Take-Away CinemaEpson's latest version of its MovieMate device is a media room in a box. It plays photo slideshows from photo CDs and USB flash drives and can connect to a PC or Mac to show computer-based presentations. It can project a 16:9 widescreen 60-inch image from only six feet away or a 120-inch image from just 12 feet away. Stereo-quality sound comes from two built-in 8 watt 5.1 Dolby Digital DTS speakers.
Epson MovieMate 55, www.epson.com
All That Glitters Isn't Sold
Open-Source Reading-Literacy Resources
In a March 2007 study of 191,000 4th graders and 160,700 8th graders, researchers found that 67% of 4th graders perform at just the Basic level, while only 33% perform at or above Proficient (National Assessment of Educational Progress, 2007, p. 9). In 8th grade, 74% of students perform at just the Basic level (p. 27).
Reading skill is not innate, but it is critically important in an informationage economy. The following free resources can help.
A 40-week open-source literacy intervention curriculum to help teachers teach early elementary students phonics and phonological awareness. Resources at this site include literacy activities, lessons, and ideas, plus a full-blown integrated program for teaching K-1 reading intervention. To edit existing content in a Wiki-like way, you must register (free) at the site to create an account.
Annenberg Media Workshops andCourses
Free professional development training opportunities that teachers can access as individuals or in groups. Training resources include: video, print, and Web materials suitable for preservice and inservice groups of teachers in grades K- 4, 5-8, and 9-12.
Teacher Workshops: Literacy
Sponsored by the Federal government and made available at no charge, this collection of literacy resources provides instructional strategies for a host of subject areas. Particular reading sessions of interest include: Building Fluency, Decoding to Encoding, and Implementing Reading Intervention in Secondary Schools.
Curriki: K-12 Language Arts Finally, there's our open-source standby Curriki with its bonanza of partner-created and teacher-generated curriculum materials for K-12 language arts.
Carol S. Holzberg, PhD, works as district technology coordinator for Greenfield Public Schools.
Sites We Like:
"Presidential Elections: In History & Today" features historical background on elections paired with classroom activities and research project ideas that will help put Campaign 2008 into historical context for students.
What are the Benefits of Virtualization?
Server virtualization is catching on in the world of K-12. How can your school save by virtualizing?
1. Reduce the number of physical servers, increasing physical space. for data, and reduce costs and energy consumption.
2. Reduce costs by reducing the need to power and cool physical servers.
3. Simplify and enhance disaster recovery readiness. Systems and data centers and prevent costs due to replacing physical data centers destroyed in a disaster.
4. Easy to manage from an IT standpoint. Simplify server management and provisioning of new servers.
5. Enables mobile application. Increase local application availability and uptime.
Jeff White is a CDW-G storage specialist, now working with VMware, maker of virtualization solutions.
Interactive Math Classroom Adds Up to Success
By Sascha Zuger
Kate Beal uses tablet PCs to get her students excited about math.
In a field in which women have traditionally been underrepresented, teacher Kate Beal of St. Joe's Academy, an all girls' secondary school in Baton Rouge, wanted to amp up excitement about math. By adding a computer monitoring system and tablet PCs, not only did her students get excited about the technology, but test scores improved.
Each Toshiba Tablet PC has monitoring software from DyKnow. This allows Beal to monitor, control, and share every student tablet, all from her tablet PC.
"Each student is able to watch, interact and learn from the rest of the class in real time," says Beal. "This is incredible to watch and done with almost no effort on my part."
That convenience factor is no small perk to Beal's busy schedule. She can also use the software to poll students to make sure they understand the math concepts being reviewed.
"The ability to create an interactive lesson each day is amazing," says Beal. "It is almost like a one-to-one environment for each student, because of the interaction between my tablet and their tablet, but at the same time it is cooperative learning amongst the students because they can all participate and work together too."
Beal simply uploads her lesson as a Powerpoint presentation through the interactive software. Opening the file replays second for second what Beal says in class and reenacts what occurred on each slide, stroke for stroke. Students can add notes or comments directly into the file, which can be saved for later review.
"The ability to save notes is one of the favorite features of my students," says Beal. "This also allows the absent student, or the student that didn't comprehend the material the first time, to playback the information as it was presented in class." says Beal. "The absent student can also log on [to Dyknow] and use the Internet to join class from any location."
Beal uses the "anonymous" capability to blindly broadcast one student's work for the entire class. This protects the privacy of the student and allows Beal to "catch" struggling students in their shining moments. Seeing their work offered as an example of success creates an instant confidence boost.
"From their own seat, and without the distraction of students moving around the classroom, I can have one student or all of my students working on their personal tablet, which in turn shows up on everybody's tablet. It incorporates all of the aspects of teaching that are effective and also enjoyable and meaningful to the students."
Adding the interactive spice of new technology to a traditional subject piques the girls' interest and it shows in their test scores. In Beal's math class, keeping them connected, both mentally and technologically, equals success.
Sites We Like:
www.SpellingCity.comDesigned to help kids on spelling tests, this site has over 35,000 spelling words and eight spelling games—and includes a real person who says each word and sentence. There are thousands of free spelling lists, or students and teachers can save their own.
ARE SCHOOLS REALLY GOING GREEN?
