T&L News(151)

Atomic Learning has announced a limited-time free offer on Vicki Davis' Seven Steps to a Flat Classroom workshop.; Cast Your Vote: Decision 2008; Put to the Test: T&L Editors Review; Contests & Grants; Sites we like
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Week of: October 20, 2008

  • Atomic Learning has announced a limited-time free offer on Vicki Davis' Seven Steps to a Flat Classroom workshop.
    Through October 30, 2008, the workshop can be accessed free of charge by visiting www.AtomicLearning.com/7sfc_wb2.
  • Cast Your Vote: Decision 2008

    For the next two weeks, classes using Promethean's Activotes can participate in "Cast Your Vote: Decision 2008." This online activity lets classrooms from around the world choose the next US president. Each participating classroom has been assigned a US state. Teachers are provided with flipchart templates to use in their classroom (which can be found online). The class will then use Activotes to vote for the president.
  • Put to the Test: T&L Editors Review

    Rosetta Stone Classroom Version
    Description: practice. Rosetta Stone provides both foreign and English language learners with self-paced interactive multimedia tools for skill development. Version 3 has modules to teach 21 languages, including Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish (Both Spain and Latin America), and English (both British and American). Self-paced, multimedia lessons integrate thousands of realistic images and sounds to teach words, phrases, pronunciations and grammar without requiring learners to memorize vocabulary.
  • Contests & Grants
    Contest: The Kids' Science Challenge (www.kidsciencechallenge.com)
    Award: The first 1000 entries receive free science activity kits.
    Description: The Kids? Science Challenge is a nationwide competition that encourages third to sixth graders to submit experiments and problems for a group of scientists and engineers to solve. Using podcasts, virtual communities, after-school activities, and online games, the Kids? Science Challenge is designed to inspire third to sixth graders to discover the fun of science.
    Deadline: January 31, 2009.
  • Sites we like
    Teacher Survival Central
    Discovery Education, Walden University, Mimio, Adobe, Elmers, and CDW-G have joined forces to launch Teacher Survival Central. This new Web site offers tips, tricks, tools, and practical suggestions for easing entry into the teaching field. Educators will find classroom management techniques, ideas for connecting classroom activities to the curriculum, lesson plans, peer-networking resources, tools to create engaging learning centers, and more. In addition, New Teacher Survival Central is offering $50,000 in weekly prizes until January 31, 2009. One first-year educator will be chosen from all entries to win a grand prize package that includes products from all the site partners.

Atomic Learning has announced a limited-time free offer on Vicki Davis' Seven Steps to a Flat Classroom workshop.

Through October 30, 2008, the workshop can be accessed free of charge by visiting www.AtomicLearning.com/7sfc_wb2. The workshop was created for Atomic Learning by Web 2.0 expert Vicki Davis. Davis is a classroom teacher who has been recognized for her innovative classroom practices using Web 2.0 and coauthoring The Flat Classroom Project—a global Web 2.0 collaboration project for middle and senior high school students. In the Seven Steps to a Flat Classroom workshop, Davis uses short, show-and-tell video tutorials to guide users through flattening their classroom by expanding it to include global communities and collaboration tools. The workshop includes over 80 tutorials on topics such as Applying ISTE NETS standards to your project, Connecting Classrooms online, Digital Citizenship and Safety and more. For more information, visit www.atomiclearning.com.

Cast Your Vote: Decision 2008

For the next two weeks, classes using Promethean's Activotes can participate in "Cast Your Vote: Decision 2008." This online activity lets classrooms from around the world choose the next US president. Each participating classroom has been assigned a US state. Teachers are provided with flipchart templates to use in their classroom (which can be found online). The class will then use Activotes to vote for the president.

Once the class has voted, the teacher will submit the classroom results (popular vote only), which will be posted on Promethean Planet. Finally, everyone around the Planet can participate by downloading the results and asking their students to tabulate the votes and determine the winner. So far 51 classrooms and nearly 4000 students are participating. For a list of participants, nationwide: http://www.prometheanplanet.com/server.php?show=nav.16041

Put to the Test: T&L Editors Review

Rosetta Stone Classroom Version (www.rosettastone.com/schools)

By Carol S. Holzberg, PhD

Retail Price: Varies.

Description: practice. Rosetta Stone provides both foreign and English language learners with self-paced interactive multimedia tools for skill development. Version 3 has modules to teach 21 languages, including Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish (Both Spain and Latin America), and English (both British and American). Self-paced, multimedia lessons integrate thousands of realistic images and sounds to teach words, phrases, pronunciations and grammar without requiring learners to memorize vocabulary.

Rosetta Stone Hebrew (Levels 1, 2 and 3), the product reviewed here, provides sequenced language instruction using three kinds of "dynamic immersion" activities. Students login by name, then choose a lesson. There are hundreds of hours of language activities organized around core lessons teaching pronunciation vocabulary, grammar, reading, writing, speaking and review. The Hebrew product provides an option to learn, review, or skip initial lessons introducing Hebrew letters and their sounds. Learners can also choose between viewing the written script with or without vowels.

