To help meet the demand for better science instruction in the nation’s schools, PBS TeacherLine has teamed up with NASA to offer a series of free, self-paced professional development modules around the topic of global climate change. These three- to five-hour online modules are intended to increase teachers’ knowledge of the science behind global climate change and give them classroom resources to share with their students.

As of press time, there were four of these modules available to teachers. The first module offers an introduction to global climate change and discusses the evidence of climate change from different parts of the Earth. It also considers what it means to live on a planet with a dynamically changing climate. The second module explores the relationship between the increased concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere and the historical record of global temperatures to help teachers explore whether humans are responsible for global climate change, and to what extent. The third module helps teachers make the topic more immediately relevant to students by examining local climate data, and the fourth module looks at other scientific theories about global climate change, such as whether variable energy output or the Earth’s nearest star might be responsible.

Peoples Education demonstrated Practice Path, an online, standards-based practice and skill-building tool that lets students practice their reading and math skills, while showing their progress toward mastery of these skills. New to the product as of January is the ability for educators to toggle back and forth between reports showing students’ progress toward state standards and toward the Common Core standards in reading and math that many states have adopted.

PLATO Learning announced a new portfolio of Global Languages courses for high school students. PLATO has partnered with Middlebury Interactive to provide online courses in Spanish, French, German, Latin, and Mandarin Chinese, as well as Advanced Placement Spanish and French. The company also announced two additional online AP courses, AP U.S. History and AP Chemistry. PLATO’s AP courses are available as a comprehensive library on a subscription basis.

PrepMe, a company that provides college readiness programs, announced its ACT course, which is full aligned with the College Readiness Standards developed by ACT Inc. The College Readiness Standards are grouped by strand (Math, English, Reading, Writing, and Science) and score ranges (1-36) derived from the ACT scoring scale. PrepMe’s alignment considers both the objectives addressed in Lessons and Test Items, and the cognitive complexity of that content, in order to correlate the ACT Course with the College Readiness Standards, says the company.

Qwizdom has developed a free online learning platform for students in grades K-8, called Qtopia, with thousands of ready‐to‐use practice materials—including educational activities, games, and homework—that are accessible from any internet-connected computer. “What we have created is an online community for students and teachers that makes learning successful, measurable, and fun,” said Darin Beamish, CEO of Qwizdom.

Students can personalize their own account with customizable avatars, called Qtopians, who grow with each student as they overcome challenges and earn rewards. The site’s activities feature automatic grading, instant feedback, and data tracking, allowing educators to save time and paper when assigning homework, and online messaging and reporting tools make it easy for teachers to keep parents informed on their student’s progress and assignments.

Qtopia was piloted in January by a variety of instructors, including technology teacher Marty Harrington at Gray Elementary School in Georgia. “With Qtopia, I have seen students [who] are typically unmotivated perform better while having fun and enjoying it,” she noted.

While access to Qtopia is free of charge for educators and students, an extended version, Qtopia Plus, is in development and will feature more customization, access to state standards‐aligned curriculum, animated avatars, supplementary lesson and answer explanations, and district‐wide reporting capabilities, the company said.

Reading Plus introduced its Silent Reading Fluency Intervention, which is a component of its Response to Intervention multi-tier model. Reading Plus features assessments, computer-adaptive intervention, and fidelity monitoring to help teachers identify struggling readers and deliver targeted intervention.

Renzulli Learning introduced Renzulli NextBook, an activities database for kids that provides secure, real-time messaging and anytime, anywhere access, says the company. Students can take a virtual fieldtrip to a museum, interview a favorite author on the web, or explore a historical site without leaving the classroom. The NextBook’s student profiler provides an understanding of an individual student’s academic strengths, interests, and learning and expression styles. It also provides activities and projects that match the student’s profile and the desired curriculum standards.