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Accelerate: Standard Deviants Resources

SamGenovese_as_Hiro copy
At the recent ISTE 2011 Conference I had a chance to demo an Biology module by a group of very cleaver, dare I say deviant, education resource producers from a company called Cerebellum. It was fun learning, and fully packaged for teaching the things that used to take me binders full of resource gathering. Beyond that, the pre lesson, actual lessons, and post lesson activities and assessments were anything but traditional. I do know that any teacher could teach biology by using it, and students would love the irreverant style. I did make the comment that students would most likely want to create their own videos and characters after experiencing the lessons. Afterward, I interviewed spokeperson Sam Genovese (image above as "Hiro the Dog Eater") from Cerebellum, who also acts in some of the video resource scenes. You may learn enough about Standard Deviants Accelerate to give it a try.

Q: How is Standard Deviants Accelerate different from other online resources?

Ans: We had a few goals when creating Standard Deviants Accelerate:

1)  Save teachers time.

2) Make it intuitive and easy to use, because no teacher should have to use a personal day to learn a new online program.

3) Make it a comprehensive subject-based learning resource that is flexible for teachers and students alike.

4) Create new and unique Standard Deviants video, audio, and testing materials that are only available on SD Accelerate.

Q: How will teachers benefit from using this platform?

Ans: Accelerate will save teachers time. Grading rubrics are provided for relevant assignments, however we know that each classroom has different needs, so we made the rubrics editable via simple click-and-type. Additionally, Accelerate pushes performance data to teachers for struggling students. This frees teachers from constantly having to log in to get time-sensitive data about students in need of more help, thus providing teachers have more time to teach.

Q: Can you explain the methodology in the structure of the subjects’ material?

Ans: Differentiated instruction, RTI and creative critical thinking are the backbone of Accelerate's methodology. 

A quiz taken at the end of a module is informed by smaller quizzes taken at the beginning of the module.  It really gets interesting with the critical thinking questions, though. Accelerate will push either a foundational or an enrichment critical thinking question to the student based on that student's unique performance on prior assignments. This type of instruction happens dozens of times over the course of an entire subject. 

Accelerate's approach to RTI is to literally send red flags to teachers when students are underperforming, so as to allow the teacher to respond in a timely manner. 

Students are asked time and again to approach the material from creative angles and think for themselves.  This makes the subject matter relevant to their lives, makes it real and makes it totally engaging.

Q: Why should this be used in the classroom?

Ans: For teachers, Accelerate is about flexibility and saving time.  Sure, there is a logical pathway to how Accelerate's lessons are organized and presented, but the entire system is designed to allow teachers to manage their classrooms in the ways they see fit. Teachers can have students submit assignments electronically or as printouts; additionally, Accelerate can be used directly in the classroom or assigned as homework or as a long-term assignment—the teacher is in control.

For students, Accelerate is a dynamic learning environment that provides not only Standard Deviants video programming, but also assignments with twists that really make the students engage with the material.  I mean, where else are students going to be asked to explain mitosis in rhyming couplets?

1:1 Online Instruction: Alternative Eds New Look

D EDUCATION 2020 041 The Royal Treatment talks with Gene Storz, Chief Learning Officer, about Education 2020. Hopper pic Joanne E. Hopper, Ed.D. Director of Education Services St. Clair County RESA, Marysville, MI, and Al Vigh, Frontiers Program Director for the Wyoming Public Schools will join us to share how they are using 2020 in their districts. Here's a new look to alternative education. Background: Education 2020 (e2020) is a provider of one-on-one online instruction in core and elective courses for students in grades 6-12.

Listen to the 1:1 Online Instruction discussion (embedded player requires Flash):

MP3 Link: http://blogtalk.vo.llnwd.net/o23/show/2/258/show_2258907.mp3

iTunes Link: http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-royal-treatment-blog-talk/id414014159

Extron iPad Controller App: ISTE

There's an App for that. Extron provides an easy way to control classroom multimedia by using an iPad. The new app was given The Royal Treatment at ISTE. Looks simple to use.

Watch my Extron booth visit:

Exceptional Needs Education: Autism & Disabilities

This episode of the Royal Treatment—Exceptional Needs Education: Autism and Disabilities shares how two different organizations have made it their business to help students with autism, students with disabilities, as well as their families. In this professional development talk, we’ll hear philosophy, and also specifics of what help, technology, and software is actually available for children and their parents today. Joining us are Lauren Stafford, who was Academic Supervisor for Instructional Design, and is now the Visual Learning Solutions Vice President at the Monarch School for students with Autism in Ohio, and Chris Vacek, Chief Innovation Officer at the HeartSpring School for children with disabilities in Wichita, Kansas. This Royal Treatment is truly a professional development for all teachers, as well as special education professionals.
Listen to Exceptional Needs Education: Autism & Disabilities:

Graphic Suggestions: Free or Buy?

