teacher tools, designed to improve the efficiency of the organization’s operations and program delivery. Other prior giving from the Cisco Foundation includes a $50,000 grant in 2004 to expand MIND’s “STMath+Music” program to additional schools in California, and an $89,000 product donation in 2005 to help build scalable hardware to manage MIND’s rapid growth in numbers of students reached.

“The MIND Research Institute is delivering a program that has a clear and replicable impact on the math and problem-solving skills of children,” stated Michael Yutrzenka, Executive Director of the Cisco Foundation. “We believe Cisco’s recent donation will help MIND Research further expand this program and help arm future generations with the basic math and problem solving skills required to compete in a global economy in the 21st century.”

Some school districts throughout the United States will only adopt educational programs that are available over the Web, and many more are transitioning to using only Web-deliverable software programs. Giving schools access to educational software over the Web allows states and school districts to easily deliver this programming to remote locations and with minimal expense and maintenance.

“Web delivery is the next crucial step in the development of our technology,” said Dr. Matthew Peterson, MIND Research Co-founder and Senior Scientist. “Cisco’s generous equipment and cash contributions provide MIND Research with the resources needed to make our program Web-deliverable, which will dramatically improve access to our programs, help us reach a broader and larger audience, and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of our program delivery.” Dr. Peterson, a neuroscientist, created the patented and proven Spatial Temporal (ST) computer exercises and will oversee the Web delivery conversion project.

Specifically, MIND Research will use the grant to secure the necessary information technology expertise to design, build and deploy a fully Web-deliverable platform for users to access ST Math. With a Web-deliverable system, MIND Research can implement interactive tools such as a message board for teachers using the software to communicate with one another, as well as make video trainings and other professional development tools available for download and use at any time. The organization will integrate all of its current and future software programming into this system, which is planned for a limited beta-release in the 2008-2009 school year and full-scale release in the 2009-2010 school year.

MIND Research Institute Background
The MIND Research Institute is a non-profit education researcher and publisher. MIND applies its distinctive visual approach to illustrating concepts and building problem-solving skills as the basis for innovative, research-proven math education programs for elementary and secondary schools. The programs include the ST Math patent-pending software for K-5 students and ST Math: Algebra Readiness Supplemental for intervention at the secondary level. The visual approach taps into each student’s innate ability to do spatial-temporal (ST) reasoning and problem-solving, and is effective at engaging students at all levels of language or academic proficiency. Participating students have achieved dramatic improvements in math performance. There are currently over 270 schools in California, Texas and nine other states, and more than 48,000 students and 2,500 teachers participating in the program.

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Dynamic Literacy’s vocabulary curriculum increases science comprehension for students

Charlottesville, VA — Nov. 26, 2007 — As science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education reform continues to be a high priority, educators are striving to find ways to improve the science achievement of their students. One specific solution educators are focusing on is content area literacy. Students must understand at least 90 percent of written text in order to learn new science concepts through independent reading. Dynamic Literacy, a developer of vocabulary curriculum, offers educators a way to expand their students’ science vocabulary through the WordBuild Vocabulary Development System.

Content area literacy, or reading to learn, is possible when students possess the knowledge to comprehend the language used to deliver content area instruction. To increase content area literacy in science, students must be taught strategies to use in deriving the meanings of unfamiliar words. The WordBuild Vocabulary Development System teaches the critical thinking skills students need to identify science words that are likely to be found on standardized tests.

“Our middle school language arts teachers have been using the WordBuild Vocabulary Development System for the past three years,” said Sandra Whitaker, 6-12 Language Arts Coordinator for Albemarle County Public Schools. “The program teaches students how to pull apart and put together words again, as a way to decipher unfamiliar words when presented with few or no context clues. As a result, teachers in other academic subjects have noticed a vast improvement in their students’ reading comprehension skills.”

The WordBuild Vocabulary Development System is a series of educational materials designed to improve vocabulary, language and reading comprehension skills for students in grades 3-12. The program is based on morphology, or the study of the units of meaning in words. Similar to how phonics helps a student “sound out” unfamiliar words, a mastery of Morphics helps a student “mean out” unfamiliar words. The curriculum teaches students how English words are constructed by focusing on the meanings of prefixes, roots and suffixes, also known as morphemes. Once students learn the definitions of common morphemes, they gain the skills to decipher thousands of unfamiliar words, and their vocabularies increase exponentially.

