Baltimore County teachers to try out handheld devices for tests

Starting this month, some Baltimore County teachers will give tests via handheld devices instead of the usual pencil and paper in a pilot program aiming to make their jobs easier and better engage students, reports the Baltimore Sun. "We believe that this has the potential to benefit teachers and students greatly," said Mandi Dietrich, director of special projects, who is overseeing the pilot. The units "can expedite testing, which of course leaves more time for other instructional activities. … They’re also instructional tools." With the iRespond devices, which resemble a TV remote control with a small digital screen, teachers can immediately access test results, eliminating the trip to a scanner to score the county assessments used to prepare students for state tests, Dietrich said. But they can be used for instructor-created tests as well, or for questions woven into regular classroom lessons. Eleven schools are to give the handheld devices a test run this year, with plans to use them for benchmarks and short-cycle assessments starting this month. "We were looking for what’s the next step to help the teacher," said Steve Holmes, president of EduTrax, which provides testing and data services to the school system. "This is really going to streamline the testing process."

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Computer theft robs yearbook staff of priceless memories

Already, the yearbook staff at Miami Palmetto Senior High had snapped more than 3,000 photographs, capturing key football games, pep rallies, and the Homecoming dance. But on Nov. 20, someone entered the second-story yearbook room through a window, stealing $18,000 in computers and accessories. Stored on those machines: all the staff’s work for the 2010 yearbook, reports the Miami Herald. ‘My heart just sank,’ said senior Dominic Bisceglia, the yearbook’s editor-in-chief. ‘We had done so much work, and all of it was lost.’ The teens did all of their work on the eight iMacs in the yearbook room — computers their predecessors had purchased through fundraising efforts. Already, they had more than 100 pages of the yearbook nearly finished. But they hadn’t backed up their work. The students were confident they could recover the photographs and layouts in the event of a computer crashed, but they never anticipated a break-in. The school district is working to replace the computers, and district officials will increase security at the school. In the meantime, students at South Dade Senior High and Design and Architecture Senior High have offered to lend Palmetto some of their equipment, and Palmetto students have started brainstorming how they can salvage the yearbook…

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Obama launches new STEM initiatives

President Barack Obama on Nov. 23 announced the launch of several nationwide programs to help motivate and inspire students to excel in science and math, including a grassroots effort called “National Lab Day” and a White House science fair.

Leadership tomorrow is dependent on how America’s students are educated today, Obama said in morning remarks.

“The key to meeting these challenges–to improving our health and well-being, to harnessing clean energy, to protecting our security, and succeeding in the global economy–will be reaffirming and strengthening America’s role as the world’s engine of scientific discovery and technological innovation,” he said. “The hard truth is that for decades we’ve been losing ground. One assessment shows American 15-year-olds now rank 21st in science and 25th in math when compared to their peers around the world.”

Obama was referring to results from the most recent Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA. Some experts caution that PISA is different from other tests, especially those in the United States, and makes American kids look worse than other tests do.

Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John Holdren reiterated Obama’s sentiment in a conference call with reporters.

“The president has been clear throughout his campaign that STEM [science, technology, engineering, and math] is a priority, not only because we need today’s students to become tomorrow’s leaders in innovation and help our economy, but also because we need to increase STEM interest and skills overall for everybody. We need a science-savvy citizenry to help decide STEM policy and much more,” he said.

Obama identified three overarching priorities for STEM education: increasing STEM literacy so all students can think critically in these subject areas; improving the quality of math and science teaching so American students no longer are outperformed by those in other nations; and expanding STEM education and career opportunities for underrepresented groups, including women and minorities.

To help meet these goals, Obama announced a series of high-powered partnerships involving leading companies, foundations, nonprofit organizations, and science and engineering societies, all of which are dedicated to moving American students from the middle to the top of the pack in science and math achievement over the next 10 years.

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Revised Google Book deal disappoints many

College and university library officials are largely disappointed with Google’s decision to exclude non-English books from its digital library in a concession to critics of a proposed legal settlement, saying the move would cut Google’s massive online collection in half and could hamper campus research.