Oldcam Recently, a teacher asked me to recommend a digital photo editing software. She needed it to work on a Mac, so that narrowed the choices a bit. She liked Publisher (no Mac version), so wanted something that would play nice along those lines, too. Sometimes it pays to buy what you really need, rather than looking for free. Many times software shareware solutions are light versions, and rarely offer you the possibilities of the full application. I also think that most free software requires so many work-arounds that the time spent meandering isn’t worth the time.

But knowing how much educators like free, I offered some possibilities, before saying what I thought would work the best if it were purchased. You can only bend software so far, so I’ve found that removing the fish hooks from your pocket to buy what you need makes sense. I'm sure there are some other choices out there, but these were my suggestions.

My free suggestion was Gimp http://the-gimp.en.softonic.com/mac, and my free trial suggestions were Swift Publisher http://www.belightsoft.com/products/swiftpublisher/overview.php, and iStudio Publisher http://www.istudiopublisher.com/index.php/home/home/. Paintbrush is another nice and free option as well http://paintbrush.en.softonic.com/mac; it resembles MS Paint, but was too light for my educator. It is worth a try though.

Looking for a challenge:
Scribus is open source, and a bit like Publisher http://sourceforge.net/projects/scribus/files/scribus/; it can be a challenge to intall and figure out—but works (Ghostscript install necessary—read instructions).

Pse9In all of this searching, I kept in mind what the teacher needed to do with the software, and while I tried to offer free, I really knew that purchasing an old veteran software would work best. I had two in mind, and my teacher picked the one that was compatible with her school set-up.

She chose Adobe Photoshop Elements 9. Some software makes you smile, because it covers so much ground, and does it so easily. Photoshop makes you look like a pro when you’ve used it for the simplest things, and if you know layering—it’s a dream. It’s a huge program, but well worth the loading time. By the way, you can teach kids to do some incredible things with it, including Web animations. As for software longevity, I actually have an old Mac running a Photoshop Elements 2, because it still works well.

There’s Photoshop online at http://www.photoshop.com/, but my teacher strolled into her local, packed Apple Store, and walked out with a copy of Photoshop Elements 9 in under 5 minutes. It was $99 ($107 out the door). I’m old fashioned that way, too, I always like to have a disk in hand—beyond a download. I suggested that, too.

The online trial requires registration and some info, including setting up a password, as well as selecting a birth date (didn’t like that) for using all the online tools.

My Other Purchase Suggestions:


Corel Other options, for both Mac and PC—with a free trial—are Corel’s http://www.corel.com/ PaintShop, Draw, and Painter11, which works on. I suggested this one as well, but it wasn’t used in my teacher’s school. CorelPainter11 is amazing software. It will make a Rembrandt out of a stick-figure artist.


SerifDrawPlusX2 Don’t forget Serif’s http://www.serif.com/ free PhotoPlus http://www.serif.com/free-photo-editing-software/ as well as other offerings, but it plays in the PC world and not the Mac side of town—yet. Its origin is UK. Beyond graphics Serif has some great, easy to use software for making Web pages with kids.


Follett Destiny/Cognite: Video Royal Treatment

Follett Software is more than Destiny Library Manager. The Video Royal Treatment shares a bit about Cognite:

Martin Evans Talks School Technology

KIdsbus2 Bunnell Elementary School Assistant Principal Martin Evans, of Flagler County Public Schools, Florida talked school tech, which included how he's using Turning Technologies with me.  Like most administrators, Evans wears many hats, but during our conversation his education technology passion was quite apparent. Please listen to my interview with Martin:

Mona Westhaver Inspiration

Westhaver Discovering New Inspiration

I had a great reunion interview with Mona Westhaver, Inspiration Software president and co-founder. I hadn't spoken to Mona in quite awhile, so needed an information update on Inspiration 9. I began teaching with the original Inspiration software around 1988, and had used it up to the Inspiration 7 release. Here's a short audio clip of my interview with Mona Westhaver:

I96a During my demo, I noted wonderful additions to make Inspiration more of a self-contained, one-software, organizing, writing, and presenting solution. New features include map view for creating mind maps, adding sound and video anywhere, exporting to PDF, and the ability to share presentations by way of a thumb drive and presentation viewer. The highest praise I can give it, though, is that I know that I could walk into a class, or computer lab and teach with the updated software immediately. My recommendation is that this isn't one of those upgrades you should wait on either--it's that good. I95aDiagramming, writing and organizing with text and searchable images, easily transfer to outline view with a click. And the presentations, themselves, have a PowerPoint slide show familiarity.

Administrators will be pleased that there's new site licensing:

  • Fewer than 300 students: $995
  • 300-499 students: $1,795
  • 500-999 students: $2,450
  • 1000-1999 students: $3,800
  • 2000+ students: $7,200
There's also a special introductory price for upgrades for the new Inspiration 9 until June 30, 2010, a Single Upgrade from a prior version is only $29.95, and there are other special prices for volume license upgrades, based on the quantity.

Kaspersky Lab Security Interview

Visiting Kaspersky Lab in Boston for an on the road Scholastic Interview
(Video of the interview to be posted soon in our online video library)

When many districts think about computer and Web security, usually the names Symantec (Norton) and McCaffee may begin the discussion, but there are many more choices beyond that need to be share. In a recent on the road interview for Scholastic Administrator, I sat down in Boston with Peter Beardmore, Kaspersky Senior Product Marketing Manager.

