[TitleWatch] [MultiMedia Schools]
January/February 2001
Copyright © Information Today, Inc.
by Kathie Felix, News/Reviews Editor 
TitleWatch lists recently released educational software products that relate to the K-12 curriculum. This list is primarily but not exclusively comprised of CD-ROM products; other formats (diskettes, videodiscs) are noted in the text. Suggestions for entries and press releases should be addressed to Kathie Felix at 5746 Union Mill Rd., PMB 605, Clifton, VA 20124 or to kfelix@infotoday.com.

(All titles are CD-ROM unless otherwise noted.)


Alphabet, for ages 3 to adult, presents an acrostic circus that challenges every possible sound and shape of the alphabet's 26 letters. Users determine the way the game is to be played. The disc can be accessed by mouse, keyboard, or voice and microphone. Based on the work of Czech artist Kveta Pacovska, the program creatively develops letters supplemented with the voices of children from other countries, sounds of nature, and music. $20—Mac/Win hybrid CD-ROM. Tivola Publishing, 877/848-6520 or http://www.tivola.com/.

Kidspiration provides visual learning techniques for students in grades K-3. The software helps youngsters to brainstorm ideas with words and pictures, organize and categorize information visually, create stories and descriptions using visual tools, and explore new ideas with thought webs and visual mapping. Features include a picture view that allows students to represent ideas with more than 1,200 symbols and a SuperGrouper interactive drag-and-drop tool that groups and rearranges thoughts and symbols for categorizing. An audio component gives students the chance to hear their work read aloud or to record their own words. All menus, buttons, and text are supported by audio so that emerging readers can use the product on their own. Teachers will find more than 40 student activities on the disc. Mac/Win hybrid CD-ROM. $69, single copy price. Volume pricing is available. Inspiration Software Inc., 800/877-4292 or http://www.inspiration.com/.

The latest edition of PassKey: A Prescriptive Learning System (v. 2.21) for reading levels 1.6-12.9 features nine new math lessons and updates to more than 130 reading and writing lessons, including restructured lesson content and new graphics. New and updated correlations now connect PassKey to more than 50 state and national proficiency tests. Mac or Windows versions are available. $2,900—core program (reading, writing, and mathematics for levels 1-5), stand-alone price. Site license pricing is available. Glencoe/McGraw Hill, 800/598-4077 or http://www.passkeylearning.com/.

Projects for the Real World, incorporating real-life simulations and projects, is now available for Macintosh, Windows NT, and Windows 2000 workstations, as well as for online delivery. The previously released Windows 95 and 98 versions remain available. The program features more than 1,100 scored skill activities for grades K-8. The interdisciplinary units teach and reinforce skills in reading, mathematics, writing, grammar, social studies, science, and test preparation. The package is aligned to national and state standards. Standard package pricing begins at $3,000 per grade level for 50 work stations. Site licenses and discounts for multiple grade levels are available. Wasatch Interactive Learning, 800/877-2848 or http://www.wilearn.com/.

*Early Learning

Earobics EDP early-literacy software now provides directions in 10 languages to help ESL students develop the phonemic awareness skills required to read and speak English. The languages include English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Hmong, Cantonese, Korean, Russian, Haitian-Creole, Arabic, and Polish. The software also features new classroom management and reporting options that allow teachers to automatically generate progress reports for classes and individual students. The complete Earobics package includes books, tapes, videotapes, and online learning experiences. Customized district pricing begins at $2,000 and includes various professional development packages. Cognitive Concepts, 888/328-8199 or http://www.earobics.com/.

*Language Arts

BuildAbility, for grades K-8, provides a literacy-authoring tool that can create stories and lessons for students with disabilities. The program allows teachers to create lessons for cause and effect, basic skills, vocabulary building, and reading and curriculum knowledge with appropriate learning scaffolds. The Drawmation feature allows the combination of graphics, text, speech, and sounds. Also included are 10 sample lessons created by literacy experts and a free, shareable BuildAbility player that allows teachers to share lessons with other educators. $99—Mac/Win hybrid, single user. Multiple unit pricing is available. Don Johnston, 800/999-4660 or http://www.donjohnston.com/.

Grammar, for grades 3-9, helps students gain increasing control of the English language as they advance through self-paced lessons reflecting the competencies required at various levels of understanding. The program's 48 lessons reinforce the concepts ofparts of speech—including identifying subjects and predicates, proper and common nouns (singular and plural), prepositional phrases, infinitives, and gerunds. Teacher control functions determine the starting level and number of tries for each individual. Student progress is tracked automatically and teachers can customize the program by adding an unlimited number of new words, parts, and exercises. The "tribrid" CD-ROM operates on Win 95, Win 98, and Mac platforms. $60—single copy, home version. $100—school version (two CDs, one resource binder). $270—lab pack (six CDs, one resource binder). $700—site license (30 CDs, one resource binder). Optimum Resource, Inc. 843/689-8000 or http://www.stickybear.com/.

The classic tale of friendship, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, is now available on CD-ROM with 3-D animation and a corresponding creativity package. The CD also includes original archive documentary materials, a biography of the author who was born 100 years ago, a diary, stationery to design and print, and a fox-taming game. A popular title since its release in 1943, the book has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide and follows the Bible and the Koran as an all-time "best seller." $30—Mac/Win hybrid CD-ROM. Tivola Publishing, 877/848-6520 or http://www.tivola.com/.