The internet search giant will ease its control over millions of copyright-protected books earmarked for its Google Book Search library if a court approves a revised lawsuit settlement that addresses objections of antitrust regulators.

The offer comes two months after the U.S. Justice Department balked at Google’s original agreement with authors and publishers, warning the arrangement could do more harm than good in the emerging market for electronic books.

Google is hoping to keep the deal alive with a series of new provisions. Among other things, the modified agreement provides more flexibility to offer discounts on electronic books and promises to make it easier for others to resell access to a digital index of books covered in the settlement. Google’s decision to exclude foreign-language texts comes after months of persistent criticism from many European officials.

Copyright holders also would have to give more explicit permission to sell digital book copies if another version is being sold anywhere else in the world. (See "Google rewrites landmark book-search deal.")

The concessions filed late on Nov. 13 in New York federal court are just the latest twist in a class-action lawsuit filed against Google four years ago by groups representing the interests of U.S. authors and publishers. The suit alleged Google’s ambition to make digital copies of all the books in the world trampled their intellectual rights.

Google’s concessions did not quell European criticism. French book publishers gave a hostile reception to the latest twist in the Book Search lawsuit.

The proposals "do not mark any progress on the essential question of non-English language works pirated by Google," said a statement by the Publisher’s Association (SNE), which groups most of France’s publishers. "The SNE is maintaining its position by asking Google to respect the essential principle of prior consent by authors and publishers for use of their works."

Erika Linke, who served as president of the Association of College and Research Libraries, said Google’s agreement to remove non-English works from its scanning project could stifle enthusiasm among college librarians anxiously waiting for the program to launch.
 
"It changes the value of it in a way," said Linke, associate dean of libraries at Carnegie Mellon University. "It makes a big difference" for students researching non-English texts, she said.
 
Brandon Butler, a law and policy fellow at the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), said Google’s compromise will slash the volume of texts librarians anticipated as they observed the mega-site’s protracted legal fight.
 
"It’ll be a pretty Anglo-centric system," Butler said. "What we thought we would have access to [on Google Book Search] was cut in half. It will make it significantly less attractive, because it’s much less comprehensive."

Higher-education library administrators interviewed by eCampus News said they would wait until the prolonged legal battle between Google and publishers is over before they establish policies on how campus libraries will use the book-search tool.

Some librarians questioned the usefulness of out-of-print books for undergraduate studies, especially during students’ freshman and sophomore years in college, when recently published introductory books are frequently used.

"There’s probably a huge quantity of information out there, but is it something you’d want to use in an educational setting?" said Stan Horton, assistant dean for library and media services at Grays Harbor College in Aberdeen, Wash.

Horton added that research universities where faculty and staff compile outdated, out-of-print books for collections from certain eras might find Google Book Search to be a valuable resource.

Two-year community colleges, four-year colleges, and major research institutions will use Google Book Search in myriad ways, Linke said.
 
"Different institutions will have very different uses for it," she said. "You’re not going to want to use a nursing text from 75 years ago [in an undergraduate course], but if you were to do research on the history of nursing, that kind of text would be very helpful."
 
Linke agreed that Google Book Search would be a sought-after tool for researchers, rather than a widely-used resource among undergraduate students.

Google negotiated a $125 million truce nearly 13 months ago, only to be attacked by a brigade of critics who protested to U.S. District Judge Denny Chin, who must approve the agreement before it takes effect. The financial terms of the settlement remain intact, including a promise to give 63 percent of all sales proceeds to participating authors and publishers.

Among other complaints, the opposition said the plan would put Google in charge of a literary cartel that could illegally rig the prices of electronic books–a format that is expected to become increasingly popular.

In echoing some of those concerns, the Justice Department advised Chin that the original settlement probably would break laws set up to preserve competition and protect copyright holders, even if they can’t be located.

The concessions didn’t go far enough to satisfy one of the most strident opponents, the Open Book Alliance, a group that includes Google rivals Microsoft Corp., Yahoo Inc., and Amazon.com Inc.