Eugene Kaspersky founded the company 25 years ago and is still CEO. It began because he had a personal computer/tech problem, and finding no great answer, decided to create one. The company began as a technology licensing company, but today’s mission is anti-virus and fighting malware. Its focuses are protection, performance, manageability, and deployment. The company has an international footprint, but here in the US, K-12 is 30% of their business--and rising.

I knew a bit about Kaspersky Lab products. In my role as instructional technology specialist Kaspersky downloads help me save quite a few faculty laptops from attacks through malicious Web links. It was good to sit down with Beardmore to get an update.

With 3,500 new signature threats defined daily, I asked Beardmore what he thought district administrators should be thinking and looking for today. Where is the biggest threat for schools?

“The largest threat today is from the Web vector, and polymorphic mutating viruses that change appearance. Our biggest threat internationally is cyber crime though,” said Beardmore. “ That said, schools need to also be aware to protect personal information, too.”

I asked teacher-specific tech use, such as Twitter, Facebook, downloading cool plug-ins for Firefox and others, use of thumb drives, and even PDFs.
Beardmore feels that many have a false sense of security. “While many of those have updates, for instance Firefox, some of the updates may not happen throughout or thoroughly. PDFs, which are used in almost every district today make a system extremely vulnerable if not scanned. There has to be a plan first, and with that constantly updated security, said Beardmore. “As far as Web 2.0, and self-publishing to places like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and blogging you need to be able to know what’s happening, quickly, so Kaspersky can update each hour, and lets district managers control when to avoid interrupting classes or affecting bandwidth. With heuristics, artificial intelligence monitoring, a district technology person can do it. The key is to discover and remove--without damage.”

Kaspersky has 8am-9pm free support, included with a license, and Premium support that’s 24/7.

Kaspersky also has a great security news service call threatpost with amazing reads and updates by experts who exclusively write about security.

6 Innovative Trends—an Educator's View

Looking for innovative technology trends that may have education possibilities makes sense.

Ken3a 4K Technology

This is a bit geeky, but interesting. 4K technology, doubles TV display resolution from 1080p (1920 x 1080) to 4096 x 2160) for huge displays. It's amazing, but displays that big in schools—probably not. I have seen it on a 50-inch screen, but I'm still not sure how that technology would play on a smaller screens. Panasonic had a 152-inch 4K display at CES 2010.

Hand Motion Control

Hand motion control is where a camera recognizes your hand, and you can control what’s on the screen without wearing a glove. It's interesting, and certainly a lot of exercise. I really like this idea for school resource rooms, special needs students, and for educators who may use it to orchestrate rather than lecture. Toshiba displayed this idea at CES 2010.

Hybrids—the best two worlds

The Lenovo Idea Pad U1 is a really cool tablet. It has Linux with a Snapdragon processor on one side working as a slate, and Windows on the other side working as a notebook—they’re detachable—and can be used separately, with a battery on each side. All together, it’s just less than 4 pounds. It will be just under $1,000. The Idea Pad U1 might be a great possibility for educators and administrators, and I can imagine possibilities for students at a higher level as well. It seems easy to take apart and put back together.

EnTourage eDGe

EDGe1 I've been following eBook Readers for awhile—Kindle, Nook, Sony, Samsung, and others. Not sure how many will be standing when the dust settles, but there are plenty out there now. The EnTourage eDGe dual book offers a bit more. For $490 you can write with a stylus and read on one side, and surf the Web on the other side. It’s about 3 pounds, and really looks education good.www.entourageedge.com. Looks like they have the publishers, too.

LED Projectors

Love LED pico projectorstiny, not expensive—making them a perfect classroom fit. Yeah, you'll see them attached to phones, too. We’re getting closer to my wish to embed a projector in a notebook lid facing outward. Why not carry a camera and a project in the lid of a netbook? Pico projectors increase the number of places where projectors can be used in centers and classrooms. As a DLP spokesperson said to me recently, "There's no reason projectors have to be expensive." I do know that gamers have known about $200 projectors for some timepurchased through larger department store chains. Well, they can work in classes, too. You get what you pay for, but it's a lot better than pantomime technology.


Multi-touch is something that should be everywhere now. Thank you Windows7. My recommendation is to pay the extra few bucks to get touch screen capability. Many companies from HP to Asus manufacture great touch screen possibilities. I'm not sure most know that these make fantastic classroom editions for interactive center tables. Put one at a center, for about $500 dollars, you can get 4 or 5 students to collaborate, and manipulate a screen and computer options as a team. Even as a teacher-station machine, the possibilities are brilliant for working with smaller groups. And, taking it to the distance learning, international parallel studies step, a multi-touch with Internet access and Skype would take down some classroom walls.
I’ve been waiting for priced-right touch screen education technology—for years—and it seems to be here.



Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in The Royal Treatment are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.