Improvements to LMS platform focus on improving pathway to personalized learning

Boston, MA – April 30, 2014 —itslearning (, the digital learning platform of choice for a growing number of districts nationwide, continues to move towards a student-focused, personalized learning platform through its latest release, which features a wide variety of product enhancements, including the following:

• Student-focused lesson planner.
• Customizable site-level learning objectives for student learning goals.
• Improvements in the mentor/mentee relationship for individual learning plans.
• Enhancements to the shared calendar, including improved interactivity and collaboration.

Lesson Planners for Student Access
This innovative tool allows teachers to easily communicate standards-aligned lessons and related resources and activities with students and parents. The integrated lesson planner is now accessible on any device via responsive web design, providing students with immediate, easy access to lesson expectations and associated personalized tasks.

Custom Learning Objective Repository
In addition to the existing national learning objectives repository, each of itslearning’s school and district partners will now have their own custom learning objectives repository, allowing schools and districts to clearly communicate student learning objectives (SLOs or Learning Targets) to students and parents. Students now have the ability to review clearly defined learning objectives, sometimes referred to as “I can” statements, related to a variety of resource types including assignments, activities, assessments, surveys, polls and more.

“Our partnership with itslearning began last year,” said Rich Valegra, chief information officer, Minneapolis Public Schools. “Within a few months, over 39,000 users were loaded into the platform and Teachers on Special Assignment had created course templates for many of the high school-level English, math, science and social studies courses. We use course templates to provide those teachers with resources that are aligned to our own course standards (learning targets) and pre-populated with district-approved resources. These are just some of the added values of using itslearning versus another platform.”

The custom Learning Objective Repository is also useful to schools and districts using itslearning to deliver professional development to teachers and staff. It has proven so valuable for teacher evaluations that districts like Forsyth County Schools are now considering adding the Georgia Teacher Keys Effectiveness System TKES standards to their repository so that they can create and align a bank of professional development resources for the TKES strands & elements within the platform. Those resources can also be used in conjunction with the itslearning Recommendation Engine following teacher observations/evaluations.

“Using the standards-aligned assessment criteria, we can convert the classroom observation formula we use into a rubric in itslearning. Principals can then evaluate teachers using that rubric and have the results flow into the Recommendation Engine,” said Jason Naile, i3 Grant Coordinator for Forsyth County Schools.

Improved mentor/mentee relationship for individualized learning plans
itslearning now allows individual students to be assigned to a mentor when developing individual learning plans, fostering a more personalized, collaborative and productive relationship between mentor and mentee. Traditionally a counselor within a school setting, a mentor can now be a master teacher assigned to a new teacher or even a community member assigned to mentor an individual student.

More interactive colorful calendar
Calendar enhancements include significant upgrades to the user interface, allowing users to access shared calendars that conveniently resize to fit the screen resolution of any browser, on any device. The update also features event categorization with user-designated colors, improved navigation and toolbar functionality that provide a helpful overview of calendar events, and simplified methods for adding and modifying events via one-click, drag and drop functionality. Improved filtering options also make viewing several of a teacher’s favorite courses and communities, as well as searching other users’ public calendars, a quick and easy exercise.

“Personalized learning is at the center of what we do at itslearning,” said Travis Willard, itslearning CEO. “This current release offers our partner schools and districts a way to build strong connections and so have truly customized experiences between teachers and students through our enhanced technology platform. We continue to be dedicated to opening up a whole new approach to learning and teaching.”

A full list of new features can be found at: on the itslearning website:

About itslearning, Inc.
Established in 1999, itslearning is a cloud-based K-12 learning management system designed to make teaching easier, learning more engaging, and parent involvement more effective and efficient. Headquartered in Bergen, Norway, itslearning has offices in Boston, Atlanta, London, Birmingham, Berlin, Paris, Mulhouse, Malmo, and Enscheda. For more information, visit
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Filament Games Introduces Crazy Plant Shop: Heredity Unit

MADISON, Wis. (April 30, 2014) – Filament Games, award-winning developer of teaching games, announces the release of the game-based Crazy Plant Shop: Heredity Unit.