"Our initial review of the new proposal tells us that Google and its partners are performing a sleight of hand," said Peter Brantley, the Open Book Alliance’s co-chairman. "Fundamentally, this settlement remains a set piece designed to serve the private commercial interests of Google and its partners."

In a Nov. 13 conference call, representatives for Google, authors, and publishers expressed confidence the revisions would gain court approval, although they conceded they didn’t respond to all misgivings raised by the Justice Department.

Under the timeline laid out in the revised settlement, the Justice Department would have until Feb. 4 to file its opinion about the changes. The revised settlement suggests that a final hearing be scheduled for Feb. 18.

The revised settlement would apply only to books registered with the U.S. copyright office or published in Canada, the United Kingdom, or Australia.

Much of the concern about the settlement has focused on whether it would give Google a monopoly on so-called "orphan works"–out-of-print books that are still protected by copyright but whose writers’ whereabouts are unknown.

If the writers or their heirs don’t stake a claim to their works, the original settlement calls for any money made from the sales of their books to go into a pool that eventually would be shared among the authors and publishers who had stepped forward to work with Google.

The unannounced subscription costs to Google Book Search, Butler said, have remained a concern for ARL. In a May court filing, ARL asked the judge to keep a close eye on the massive Google Book Search settlement as it unfolds.
 
"… In the absence of competition for the services enabled by the settlement, this impact may not be entirely positive," the ARL filing said. "The settlement could compromise fundamental library values such as equity of access to information, patron privacy, and intellectual freedom. In order to mitigate the possible negative effects the settlement may have on libraries and the public at large, the Library Associations request that this court vigorously exercise its jurisdiction over the interpretation and implementation of the settlement."

The revised settlement will designate an independent party to oversee the financial interests of the orphan books’ copyright owners.

Proceeds from the sales of orphan books also would be held for 10 years, up from five years in the original agreement. After that, the money would be given to charities.

University librarians said they would observe from the sidelines while Google Book Search’s major details are determined in the courtroom.

Barbara Fister, head of the library instruction program at Gustavos Adolphus College in Minnesota, said the massive online library could change the way college research is conducted if Google can maintain an affordable, comprehensive collection–despite the persistent legal opposition to the company’s controversial effort.

"Whether in the end this resource proves to be a huge boon to researchers or the general public is an open question that depends on … the cost of access, the quality of the [book] scans, … and the effect of having a de facto monopoly that can monetize orphaned works will have on the information ecosystem," Fister said. "I’m not sure how we’ll feel 10 years from now."

Links:

Association of College and Research Libraries

Association of Research Libraries

Revised settlement agreement

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Competition seeks ways to transform learning

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has announced a $2 million open competition for ideas to transform learning using digital media.

The announcement came on Nov. 23, the same day President Obama called for new efforts to reinvent and improve education in science and math. (See story here)

Supported by grants to the University of California at Irvine and Duke University, the competition invites designers, researchers, educators, entrepreneurs, and others to build digital media experiences–the “learning labs of the 21st century,” the foundation said–that can help students interact, collaborate, build, and explore in new and innovative ways.

“Lifting American students from the middle to the top of the pack in STEM achievement over the next decade will not be attained by government alone,” said Obama. “I applaud the substantial commitments made today by the leaders of companies, universities, foundations, nonprofits, and organizations representing millions of scientists, engineers, and teachers from across the country.”

The competition is designed to promote “participatory learning,” the notion that students often learn best through sharing and involvement. Participatory learning, as defined by the competition, is connected to individual interests and passions, inherently social in nature, and occurs during hands-on, creative activities. Successful grant projects will leverage all of these elements, the foundation said.

Awards will be made in two categories: “21st Century Learning Lab Designers” and “Game Changers.”

Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA), in cooperation with the Entertainment Software Association and the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, have partnered with the foundation to support the “Game Changers” component of the competition.

Game Changers will provide awards for the creation of new educational gaming experiences using PlayStation’s LittleBigPlanet video game. SCEA also will donate 1,000 PlayStation3 (PS3) systems and copies of the LittleBigPlanet game to libraries and community-based organizations in low-income communities.

