Archive for July, 2009
Share School Photos In Tandem

Tandem for Schools is much more than an online school calendar, it can also be used to manage school transportation and share photos and news. With the photos and news function of the calendar, anyone registered with the calendar can submit photos or news at the individual events page.

To share a photo you can upload an image by clicking on the upload photos icon on the right side of an event page. This can be a great way to share photos from events throughout the school, without having to leave the calendar website. Before a photo is published to the calendar it must first be reviewed and approved a calendar administrator. Then the photo thumbnail will appear on the event page.


You can click on the thumbnail to see a larger version of the photo or you can click on the photo icon on the top of the calendar to see all the photos that have been uploaded from the school and even view school photos in a slide show format. This can be fun for students and parents, who can see school photos online and don’t have to wait until the end of the year when the school yearbook is finally published.

Additionally students, parents, and staff can upload text updates for each event. For example a parent can upload the result of a match or student achievements at a particular event. This can be helpful in communicating the outcome of an event to the school community or spreading important information that specific groups should know. To do this, you would click on the news icon on the right side of an event page and insert the text in the appropriate field. Once the calendar administrator reviews and approves it, the content will be published on that event’s specific page.

Intand Announces First Implementation of Geneva Single Sign-On for K-12

REDMOND, WA, July 28, 2009 — Single sign-on became a reality when Lake Washington School District (LWSD) announced the first implementation of Microsoft code name “Geneva” technology in a K-12 environment. LWSD is located between Lake Washington and the Cascade Mountains, to the east of Seattle, and serves over 23,700 students. The goal of the project is to simplify student, teacher and parent access to school district applications by enabling single sign-on and role based authorization.

Using Tandem for Schools, the popular online events management and calendaring solution
from Intand Corporation as the pilot application, LWSD took the first step in realizing the dream of
school districts everywhere; to ensure the security and privacy of vital information needed by district
students and families with simplified, user-friendly access.

“Tandem for Schools has solved a problem for our district. Before we discovered Tandem for
Schools the only way to know what events were planned at our 48 campuses was to call or be on their
mailing lists. As of December 2008, all of our 48 schools use Tandem for Schools to calendar events and
to display them on school websites. Parents often have children who attend different schools and now
with Tandem for Schools, LWSD parents can subscribe to each school’s calendar and can keep up to date
on school events without having to visit each school website. We are convinced that Tandem for Schools
has resulted in increased parent participation in school events,” says Dr. John Vaille, LWSD Chief
Technology Officer.

Microsoft code name “Geneva” is an open platform that provides simplified access and single
sign-on for on-premises and cloud-based applications in the enterprise, across organizations, and on the
Web – hosted by Microsoft or others. With “Geneva,” organizations gain flexibility and cost savings
while avoiding the access management challenges of managing extra user accounts and passwords.
“Microsoft is pleased to work with Intand to help LWSD provide its students, teachers and
families with simple, secure access to educational resources and tools,” said John Chirapurath, Director
in the Identity and Security Business Group at Microsoft. “’Geneva’ is part of Microsoft’s Business Ready
Security strategy. It supports the strategy’s tenets of ‘integrating and extending security across the
enterprise’ and helping to ‘protect everywhere, access anywhere’ through interoperability with third
party solutions.”

Tandem for Schools is an online event and facility management and calendaring solution hosted
by Intand Corporation, built by a school for schools. Tandem for Schools eliminates multiple calendars
and scheduling conflicts at schools and district offices, delivers real-time event updates to personal
calendars for staff, parents and students, and enhances school and district web sites.
“It is rewarding to see the Lake Washington School District use Tandem for Schools to manage all
of the events in their facilities, while connecting with their parents, students and teachers over the web,
in an extremely safe and secure way. Partnering with Microsoft on the ‘Geneva’ server program
demonstrates our dedication to both cutting edge technology as well as best practices in internet
identity safety. Tandem for Schools can help school districts keep their schedules conflict-free and help
families connect to more school events. Intand’s implementation of this new single sign-on ‘Geneva’
Server technology will ultimately result in lowering the administration costs associated with managing
multiple types of web applications in a large school district setting. In challenging times like these, more
and more school districts are searching for innovative ways to reduce costs, maximize productivity and
streamline internal operations. Implementing applications that leverage this new state of the art
technology would be a very good place to start,” said Bryan Otis, President and Co-Founder of Intand
Corporation.

