Science Starters (Scientific Minds)
Science Starters are web-based, multimedia programs for students in grades 3-11 that follow the “5E” instructional model: engage, explain, elaborate, explore, evaluate.
“As a first-year teacher, the Science Starters have been a lifesaver,” said Kurt Reeves, a high school biology teacher for the West Orange-Cove Consolidated Independent School District in Texas. “They provide the review and remediation that my students need. Teachers in my department say that science assessment scores in our school improved tremendously when they began using the original Science Starters in 2007. They expect an even greater gain with the new, interactive Biology model.”
He added: “I especially like the way the modules give me teacher-guided and video options. I also like the way the teacher-guided option works with a remote presenter. This allows me to move around the room, keeping my students on task, as I lead them through the lesson. The video option, interactive flashcards, and assessments are ideal for independent student study from school or home. Great product!”
Schoology is a comprehensive online system for managing lessons, engaging students, and connecting with other educators. It combines the functionality of a learning management system with the utility of a social media network, and schools can import all their documents and course information from Google Docs, Blackboard, and Moodle into the system.
“Ease of use on the teacher side, coupled with the continuous improvement on the company side, make this an outstanding product,” said Mark Garrison, instructional technology coordinator for White Bear Lake Area Schools in Minnesota. “The features—from media alumnus, grading, calendar, and discussions to Google integration—make this the perfect classroom learning hub. It is more than a place to house digital content and host online discussions. It is fully a digital extension of a teacher’s physical classroom.”
Skyward School Management System (Skyward Inc.)
Skyward’s School Management System includes a Student Management Suite (a web-based student information system with attendance, grading, scheduling, discipline, and more) and a School Business Suite, which encompasses accounts payable and receivable, bid and budget management, employee evaluation, payroll processing, inventory, substitute tracking and fulfillment, and more. The software automates reports and other processes, saving administrators time and freeing them from menial tasks.
“Our K-12 district uses the Skyward Student Management System for attendance, grading, scheduling, discipline, fee management, food service, athletic eligibility, transportation, keeping up with NCLB requirements, tracking our preschool program, and everything else that is required by our state board of education,” said Carolyn Grant, technology coordinator for Danville School District 118 in Illinois. “Skyward has fantastic, patient, helpful, and knowledgeable programming and tech-support staff, including a dedicated group who work specifically with the state [education] department to make sure the program is always up-to-date and meets the state’s requirements. … This is the fourth student data management package our district has used since I began working in this capacity. This one is by far the best.”
SimpleK12 (InfoSource Inc.)
SimpleK12 is a subscription-based professional learning network in which teachers can share ideas, collaborate, watch live and recorded webinars and how-to videos, and learn from one another as they strive to integrate technology effectively into their instruction.
“I am a middle school art and health teacher who has just been given new technology to use in my classroom. I am struggling to learn about what I can do with a document camera and projector,” said Holley Smothers of Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Jefferson City, Mo. “I happened to find SimpleK12, and it has changed my life! The webinars are great. The staff walks you through apps, programs, how to use different technology, and then there is support afterward. I am already up and running with a webpage, new lesson plans, and my students are loving the new things I am trying. … I am improving as a teacher because of this site.”
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