“MacArthur is pleased to team with Sony … to encourage the next generation of innovators to focus on science, technology, engineering, and math. Digital media, including games, are the learning labs of the future, and this open competition encourages people to consider creative new ways to use digital media to create learning environments that are engaging, immersive, and participatory,” said Connie Yowell, MacArthur’s director of education.

“This competition will help ensure that the new and highly engaging approaches to science, technology, engineering, and math find their way into schools, libraries, museums, and other spaces for learning.”

The competition includes three rounds of submissions, with public comment at each stage. The public also will be invited to judge the final candidates, including the selection of People’s Choice awards in each category.

“Learning labs are digital media projects that promote hands-on, participatory learning,” said Cathy Davidson, Duke University professor and co-founder of HASTAC (the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory), a consortium of scientists and engineers committed to new forms of cross-disciplinary collaboration fostered by creative uses of technology.

“They promote learning together with others, by interactively doing, trying, sometimes failing.”

She continued: “When we think of laboratories, the image of beakers and microscopes come to mind, but learning labs help us reimagine and expand our understanding of learning across all domains of knowledge.”

Administered by HASTAC, the competition is part of MacArthur’s digital media and learning initiative, which is designed to help determine how digital technologies are changing the way young people learn, play, socialize, and participate in civic life. (See “MacArthur to invest $50M in digital learning.”) Applications will be accepted beginning Dec. 7.

Competition winners will join an existing community of 36 awardees from 2007 and 2008, including a video blogging project for young women in Mumbai, India; a cutting-edge mobile phone application that lets children conduct digital wildlife spotting and share that information with friends; a project that leverages low-cost laptops to help indigenous children in Chiapas, Mexico, learn by producing and sharing their own media creations; and an online platform for 200 classrooms around the world that allows young people to monitor, analyze, and share information about the declining global fish population.

Links:

Digital Media and Learning Competition

MacArthur Foundation

HASTAC

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More states have education data systems

According to a new report, every state is on track to have a longitudinal data system that follows the progress of individual students from preschool through college by 2011, thanks in part to funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (AARA). However, many states still lack key elements in their data systems that could inform critical policy discussions.

The report, titled "10 State Actions to Ensure Effective Use of Data," was released by the Data Quality Campaign (DQC) during the Council of Chief State School Officer’s annual policy forum.

According to this fourth annual report, which surveys the progress states are making toward implementing statewide longitudinal data systems, states have capitalized on the momentum of the federal stimulus package. Not only has every governor and chief state school officer committed to building a longitudinal data system by 2011 as a condition of receiving State Fiscal Stabilization funds, but the requirements for qualifying for "Race to the Top" funding and State Longitudinal Data Grants also are promoting the effective use of data, the DQC says. (See "ED to fund unified student data systems.")

The DCQ believes longitudinal data is important to education, because this type of data collection makes it possible to follow individual students’ academic growth, determine the value specific programs add to this growth, and identify consistently high-performing classrooms, schools, and systems.

"Education reform is not about sweeping mandates or grand gestures. It’s about systematically examining, learning, and building on what we’re doing right and fixing what hasn’t worked for our children. The Data Quality Campaign has challenged states to expose the good, the bad, and the ugly about our schools and focus the national conversation on how data can lay the groundwork for reform," said Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

To measure how well states are performing in building longitudinal data systems, the DQC has identified the following "10 Essential Elements" of a system and annually reports states’ progress in implementing each element. The results include the 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, collectively referred to as "states" in the progress report.

The group’s 10 essential elements are:

1. A unique student identifier that connects student data across key databases and across multiple years. (Fifty states now have this, up from 36 in 2005.)

2. Student-level enrollment, demographic, and program participation information (51 states, up from 38 in 2005).

3. The ability to match individual students’ test records from year to year to measure academic growth (50 states, up from 32 in 2005).