While it's best to follow the lessons in sequence as they build upon concepts taught, regardless of which lessons students choose, the instructional format remains the same. First students hear words. Next they learn to associate those words with objects (and written text). They work with the supplied headset to practice speaking, comparing their own pitch and pronunciation with those of native speakers. Finally, they complete writing exercises to learn sentence structure, spelling, punctuation and correct word selection. Feedback is immediate to let them know if their work is correct. A navigation bar at the bottom of the screen shows progress through the current activity.

How to use in the classroom: It can be used as a teaching and learning tool for foreign language instruction because the product is linked to state and national (e.g., TESOL and ACTFL) language learning standards (http://rosettastone.com/schools/standards). For example, if you click the link to the Massachusetts curriculum frameworks and a detailed 937 page document presents, showing how Rosetta Stone Spanish lessons (Version 3) map to Massachusetts World Language Learning Standards and Outcomes. Learning does not require much teacher intervention.

Pros: An intuitive user-friendly graphical interface invites students to explore, then choose an activity. Guided instruction and immediate feedback allow students to set their own pace. Users have their own login, enabling the program to record the work they do and "bookmark" where they leave off so they can continue from this very spot at next login. Students can preview lesson materials without responding, replay words and video clips as often as they choose, and move forward or backward through the lessons. They learn by reading and listening to the spoken language and by associating real-life images to objects and events. There are no grammar exercises or rote vocabulary drills. The program is very interactive. Since it is aligned with state standards, it can be used to: A) support regular class activities that reinforce both spoken and written language; B) supplement and enrich existing curriculum; and C) facilitate independent language learning.

In addition to the program discs, the product includes Hebrew alphabet stickers for the keyboard, a headset microphone for speech recognition exercises, a printed User's Guide, and a QuickStart Guide. The product is optimized for Microsoft Vista and will run natively on Intel Macs.

Cons: The tool doesn't teach the Hebrew alphabet per se, so it's better reserved for students who already know how to read Hebrew. There is no on screen keyboard enabling students to click on keys in response to question prompts. Instead, students must affix Hebrew letter stickers to the keyboard. Those stickers can be removed easily and without them the writing lessons are next to impossible to complete. While activities are both engaging and motivating, they're not game-like (this could be viewed as a plus). But because there are no language-learning "games," activities are better suited to upper elementary or older students able to take charge of their own learning.

Overall Impression: Although it's a bit pricey, the product's immersive, highly interactive, self-paced, self-guided sequenced multimedia approach to language learning can both support regular class instruction and facilitate independent learning.

Contests & Grants

Contest: The Kids' Science Challenge (www.kidsciencechallenge.com)
Award: The first 1000 entries receive free science activity kits.
Description: The Kids? Science Challenge is a nationwide competition that encourages third to sixth graders to submit experiments and problems for a group of scientists and engineers to solve. Using podcasts, virtual communities, after-school activities, and online games, the Kids? Science Challenge is designed to inspire third to sixth graders to discover the fun of science.
Deadline: January 31, 2009.

Grant: Integrated Classroom Grant Program (www.calypsocontrol.com)
Award: Recipients receive up to $1,200 toward the purchase and installation of Calypso's ezRoomClassroom Bundle.
Description: The ezRoom Classroom Bundle is a pre-assembled A/V solution that combines a projector, screen and audio-visual source devices quickly and in a cost-effective way. Calypso's grant program helps school districts test integrated classroom technology solutions and evaluate today's classroom needs regarding technology. Additionally, the program gives districts the opportunity to beta-test a solution and then to develop a strategy for installing the resources without any risks or commitments.
Deadline: Applications are ongoing; visit www.calypsocontrol.com for the grant application.

Grant: Target's Take Charge of Education Program
Description: Now in its 11th year, Target's Take Charge of Education school fundraising program has given over $246 million to more than 100,000 American K-12 schools. The funds are donated to school twice a year, and can be used toward a school's most urgent needs, such as books, school supplies, hiring substitutes, and classroom technology.
How it works: Target guests choose an eligible school to which Target will then donate one percent of the customer's REDcardSM purchases made at Target and Target.com. Target also donates 0.5 percent of all Target Visa Credit Card purchases.
For more information: To enroll, choose a school, and check the status of payouts, Target cardholders and school representatives can visit www.Target.com/tcoe.

Sites we like

Teacher Survival Central (www.discoveryeducation.com/survival/)
Discovery Education, Walden University, Mimio, Adobe, Elmers, and CDW-G have joined forces to launch Teacher Survival Central. This new Web site offers tips, tricks, tools, and practical suggestions for easing entry into the teaching field. Educators will find classroom management techniques, ideas for connecting classroom activities to the curriculum, lesson plans, peer-networking resources, tools to create engaging learning centers, and more. In addition, New Teacher Survival Central is offering $50,000 in weekly prizes until January 31, 2009. One first-year educator will be chosen from all entries to win a grand prize package that includes products from all the site partners.

HipChicas (www.hipchicas.com)
Okay, so this social networking site isn't the most pedagogically sound. But, as one of the first Latina-themed virtual worlds for "tween" girls, it has many fun features. The Hip Chicas are a band on their first tour of the Americas. Visitors follow the characters as they play their music and (what else?) save the planet. They chat with their friends in four languages (translation provided) Includes a "Hip Parent" online community where parents can monitor their tween's travels and see their accomplishments. Free.

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