The WordBuild Vocabulary Development System consists of two series, Foundations and Elements. Intended for grades 3-5, but available for vocabulary instruction intervention for grades 6 and up, Foundations contains two years of morphics-based instruction. Elements is intended for grades 5-9, but is available for vocabulary instruction intervention for grades 10 and up, and contains three years of morphics-based instruction.

Dynamic Literacy has published a supplemental guide for educators entitled, “Using the WordBuild Vocabulary Development System to Improve Student Performance in Science.” To download a copy, visit www.dynamicliteracy.com/resources.php.
For more information on the WordBuild Vocabulary Development System, or to speak with a sales representative, visit www.dynamicliteracy.com or email info@dynamicliteracy.com.

About Dynamic Literacy
Dynamic Literacy, LLC is committed to improving vocabulary, language and reading comprehension skills for students through the WordBuild Vocabulary Development System. Based on frequently used Latin and Greek roots, the program is a series of educational materials designed to teach students how words are built by focusing on the meaning of prefixes, roots and suffixes. Gaining the skills necessary to decipher unfamiliar words helps improve students’ performance in the classroom and on high-stakes assessments. The company was established in 2002 and is headquartered in Charlottesville, Va. For more information, visit www.dynamicliteracy.com or phone 888-696-8597.

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Arizona and California high schools run pilot programs of assessment and remediation software

Las Vegas — Interactive Technologies of Nevada (ITN), developer of Succeed in: Math! software, is conducting pilot programs in Arizona and California high schools this school year.

“Succeed in: Math! combines assessment and remediation into one program that helps students improve math skills and increase test scores on high stakes exams required for graduation”, said Joel Rector, Operations Director for ITN. “Our program integrates animation, bilingual (English/Spanish) narration with interactive practice, delivering a self-paced learning experience that has helped thousands of students since 2004. We have developed a unique educational methodology that identifies student weaknesses, generating a personalized tutorial based on each student’s needs.”

About Interactive Technologies of Nevada (www.interactive-technologies.net)
Interactive Technologies of Nevada (ITN) is a leading developer of Internet-based assessment and remediation software that help students improve skills and increase test scores. ITN’s premier product, Succeed in: Math! combines animation, bilingual (English/Spanish) narration, text and interactive practice with robust reporting functionality that takes the guesswork out of identifying student weaknesses and providing focused, effective remedial help for middle school, high school, and postsecondary students.

This year, ITN has over 65,000 students registered in five (5) states working to succeed in math by integrating assessment and interactive remedial content into a unique learning platform that identifies student weaknesses and creates a customized tutoring plan for each.

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Oklahoma Commission for Teacher Preparation collaborates with Pearson to develop new certification exam for teachers of Cherokee

Oklahoma City and Hadley, Mass — Nov. 27, 2007 – The Oklahoma Commission for Teacher Preparation has added Cherokee to its Oklahoma Subject Area Tests. Developed in collaboration with Pearson’s teacher licensure testing group with the assistance of educators from the Cherokee Nation, this new exam joins five other World Language certification exams offered as part of the Certification Examinations for Oklahoma Educators teacher certification testing program.

The Evaluation Systems group of Pearson (formerly National Evaluation Systems) develops and administers the Certification Examinations for Oklahoma Educators, which include the Oklahoma General Education Test, the Oklahoma Professional Teaching Examination and the Oklahoma Subject Area Tests. The purpose of Oklahoma’s teacher certification testing program is to help ensure that all candidates seeking certification in the state have the knowledge and skills necessary to perform the job of an entry-level educator in its public schools.

“Our goal is to ensure that every student in Oklahoma has access to competent, caring and qualified teachers,” said Ted Gillispie, executive director, Oklahoma Commission for Teacher Preparation. “To achieve this goal, we work closely with the Evaluation Systems group of Pearson to continually expand and enhance our teacher certification testing program by adding exams such as the new Cherokee subject area test and by updating our existing tests.” In addition to Cherokee, other World Language teacher certification exams included in the Oklahoma Subject Area Tests are French, German, Latin, Russian and Spanish. Other Oklahoma Subject Area Tests that were updated or redeveloped for the 2007-2008 program year include English, U.S. History/Oklahoma History/Government/Economics and World History/Geography.

