Curriculum and instructional technology

TI introduced a new color-display handheld with 3D graphing capabilities.

A new way to deliver digital content that combines video distribution with the functionality of a learning management system, reading software that uses music to engage both sides of the brain at once, and a personalized online workspace for students to organize the information they find from search engines to create reports were among the many instructional technology products on display at recent ed-tech conferences.

Brightpoint Literacy exhibited Orbit Strategy Zone, which can help educators boost instructional effectiveness and zone in on one strategy at a time using interactive whiteboard-compatible resources for grades 3 and 4.

The College Board, which administers the SAT and the Advanced Placement exams, touted SpringBoard, an official pre-AP program for English Language Arts and Mathematics for students in grades 6-12. SpringBoard is also aligned with the Common Core State Standards in these subjects.

CompassLearning is combining an inquiry-based approach to instruction with students’ love of video games to develop a new online science curriculum for middle school students. CompassLearning Odyssey Middle School Science, to be released in June, combines live action and animation in a story format to engage students, says Melanie Pritchett, director of education policy for CompassLearning. One multimedia lesson, called “The Mind Keepers,” sets up a storyline in which the animated characters must save the planet’s watersheds. Students watch videos in which live-action news reporters and other experts explain where river water comes from, where it goes, and what impact watersheds have on the environment. Teachers can use these videos as lesson starters, or they can use them to launch more intensive project-based learning, Pritchett said.

Curriculum Advantage shared a success story concerning Texas’ use of Classworks instructional units, which are built and correlated to state standards. Classworks automatically sifts through test data to create a unique set of assignments for each student, the company said.

Discovery Education announced that its Science Elementary Techbook has been adopted by the state of Florida for use as a core instructional resource in elementary-level science classes. Florida joins Indiana, Louisiana, and Oregon in adopting the digital resource, Discovery said, adding that its Techbook costs less per student than a traditional textbook and includes inquiry-based lessons, as well as “5-Minute Preps” that give educators valuable refreshers on science content. “I’m challenged each day to create a stimulating, 21st-century learning environment that engages my tech-savvy students,” said Osceola County science teacher Debbie Bohanan. “A rich digital resource like the Discovery Education Science Techbook has the ability to transform my instruction and bring the wonderful world of science alive for all my students, regardless of their [preferred] learning style.”

eInstruction demonstrated its new Mobi View, a wireless tablet device that the company calls “the industry’s first mobile interactive whiteboard with an interactive touch-screen display.” At $449, Mobi View delivers the same functionality as a fixed interactive whiteboard (IWB), eInstruction says—untethering teachers from the front of the classroom and allowing them to move around the room while they teach. With Mobi View, content can be projected to any surface with the same interactive capabilities as a traditional IWB. The device offers one-touch access to annotation tools, favorite files, folders, applications, websites, and a touch-screen keyboard. Pairing Mobi View with eInstruction’s Mobi Student-Centered Learning Pack can transform classrooms into student-centered collaborative environments where students can project their work simultaneously, or one at a time, to learn from one another, the company says; Mobi’s multi-user capabilities allow up to nine groups to contribute content to the lesson display simultaneously, from anywhere in the room.

Electronic Learning Products highlighted independent research suggesting that students using its TUNEin to READING (TiR) program typically make a full year of reading progress after just nine weeks. TiR is a reading intervention program that uses music to help struggling readers in grades 3-12. Its patented method works because it engages both sides of the brain simultaneously, thereby building a greater number of neural connections than reading alone, the company says. Six years of research at the University of South Florida have found that using TiR for at least 90 minutes per week can improve the performance of struggling readers by an average of a full grade level in just nine weeks.

eSchool News Staff

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