A Plethora of Free Teacher Resources at Education.com

Education.com has the message, “Bringing learning to life,” and their site does just that. The main tabs on Education.com are the “homepage,” just ASK, activities, worksheets, school-finder, e-learning, and, currently, back to school. Each tab has unique content.

Just ASK is a question and answer page that allows members to submit questions about a variety of topics. The questions can be answered by anyone and occasionally inspire a great deal of community input and discussion.

The Activities tab contains a selection of craft and project suggestions. Each craft contains a recommendation for the grade level it is tailored for and, when applicable, a subject heading to assist in fitting the project into a lesson plan. Clicking on any project brings up a handy supply list, a photograph of the project, and clearly explained instructions for the craft from beginning to end.

The Worksheets and Printables section of Education.com is a great resource for teachers. Much like the crafts, the worksheets feature grade level and subject recommendations for utilizing the pages. The worksheets can also be searched for keywords or separated into various grade levels for even more direct access.

The School-finder is a handy feature that allows any parent to search out education options in their district, city, or state. The site evaluates elementary, middle, and high schools and searches out both public and private offerings. This section offers tips and links to articles on topics such as getting involved at schools, standardized tests, and No Child Left Behind.

The E-Learning tab contains information on educational software, children’s books and audio books, games, and homework. Some of these services require a charge to access the material but many do not, such as the audio book suggestions for children. A great seasonal section is available underneath the Back-to-School section. This tab contains a variety of articles on pertinent topics including separation anxiety, school lunches, and getting organized.

Education.com contains a broad mixture of content that will prove handy to teachers as they seek to expand their children’s educational horizons.

Note: This site does contain banner advertising, which can be easily ignored during the quest for content.

Obama Announces National Education Competition

President Obama recently announced a different approach to encouraging progress in education. A nationwide competition will pit states against each other for a chance to win a share of the $5 billion prize.

A US News article “Will Stimulus Money Lead to Actual Education Reform“, describes the areas that will be scored in the competition created by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

He has created a $5 billion “Race to the Top” fund for states that have made progress on the following fronts: 1) improving teacher effectiveness, 2) creating better assessments aligned to rigorous standards, 3) fixing failing schools, and 4) using data systems to track student achievement. The details of how states can qualify for this money will be released later this year.

A little healthy competition may be just what the school system needs to achieve more. It is human nature to become more motivated when you are involved in a competition. We also tend to have pride in our state – just take a look at intense college sports rivalries. Could a similar sense of purpose be created in our schools? If so, it might just encourage school leadership, teachers, and the community to step up their efforts. It could also bring more public attention on public schools. Who is the smartest state? Who will win bragging rights for the best education between your state and your neighbors. Which state has the best education? We may soon find out.

Photo by Obama-Biden Transition Project

Free Educational Games at Funbrain

FunBrain.com is a fun and splashy educational web-site that is kid-friendly from the homepage and on throughout the site. It is a online destination full of primary colors and clearly labeled links which help to keep the focus on the activities provided and the educational benefits therein.

The main core of FunBrain.com is its vast collection of free, educational online games. These games are not typical learning games that contain highly basic problems while having overly animated game play. The games on FunBrain.com are structured to let a child choose the intensity level they want to play at to best develop their mind while having fun. For example, the game Math Baseball contains four level options and the ability to choose addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, or all four, as well as the ability to toggle on and off “Algebra Style.” With all of the settings at the most advanced, even most adults would be hard pressed not to break out a pencil or a piece of paper to “do the math.” A child can stay educationally engaged with such a game off and on for years!

FunBrain.com not only contains a wide variety of math games, but also learning games focusing on other subjects as well. Their English selections focus on labeling parts of speech, identifying the correct plural form of various words, and “rooting out” root words.

When a child gets tired of playing games, they can peruse some of the literature provided on the site, including copies of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Amelia Writes Again. Both books can be read entirely for free on FunBrain.com.

Parents can access an area that allows them to download some of the games to their PC which allows children to play even when internet time is over!

