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
The SPARK Science Learning System is an all-in-one mobile device that integrates probeware with inquiry-based content and assessment. The SPARK can be used as a standalone science- data-collection tool, or it can be connected to a computer via a USB cable and used as a data-collection terminal for PASCO data-collection software. A teacher can assign the class an experiment, and the students can use their SPARK units and probes to develop hypotheses, collect data to prove or disprove the hypotheses, and then draw conclusions.PROS: The SPARK comes with more than 60 preinstalled experiments. It is rugged enough to be taken outdoors and handled by elementary-, middle-, and high-school students. The SPARKvue software permits the same interface to be displayed on a computer so a teacher can deliver pre-lab instruction to an entire class via a data projector. Additional probes are reasonably priced. The SPARK is battery-powered, so it can be used outside the classroom. It allows students to record their data directly to the device. The experiments included in the SPARK let students collect meaningful data in real time. The device also has helpful online educator-training resources.CONS: It would be nice to have one kit that included all the probes; PASCO does, however, offer kits that provide the probes necessary to perform the labs that are embedded on the SPARK Science Learning System.OVERALL IMPRESSION: Science is not a study of facts and dates; science is a process. The SPARK takes this discovery process into account in a fun, easy-to-use tool.www.pasco.comRetail price: $329
This early-literacy screening tool’s 25 questions help identify which step, on a four-step continuum, a child has reached on the path to becoming a successful reader. The visual and auditory questions allow young learners to demonstrate their skills in print and book knowledge, phonological awareness, and phonics. The enhanced Get Ready to Read!—Revised also includes tools such as skill-building activities and resources for helping students who need extra assistance in becoming literate.Price: Contact company for pricing. Category: reading, assessment
Lexia Learning Systems has expanded its offering of the popular Lexia Lessons and Lexia Skill Builders as a part of its Lexia Reading program. The program includes targeted practice, embedded assessment, scripted lesson plans, and offline practice to help students at all reading levels achieve proficiency. Using Lexia’s reports, teachers can easily identify students’ areas of weakness and use the targeted instructional strategies of Lexia Lessons to help them master concepts. Recently expanded to include support for Early Reading as well as Primary Reading, Lexia Reading now has 21 sets of Lexia Lessons available to support students in key skill development areas.Price: Contact company for pricing. Category: reading
RAPS is a 100 percent computerized diagnostic readingassessment program that automatically tests basic reading skills and diagnoses weaknesses in a single student, a classroom, or an entire school population.PROS: The product does an excellent job of testing all components of a student’s reading phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, comprehension, and grasp of vocabulary-word meaning. It automatically develops an individual learning plan for each student, measures progress to determine if remediation has been successful, determines if appropriate resources are available to assist students who need accelerated progress, sets data-driven goals, and matches timelines to high-stakes testing. It monitors students’ progress continuously throughout the year and allows importing of demographic data.CONS: As with most assessment programs, the staff must be willing to dedicate sufficient professional-development time to fully benefit from this program’s many features.OVERALL EVALUATION: Most schools are looking for a program that will improve students’ reading; RAPS360 not only does this but does it using a data-driven decision-making process.www.mindplay.comRetail price: Varies by type of installation.
Extron’s new WallVault System (www.extron.com) is a family of complete, centralized A/V switching and control systems designed for use with wall-mounted short-throw projectors and flat-panel displays. These economical classroom A/V systems use twisted-pair technology for transmitting signals and include network connectivity for Web-based asset management, monitoring, and control. WallVault Systems take their name from the WMK 100 Wall Mount kit, which securely mounts and conceals system components on the wall.
The Qwizdom Q6 Student Response System (www.qwizdom.com) offers more opportunity for collaboration than any previous system; it includes an easy-to-use keypad similar to that of a cell phone, text input, and a larger LCD screen for viewing full responses. The small, ergonomic radio-frequency remotes allow each student to communicate with the teacher from up to 328 feet away and are durability tested to withstand the rigors of the classroom. Software used with Q6 remotes is both PC- and Mac-friendly, integrating easily with PowerPoint and Keynote. Additionally, Qwizdom Connect software works with hundreds of thousands of premade curriculum resource slides. The Q6 allows the student to enter scientific, mathematic, superscript and subscript expressions, along with punctuation symbols found on a cell phone.
Apperson Education Products has partnered with Northrop Grumman Corporation to provide the Aspire Assessment System. Apperson will provide a test scanner that will score students’ tests and allow educators to immediately upload the test data to the Aspire software.Price: N/ACategory: assessment
has unveiled the newest version of its popular soundfield-reinforcement technology, the WCMRF Voice Amplification System. The new WCM-RF features functional enhancements designed to improve sound and increase intelligibility in the classroom. The new WCM-RF system, Calypso’s first voice-amplification product with a 20-band digital equalizer as a standard feature, provides customized sound quality for a variety of environments.(www.calypsocontrol.com)