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ePals Introduces Applications for a Safe Online Environment

The affordable classmate PC is all the one-to-one rage, and now ePals, Inc. announces it will make it safer with a new educational application for the device that includes the ePals' Global Learning Community, SchoolMail and SchoolBlog. This application ensures educators and administrators using the classmate PC have a safe environment for building and exchanging knowledge. They can use protected email, blog, translation tools, and evidence-based curricula. 

Details: This program is part of the Intel World Ahead Program that aims to connect the next billion people to uncompromised technology around the world.

Bottom line: ePals safely connects more than 350,000 teachers from 200 countries and territories around the world, so this seems a good vendor for the popular classmate PC.

PREVIEW: Promethean Activboard+2 Upgrade

Ab2new200Promethean will show off its upgraded Activboard+2 interactive projector system at the NECC conference this summer. The name might be the same, but the revamped AB+2 will have a new short-throw projector that puts 2,000 lumens on the screen, one-third more than the original projector.  Plus, the screen and projector are now mounted on a belt, making it easier for small hands to adjust the height up or down as much as 24-inches. Sarasota County Schools uses the AB+2 interactive projector in 3,300 classrooms.

New Curriculum Teaches the Meaning of Words

FoundationsLooking for a good resource to teach students the meaning in words? Foundations is a new program from Dynamic Literacy that teaches “morphology,” or the meaning of words. Just as phonics helps students “sound out” unfamiliar words, a mastery of Morphics helps a student “mean out” unfamiliar words. 
Grade Level: 3-5, but available for intervention in grades 6 and higher
Bottom line: This curriculum teaches students how English words are constructed by focusing on the meanings of prefixes, roots and suffixes, also known as morphemes. Once students learn the definitions of common morphemes, they gain the skills to decipher thousands of unfamiliar words, and their vocabularies increase exponentially.
Prices start at $9.95, with volume discounts to $5.95 for individual student activity books, plus $99 per teacher for software and instructional materials.

Freeing Student Data

Centre_attendanceStill using a clunky and expensive student information program that never quite does what you want it to? Miller Group’s Centre application uses open source software to help put student data exactly where you want it, and version 2.13 adds more detailed attendance records as well as the ability to personalize grade books. The best part is that it’s free.
Specs: Can handle student data, scheduling, attendance, report cards.
Bottom line: Centre can streamline a school’s operations for free.

Managing Bullying and Discipline

Administrators are faced with a unique challenge when it comes to school discipline and safety issues: proving they did enough to prevent these things from happening. This is especially tricky because accidents and discipline problems happen anyway. The PublicSchoolWORKS’ StudentWatch Suite can help with an automated web-based system for managing the tracking and reporting of student safety, accidents, and behavior issues.
Details: The Student Bullying Reporting System gives students and parents a 24/7 online and telephone system where they can report bullying incidents. It also allows schools to meet federal and state bullying requirement. The system automatically emails reports to administrators and tracks consequence resolution.
Bottom line: By quantifying the abstract concepts of discipline and safety – targeting where incidents happen and what the consequences were – administrators can use the system to prevent or decrease discipline issues, as well as provide solid reports to protect schools when bad things do happen.

Next Generation Lab Partner

Pasco_sparkGot a slew of science lab equipment that look like antiques? Pasco’s SPARK handheld can replace much of it with a single, easy-to-use handheld. The 21-ounce system fits comfortably in small hands, works with up to four sensors at once and display results on its 5.75-inch color touch-screen. The $300 SPARK system comes with 50 self-guided classroom activities and sophisticated analysis software for all sorts of lab write-ups on everything from examining the laws of motion to measuring pH. Specs: 21-ounce, 640 by 480 pixel color display, analysis software.
Bottom line: SPARK uses a variety of sensors and analysis software to teach science.

Going Green Blog through April

Tis the time of year to scramble for Earth Day lesson ideas, so let your teachers know about the new “Living Green” blog at http://sallyridescience.com. The “Living Green” blog will run through the month of April — just in time for Earth Day — with new postings each week. Teachers can introduce students to science topics such as climate change, and encourage students to think about ways they can help take care of Earth’s precious resources — air, water, land and other living things.

Bottom line: The “Living Green” blog provides teachers with interesting ways to connect the classroom to the outside world and discuss the many ways science is used in everyday life.


Email Archiver

Barracuda_message_archiverAre emails disappearing right and left? Barracuda’s Message Archiver can create failsafe backups of a school or district’s entire email traffic. The rack-mounted Archiver, which sells for between $5,000 and $15,000, is a self-contained system that saves every email message and attachment, allowing for instant search and retrevial. The company offers free loaner units to try it out.
Specs: 500GB to 4TG storage, RAID level 1 or 5, monitoring screen shows activity and status.
Bottom line: The Message Archiver copies every email so none disappear.

Free Training Series on Google Docs through May 1

Atomictrainingv2Google Docs is a free Web-based word processing program that allows users to keep documents up to date and allows selected individuals to update files from their personal computers. Atomic Learning is offering a free trainning series on the program, titled Google Docs – A Focus on Docs.
Details: Good for any teacher or administrator looking for a quick tutorial on Google Docs.
Bottom line: The training series includes more that sixty short, show-and-tell movies that guide users through the creation, implementation, and use of Google Docs. Topics include working with documents, organizing files, document options, sharing and publishing, working with collaboration, and utilizing the edit, insert and revision tab options.

In Touch With Student Response

TouchLooking for a student response system that sends questions to students as well as their answers to teachers? iResond’s Touch can send and receive data wirelessly and display it on the handheld’s 160 by 160 pixel screen.  Along with the company’s Dashboard software, Touch has the ability to present kids with multiple choice, true/false, fill-in and other queries. It can even handle short essays as well as electronically taking attendance and handing in homework. Prices start at about $1,200 per unit.
Specs: touch-sensitive screen, 160 by 160 pixel screen,
Bottom line: iRespond’s Touch beams questions to students and answers to teachers.

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