GINGER SOFTWARE (WWW.GINGERSOFTWARE.COM) - Tech Learning

GINGER SOFTWARE (WWW.GINGERSOFTWARE.COM)

Ginger Software, a program for spelling and grammar correction, now works with Internet Explorer. In addition, the new version of Ginger is more accessible, providing customizable interface settings and progress reporting to track mistakes and illustrate student progress. Students can change display attributes such as background color and font style to complement their abilities and preferences. Price: Subscriptions start at $145 for three workstations, with volume and multiple-year subscription discounts available.Category: language arts, assistive tech
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LARGE SOFTWARE

LargeSoftware has announced a price special that will provide customers a discount on the popular PC Tune-Up 2.0 software when combined with the purchase of the company’s Password Manager. The PC Tune-Up 2.0 product optimizes users’ computers and improves computer speed by up to 55 percent.Price: $29.95; PC tune-up added on for $9.95Category: utility

Hitachi Software Engineering America

 has introduced the new StarBoard FX-77GII, which has an electronic pen. The wireless, two-button pen device, included with the StarBoard, functions as a mouse that operates and annotates on the board. With 12 customizable function buttons, the FX-77GII is highly adaptable to the specific needs of each user and that user’s environment. It also comes with 500 new lessons.www.hitachi.com

Put to the Test : Discovery Software Principalm+

allows administrators to transfer student-information-system (SIS) data to a handheld device. Because data can be accessed from a handheld immediately, the information may be used for everyday discipline, student-conduct incidents and histories, emergency preparedness, and security. Each user is issued his or her own passkey, and data can be synchronized as often as needed.PROS: The Principalm+ transfers information without using a third-party server. The software transfers data to most handhelds, including smartphones, BlackBerry smartphones, and PDAs, and soon to Apple iPhones. Users can add customizable fields. The data-download sets can be customized, such as downloading just phone numbers and health information for a teacher going on a field trip.CONS: None.OVERALL EVALUATION: One of the biggest problems administrators have is that all the student data we collect are never where we need them when we need them. Principalm+ solves this problem. Administrators can use Principalm+ to check the discipline record of a student at the site of an incident rather than having to wait until they get back to the office. They can look up a locker combination on the spot, or even a parent’s phone number. This type of application is long overdue.www.discoverysoftware.comRetail price: Based on per-student, per-module model.

Hitachi Software Engineering www.hitachi-soft.com

announces the introduction of the StarBoard WT-1 Interactive Wireless Tablet. The new tablet has an interactive pen with two customizable buttons. The WT-1 features a range of up to 30 feet by deploying RF technology, and has a battery life of up to 16 hours of continuous use. The tablet includes 16 shortcut-function keys, handwriting recognition, search-engine integration, and a built-in LCD indicator screen to alert users of available battery life. Presenters can connect as many as seven WT-1 systems to a PC.

EBEAM SOFTWARE (WWW.LUIDIA.COM)

eBeam software for the eBeam interactive whiteboard now allows users to send a wide variety of interactive-whiteboardgenerated content directly to their Amazon Kindles and Kindle DXs. Students can use this feature to review class lessons, and parents can see what children have studied in class. Price: Contact company for pricing. Category: presentation software

Put to the Test: PRODUCT: CO:WRITER 6 FROM DON JOHNSTON

Co:Writer 6 enables students who struggle with writing and spelling to work at their own pace. The latest version teams with a companion application, like a word processor or Web browser, to help users build and write correct sentences.PROS: Flexibility and support for guided independent work are key features of this latest version. The word window is always active and displays on top of the companion program’s window, so it’s easy to see recommended words as you compose an email or blog or write a document in your word processor. Students having difficulty with written words can receive audio feedback, because the program optionally reads word choices and completed sentences. Co:Writer will also read aloud menus and dialogbox contents. In addition to three main dictionary options, there are dozens of topic dictionaries from which to choose. Several video tutorials introduce new users to the product.CONS: Unfortunately, most districts will find the application too expensive to install on every school computer. Instead, they will reserve access to students with special needs or IEP/504 plans, thus reinforcing the divide between students receiving mainstream education and children who have trouble accessing the general curriculum. This outcome, it should be noted, is not a fault of the program per se.OVERALL EVALUATION: Co:Writer 6’s strength lies in its ability to create a writing environment tailored to individual users’ needs. Struggling readers and writers both young and old and individuals with poor or illegible handwriting, developmental delays, physical disabilities, and learning challenges can use its word-prediction power to become better writers. While it falls into the category of assistive technology, it’s flexible enough to meet the needs of all students.www.donjohnston.comRetail price: Single licenses start at $325; network unlimited site licenses, $1900/volume discounts.—Carol Holzberg

PRODUCT: TEXTHELP SYSTEMS FLUENCY TUTOR

Fluency Tutor is an online software solution for students developing, and teachers assessing, oral reading fluency. The product incorporates passages that align to MetaMetrics Lexile Framework for Reading and includes tools for practicing, assessing, and measuring fluency. Students listen to passages being read aloud with textto- speech voices and practice their own reading. When ready, they record assessments for teachers to listen to and mark. Several graphical reports are available to show students’ progress. PROS: The software allows teachers to select exercises of the right difficulty for each pupil and to record his or her progress. Teachers can evaluate the fluency errors made, words correct per minute, and level of prosody (expression of reading) for every student. The system is also available to teachers and students at home. CONS: To be truly effective, the product requires complete buy-in from all reading teachers. A school must also have enough computers available for students to practice and take assessments. OVERALL EVALUATION: Every school should have a program like this Fluency Tutor to help students learn to read. This one is as good as, or better than, most I have seen.www.texthelp.comRetail price: Starting at $2,245 per school, first year; $745, each year after. Discounts available for multi-year purchase.—Joe Huber