4. Information on untested students and the reasons they were not tested (46 states, up from 25 in 2005).

5. A teacher identifier system with the ability to match teachers to students (24 states, up from 13 in 2005).

6. Student-level transcript data, including information on courses completed and grades earned (23 states, up from seven in 2005).

7. Student-level college readiness tests scores (37 states, up from seven in 2005).

8. Student-level graduation and dropout data (51 states, up from 34 in 2005).

9. The ability to match student records between K-12 and postsecondary systems (31 states, up from 12 in 2005).

10. A state data audit system assessing quality, validity, and reliability (49 states, up from 19 in 2005).
 
Based on these measures, this year’s survey found that 11 states–Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming–now have all ten elements. (No state had all 10 elements in 2005, and just six states had all 10 in 2008.) In addition, 31 states have eight or more of the elements, and only two states–Idaho and the District of Columbia–have fewer than five elements.

All but one state, Idaho, collect student-level enrollment, demographic, and program participation data or collect student-level graduation and dropout data.
 
The 2009 survey also found that more states are collecting the data needed to answer key questions, such as: "Which schools produce the strongest academic growth for their students?" (44 states, up from 21 in 2005); "What high school performance indicators … are the best predictors of students’ success in college or the workplace?" (13 states, up from two in 2005); and "What percentage of high school graduates requires remediation in college?" (30 states, up from eight in 2005).
 
Despite these improvements, many states still lack critical elements for addressing college and career readiness and the impact that teachers have on student achievement, the DQC says.

For example, only 23 states collect transcript information on courses taken, completed, and grades earned, and only 37 states collect college readiness test scores. Also, since last year, just three additional states reported that they have a teacher identifier system with the ability to match teachers to students; 24 states now can make this link.

To make themselves eligible for Race to the Top funding, many states are addressing obstacles–including legal barriers–to linking teacher and student information together. As a result, it’s likely that many more states will report this ability next year, the organization projects. 
 
"Thanks to broad support, Maine recently passed legislation making it easier to follow individual progress from preschool through postsecondary education and into the workforce. Stimulus funds provide further incentive to address the barriers around linking data across agencies and systems to ensure that this rich information isn’t just collected, but able to be accessed and used to improve decision making and outcomes," said Maine Education Commissioner Susan Gendron, president of CCSSO’s Board of Directors.
 
Even with strong federal support, the DQC says, the challenge remains to build understanding and use of longitudinal data among all education stakeholders, so there is continual demand for these information systems well beyond the expiration of the federal stimulus dollars.
 
Creating state longitudinal data systems is an important first step, says the DQC, but states also must have policies and practices in place so that educators and stakeholders can access, understand, and be able to use the information effectively to improve instruction.

"The goal of implementing a comprehensive statewide data system in all 50 states is within reach," said Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour. "Mississippi was proud to report all 10 Essential Elements in 2009, but we realize that the hard work is just beginning. State policy makers and educators must come together to develop and implement a plan to make it feasible for stakeholders at all levels [of education] to use data daily in their decision making. It’s time to move from building systems to using data for continuous improvement."
 
In January, the DQC will release its first survey results measuring the progress of states toward implementing its "10 State Actions to Ensure Effective Use of Data."

The January report will provide more details on how states are changing their policies and practices to promote linkages across systems, ensure appropriate access to new data and analysis, and strengthen stakeholder capacity to use the information. 

Links:

"DQC 10 State Actions to Ensure Effective Use of Data"

Council of Chief State School Officers

ARRA fact sheet

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Obama to honor young inventors at science fair

Aiming to boost the status of math and science education in the United States, President Barack Obama on Nov. 23 said he would convene a national science fair next year to honor young inventors with the same gusto that college and professional athletes celebrate their victories at the White House.

“You know, if you win the NCAA championship, you come to the White House,” said Obama. “Well, if you’re a young person and you produce the best experiment or design, the best hardware or software, you ought to be recognized for that achievement, too. Scientists and engineers ought to stand side by side with athletes and entertainers as role models.”

He said his administration wants to show young students how “cool science can be.” He also announced $260 million in company donations to take science into more classrooms with television programs and celebrity science personalities.