“Working closely with individual states around the country, we develop custom teacher licensure testing programs,” said William Gorth, Ph.D., president of the Evaluation Systems group of Pearson. “The expansion of the Oklahoma Subject Area Tests to include Cherokee is just one example of how states are developing testing programs that meet their unique educational needs.”

For more information about the Certification Examinations for Oklahoma Educators, visit www.ceoe.nesinc.com. For more information about the Evaluation Systems group of Pearson, visit www.nesinc.com.

About Pearson
Pearson is the global leader in educational publishing, assessment, information and services, helping people of all ages to learn at their own pace, in their own way. For students preK-12, Pearson provides effective and innovative curriculum products in all available media, educational assessment and measurement for students and teachers, student information systems, and teacher professional development and certification programs. The company’s respected brands include Scott Foresman, Prentice Hall, AGS, PowerSchool, SuccessMaker, TeacherVision and many others. Pearson’s comprehensive offerings help inform targeted instruction and intervention so that success is within reach of every student. Pearson’s other primary businesses include the Financial Times Group and the Penguin Group.

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Now educators can plan, implement, evaluate academic interventions with Pearson Inform 4.2

Rancho Cordova, CA — Nov. 27, 2007 — Pearson today launched the newest update to Pearson Inform, its award-winning achievement data analysis and decision support tool for K-12 schools. With its new Academic Intervention Plan feature, Pearson Inform 4.2 significantly expands its capabilities for planning individualized and group student instruction.

Building on the product’s robust support for identifying and monitoring intervention groups, the new feature allows educators to quickly and easily develop intervention plans for any group of students who need instruction outside of the regular academic program, such as remediation activities for struggling students or enrichment academics for gifted students. With this new feature, Pearson Inform now fully supports the Response to Intervention (RTI) framework and helps school districts meet state and federal mandates and reporting requirements.

When paired with a student information system, such as PowerSchool Premier, Pearson’s innovative, award-winning, easy-to-use student information system, Pearson Inform, gives educators a quick view into individual student performance, enabling them to measure progress, plan for improvement, intervene when necessary and improve overall district and school performance. With access to a wealth of student data, educators can develop individualized learning plans that include performance history, concept mastery status, intervention activity history, assignment of new intervention activities and programs, educator comments, targeted concepts and suggestions for parents. District leaders, principals and teachers can create and store Academic Intervention Plans, as well numerous other reports, analyzing multiple formative and summative assessment results by year, subject, grade, demographics and more.

“Pearson is committed to developing intuitive and innovative solutions that help educators improve student achievement,” said Mary McCaffrey, president of the School Systems group of Pearson. “When a school district implements Pearson Inform with PowerSchool Premier, educators will have a complete view of multiple sources of student data and can develop targeted plans to intervene or accelerate learning, putting all students on a course for academic success.”

As an example, a principal can use Pearson Inform 4.2 to identify a reading intervention group for third-grade students who failed last year’s state reading assessment and are not meeting learning goals based on the first two interim reading assessments. Then, in
collaboration with the school’s reading specialist and teachers, an Academic Intervention Plan can be developed that includes a number of targeted learning activities, such as one hour daily of small-group instruction, use of a special curriculum or reading learning tool, or daily reading with a parent.

Paired with PowerSchool Premier, the principal and district leaders can use Pearson Inform 4.2 to access student and class demographic information and get a summary analysis of current and historical school and classroom performance. With access to all student assessment and demographic data through these seamlessly integrated technology tools from Pearson, educators receive a comprehensive picture of what is happening with all of the students, based on multiple performance indicators, across the district or school, by classroom, and within an intervention or other student group. Based on this information, educators can determine the best intervention plans for students.

Once the plans are put into action, district leaders, principals, instructional specialists and teachers can monitor student progress in an intervention group, individually, in subsets, or as a whole. Teachers can view the plans for individual students and make comments or add additional information that will be included with the Academic Intervention Plan in historical data and can be shared with other educators and parents.

The Academic Intervention Plans in Pearson Inform 4.2 are available to teachers and administrators online or they can be printed and included with grant reports or shared with individual students’ parents at conferences.

