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Technology + Online + Industry + Partnerships

Free Web Tools Vitalize History Lessons

An online multimedia series engages students in importantevents in US history. First up, World War II and the Cold War.

In BriefONLINE HISTORY RESOURCES are availablefor a limited time for free from ABC-CLIOSchools as part of its"History and the Headlines" series. ABCCLIOSchools is known for its subscriptionbasedwebsites, which provide referenceinformation and teacher resources to help studentslearn how to conduct historical research,study historical content, and synthesize historicalconcepts.

One of the subjects of the new series is the PBS World War II documentary "The War," from Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. The collection, "History and the Headlines: Double Victory—Minorities and Women During World War II," is meant to enhance classroom discussion of the material presented in the film. Its multimedia content includes excerpts from the documentary, access to ABC-CLIO's encyclopedia of World War II, essays about the war written by leading historians, and lesson plans from National History Day.

The documentary excerpts speak to the national impact of the war—the role of US citizens in the war effort at home, the eruption of racial tensions in Alabama shipyards, and the internment of Japanese Americans.

The encyclopedic references include a detailed chronology and numerous primary sources. "Double Victory" will be available until Dec. 31.

Another installment in the series, "Sputnik Escalates the Cold War," was developed with help from The History Channel. Its primary sources, video clips, expert analysis, and classroom activities are designed to help students grasp the significance of the space and arms races.

The History Channel clips document milestones from the era, such as Sputnik I, Yuri Gagarin's orbiting of the Earth, and the moon landing. Encyclopedic content adds more than 450 relevant images, documents, and maps. Additionally, essays from scholars, including one describing how the Soviet government showcased Sputnik I in its propaganda battles with the United States, shed light on the global context of events.

National History Day lesson plans connect many of these materials to student activities. "Sputnik Escalates the Cold War" will be available until Dec. 1.

Other topics that ABC-CLIO will feature in subsequent chapters of "History and the Headlines" include "American Indian Heritage Month: Commemoration vs. Exploitation" and "Darfur Now," marking the release of the documentary of the same name, narrated by actor Don Cheadle. To sign up to receive information about future "History and the Headlines" topics, visit here.

FETC AND CUE LAUNCH NEW ED TECH CONFERENCE

THE FLORIDA EDUCATIONALTECHNOLOGY CORP. (FETC), part of 1105Media's Educational TechnologyGroup, has teamed up with Computer-Using Educators (CUE), a producer of professionaldevelopment events forthe ed tech community, to hostan annual conference to takeplace in northern California,beginning in October 2008. Theevent will target K-20 educators,the education community, andadministrators, and will focus onidentifying and sharing innovativeteaching and learning solutionsto enhance student achievement.FETC holds one of the nation'spremier educational technologyconferences in Florida each year,while CUE produces the largested tech conference on the WestCoast.

"CUE is proud to partner with FETC to deliver a topflight educational technology conference in northern California," says Mike Lawrence, CUE executive director. "Working with the experienced staff behind the FETC conference, we expect to redefine the conference experience for attendees and exhibitors, advancing student learning."

Adds Mike Eason, executive director of FETC, "We believe our bicoastal partnership will offer expanded opportunities for educators to learn from leaders in the field, and from each other, how to make the classroom a more dynamic and exciting place to learn."

:: Industry News

FILEMAKER ANNOUNCES FREETRAINING MATERIALS. FileMaker has releasedFileMaker Pro Basics, a free set oftools to help K-12 educators learn howto create FileMaker Pro 9 databases.Schools may use FileMaker databasesto collect, manage, and report on studentand administrative data. Thetraining files, as well as a trial versionof the database software itself, areavailable here. Included are instructionson adding security to a database, creatingcustom forms, sharing a databaseover the web, and using the program tomake letters and labels.

NEW CURRICULUM TEACHES WEB MANNERS. The Business Software Alliance has posted a free education program—available for download for grades 3 through 8, and for grades 9 to 12—to help teach students copyright awareness and online etiquette. The curriculum features lesson plans and grade-appropriate teacher guides.

TANDBERG COMPLETES ACQUISITION OF CODIAN. Tandberg, a provider of videoconferencing and mobile video, has closed a deal valued at $270 million to acquire Codian, a maker of videoconferencing products.