The president made his remarks as he decried what he described as students’ lagging performance in math and science.

Click below to watch Obama’s speech on eSN.TV

obamascience

“Now, the hard truth is that for decades we’ve been losing ground,” Obama said. “One assessment shows American 15-year-olds now rank 21st in science and 25th in math when compared to their peers around their world.”

But Obama ignored another set of tests showing that fourth- and eighth-graders are holding their own and even making gains on kids in other developed countries.

Obama cited a test given to 15-year-olds in 30 developed countries, the Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA. Some experts caution that PISA is different from other tests, especially those in the United States, and makes American kids look worse than other tests do.

But another set of tests shows that while U.S. kids trail those in a handful of high-achieving Asian countries–Singapore, Taiwan, and Japan–they hold their own in the larger group of developed countries that comes next.

In fact, the United States has gained on some of its toughest competitors since 1995, making bigger strides in math than Singapore and Japan, and in science than Japan.

That’s according to the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, or TIMSS. Researchers involved in TIMSS say the United States is not trailing the developed world by any stretch of the imagination.

Link:

White House

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Computer-Based Learning Improves Performance of Autistic Children in Los Angeles United School District




Los Angeles, CA – TeachTown, an educational program for children with autism that combines computer lessons, non computer activities, data-collection features and a communication system, and the Los Angeles United School District (LAUSD) today released results of a clinical classroom trial of children with autism spectrum disorder enrolled in LAUSD classrooms. The findings included a significant increase in language, auditory processing, academics, and social skills compared to those students who were not introduced to the software.

Over the three month test period, students using TeachTown had up to 200 percent increases in performance scores on the software. In addition, TeachTown students gained two to five months more developmental growth than the control group students using the Brigance Assessment and with less one-on-one instruction.

The study included 47 children with autism, took place in four schools and consisted of four pre-school classes and four K-1 classes.

"I have seen students firsthand ‘talk to’ the TeachTown computer and become very animated when using the program. At this point at least 2000 or more students could potentially benefit from TeachTown in our district,” said Debbie Moss, Autism Specialist, LAUSD. “The teachers are loving it now. They’re seeing progress in the children. Attention and focus have improved. TeachTown ties into the pre-school curriculum and California standards, which is a big plus."

TeachTown was developed as a solution for learning challenges faced by children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. It works via animated images which appear on the computer monitor and teach children words and expressions. The interactivity permits the program to customize content to each individual student.

"The developmental progress far exceeds what would be expected. Some children had more than 30 month gains in specific learning areas like social understanding, in just three months with less than an hour a day of intervention, and a few children made so much progress that they have or near to having age-appropriate skills,” said Dr. Christina Whalen, Co-Founder, President, and Chief Science Officer, TeachTown. “I’ve always known the program was strongly grounded in science, but to see it in action in LAUSD classrooms and see just how incredible of an impact it has on students in a diverse public school setting is remarkable."

This was one of the largest teacher-delivered intervention studies and one of the only studies conducted in the classroom environment. Most studies are conducted in homes or laboratories.  

The study was funded by a grant from the National Center for Technology Innovation (NCTI) and included the Special Education Graduate School Program at California State Los Angeles as a partner in the study.  Additional analysis with further findings are expected to be released early 2010.

TeachTown (www.TeachTown.com) is a comprehensive curriculum for children of developmental ages 2 through 6 and teaches language, cognitive, and social skills. The program was developed by autism expert Dr. Christina Whalen, with input from an advisory board with multidisciplinary expertise that includes applied behavior analysis, special education, developmental and clinical psychology, and speechlanguage pathology.

TeachTown provides evidencebased, Internetenabled interventions and learning solutions for school districts, educators, and clinicians so they can better serve those with special needs, those with language impairment, and the rapidly growing population of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders.

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Oregon Adopts Living By Chemistry from Key Curriculum Press

Emeryville, Calif. (Nov. 23, 2009) – The Oregon State Board of Education approved Living By Chemistry for adoption as part of its K-12 Science Instructional Materials Evaluation Process.  Published by Key Curriculum Press, Living By Chemistry is a rigorous, full-year high school curriculum that helps students make connections between chemistry and the world around them.