Teachers can access curriculum guides, game finders, and flash cards to incorporate into their lessons on the teacher’s home page at FunBrain.com. FunBrain.com can be used as both a fun recreational web-site and as an engaging learning tool for children. The activities provided on the site will challenge kids at several different grade levels and provide entertainment while doing so.

Warning: this site does contain some commercial messages, especially for cereals.

Free Education Tools at Getty Museum’s Website

The Getty Museum in Los Angeles, California boasts a rich variety of educational materials on their website at getty.edu/education. While the resources are mostly targeted towards students and teachers, many of them could also be utilized by parents hoping to broaden their child’s knowledge base.

The Getty’s education page features a few different subheadings of particular interest. One subheading contains information on planning a school visit. Teachers of primary grade and high school classes can opt for either a guided or self-guided tour. The School Trips section explains the day that each type of tour is available and offers educational information on the art on display, as well as information on The Getty museum itself. An additional section of the site offers information for college professors planning a class outing. Professors can choose either a facilitated visit or to tour the museum in conjunction with a class lecture. The site thoroughly explains the processes needed to organize either trip.

Educators will find two sections of getty.edu/education particularly useful. One section offers teachers programs and resources. The website provides insight into professional development opportunities sponsored by the museum, including Saturday classes that help teachers learn how to incorporate more art into their classroom. Even instructors who do not live in the Los Angeles area can find material in this web-site section useful, as past workshops have a lesson page containing links to lessons plans and image banks to utilize in the classroom. The other section teachers will find helpful is devoted entirely to lesson plans. Teachers can either search by subject and grade level or use the museum’s master list of all Getty provided curriculum. The Getty also has a completely kid-friendly site section. Getty.edu/education/for_kids/ contains a game portal as well as a link to the museum’s Whyville page. The Getty games include classic favorites like jigsaw puzzles and match games mixed in with more advanced outings such as “Detail Detective.” The Getty’s Whyville location allows older children the opportunity to interact with other kids and play games to enhance their virtual museum experience. The Getty Museum’s educational website at getty.edu/education contains a variety of activities and materials for students and teachers alike to access. All of the lessons plans and games are extremely useful and informative whether or not a trip to the Getty Museum is in the future.

School Tube: Teacher Approved Education Videos

YouTube has popularized the trend of individuals publishing video content to the web and children are now more tech savvy than any prior generation. However, a quick visit to YouTube leaves little doubt that a large portion of their content is either half-baked, innappropriate for minors or a combination of both.

SchoolTube provides a user-generated video portal with features to ensure that content is relevant and appropriate for students. All submissions to the site are moderated by teachers and by the site itself. When a user submits a video to the site, it will not be published until a verified teacher has approved it and SchoolTube moderators have confirmed that it complies with the school’s guidelines and the site’s content policies. As the name suggests, the site is designed around the need for a safe community for school-related videos. Video categories on the site include community service, speech & debate, sports, ceremonies and arts & entertainment. Students use the site to show off achievements to their friends and family, to publish school video projects and to compete in contests that the site hosts. Teachers use the site to publish their students’ work, to hear other teachers share teaching strategies, and to share their own. Additionally, the site maintains a channel specifically for teachers to learn how other teachers are using SchoolTube and similar technologies to improve their classrooms. Administrators use the site to share with the community videos of sporting events, school performances, graduation and other ceremonies. Parents use the site to follow changes taking place in the school and to see their children take part in school activities.

SchoolTube hosts contests in categories like journalism, health awareness, music and theatre performances, and presentations on history lessons and science experiments. Participants have the chance to compete and learn from other contestants on a national level. Contest winners earn money towards the school budget. With SchoolTube, it has never been safer or easier to showcase student talent.

One apparent drawback of this site is that they are advertising supported which can be an issue for schools since commercial messages are being directed toward students. However, this may be the only way they can afford the high bandwidth costs for streaming video. Similar sites like TeacherTube are also ad supported.

Alice: Free Student Computer Programming Learning Software

Alice is a computer programming software environment focused on teaching first-time programmers the basics of computer science. A decade or so ago, web design classes began popping up in high schools across the nation as a way to engage students in a viable future profession in a similar way that shop classes throughout the country have prepared students for carpentry and other manual professions. More recently, computer science and programming classes have garnered buzz. As typical programming environments geared toward students have always focused on relevant business principled uses, and as programming students have reached younger and younger ages, a need has arose to teach programming in a way that feels relevant to students that do not yet understand the business demands of most computer science professionals.