AMX ACQUISITION EXTENDS CUSTOMER BASE TO SMALLER ORGS. AMX has announced the acquisition of ProCon Technology, a UK-based manufacturer of A/V switching and control equipment. Since its inception eight years ago, ProCon has focused exclusively on developing simple, cost-effective solutions for classrooms, conference rooms, and other small rooms with limited A/V control and distribution needs.

The company's product portfolio includes combined keypad and controller systems, presentation and matrix switchers, and distribution amplifiers.

With the addition of these products, AMX will be able to provide dealers with affordable solutions to meet the basic technology needs often found in K-12 education.

ISTE UPDATES TECH STANDARDS FOR STUDENTS. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) published the first edition of National Educational Technology Standards for Students in 1998 to outline what students need to know about and be able to do with technology. The NETS, as they are known, became widely used across the nation, but ISTE recently saw the need for an update and released a second version.

"We've shifted emphasis from learning how to use technology to how to use technology to learn," explains ISTE CEO Don Knezek. "In today's test-driven climate, educators are seeking specific skills to help students innovate, think critically, and work collaboratively to help ensure their success in a digital world."

Accordingly, the new standards emphasize soft skills such as creativity, cooperation, information fluency, problem solving, and digital citizenship. National Educational Technology Standards for Students, Second Edition includes student profiles and real world scenarios. The revised NETS are already being integrated into state and district technology plans, training for teachers and administrators, and materials for courses and conferences.

:: Partnerships

KAPUT CENTER RECEIVES GRANTTO IMPROVE MATH TEACHING.The US Department of Education hasgiven the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth's James J. Kaput Center forResearch and Innovation in MathematicsEducation a $2 million grant toexamine new strategies for excitingstudents about learning math, andincreasing the number and diversityof students in math, science, and engineeringdisciplines.

The funds will help the center integrate software known as SimCalc MathWorlds (developed at the university) with associated curriculum and teacher training. SimCalc uses computer animations, real-life examples, narrative stories, and other engagement methods to explain fundamental math concepts. It also incorporates wireless networks to transform participation inside the mathematics classroom. The DoE-funded project will study the impact of SimCalc on student performance in selected regions.

In Brief

GIRL POWER A 2007 Toychallenge winning team

TOYCHALLENGE AIMS TO INTEREST GIRLS IN SCIENCE. Studies show that in elementary school, equal numbers of boys and girls are interested in and successful at math, science, and technology. But as they progress toward sixth grade, more girls than boys drift away from these subjects. To counter the trend, Sally Ride Science, whose corporate mission is in part to affect society's perceptions of women's roles in technical fields, is teaming up with presenting sponsor Northrop Grumman to put on the sixth annual Toychallenge, a toy design competition open to fifth- through eighth-graders. The contest is an effort to give students hands-on experience with engineering so they can see it as fun and integral to the real world. Contestants must apply in teams of three to six; at least half of the team members must be girls. Each team needs an adult coach, and the deadline to sign up is Dec. 12. Entry categories are "Games for the Family," "Get out and Play," and "Toys That Teach."

:: Awards

Lollie Garay

Lollie Garay

TEXAS EDUCATOR JOINSRESEARCHERS IN ANTARCTICA.This winter Lollie Garay, a middleschool science teacher at the ReddSchool, a preK-8 private school inHouston, will join a PolarTREC(Teachers and ResearchersExploringand Collaborating)research team aboard the Oden icebreakerin Antarctica. The PolarTRECprogram will give more than 40 teachersthe opportunityto work withscientists on fieldexpeditions in theArctic or Antarcticafor two to sixweeks over thenext three years.The teamwork isintended toimprove science education.

Teachers such as Garay will stay in touch with their students by using online tools such as journals, message boards, photo albums, and podcasts, as well as calls and presentations from the field.

In addition to the field work, the scientists will collaborate with the teachers on designing classroom activities to help students grasp scientific data, methodologies, and technology. As Garay says, "Real-life connections... inspire motivation and cultivate curiosity in students."

Laurent Odic

Laurent Odic

ODIC JOINS INTERWRITE LEARNING. Interwrite Learning, a manufacturer of interactive whiteboards, wireless slates, and personal voting systems, has hired former National Project Manager for the French Ministry of Education Laurent Odic as its education development manager for Europe.

Odic will assist Interwrite Learning in the development of relationships within the European educational community.

This article originally appeared in the 11/01/2007 issue of THE Journal.

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