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Free Stuff for Schools

Np100_3 On top of introducing the NP 100 and 200 pair of small projectors, NEC has figured out how to help schools get displays for free, or close to it. The company’s Star Student Rewards program now rebates 2 percent of all NEC projector and large display purchases to schools in the form of a debit card instead of points to buy more equipment. I love a bargain for schools, and this one works for me.
Specs:
NP100—800 by 600 resolution, 2,000 lumens, 1,300:1 contrast
NP200—1,024 by 768 resolution, 2,100 contrast, 1,300:1 contrast
Bottom line: NEC has the latest projectors and pays schools a 2 percent rebate on purchases.

Everything Tech

Dictionary_of_ed_tech If you don’t know the difference between a forced flash and an automatic flash, then Bob Hoffman’s Encyclopedia of Educational Technology is right up your alley. With everything from eLearning to Video learning, it’s organized into large categories that each have dozens of individual topics. A must read on the Web for any techno-saavy teacher, there are thousands of definitions, easy explanations and tons of tips and tricks.
Bottom line: With entries on everything from digital cameras to Web-based training, the dictionary is a great resource for teachers and administrators.

NEW DIGITAL CURRICULUM HELPS STRUGGLING STUDENTS

Apex Administrators know struggling students need more than extra time on task in math and reading to succeed.  They need individualized and differentiated instruction, which isn't always possible when a teacher has 30 students in the classroom. But at-risk students who use digital curriculum like the individualized instruction and the ability to move at their own pace. To meet these needs, Apex Learning has added new course offerings to their digital curriculum for differentiated instruction. They have also redesigned the standards-based digital curriculum to support students in credit recovery, dropout recovery, remediation, intervention, and alternative school programs. The Apex Learning courses adds audio assistance in direct instruction for ESL students or those reading below grade level.

Bottom Line: Graphic organizers help students accomplish tasks. Study sheets teach students how to develop good study habits. The digital curriculum uses audio, video, graphics, images, and animations to address a variety of learning styles.

CTB/McGRAW-Hill Updates Writing Roadmap

Ctbwrm_logoclr_gifAdministrators know how difficult it is to automatically score essays. How can you measure all the nuance? Schools have had success scoring essays with CTB/McGraw-Hill’s Writing Roadmap, an online essay assessment system that uses artificial intelligence to assess the writing skills of students in Grades 3-12, and now the program adds some new administrative feature to manage the program. The lockdown student browser lets teachers choose to have students respond in a secure setting that locks students in the program once they log in and disables access to other applications on their computer. “Asterisk” technology automatically flags certain scores that might benefit from teacher review. Sixteen new writing prompts cover four styles – Narrative, Informative/Expository, Descriptive, and Persuasive. An improved scoring algorithm uses 4, 5, and 6-point rubric scales that meet psychometric standards for classroom assessments.
Bottom Line: Writing Roadmap covers a range of essay styles with 66 classroom writing prompts, 10 training prompts,  and the ability for teachers to craft custom essay topics.

eBook is Back

KindleIf you’ve been frustrated that you couldn’t get any Amazon Kindle eBook readers for your library or reading classrooms, they’re back in stock. Following an apology by Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos that they couldn’t make the devices fast enough, the online shopping site now has Kindles back in stock and ready for delivery at $400. In addition to basic Web browsing, the 10-ounce eBook reader doesn’t require a computer to load any of the 110,000 books and periodicals it can display.
Specs: 10 ounces, 6-inch screen, 7.5- x 5.3- x 0.7-inches
Bottom line: Libraries and classrooms can replace paper books with Kindle eBook readers that double as Web browsers.

School Storage Central

Dsn210010_frontopen1I’ve found that nothing wastes more time and effort at a school than when the server is full and won’t accept any more files. With room for eight hard drives, DLink’s DSN-2100 xStack Storage Array is an easy way to make room for a school’s worth of data. Not only does the array automatically detect and configure new drives, but it supports the most popular RAID techniques, so no data will ever be lost. Capable of holding 8TB of data, the array costs $5,300.
Specs: holds 8 hard drives, RAID level 0, 1, 2, 1+0 and 5 
Bottom line: With the DSN-2100, your school will likely never run out of server space.

Wide-Screen Bargain

Dell_2408_smallIt may be a new monitor, but Dell has cut the price of its UltraSharp 2408WFP monitor by $100 to $600, making it a bargain for schools. The 24-inch wide-screen has a pinpoint perfect 1,920 by 1,200 resolution, can handle full high definition programming and has a wide 178-degree viewing angle, so the whole classroom can see.
Specs: 24-inch LCD display, 1,920 by 1,200 pixel resolution, 3,000:1 contrast ratio
Bottom line: Dell’s 2408WFP monitor proves that you don’t have to settle for second best to save money.

Making Science Fun

NavigationLooking for a real world science project to stimulate your science class? The Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education (CIESE) at the Stevens Institute of technology has dozens of online experiments, ranging from how much water you use every day to following ships as they navigate throughout the world. They’re extremely creative and, best of all, they’re all free.
Bottom line: Science becomes fun when students work with data.

Projector Two-For

Sanyo_plcet30lWe spend a lot of time here talking about classroom projectors, but what about projectors for an auditorium, lecture hall or large room? That's where the latest T series projectors from Sanyo come in becuase they set a new standard for brightness and resolution. The two look alike but the PLC-ET30L pumps out 4,200 lumens of light, has a super-sharp resolution of 1,400 by 1,050 and sells for $6,500. By contrast, the PLC-XT21/L delivers 4,000 lumens, has 1,024 by 768 resolution and sells for $5,000. Which you choose depends as much on how big the room is as how big your budget is.
Specs:
PLC-ET30L—4,200 lumens, 1,300:1 contrast, 1,400 by 1,050 resolution
PLCXT21/L—4,000 lumens, 1,000:1 contrast, 1,024 by 768 resolution
Bottom line: For a large room,Sanyo’s T series of projectors is a bright bunch.

Monitor Double Vision

Doublesight_219sta01I’ve found that seeing double can actually be good for teaching when it comes to monitors. For instance, it’s absolutely amazing what happens in a science class when you show the video of an experiment that the students did on one screen while looking at data graphs on another. Rather than awkwardly setting up two clumsy monitors, DoubleSight’s $450 DS-219STA stand can hold a pair of 19-inch displays. The displays can be tilted, adjusted up and down as well as rotated so everyone gets a good view. 
Specs: Holds two 19-inch VESA monitors of up to 22 pounds each
Bottom line: DoubleSight’s monitor stand can securely hold a pair of displays, doubling the teaching potential.

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