Crazy Plant Shop is the first release of PLEx (Play, Learn, Experiment): Life Science series from Filament Learning, a division of Filament Games. Each unit in the series explores a scientific subject through the use of a game and accompanying curriculum. Crazy Plant Shop engages and inspires students with fun characters and intriguing challenges, and also provides teachers with a powerful tool to explain the complex subject of genetics.

“Game-based learning is present in classrooms across the country,” said Dan White, Filament Games Executive Producer. “But teachers expect more than a digital game, which is why Crazy Plant Shop and other PLEx: Life Science units include comprehensive curricula.”

In Crazy Plant Shop, students learn about genes and inheritance by breeding crazy plants. Special order requests from mysterious customers require students to understand dominant and recessive traits, and how traits get passed from one generation to the next. Profits from running a successful Crazy Plant Shop allow players to buy new breeds and expand play even further.

The unit comes with an integrated curriculum that extends the students’ experience with hands-on activities, labs and “real world” games. Focused warm-up discussions, challenging end-of-lesson activities and two standards-based assessments give teachers the tools needed to gauge student understanding and progress.

All Filament Learning games are created in the context of state standards and requirements, including Benchmarks for Science Literacy, Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core.

About Filament Games
Filament Games is a production studio that develops engaging teaching and learning games. The company’s games combine best practices in commercial game development with key concepts from the learning sciences, sparking inspiration through exploration and discovery. Filament Games works with teachers, parents and students to engineer authentic gameplay mechanics that assist educators with meeting Common Core requirements and specific learning objectives. For more information, visit


School gang-busting software founder on reseller hunt

Classroom management and e-safety software specialist Impero Software is looking for new resellers to service its 400 school district customers and drive new business across the country.

Jonathan Valentine, founder and managing director, Impero comments: “We have been in the US for a while now helping schools crack down on students planning and discussing gang activities on school computers, and we’re really keen to extend our presence here. We are already building new channel partnerships and we’re looking for resellers that demonstrate commitment to and a passion for education IT and the real life benefits it can bring.”

Impero, a UK-based company founded in 2002, has been operating in the US since 2009 and already works with hundreds of American schools. It has developed a range of powerful classroom management software solutions designed to promote a better, safer and more dynamic learning environment, making IT a powerful tool for learning.

Education Pro is Impero’s core product and popular in the US market. Offering users a suite of tools from e-safety to print management, it is both a powerful aid for learning and an effective way to manage costs in relation to productivity.

Its e-safety features give students a voice with which to report internet violations or bullying concerns. Impero has also developed a keyword library that can be tailored to individual schools. This helps protect students by alerting staff to any inappropriate online behaviour as it happens.

Valentine comments: “E-safety is an ongoing problem as demonstrated by the number of stories we see related to bullying or students accessing inappropriate images and content online. Students’ online safety is a primary concern of ours and Education Pro enables schools to proactively deal with e-safety on a daily basis, giving teachers control of the issue.

“We want to reach as many schools as possible to help them keep pupils safe online and that’s why we’ve decided to extend our presence through a channel of resellers. It’s the most effective way to reach as many schools as possible.”

Impero currently services the US from its UK-based office, but has plans to open an office on the West Coast this year.



For further information or interview opportunities regarding Impero contact:

TopLine Communications
+44 (0)207 580 6502

About Impero Software

Impero Software offers a range of network management products, relied upon by education establishments and workplaces around the world. Founded in 2002, it is currently used on one million computers in over 40 countries. In the UK it is a market leading provider of Classroom and Network Management Software, with a 27 per cent market share of secondary schools and 24 per cent of colleges.

The company provides intelligent school ICT management helping teams, cut costs and improve staff productivity. Its cutting edge software and powerful learning tools assist schools in the day to day running of their computer network, putting teachers back in control of the classroom and enabling them to proactively deal with e-safety on a daily basis.

For more information visit:


OHAUS Corporation Announces Winner of the 2014 Gustav Ohaus Award Program

PARSIPPANY, N.J. – April 30, 2014 – OHAUS Corporation, a leading manufacturer and marketer of analytical, precision, portable and mechanical balances, scales, and measurement equipment is pleased to announce that James Brown, a science teacher at Forest Park Elementary School in Albany, NY has been selected as the recipient of the 2014 Gustav Ohaus Award. The award has been presented annually since 1969 to recognize innovations which have the potential to improve science teaching at the elementary, middle or high school level.

