[TitleWatch] [MultiMedia Schools]
November/December 2000
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.)


ClassWorks Gold, Second Edition updates the package with more recent products such as the Blasters and JumpStart programs and fills in the curriculum with more activities and more content. The new edition of the open learning system features an expanded scope and sequence with nearly 700 additional units of instruction for K-8 math and language arts. The spiraling curriculum, based on national standards, is drawn from more than 180 popular educational software titles from 20 different publishers. Current ClassWorks Gold customers will receive the upgrade free of charge. The program is available through a customized network pricing program. Curriculum Advantage/Knowledge Adventure, 888/221-0802 or http://www.knowledgeadventure.com/.

Rainforest Designer helps students in grades 2-6 learn about the different layers of the rainforest, design environments that show the interaction of wildlife, and learn about a culture and geography that differ from their own. Youngsters can create original scenes, using any layer of the rainforest, as well as hundreds of animals, plants, people, and objects. Authentic habitats can be designed, printed, and assembled as 3-D dioramas in various sizes from 3 to 12 inches high, as a puppet stage, or as wall-size posters in three sizes from a single page to a mural large enough to create a set for a play. The program’s features include a photo gallery with more than 50 narrated pictures; dozens of 3-D plants and animals that can be printed separately, folded, and placed inside the dioramas; a variety of backgrounds such as lush jungles, waterfalls, rivers, and deforestation scenes; and “print goodies” such as masks and props. The material is designed for use in science, social studies, language arts, and art classes. A sample habitat can be printed from online materials located at http://www.tomsnyder.com/classroom/rde/rdeexamplenet.asp/. $80—Mac/Win hybrid CD-ROM with teacher’s guide, single computer. Five-computer, 10-computer, network, and site licenses are available. Tom Snyder Productions, 800/342-0236 or http://www.tomsnyder.com/.

*Language Arts

Draft: Builder provides students with a framework for organizing thoughts and information to develop detailed first drafts that are ready for editing and revising. The program walks students through three steps to building a first draft: Outlining and Mapping, Taking Notes, and Building a Draft. Speech feedback and spell checking are available in all views to support students as they review their work. $149—Mac/Win hybrid, single user. $521.50—five users. $999—10 users. $4,470—50 users. $8,195—100 users. $37,250—1,000 users. Don Johnston, 800/999-4660 or http://www.donjohnston.com/.

The Start to Finish Reading series provides age-appropriate stories for students ages 9-17 who are more than two grades behind in reading. Available in three formats (CD-ROM, audio cassette, or paperback book), the Start-to-Finish Books are designed to support students at any reading level. The CD-ROM versions feature professional narrators modeling the correct reading rate and intonation, words highlighted on the screen as they are narrated, support for individual words with a mouse-click, student control for page movement, 100 word cloze passage quizzes after each chapter using vocabulary form the story to assess fluency and comprehension, and data collection from the quizzes to show skill improvement. Teacher materials on the CD include blackline masters for writing activities, pre-reading vocabulary lists, and multiple-choice questions. Teachers can choose student support features that include turning the speech function on or off, choosing scanning options for students with physical disabilities, turning quizzes on or off, and viewing student quiz results. Titles include classic adventures such as Treasure Island, The Red Badge of Courage, and Huckleberry Finn; short story collections featuring the works of Edgar Allan Poe, Jack London, and Mark Twain; a series of Nick Ford mysteries; sports biographies; and biographies of important figures such as Rosa Parks and Frederick Douglass.

$65—single CD. $200—five CDs, same title. $938—25 CDs, same title. $1,750—50 CDs, same title. $3,250—100 CDs, same title. Individual titles and group packs are available. Don Johnston, 800/999-4660 or http://www.donjohnston.com/.

The updated version of Word Explorer Deluxe, for children ages 5 to 8, guides youngsters through 1,000 first words and their meanings with definitions, synonyms, antonyms, word groups, and other vocabulary elements. Every word, definition, and instruction in the program is spoken aloud. More than 850 animations provide visual prompts to reinforce word association. Four games with three difficulty levels are appropriate for different stages of reading comprehension. Three new activities are included—a personalized journal, a sticker hunt, and an alphabet scramble activity. The program will be sold with a complimentary copy of My First Amazing Diary, a program that encourages early writing skills. $20—Mac/Win hybrid CD-ROM, single copy. DK Interactive Learning, 877/342-5357 or http://www.dk.com/.


Encarta Language Learning Spanish and Encarta Language Learning French are designed for students aged 13+ at the beginning or intermediate level of language learning. Each program features 10 on-screen conversational opportunities to solve linguistic challenges; 360 activities to build listening, speaking, vocabulary, and grammar skills; 20 native language speakers and more than 60 minutes of video featuring native speakers; an Info Center with on-screen support, including dialog transcription and translation, culture tips, and the option to listen in slow speech; and a Reference Tool that provides quick access to grammar, glossary, special words, conjugation, and pronunciation information. The online component allows access to real-time multi-lingual chats with other language learners, study tools, and additional learning activities. Technology highlights include Lernout & Hauspie Speech Recognition Technology, an Andrea Electronics microphone, a study planner, progress tracker, and multiple user log-in. The deluxe version includes four CDs—one program, one video, two audio—and a 240-page workbook with additional activities for computer-free learning. The standard version includes only the program CD. $55—Deluxe edition, single copy. $35—Standard edition, single copy. Volume discounts are available. Microsoft, http://www.microsoft.com/education/.


