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Monitor that Saves on Power

174_smallIf rising electricity bills have your budget in a bind, Lenovo’s latest monitors can reduce power consumption by as much as 35 percent without reducing brightness. The 17-inch L174, for instance, cuts power use by 25 percent, and there are also screens that measure 15-, 19- and 22-inches. The L174 sells for $240 and will be available in mid-April.
Specs: 15-, 17-, 22-inch LCD monitor
Bottom line: The Lenovo L174 monitor cuts expenses by using less power.

New Leadership Institute [NSBA NEWS, Orlando]

Rcleaderinst Reliance Communications, makers of SchoolMessenger, announced a new Leadership Institute, the RCLI Professional Development Series. The suite includes instructor-led courses, performance improvement tools, collaborative professional forums, research and information resources, and a research-based process for enhancing school district, parent & community involvement.

SchoolNet Launches New K12 Social Networking Community [NSBA NEWS, Orlando]

To celebrate their 10th anniversary, SchoolNet has announced a new social networking for K12 educators. The site is broken down into “viewpoints” where educators can share their opinions about issues that matter most to them; “ask the community” where the community can respond to specific questions; “discussions” where the community can have an online conversation; and a “K12 wiki” where educators can set up a wiki.
Bottom Line: The social networking site is clean and easy to navigate. A good source for ideas and issues that really matter to K12.

New Screening Software Includes Background Checks [NSBA NEWS, Orlando]

BackgroundchecksforschoolscomartAs teacher scandals hit the headlines, administrators are increasingly concerned about the background of their employees. This means the time is right for the launch of the new website, www.backgroundchecksforschools.com. This site, from security leader General Information Services, screens any potential school employee against a huge instant criminal database (KwikScreen) that includes sex offenders and a national watch lists with photos of offenders from 49 states. The site also re-screens all employees to make sure organizations remain compliant, since if you only run a background check on the initial hire date, you can miss a crime that an employee, parent or volunteer commits during the following year.
Bottom Line: Many schools currently run statewide checks to help promote the safety of their pupils and employees. A national check through the largest criminal screening database in the nation can provide more certainty that even transient offenders who have committed crimes in other states are identified and eliminated from the job or volunteer pool.

New Special Education/IEP Writer from Sapphire [NSBA NEWS, Orlando]

Special education has been described as “the monster in the closet,” and it’s certainly an issue most administrators need to address. K12 Systems, a provider of administrative software solutions, now offers the Sapphire Special Education Software/IEP Writer. This web-based special education software is specifically designed for special education programs. The product includes the following modules: referral, eligibility, IEP processing, 504 documentation, caseload management, and Medicaid reimbursement, with multiple levels of security within each application.
Bottom Line: The Sapphire Special Education Software/IEP Writer gives educators tools to manage IEPs and the overall special education process. As IEP data is entered, compliance requirements are automatically verified to help ensure paperwork is completed accurately and on time.

Army Offers Free Test Prep – No Strings Attached [NSBA NEWS, Orlando]

The Army wants a few good students – and they’re willing to offer some free test prep courses to prepare them. I was skeptical, but they were right: no strings appear attached to the March 2 Success mini course offerings. Students CAN choose to be contacted by an army recruiter, but they have to check a box if they are interested. The courses range from Comp English to SAT/ACT Prep to advanced science.
Bottom Line: Students simply answer a few quick questions for a free 45-day registration where they can access dozens of courses. The army rep states about 10-percent of the students registered request to be contacted by an army recruiter, so that’s the payoff for them.

Technology Keeps Home-Bound Student in School

Celeste_2Are you looking for ways to reach out to your home-bound students? A story from Agnes Risley Elementary School is an inspiring model of how technology can be used to reach out to this population.
When Celest McCaskey had Leukemia, her chemo treatments left her too weak to attend classes. Her condition cut her off from her school and social community – until her fourth grade teacher, Brian Crosby, figured out a way to let her join in again. Crosby used Activboard interactive whiteboards, Logitech cameras, PCs, and VOIP (Skype) software to create a unique distance learning experience that made sure Celest remained an active part of the class. A little over a year later, Celest is back in class. This inspiring story is captured in Crosby’s blog and a mini-documentary. What kind of a difference would technology make to your home-bound students?

Triple Strength PC

Opti_740_minitower_300 If traditional PCs are bogging down on complex tasks, they may need some extra computing horsepower. AMD’s triple-core Phenom processor is now available in Dell’s Optiplex 740 series of desktop PCs. The chip balances power and performance with three computational cores and can protect the system with a special section to hold 43979a_phenom_chip_pins_rgb_2 viruses before they can do any harm. The system can be housed in any of three different case sizes and starts at $700.
Specs: AMD triple core Phenom CPU, up to 8GB of RAM, 80-, 160- or 250GB hard drive
Bottom line: AMD’s Phenom triple-core CPU supercharges Dell’s Optiplex 740 PC.

Real World Math on Teacher Tube

Ti_7th_hour_geometry_005Want to see the latest handheld device from Texas Instruments in action? Check out real classroom footage from Fayetteville Public School on TeacherTube. This new math initiative from TI and TeacherTube invited Fayetteville to be the first school to create videos for the Real World Math program that shows how the math lessons taught in the classroom are relevant to the real world. Fayetteville’s math teachers are posting their classes’ video submissions on at http://www.teachertube.com/ti.php. The two classes (one high school and one junior high) that produce the most creative and educational videos will each win a complete TI classroom technology makeover valued at $10,000 each.

Tablet Lets Teachers Write On

Qit30_smallI’m sure I’m not alone in hating blackboard chalk and the smell of dry markers, so for me Qomo’s QIT 30 Prodigy tablet is a big step forward for interactive classrooms. This tablet uses wireless technology to connect with a computer, has an ultraprecise 2,000 lines per inch resolution and can run for 25 hours on a charge. The software can connect up to 30 tablets at once so a whole class can use them. Elementary schools in Bullhead City, AZ are using these tablets to create an interactive learning environment. The tablet sells for $400, and volume discounts are available.
Specs: 7.8 by 5.9-inch active area, 2.4GHz wireless link, lithium ion battery.
Bottom line: The Prodigy can connect an entire class.

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