Mr. Brown was selected for his “Wheel ‘Round a Meter” interdisciplinary lesson that teaches STEM principles to his fourth grade students through the use of a LEGO® NXT robot. Using a pre-built robot, Mr. Brown asks his students to predict the distance range one meter covers before running the robot that distance. He repeats this process, asking the students to predict the range of two and three meters in order to reinforce concepts of metric measurement.

The second part of the lesson teaches students principles of engineering and programming by having the students build their own robot and then have it travel one meter. This truly interdisciplinary lesson even bridges into English and language arts as Mr. Brown teaches about text features of the non-fiction genre through the book Mighty Mars Rovers – The Incredible Adventures of Spirit and Opportunity by Elizabeth Rusch.

“Mr. Brown should be commended for developing an original lesson involving technology that is sure to captivate the attention of young minds,” said Jean-Yves Chever, General Manager and Vice President, Sales & Marketing, OHAUS, Americas. “His utilization of hands-on teaching activities aligns with OHAUS’ vision to provide students with educational measurement equipment that brings lessons to life.”

For more than 40 years, the Gustav Ohaus Award has recognized deserving educators who have made significant contributions to the field of science teaching. Science instructors are invited to submit curricula design, teaching strategies, effective lesson plans and/or laboratory utilization that have fostered an engaging and enriching scientific educational environment.

As part of the award, Brown has received a personalized Gustav Ohaus Award, a $1,500 cash prize and a trip to the 2014 National Conference of the National Science Teachers in Boston, MA. Forest Park Elementary School will also be the recipient of $1,000 worth of OHAUS scales and balances, which will be utilized in various science courses.

“I feel honored that my lesson was acknowledged by OHAUS as being creative and meaningful,” said James Brown. “It is a great honor to be selected as the 2014 Gustav Ohaus Award winner and I am very much looking forward to incorporating OHAUS balances and measurement equipment into my lessons.”

For additional information on the Gustav Ohaus Award program, visit

About OHAUS Corporation
Headquartered in Parsippany, N.J., OHAUS Corporation manufactures an extensive line of high-precision electronic and mechanical balances and scales that meet the demands of virtually any weighing need. The company is a global leader in the laboratory, industrial, and education channels as well as a host of specialty markets, including the food preparation, pharmacy and jewelry industries. An ISO 9001:2008 manufacturer, OHAUS products are precise, reliable and affordable, and are backed by industry-leading customer support. For additional information, contact OHAUS Corporation at 973-377-9000, or visit


MSAD 49 Partners with Goalbook to Support Teachers with Instructional Design

In a rural Maine school district, Goalbook is a game-changer for students with special needs and gifted learners alike

FAIRFIELD, Maine (April 30, 2014) – Over the past two years, educators in Maine’s MSAD 49 have seen drastic improvements in the outcomes of students who benefit from specialized instruction. Cory Rogers, the district’s special education director, attributes this success to the dedication of his teachers as well as their partnership with Goalbook.

Prior to working with Goalbook, the district’s teachers found it challenging to find ways to fully engage students in the Common Core – especially those either below or above grade level. The challenge of differentiating instruction for a diverse population where a large percentage of students qualify for free and reduced lunch was magnified by the shift to the new standards.

Rogers saw an opportunity to partner with Goalbook to support teachers. Goalbook’s resources helped teachers gain a deeper understanding of the standards and what was expected of them and their students. Furthermore, he has seen Goalbook used effectively to identify appropriate learning objectives and aid in the design of personalized instruction to meet individual students’ needs.

In a short amount of time, many teachers reported they were spending less time navigating the complexities of Common Core and more time planning instruction for a diverse set of students. “Goalbook transformed our classrooms,” said Rogers. “It gave our teachers their ‘educational capital’ back so they could deeply engage all students.”