CDW-G's E2IT Report found a gap between thought and action concerning energy efficiency. Even when organizations like schools buy equipment with energy management features, they often fail to use those tools, thereby losing much of the related savings opportunity. For a copy of the complete CDW-G Energy Efficient IT Report, please visit www.cdwg.com/e2it. Specific findings include:
33% of IT executives say energy efficiency is a very important consideration when selecting new equipment, often falling below operational considerations such as performance, reliability or service and support.
While 31% of IT executives who buy desktop equipment select ENERGY STAR 4.0 qualifying devices, 62% do not make full use of the power management tools that earn the equipment the ENERGY STAR label. While 32% of IT executives choose energy-efficient, load-shedding uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), more than 50% of this group do not use the software incorporated in those UPS systems to monitor power demand and energy use. 49% of IT executives said they simply do not know all of the things they can do to improve energy efficiency.
Mark Your Calendars
TIES 2008 Education Technology Conference: Creative Minds Collaborating for a 3.0 Web World, December 6-9, 2008 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Minneapolis.
BETT 2009: BETT celebrates 25 years as the world's leading educational information and communications technology event in 2009, January 14-17 2009, at Olympia in London, UK.
Florida Education Technology Conference (FETC): January 21-24, 2009 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL www.fetc.org
Opening Up Education: The Collective Advancement of Education through Open Technology, Open Content, and Open Knowledge by Toru Iiyoshi (Editor), http://mitpress.mit.edu
These essays by leaders in open education describe successes, challenges, and opportunities they have found in a range of open education initiatives. They approach—from both macro and micro perspectives—the central question of how open education tools, resources, and knowledge can improve the quality of education.
Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms by Will Richardson, www.sagepub.com
This second edition shows educators at all levels and disciplines how to tap into the potential of digital tools for creating relevant, interactive learning experiences in the classroom. With updated research on Web technology, a critical section on Internet safety, and a new emphasis on information literacy with related links, this resource equips teachers with definitions, explanations, and how-to's for using technology to enhance learning.
Safe Practices for Life Online by Doug Fodeman, www.iste.org
Contains dozens of classroomtested exercises and hundreds of links to Web sites, documents, and resources, Safe Practices for Life Online offers practical advice to help middle and high school students stay safe online by making better choices and minimizing their risks.
Response to Intervention (RTI)
What it is and why you need it
By Dr. Christy A. Chambers
More states are requiring school districts to put response to intervention (RTI) processes into place and yet many administrators and teachers are uncertain on how to get started. The RTI process matches high-quality instruction and interventions to unique student needs. Students are screened and those students identified as at risk or struggling in academics or behavior become a part of a problem- solving process. If a problem is identified early and targeted intervention is provided, this could get a student on track, and improve achievement.
RTI is important not because the concept is promoted by legislation, but because it has the potential to unify education by promoting the sharing of resources, intervening early, and breaking down the walls of special ed. Essentially, RTI can build an "Every Ed," a system where students benefit from targeted interventions and frequent progress monitoring designed to enhance the achievement of all students.
There are three significant ways that the use of a software program is key to successful implementation of an RTI process:
Use multimedia techniques: Technology can provide Universal Design for Learning (UDL), the framework that provides equal opportunities to learn by making the curriculum accessible for all learners. For example, a teacher can provide digital text with vocabulary definitions or animated coaches that assist students with comprehension.
Assess year-round: Rather than just use twice-a-year assessments to see where students fall, RTI requires teachers to implement multiple scientifically based interventions and frequently monitor student progress. Data collection and analysis programs that include ongoing training help make sure every student gets the intervention needed, when it's needed.
Use data more effectively: Schools can meet achievement and AYP (adequate yearly progress) goals by tracking, disaggregating, analyzing, and reporting student achievement data throughout the school year. Implementing a system to track all student achievement data may seem daunting, but, in reality, data management tools streamline assessment work. These tools eliminate duplication of efforts and help schools meet accountability requirements.
Dr. Christy A. Chambers is the immediate past president of the Council of Administrators of Special Education and CEO, Beyond the Box, an education consulting group providing technical assistance and training.
TOP TIPS TO FIGHT CYBER BULLYING
There are steps schools can take to reduce cyber bullying. Tom Newton, product manager for SmoothWall and a contributor to Edugeek.net, has the following recommendations:
1. AWARENESS—Make sure that students, teacher, administrators, and parents all know what cyber bullying is, who to report it to, and that it is not acceptable.
2. MONITORING—Many online systems can be monitored using the latest security products. When students know they are being monitored, they feel safer, and are less likely to engage in bullying.
3. BLOCKING—The use of anonymous proxy sites is growing as students look for ways to "shadow surf" and access restricted sites. Be sure your security system can block and prevent students from using proxies.
4. HOLISTIC APPROACH—Just like "traditional" bullying, cyber bullies don't hang up their mouse at the school gate. Parents need to understand problems which largely weren't even conceived when they were that age and be aware of their children's online activity.
5. PERSONAL ONLINE SAFETY— Students must learn how to protect their identities and accounts online. Strong passwords, privacy control, and understanding sensitive data are topics that should be covered.
6. RESPONSE—Cyber bullying offenders and victims fit subtly different profiles to "traditional" bullying. Appoint an expert to coordinate response, and let others know who it is.
7. SHARE—Cyber bullying often happens between schools, so it's important to develop relationships with IT staff in nearby schools to alert them to crossschool cyber bullying problems.