Parts of Speech, for grades 3-9, helps students increase grammar and vocabulary skills as they strengthen reading and writing ability. Users identify nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, conjunctions, prepositions, and interjections from word lists and within sentences and paragraphs. The program includes 32 leveled lessons and more than 1,000 graded words. Teacher control functions include individual starting levels, parts of speech used, and number of tries. Student progress is tracked automatically and teachers can add an unlimited number of new words, parts, and exercises. The "tribrid" CD-ROM operates on Win 95, Win 98, and Mac platforms. $60—single copy, home version. $100—school version (two CDs, one resource binder). $270—lab pack (six CDs, one resource binder). $700—site license (30 CDs, one resource binder). Optimum Resource, Inc., 843/689-8000 or http://www.stickybear.com/.

The new versions of Scholastic Reading Counts! (designed to motivate and engage children in grades K-12 to read books) and Scholastic Reading Inventory—Interactive Version (a program to assess reading comprehension) include technology and feature enhancements. Among the new additions are: improved performance efficiency within the Scholastic Management Suite, guided reading levels to better match students with appropriate text at lower grade levels, customizable point values and reading lists specifically tailored to individual students, new reports that allow teachers to set weekly goals and rewards, and an enriched book database of more than 23,000 titles. Both programs are available for Macintosh and Windows platforms. A Reading Counts! starter pack with software, seven quiz collections, and 1 year of tech support for a stand-alone unit or unlimited users is priced at $369. Customizable expanded packages are available. The Reading Inventory single computer license for up to 40 students is priced at $369. A network version for 200 students schoolwide is available for $1,399. Expansion packs are available in 50-student increments at a cost of $79. Scholastic, 877/268-6871 or http://www.readingcounts.com/.


The Hidden Treasure of Al-Jabr: An Adventure in Algebra, for grades 7-9, is a first year algebra program designed to help students become more adept at using mathematical language. The program's three-leveled challenges involve knowledge of linear equations, variables, and systems of equations. Students can work with algebraic phraseology, hone their ability to make translations between word problems and symbolic expression, develop first year algebra skills, and play a strategy game. Mac/Win hybrid CD-ROM. $100—single user or 10-user lab pack. $700—school, unlimited license, or network license. Sunburst, 800/321-7511 or http://www.sunburst.com/.


The Magic School Bus Concert Activity Center, for ages 6-10, brings a new focus on interactive activities and games to the popular learning series. Working
with Ms. Frizzle and other characters from the well- known books and television show, youngsters learn about sound-related concepts such as the way sound waves are manipulated, the effects that different environments have on acoustics, and the way the human ear translates sounds. Multi-level games, experiments, and activities round out the educational field trip. A corresponding online teacher activity guide explains some of the scientific concepts, provides tips on integrating the concepts into daily lessons, and suggests activities for students in class or at home. $20—Mac/Win hybrid CD-ROM (Win 95 or later, Mac System 8.1 or later). Microsoft, http://www.microsoft.com/education/.


The Magic School Bus Lands on Mars Activity Center, designed for ages 6 -10, sends students on a virtual field trip to explore the Martian terrain, construct a Mars Rover, and learn about Mars' place in the solar system. Young space scientists also can create personal postcards of their journey using NASA photosof Mars and stamps of Ms. Frizzle and other characters from the popular series. A corresponding teacher activity guide is available online. $20—Mac/Win hybrid CD-ROM (Win 95 or later, Mac System 8.1 or later). Microsoft, http://www.microsoft.com/education/.

Physicus, for ages 10 to adult, allows students to explore electricity, mechanics, heat, optics, and acoustics as they work to save their planet after a meteorite strike. Using an extensive scientific database, youngsters try to generate enough electricity to make the planet rotate again, despite the fact that one half is freezing over while unbearable heat scorches the other half. $30—Mac/Win hybrid, two CD-ROMs. Tivola Publishing, 877/848-6520 or http://www.tivola.com/.

*Social Studies/History

Census CD+ Maps provides official U.S. demographic data and maps, including 1999 estimates and 2004 projections; 1999 consumer expenditure data; 1990 U.S. Census data; County Time Series Data for crime, industry, federal spending, and more; historical population from 1790 to 1990 by county; and boundaries for all geographies. The interface streamlines the data selection process. Powerful data-reporting tools and a full-featured map viewer are included. Reports can be produced in several formats. Data can be exported to most software packages. $500—Windows 95/ NT/ 3.1. Forty percent discounts are available for academic, student lab, and classroom use. LAN/Network licenses are available. GeoLytics, 800/577-6717 or http://www.censuscd.com/.


Six Essential Tools for Teachers products are available on CD-ROM from Tom Snyder Productions. The software titles were developed to help educators create worksheets, puzzles, tests, quizzes, and flash cards for students across the curriculum at all grade levels. The new titles include Essential Crosswords, Essential Math Worksheets, Essential Puzzles, Essential Teacher Tools, Essential Word Worksheets, and Essential Worksheets. Mac/Win hybrid CD-ROM. Prices range from $30-$50 per title for a single computer user. A bundle of any three titles can be purchased for $90. Site license pricing is available. Tom Snyder Productions, 800/342-0236 or http://www.tomsnyder.com/.

Type to Learn Assessment, for grades 3-12, allows educators to assess student keyboarding progress with an array of testing, assessment, and reporting features. The program's 22 tests begin with a home row review and end with a look at typing symbols, punctuation, and number keys. Students have a choice of three testing styles and can select from five content themes. Teachers can set individual and group performance goals, print fully scored tests on words-per-minute and percent accuracy, and reward students with completion certificates. The program can be used independently or in conjunction with Sunburst's Type to Learn software program. Mac/Win hybrid CD-ROM. $120—single user or 10-user lab pack. $700—Unlimited school site license. Sunburst, 800/321-7511 or http://www.sunburst.com/.

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