Specifically, Rogers recalled a fifth grade classroom that included a student who was three grade levels behind in reading and math. The student’s teacher struggled to reconcile the need for individual learning objectives with that of providing appropriate, grade-level instruction. “Goalbook helped that teacher design effective instruction appropriate for this student. The student began to progress rapidly towards proficiency in all subject areas,” said Rogers.

The successful use of Goalbook has also proved essential in planning instruction for gifted students. One educator taught a gifted seventh grader who was testing at a high school level in math. Goalbook helped the teacher develop a personalized plan aligned to standards, ensuring that the student would continue to learn and progress.

Rogers envisions an educational system where personalized learning is seen as essential for meeting the increasingly broad range of academic and social-emotional needs of individual students.

“Goalbook is the perfect tool for supporting teachers. Instead of spending so much time analyzing standards, our teachers are empowered to spend their time working with students on an individualized basis,” said Rogers. “This is the future of education – providing a personalized learning plan that ensures success for every student – Goalbook gives my teachers the support they need to do that.”

About Goalbook

Goalbook empowers teachers to transform instruction for all students through instructional technology, research-based resources and professional development. More than 200 districts in 40 states have partnered with Goalbook, and the company is recognized as a leading innovator around instructional quality and teacher development for diverse learners. Goalbook was founded by former district administrators, Daniel Jhin Yoo and Justin Su, was a member of ImagineK12’s first cohort and the first company to be funded through New Schools Venture Fund’s Seed Fund.

Press Contact:

Jacob Hanson


PresenceLearning Adds Occupational Therapy Assessments to Its Service Offerings for Schools

Online occupational therapy assessments increase efficiency and eliminate bottlenecks in special education programs

SAN FRANCISCO, April 30, 2014 – Limited access to qualified occupational therapists affects schools’ ability to assess student needs for occupational therapy (OT) and deliver the prescribed services. To help schools meet the legal mandate for timely evaluation of students with special needs, PresenceLearning has added online assessments to its OT and speech therapy offerings.

“Scheduling and performing assessments of students for special services forms a bottleneck in many districts,” said Clay Whitehead, co-CEO and co-founder of PresenceLearning. “Students lose valuable time waiting to be assessed to gain access to therapeutic services that facilitate their academic achievement. Delivering assessments online provides a new option for schools to ensure that students get the help they need.”

PresenceLearning’s online occupational therapists conduct the same assessments as those performed in traditional, in-person OT settings, including the Beery VMI, the Sensory Profile, family and teacher interviews, and observation of school and functional skills in the student’s natural learning environment.

“Providing online occupational therapy can be a huge help in meeting a school’s OT programming needs, but providing assessments online is equally important,” said Elizabeth Haas, occupational therapy clinical coordinator at PresenceLearning. “The school-based OT assessment is really the foundation for all recommendations regarding the necessary interventions and therapy planning for a student struggling to perform daily living skills in the school environment. Online assessments gather the very same information as an on-the-ground assessment, and provide therapists with the information needed to make appropriate recommendations for OT service.”

Online OT evaluations are supported by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).

Since 2009, PresenceLearning’s online speech therapy services have provided schools with a practical, affordable new option for service delivery: web-based access to a nationwide network of live, highly qualified, fully licensed speech-language pathologists and occupational therapists who are available whenever and wherever they are needed. This past year, PresenceLearning added online assessments for both speech and OT. By partnering with PresenceLearning, school districts can fill staffing gaps related to acute and chronic SLP and OT shortages, reduce high caseloads for onsite personnel, reduce their backlog of assessments, improve student outcomes and become more efficient. PresenceLearning also offers access to technical specialists, as well as culturally and linguistically diverse speech-language pathologists and occupational therapists.

By the end of the 2013-2014 school year, PresenceLearning will have delivered 450,000 live online therapy sessions in public school districts, charter schools and virtual schools of all sizes nationwide.

About PresenceLearning
PresenceLearning ( is the leading provider of live online speech therapy and online occupational therapy services for K-12 students. The company offers school districts web-based access to a growing, nationwide network of hundreds of highly qualified speech language pathologists (SLPs) and occupational therapists (OTs) via live videoconferencing combined with the latest in evidence-based practices and powerful progress reporting.