The Encarta Reference Suite 2001 continues to add new features to its ever-expanding five reference-source research package. For the first time, this edition includes Encarta Africana (Third Edition), the comprehensive encyclopedia focusing on the history, geography, and culture of people of African descent worldwide. The Encarta Encyclopedia Deluxe 2001 portion of the package includes a new Web center, Homework Center, a Researcher tool, a Report Guide, and a Curriculum Guide. New features included in the Encarta Interactive World Atlas 2001 allow users to view the world in any map style and to view local place names on the maps. The Encarta World Dictionary 2001 has added a Thesaurus to its many offerings. Encarta Online Deluxe provides an online version of the Encarta Encyclopedia Deluxe with Web links and daily postings. The package includes either seven CDs or one DVD. Windows only. Encarta Reference Suite 2001: $75, single copy. Encarta Encyclopedia 2001: $45—Deluxe edition with three CDs, $30—Standard edition, one CD. Encarta World English Dictionary 2001: $45, single copy. Encarta Africana, Third Edition: $45, single copy. Encarta.com: Free access to all content except Encarta Online Deluxe. Volume discounts are available. Microsoft, http://www.microsoft.com/education/.


The Learn About Science series for grades K-2 has been launched with three new titles. Learn About Life Science: Plants shows students the parts of a plant, where and how plants grow, and how they make their food. Learn About Earth Science: Weather illustrates seasonal weather changes, the formation of weather patterns, and the way scientists predict the weather. Learn About Physical Science: Simple Machines examines levers, pulleys, wheels, inclined planes, screws, and wedges, and the ways these simple machines are used to make life easier. All of the titles include a Lessons Section with nine content presentations, a Read Aloud Option, text that is highlighted for easy following, a Quiz section, an on-screen notebook with printable pages, activities that reinforce learning with matching, sequencing, and writing challenges, and completion certificates. Each set includes a teacher’s guide. $80—Mac/Win hybrid CD-ROM, single copy or 10-computer license. $600—unlimited use. Sunburst Technology, 800/338-3457 or http://www.sunburst.com/.


Macromedia has created a K-12 edition of Director 8, the multimedia authoring tool for text, graphics, sound, animation, and video files destined for the Web, CD-ROM, or DVD-ROM. The K-12 edition is a full-featured version of Director 8, with the following exceptions: a maximum of 500 frames per movie, a maximum of 24 channels per score, a maximum of 200 cast members (100 per cast), a maximum of two casts per movie, and electronic documentation only (no paper manuals). Each registered user receives 12 hours of free professionally designed course curriculum designed to help learn and teach the program. $99—Mac or Win CD-ROM, single copy. Discounts available for purchases of 10 or more copies. Macromedia, 800/457-1774 or http://www.macromedia.com/.

Site Central 1.1 updates the Web publishing program with a hybrid Mac/Win edition. The new version brings the Windows edition into line with the Mac version published earlier in the year. The upgrade includes International CorrectSpell, a correction system for multi-lingual spelling verification. Additional features include more on-screen space for Web page design, improved import filters for sound and animated GIF files, and advanced Hyperlink editing. New special effects tools allow “dancing text,” as well as full-fledged applications. A revamped FTP client allows for easy uploading and updating of Web site files on the host server. The media library provides an extensive array of graphics, sounds, and animated GIFs. The program provides direct support for publishing HyperStudio stacks to the Internet. Current users can download a free update online or pay $10 for a CD-ROM update through Knowledge Adventure’s Customer Service Department. A printed version of the user guide is available for $12. $75—teacher edition with two copies of the program. $170—five pack. $425—site license, 15 users. Knowledge Adventure, 800/545-7677 or http://www.knowledgeadventure.com/.

The Kaplan titles now available from Encore Software include Kaplan Higher Score SAT/ACT/PSAT 2001 (Standard and Deluxe versions), Kaplan Higher Score GMAT/GRE/LSAT 2001 (Standard and Deluxe versions), and Kaplan Emergency Prep SAT/ACT 2.0. The self-paced programs feature comprehensive and personalized test preparation, customized study schedules, practice tests, a searchable scholarship database, content review for each test, college searches, score comparisons, diagnostic tests, drills, and games to reinforce learning. Win/Mac hybrid CD-ROMs. $30—Higher Score programs, Standard edition, single copy. $40—Higher Score programs, Deluxe edition, single copy. $20—Emergency Prep SAT/ACT 2.0. Encore Software, Inc., 310/342-0600 or http://www.encoresoftware.com/.

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