Twenty new curriculum software products for schools

Discovery Education Streaming Plus also features more than 155,000 dynamic digital learning objects supporting all subject areas and learning styles, the company says—including videos, skill builders, games, audio files, images, writing prompts, and encyclopedia articles. In addition, the enhanced service includes model lessons and video clips that demonstrate for educators what the new Common Core State Standards look like in action. The service will be available to current Discovery Education Streaming customers at no additional cost.

Espresso Elementary demonstrated how its online teaching and learning resources for students ages 4-11—which feature topical Learning Modules, pre-created Mini-Lessons, and classroom-appropriate news stories—have been upgraded to run on tablet computers and a range of mobile devices. Espresso’s interactive, video-rich classroom activities provide an engaging learning experience for students and help them connect what they learn with the world at large, the company says.

FundingFactory showcased its free EcoBuddies eWaste recycling curriculum for schools, which it launched earlier this year. Designed for students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, EcoBuddies helps students understand the environmental impact of electronic waste, while gaining subject-area knowledge and applying it to real-world projects.

The cross-curricular environmental education program includes lesson plans, classroom activities, quizzes, and a soon-to-be-released online interactive habitat. The curriculum is available online at no charge to FundingFactory participants. Schools can sign up for free with FundingFactory to recycle used printer cartridges, cell phones, and other small electronics in exchange for cash or points redeemable for new products in the company’s e-Rewards catalog.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) and Educational Testing Service (ETS) revealed enhancements to their Criterion online writing evaluation service. Developed by ETS and distributed by HMH’s Riverside division, Criterion helps students plan, write, and revise essays, focusing on major Common Core themes such as higher-level writing and logical reasoning. The software provides immediate feedback on students’ essays, HMH says—helping them hone their writing skills.

Enhancements to the service include a new peer review tool that allows students to comment on each other’s work, as well as customizable reports that enable teachers and administrators to review class, school, or district performance. In addition, the next-generation Criterion service is now tablet compatible, HMH says—making it possible to access reports, projects, and student portfolios from anywhere at any time. launched Inquiry, a new project-based learning curriculum for teaching 21st-century skills. Developed for K-8 students, Inquiry includes six core curriculum projects per grade level. Each project is based on a theme that continues from grade to grade, building on previously acquired subject-area knowledge and technology skills.

“More educators are turning to project-based learning and at the same time are looking to build their students 21st century skills,” said CEO Keith Oelrich. “Inquiry brings these trends together by providing a project-based approach to integrating technology into core curriculum instruction through grade-level appropriate projects.”

LEGO Education introduced its first product to address language-arts instruction, StoryStarter. Designed for children in grades 2-5, this supplemental product teaches students the basic mechanics of a well-composed story. It includes a LEGO brick set, a curriculum guide, and access to StoryVisualizer, an interactive, web-based program for digital storytelling.

Students compose a story that has a beginning, a middle, and an end, and they build a scene from the LEGO bricks depicting each of these phases of their story. Then, they take pictures of their LEGO scenes and use the StoryVisualizer software to turn these into a storyboard.

“Using StoryStarter, student engagement is much higher in my classroom, as well as the quality of work. I like how the children think through the whole story before they begin writing,” said Sarah Marsolek, a second grade teacher at St. Joseph Catholic School in Wichita, Kan. “My principal has been very impressed with the writing pieces I’ve displayed in the classroom. It is evident that the program is helping my students to write better.”

Lexia Learning has developed a next-generation version of its popular Lexia Reading product. The new version, called Lexia Reading Core5, provides structured, sequential, and scaffolded instruction in the five key areas of reading—phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension—for students of all abilities from pre-kindergarten through grade 5, Lexia says.

eSchool News Staff

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