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Curriculum Reviews

Learning list bThere are so many sources and formats for getting curriculum materials that it’s impossible for one person to make sense of, much less rate, all of them on their merits. Learninglist.com is a site that gathers reviews of all the major services with an emphasis on content and alignment with state and Common Core standards. The site is continually adding new reviews and the service allows you to request new reviews. It costs about $245 per year for a school with 250 students.

Becoming a 21-st Century Netizen

Learning.com digital citizen appNeed a comprehensive lesson what it means to be a U.S. digital citizen? The Learning.com Digital Citizenship App is aimed at middle- and high-school students and has a full look at everything from cyberbullying and online privacy to online intellectual property rights. The app works with both Android and iPads and is self-guided with the ability to go as fast or slow as the student wants and a quiz at the end.

Year-Round Learning

Fuel Education Online Courses Forensics ScreenshotSo much of what’s learned from September to June is lost from July to August that Fuel Education’s Summer School can make learning a year-round thing. The system is a combination of online and blended classes that offer a variety of courses for students as well as development subjects for teachers. Aimed at 9th through 12th graders, the offerings range from AP classes to language study.

Freebee Friday: Software of Note

One noteThe free note-taking software for the PC, One Note, is now available for Macs at the same great price. It doesn’t include the ability to integrate the app with Microsoft’s SharePoint online technology, but is a good place to store and consolidate lots of materials, from typed class notes to documents, images and videos. It’s a freebee for students and teachers and that’s the way we like it. 

The Word

Vocabulary.com appVocabulary.com, a great site for enhancing a class’s use of language, has a new mobile app. Called – you guessed it – Vocabulary.com, the software costs $2.99 and has 12,000 words at its disposal along with 125,000 interactive questions about them. The software also has a built-in dictionary, no shortage of vocabulary lists, including those for many popular school books. Each entry goes beyond the meaning and part of speech to include several examples and a graphic way to show its origin. Right now it’s only available for the iPhone and iPad for $2.99 at the iTunes App store but they’re working on an Android version as well. The best part is that you can still have the Web site periodically send students challenge words.

Office Pad

Screen480x480It’s about time, but Microsoft finally released its Office for the iPad. It’s a big step forward for schools that mostly have PCs and Macs and want to standardize on their software with a single package for writing, spreadsheets and presentations. Office for iPad has downsized versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and you can add OneNote and Lync as well. The apps can be downloaded separately from the iTunes App Store or gotten through an Office 365 subscription.


Freebee Friday: An A in Grading

Mastery-gradebook-01The latest in grading is Instructure’s Mastery digital grade books, which goes beyond As and Fs to track each student’s progress toward mastering subjects as well as Common Core topics. It works in the company’s Canvas LMS software and is free for Canvas users.


Freebee Friday: Make your School a Bully-Free Zone

Bullying beaneIt’s not about teasing or friendly jabbing because bullying is serious business that can adversely affect lives. Scholastic, Tech Tools’ corporate parent, has a great article from its Instructor magazine on how to prevent bullying by Dr. Allan Beane. It covers everything from bullying myths and conflict resolution to an insightful 8-question true or false checklist. The results may surprise you and your class.


Be an eBook Author

Screen480x480What’s better than getting kids to read a book? How about getting them write eBooks? That’s the idea behind Roxio’s MediaBook, which lets kids and teachers put together eBooks on a PC or iPad that can incorporate everything from text to images and videos. The final product can be read on a variety of platforms. The basic version of the iPad and PC apps are free, but the upgraded $20 PC version and $5 for the iPad add the ability to create books with an unlimited number of pages, edit the multimedia material and use advanced transitions and smart objects.

Freebee Friday: All Together Now

Alma bIf your attendance, grading and testing documents are scattered across several computers and a file cabinet, Alma can put it all in one place, making retrieval easier and quicker. The first 500 schools that register get a free copy of the Learning Management System software and online service.



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