For more information about Pearson Inform 4.2, visit
www.pearsonschoolsystems.com/products/inform

About Pearson
Pearson is the global leader in educational publishing, assessment, information and services, helping people of all ages to learn at their own pace, in their own way. For students preK-12, Pearson provides effective and innovative curriculum products in all
available media, educational assessment and measurement for students and teachers, student information systems, and teacher professional development and certification programs. The company’s respected brands include PowerSchool, Chancery SMS, SASI, Scott Foresman, Prentice Hall and many others. Pearson’s comprehensive offerings help inform targeted instruction and intervention so that success is within reach of every student. Pearson’s other primary businesses include the Financial Times Group and the Penguin Group.

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Next ed-tech frontier: Classes via cell phone

In what could be a sign of things to come for colleges and universities worldwide, an online university in Japan has debuted a course that students can take through their cell phones.

Cyber University, the nation’s only university to offer all its classes on the internet, began offering a class via mobile phone Nov. 28 on the mysteries of the pyramids.

For classes that students take via personal computers, the downloaded lectures play on the monitor with text and images in the middle, and a smaller video of the lecturer in the corner, complete with sound.

The cell-phone course, which pops up on the handset’s tiny screen, plays just the PowerPoint images accompanied by audio.

In a demonstration Nov. 28 at a Tokyo hotel, an image of the pyramids popped up on the screen and changed to a text image as a professor’s voice played from the handset speakers.

Cyber University, which opened in April with government approval to award bachelor’s degrees, has 1,850 students.

The virtual campus is 71 percent owned by Softbank Corp., a major Japanese mobile carrier, which also has broadband operations and offers online gaming, shopping, and electronic stock trading services.

The cell-phone lectures may be expanded to other courses in the future but for now will be used only for the pyramids course, according to Cyber University. The university offers about 100 courses, including ancient Chinese culture, online journalism, and English literature.

Unlike the university’s other classes, the one delivered via cell phones will be available to the public free of charge, although viewers must pay cell-phone fees. (The course is delivered in Japanese.)

The catch is that the lectures can be seen only on some Softbank phones. However, the service may be expanded to other carriers, officials said.

Sakuji Yoshimura, who heads Cyber University and teaches the pyramids course, said the university provides educational opportunities for people who find it hard to attend brick-and-mortar universities, including people with jobs and those who are sick or have disabilities.

“Our duty as educators is to respond to the needs of people who want to learn,” Yoshimura said.

He scoffed at those who question the value of internet and cell-phone classes, noting attendance is relatively high at 86 percent. Whether students play the lecture downloads to the end can be monitored by the university digitally, officials said.

Links:

Cyber University (site is in Japanese)

Softbank Corp.

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How a computer for the poor got stomped by tech giants

From the Wall Street Journal: In 2005, Nicholas Negroponte unveiled an idea for bridging the technology divide between rich nations and the developing world: design a $100 laptop and, within four years, get it into the hands of up to 150 million of the world’s poorest schoolchildren. World leaders and corporate benefactors jumped in to support One Laptop Per Child, and Mr. Negroponte, a professor on leave from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, hopscotched the world collecting pledges from developing nations to buy the laptops in bulk. But nearly three years later, only about 2,000 students in pilot programs have received computers from the project.

Click here to read the full story

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High-tech schools pilot program puts kids in charge

From the New York Daily News: In 22 New York City schools, students and teachers are participating in a pilot program designed to create and test-drive the 21st century classroom. About $13.4 million in capital funds, along with federal grants, have been invested into the so-called iTeach-iLearn schools over the past two years. The pilot program outfits classrooms in the 22 schools with devices including SMARTboards, laptops, wireless Internet access and special lockers to keep all the technology safe when the school is closed. Teachers also receive training so they feel comfortable with the new technology.

Click here to read the full story

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In D.C., a computer for every classroom

From the Washington Post: Washington D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) and D.C. schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee announced yesterday that every D.C. classroom will have a desktop computer by February under a $4 million technology initiative. The money will pay for more than 6,300 computers, which will be installed in the city’s 141 schools. The money will also go toward fixing network cables, power strips and access points so that every classroom teacher and administrator will be able to have and use a computer.

Click here for the full story

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