Living By Chemistry presents scientific ideas in real-life contexts, a strategy that captures students’ interest and helps them retain information by connecting new ideas to their existing knowledge.  The curriculum encourages students to think like scientists, using an investigative approach that motivates them and shows them the importance of what they’re learning.

“Living By Chemistry is a research-based curriculum that supports various types of learners,” said Dr. Angelica Stacy, author of Living By Chemistry and Professor of Chemistry at University of California at Berkeley.  “The lessons address different modes of learning and include visual information to support English language learners, interactive experiences for students to build their own understanding, and reading and problem solving.”

Content-rich and highly accessible, Living By Chemistry offers an interactive learning experience for students, involving card games, labs, concept illustrations, and group discussions.  Instead of asking students simply to memorize symbols and terms, Living By Chemistry uses activities to help students comprehend key chemistry concepts.

“With Living By Chemistry, my students’ engagement levels have increased and they have become more excited about chemistry,” said Nikki Fajtak, teacher at Mt. Lebanon High School in Pennsylvania.  “This curriculum has truly eliminated their fear of the subject and helped them to believe that they can be successful at chemistry.”

Developed as a National Science Foundation project, Living By Chemistry is aligned to the Benchmarks for Scientific Literacy, the National Science Educational Standards, and the National Physical Science Standards.

For more information, including sample chapters and an online preview of Living By Chemistry, visit www.keypress.com/chemistry.
 
About Key Curriculum Press
Key Curriculum Press develops effective, high-quality mathematics and science educational materials.  The company is a leading publisher of inquiry-based textbooks, software and supplemental materials for elementary, middle and high school students.  In addition, Key Curriculum Press offers professional development workshops and online courses to provide mathematics and science educators with the training, experience and support they need to incorporate effective teaching strategies.  The company was founded by mathematics educators in 1971 and is headquartered in Emeryville, Calif.  For more information, visit www.keypress.com or phone 800-995-6284.

# # #

For more information, contact:
–Leigh Muzlsay Browne, Key Curriculum Press, 510-595-7000 ext. 126 or lmuzslay@keypress.com
–Emily Embury, C. Blohm & Associates, 608-839-9800 or emily@cblohm.com

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American Library Association files comments to FCC on E-rate




WASHINGTON, D.C. – The American Library Association (ALA) submitted a response to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) call for comments Friday on broadband needs in education including changes to the E-rate program to improve broadband deployment.

 

The E-rate program is nearing the day when it won’t be able to fund all of the most urgent (Priority One) requests, much less other important requests. This financial shortfall is not surprising because the E-rate program is currently capped at $2.25 billion per year, unchanged from the level at the program’s inception in 1997.

 

ALA urges the FCC to increase the cap to compensate for inflation and to provide full support for current library and school needs within the original intent of the program – universal access to advanced telecommunications and information services. 

 

“Until the E-rate cap is increased to meet existing needs, the FCC should not consider expanding the type of entities or services eligible for support,” said Dr. Alan Inouye, director of ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP).

 

Maintaining the flexibility of the current E-rate program is essential to meeting the needs of local libraries and schools. The E-rate program is already designed to accommodate evolving emphases and technologies – prospective beneficiaries need only to submit applications. Fundamental change in the program is unnecessary.

 

“However, what does need to be changed are the application and disbursement processes, which are mind-boggling in their complexity and detail,” Inouye said.

 

ALA reaffirms its past support for simplifying the application and disbursement processes, which are major deterrents to libraries in applying for E-rate discounts.

 

Finally, the FCC should consider actions to require service providers to connect their networks to schools and libraries at speeds that support access to advanced services, as authorized under the Telecommunications Act of 1996.  Since advanced services to schools and libraries are not universally available 12 years after enactment of the Act, ALA concludes that targeted, proactive actions should now be undertaken and included as an integral component of the National Broadband Plan.

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