Serving thousands of students in public, charter and virtual schools throughout the U.S., PresenceLearning has shown that online speech and language therapy is practical, affordable and highly effective. PresenceLearning is an ASHA-approved continuing education provider for SLPs and a U.S. Department of Education grant-winner, dedicated to bringing the highest clinical standards to online therapy.



PerformancePLUS Named Best Online School District Management System in 2014 Best Educational Software Awards Program

SunGard K-12 Education today announced that its PerformancePLUS assessment and curriculum management system was named Best Online School District Management System in the 20th Annual Best Educational Software Awards. Sponsored by ComputED Gazette, the program recognizes innovative and content-rich programs and websites that provide parents and teachers with the technology to foster educational excellence.

Part of the PLUS 360 suite, PerformancePLUS provides school districts nationwide with a single connection point for anywhere, anytime access to all of their assessment data. The software helps track longitudinal assessment results through interactive graphs correlated to state standards. Teachers and administrators have the ability to aggregate and disaggregate assessment data and use this information to establish and monitor goals, modify curriculum, and ultimately enhance the teaching and learning environment. In addition, PerformancePLUS offers educators a simple way to create, score, and analyze local assessments, making them a powerful solution set to help guide instruction.

Joel Hames, SunGard K-12 Education’s director of product management, says that SunGard K-12 Education is honored by this prestigious recognition.

“PerformancePLUS arms educators with information to make data-driven decisions that enhance instruction and help increase both individual student achievement as well as overall district achievement,” he says. “We share this honor with our customers nationwide, who have collaborated with us to help ensure that our software features the robust functionality that is essential for 21st-century schools.”

About SunGard K-12 Education
SunGard K-12 Education offers software solutions designed to help teachers, administrators, and parents support student achievement. The PLUS 360 products are a single integrated suite of software solutions for the management of student information, assessment and curriculum, special education, and financial and human resources. The suite—which provides district staff with anytime, anywhere access to important district information—can be deployed to work together to help meet educational goals and requirements or implemented as stand-alone systems. For more information, visit SunGard K-12 Education at

About SunGard
SunGard is one of the world’s leading software and technology services companies, with annual revenue of about $2.8 billion. SunGard provides software and processing solutions for financial services, education, and the public sector. SunGard serves approximately 16,000 customers in more than 70 countries and has more than 13,000 employees. For more information, please visit

Trademark Information: SunGard, the SunGard logo, PerfomancePLUS, and PLUS 360 are trademarks or registered trademarks of SunGard Data Systems Inc. or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. All other trade names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders.


KidWind Names Inaugural National KidWind Challenge Champions

A total of 33 student teams traveled to Washington DC to compete in the National KidWind Challenge during the USA Science & Engineering Festival

(Washington DC and Saint Paul, MN) April 29, 2014 – KidWind, the international leader of clean energy education, announces the champions of its first-ever National KidWind Challenge which was held on Saturday, April 26, 2014. The event, which took place during Washington DC’s USA Science & Engineering Festival, brought together 138 students from across the nation who have a passion for renewable energy and engineering to compete for the championship title in either the middle school or high school divisions and a $1,000 cash grand prize for each division team. The winning teams are:
• Middle School Division – Wind Surfers from DeAnza Academy of Technology and the Arts (DATA) in Ventura, Calif.
• High School Division – Blade Runners from Copley High School in Copley, Ohio.

A total of 33 teams competed during the National KidWind Challenge by testing the energy output and design of their handcrafted wind turbines in the high-speed KidWind Wind Tunnel. Wind Surfers and Blade Runners generated the energy outputs of 128 Joules and 153.4 Joules respectively while demonstrating the best contextual knowledge of wind energy and understanding of the engineering and innovation process. Middle school division team Zephyros from Morgan Middle School in Ellensburg, Wash. and high school division team Eagle Engineers from Landstown High School in Virginia Beach, Va. were each awarded a second-place prize of $500 cash and generated 122.9 Joules and 76.7 Joules respectively.

