[NetWatch] [MultiMedia Schools]
March/April 2002
Copyright © Information Today, Inc.
by Kathie Felix, News/Reviews Editor

News of the latest Net-related products and technology for K-12 may be sent directly to Kathie Felix at 5746 Union Mill Rd., PMB 605, Clifton, VA 20124 or to kfelix@infotoday.com.

* Net News

Education Reform On the Internet
The Department of Education is hosting a Web page focused on the President's education reform plan that was signed into law on January 8, 2002. The home page for No Child Left Behind: Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act links to information on specifics of what the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 means in each state. Also included on the site is the content of three Department of Education booklets explaining what the law means for families (English and Spanish versions available), educators, and communities. U.S. Department of Education, 800/872-5327 or http://www.ed.gov/offices/OESE/esea/.

Satellite Town Meetings: The Web Archive
Testing for Results: Using Assessment to Measure Effectiveness and Drive Instruction, the 1-hour Department of Education satellite town meeting broadcast in January is available as an archived Webcast at http://www.connective.com/events/edtownmeetings/. Participants in the discussion included government, school, and business leaders. The session covered topics such as improving academic rigor and results in the classroom, making data useful, and the most effective ways that assessment can drive curriculum refinement and development. Additional town meetings are also archived at the site. U.S. Department of Education, 800/872-5327 or http://www.ed.gov/.

* Net Teaching

Saving Women's Lives: People and the Planet
Curriculum materials for middle and high school teachers are available online as part of an international effort known as Saving Women's Lives. The materials focus on the challenges and issues that confront women worldwide, such as education, family health, and world population growth. The lesson plans show how human rights, healthcare, environmental issues, population issues, education, and political empowerment are interrelated. Saving Women's Lives, 914/833-7093 or http://www.planetwire.org/details/1535/.

Raptors in the City
Raptors in the City is an inquiry-based science, Internet, and print research program focused on the fastest creature on Earth—the peregrine falcon. The peregrine has recovered from near extinction and was removed from the List of Endangered Species in 1999, becoming one of the great success stories in the field of wildlife conservation. The online material, developed for grades 4-6, guides children through nesting season (which roughly coincides with second semester) as they watch falcons live via cameras mounted on skyscrapers. The curriculum, based on national science and technology standards, supports one semester of study; students learn environmental, biological, and technological lessons, as well as research skills. A complete study package for peregrine research, consisting of assignments, resource lists, rewards, evaluation tools, a reference book, and an e-newsletter, is available in print or CD-ROM format. Raptors in the City, 203/831-0855 or http://www.raptorsinthecity.com/.

BrainPOP, the health, science, and technology animation and education Web site for 8- to 14-year-olds, features activities and online movies on a variety of timely subjects. As this issue went to press, movies focused on explaining airport security measures to calm fears about flying for pre-teens, the Olympic Games and their history, and answers to the question, "What is anthrax?" The company's movies and related content are based on National Science Education Standards for middle school. BrainPOP, http://www.brainpop.com/.

* Net Tools

Designed for school and district Web sites, Placemark streamlines ease of use for teachers and staff and management tasks for administrators. The service's features simplify page-building with pre-designed page templates, professionally designed layouts, a clip art library of more than 500 images, and the ability to add elements such as password protection and e-mail links with the click of a mouse. Management tools allow administrators to assign users, monitor utilization, review pages, and grant or retract posting privileges, all with a mouse click. New features are added to the service free of charge as they are developed. Placemark is hosted by Tom Snyder Productions; there are no costs for hardware, upgrades, or additional resources.Three yearly subscription options are available: for medium to large schools,
for small schools, and for districts comprised of schools of varying sizes. Volume discounts are available to make each option even more efficient. For information: http://www.myplacemark.com/. Tom Snyder Productions, 800/342-0236 or http://www.tomsnyder.com/.

Visibooks Online
Visibooks publishes computer books for visual learners, with hundreds of large illustrations and very little text. Among the subjects: Dreamweaver, FrontPage, HTML/JavaScript, Web Projects, Fireworks, Palm PDAs, Access, Word, PowerPoint, Excel, QuickBooks, Visio, PaintShop Pro, and Pocket PCs. The books can be downloaded for $4.95 for a Standard version or $9.95 for a Pro version. The Pro version includes guided exercises, advanced instruction, and additional resources. Paperback editions are available for $19.95. Every purchase includes a subscription to the WebHelp online help community. Visibooks, 877/278-9188 or http://www.visibooks.com/.

* Net Libraries

Children's Literature and Language Arts Online
The Internet School Library Media Center (ISLMC) Children's Literature and Language Arts Web site focuses on children's literature in education. The information is geared to an array of audiences—library media professionals, teachers, parents, and students. The site's many sections include Book Awards, Book & Media Reviews, Authors & Illustrators, The Genres, Bibliotherapy, The "isms," Literary Enrichment Activities, Book Fairs & Literary Festivals, Want to Talk? Newsgroups and Chats..., and Other Children's Literature Sites. Users enter the site through the ISLMC home page, then click on the Elem. Language Arts box. ISLMC, http://falcon.jmu.edu/~ramseyil/.

Gale and Ancestry.com have partnered to produce an enhanced library version of Ancestry.com, titled AncestryPlus. The genealogy research resource provides instant access to more than 1 billion names, more than 3,000 databases, primary source document images, and a variety of genealogical research features. Also included are Gale's Passenger & Immigration Lists Index—a reference guide to published lists of 500,000 passengers who arrived in America in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. The subscription site also includes 450 million census records from the U.S. Federal Census between the years 1790 and 1920, available online for the first time. Gale Group, 800/877-4253 or http://www.galegroup.com/.

* Net Learning

Bookmarks ... for Astronomers: The Next Generation
Scientists have been speculating about what we can do to encourage the next generation of astronomers. Here are a few Web sites that could help start some young women and men on that rewarding journey. Sky & Telescope magazine has posted some beginner's information online at http://www.skypub.com/. Scroll to the bottom of the page, click on "how to get started" under "Expert advice for backyard stargazers." This links to the article "How to Start Right in Astronomy," which features nine tips from astronomy experts. Tip number 6 points to the Sky & Telescope Astronomical Directory, a direct link to a good portion of the more than 400 astronomy clubs located throughout North America.

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) continues with the SETI@home project, an initiative of the University of California at Berkeley. SETI@home is a volunteer effort that has built what may be the world's largest supercomputer using the downtime of personal computers worldwide via a special screensaver program. Participants download the program from the SETI@home Web site, along with a block of raw data collected at the Arecibo Radio Observatory in Puerto Rico. Their personal computers then sift through the cosmic noise for patterns of artificial and extraterrestrial origin. The data is analyzed in the background, harnessing the unused power of participants' personal computers. SETI@home can be found online at http://setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/.

The SETI League also searches for signals from space. The League is the international grass-roots organization dedicated to privatizing the electromagnetic search with more than 1,000 members in 60 countries. The SETI League is located online at http://www.setileague.org/.

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