now!Board (Learning Resources)

Billed as a “portable interactive whiteboard,” the now!Board turns any flat surface into an interactive whiteboard and also lets you control your computer from the front of the room—easily toggling between the virtual whiteboard, the internet, and your applications.

“I am using the now!Board as an interactive whiteboard alternative. I just project onto the wall or my regular whiteboard, and it becomes interactive,” said Ben Curran, a teacher at University Prep Academy in Michigan. “In my fifth grade classroom, it’s been great for annotating websites, note-taking, demonstrations, presentations, and all kinds of engaging, interactive activities. The kids love it. And it costs a fraction of a SMART or Promethean board.”

PlascoTrac (Plasco ID)

With PlascoTrac, a student incident and ID tracking system, schools have an efficient way to track not only tardiness, but also violations like cell phone, dress code, and parking lot incidents. The software also can be used to manage activities such as assembly or field trip attendance, extracurricular activities, tutoring, or various classroom activities that take students off campus.

“This is the fourth year we have been using PlascoTrac for tracking tardies. The program is awesome,” said Sharon Logan, a librarian for Brenham Independent School District in Texas. “Not only has it cut down the amount of tardies, but we are able to hold students accountable. Detentions must be served, and privileges are deprived when students receive more than six tardies in a semester. Our students are required to wear IDs. This past school year, we initiated the temporary system as well. Now, a student receives a temporary ID if the ID is not worn or left at home. Again, it goes back to accountability—plus it gives the administration the opportunity to view tardies and temporaries at the end of each day. A great administration tool!”

Powerspeak12 (Middlebury Interactive Languages)

Designed for elementary, middle, and high school students by Middlebury College in conjunction with K12 Inc., powerspeak12 language-learning programs include intuitive games and activities that immerse students in a natural and powerful way to learn language. The content also aligns with state and national standards as defined by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.

“Students pick the language that they would like to study, and they can progress at their own speed,” said Mark Fruehe, a global studies teacher for Community Consolidated School District 93 in Illinois. “The students listen, read, write, and speak the language on a daily basis in a one-on-one atmosphere. Every student has a native-speaking online tutor. Students create an avatar of themselves that completes lessons and earns money. With the money, the students can buy things for their avatar. This motivates them to work on the lessons. Class surveys show that 89 percent of the students like or really like the program. They are very engaged, and they learn a lot.”

READ 180 (Scholastic Inc.)

READ 180 is a comprehensive system of curriculum, instruction, assessment, and professional development that has been proven to raise reading achievement for struggling readers in grades 4-12.

READ 180 “has the flexibility and differentiation components available to reach middle school students who are reading anywhere from one to four grade levels below standard,” said Steve Rish, learning behavior specialist for Wilmette District 39 in Illinois. “The program addresses those needs through whole-group instruction, small-group instruction, independent reading, and instructional software. The students in my class have made tremendous gains in their vocabulary, comprehension, and writing and are highly engaged in their learning. I would highly recommend this product.”