“We have greatly increased the number of students we introduce to wind energy and clean energy engineering by continuing to increase the number of regional challenges we hold and by adding our new KidWind Challenge Online, which allows youth to compete online instead of attending a regional challenge,” said Michael Arquin, Founder of KidWind. “The National KidWind Challenge was the perfect culminating event to a successful season. It gave students a way to express their passion for clean energy through the spirit of competition and the opportunity to win prizes for their achievements.”

Additionally, KidWind awarded two coaches from each division with $500 worth of KidWind equipment and product for best embodying KidWind’s mission of helping students learn and explore wind energy. The selected coaches are:
• Middle School Division – Pocket Monsters Coach Lynn Shellenberger from Adams Spanish Immersion School in Saint Paul, Minn.
• High School Division – Blades of Glory Coach Chris Freeman from Kellam High School in Virginia Beach, Va.

“The National KidWind Challenge was an awesome celebration of student innovation and experimentation, but the amount of foundational work teachers do to get students to events like this often goes unseen,” said Arquin. “Teachers attend our trainings, learn new content, create and execute complicated lessons plans and give students the space and opportunity to tinker and create in new ways. The effort they put into generating student interest should definitely be rewarded.”

The National KidWind Challenge was made possible through generous contributions from the Wind Energy Foundation, EDP Renewables, Vavuud, Vestas, Harbec, GE Wind and Blattner Energy.

For more information about the KidWind Challenge, visit:

About USA Science & Engineering Festival
The USA Science & Engineering Festival is a national grassroots effort to advance STEM education and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. Our exhibitors, performers, speakers, partners, sponsors and advisors are a who-is-who of science and engineering in the United States: from major academic centers and leading research institutes and government agencies to cutting-edge high tech companies, museums and community organizations.

About KidWind
KidWind has been the leader of clean energy education for nearly a decade and is guiding the delivery of green STEM education today. In addition to offering its own curriculum, science kits, training, and student competitions, the company partners with leading universities, developers, and museums to plant the seeds for clean energy development. For more information about KidWind, please visit its website at


Rachael Ballard, Public Relations for KidWind

Michael Arquin, Director and Founder of KidWind
(877) 917-0079


Formative assessment strategies for success

During a recent eSchool News webinar, experts revealed how formative assessment can support the curriculum


A key takeaway was that formative assessment is a process, and not a “one moment in time” event.

How can formative assessment be used to support the curriculum? This was the subject of a recent webinar sponsored by SunGard K-12 Education, during which two experts revealed their strategies for success.

The panelists were John Phillipo, founder and executive director of the Center for Educational Leadership and Technology, and Bethany Silver, director of assessment, evaluation, and research for the Bloomfield, Conn., schools.

Moderating the discussion was Joel Hames, director of product management for SunGard.

Here’s a partial transcript of the event; to experience the full archived version, click here.

Joel: One of the things I think we need to take away from this is that formative assessment is a process. Those of you who have been practicing for a while probably know this intuitively. It’s really a process, and not a “one moment in time” event that occurs.

There are four primary attributes of this process. It begins with clarifying the intended learning—describing your learning targets in student-friendly language. We then move to eliciting evidence, and this isn’t just paper-and-pen tests—it’s all the obtrusive and unobtrusive pieces that you take on or interactions you have with students.

After we elicit the evidence we need to interpret it, understand what it means in the context of that student’s experience and the learning target itself. And then finally, acting on that evidence: How do you move the student forward? What kind of feedback are you giving?

The first question I have for our panelists is, how can formative assessment be effectively integrated into the classroom?


Two key steps to using digital content

Digital content can offer better learning opportunities, but transitioning to them may be a challenge for districts

digital-textbooksToday, it seems like digital content is king. But how can districts effectively navigate the transition to digital content and digital resources?

Despite digital content’s benefits, including a lower cost and better capacity for being up-to-date, barriers still exist that make it difficult for schools and districts to make the digital transition.

During an edWeb session on migrating to digital content, Jonathan Costa, director of school and program services for Education Connection, a former educator, and author of Digital Learning For All, Now!, offered a look at important steps in moving to digital content.

“We’ve been advocating for one-on-one digital learning for many years,” Costa said. “We came to the understanding, over time, that even when districts and schools have one-to-one access, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will make a transition to digital content.”

(Next page: The first two steps in a digital content migration)