This is where Alice comes in. Alice focuses on building three dimensional game-like environments (with Lewis Carroll’s protagonist at the head) purely through code. The software, which can be downloaded for as many users as desired for free, is open sourced and has been designed specifically for computer science students desirous of learning the basic principles, grammar, organization and design elements of modern coding. However, in the beginning, Alice avoids the frustration the students often encounter with coding through a drag-and-drop interface. If the student sets up malfunctioning code, the program will run up to the point where the code is faulty, all of which is designed to reduce frustration and make the learning process as simple as possible. Alice can be used in high schools, but is also used in universities as an initial introduction to computer science across America. From Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh to Ivy League Cornell University in Ithaca, NY to Duke University and California State University, Alice has graduated beyond the plethora of high schools already taking advantage of its benefits. A peer-reviewed IT journal published findings that in introductory courses to computer science, students averaged a grade B with Alice as opposed to a grade C with traditional teaching methods. Furthermore, after using Alice, 88% of students continued on to take a second computer science course after learning on Alice, whereas only 47% of other students continued on to another course. Alice can be downloaded for free at Alice.org. A plethora of teaching materials can be found there, as well as at http://www.aliceprogramming.net/.

Photo by andresfib

Free Educational Tools at Microsoft Education

Microsoft has an academically rich education site at Microsoft.com/education. A wide range of free educational materials, including free lesson plans, are available for both the student and teacher to access, and numerous downloads and enhancements are available for either group to peruse. When landing on the main site at Microsoft.com/education, one will immediately notice that the site is very intuitive. Every clickable link is clearly labeled and adequately explained, which makes browsing extremely user-friendly and allows a person to find the materials they are looking for in as little time as possible. A teacher can access free lessons plans for Geography, History, Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Technology, and Social Studies with the click of a button. Several main topics are highlighted on the main lesson plan portal, but a search feature is also present. The search feature will allow an educator to search the free lesson plans and how-to articles for keywords and to limit the search to a specific grade level and subject heading. These lessons plans explore their topics through the use of computer programs and supplemental web-sites. Teachers can also access free clip art and media, educational templates, gradebook templates, academic calendars, newsletter templates, a professional development tool, and free posters for their classroom!

However, teachers aren’t the only ones who will find handy resources at Microsoft.com/education. Students can access a wide-range of materials to further their education, both at school and independently. A studies tab on the student section of the web-site presents a variety of well-organized tutorials, templates, and personal stories. These materials will help any student become a more efficient and organized learner, and provide them with handy tips and tricks to expedite basic tasks in Microsoft programs such as Word. The Microsoft DreamSpark section of the student portal provides access to numerous Microsoft program downloads for the purpose of education and personal enhancement. The software available will help students learn design and technology skills, math, science, and engineering activities. Any person who is enrolled at an accredited school and a verified student is free to download and use these programs. The Microsoft.com/education web-site provides a wealth of material for students and teachers. Much of the material presented utilizes a mixture of traditional education and technology, making it a real treasure for any teacher who wishes to expand the multimedia aspects of their lessons and for students who want to remain on the cutting edge of learning opportunities.

A Learning Site Inspired By The Smithsonian Museum

SmithsonianEducation.org is a valuable web-site that offers resources for educators, families, and students – all in one convenient and easy to navigate web-site. Whether you are a teacher, principal, Mom, Dad, or an eager child, an opportunity to further your knowledge exists at Smithsonian Education.

Teachers can access the educator page and find a unique search menu that allows them to search by keyword to find educational material targeted toward any grade level and school subject. The materials can range from lessons plans to videos.

This set-up makes planning a multimedia presentation on any given subject a snap, and ensures that all students will remain engaged in the learning process. The vast amount of printable documents will also provide excellent supplemental material to enhance both textbook copy and questions.

Another neat feature is the functionality of the Smithsonian Education web-site when planning a trip to the Smithsonian Museum. The site contains numerous features to make your next educational journey a snap. These features include tips on how to enhance a visit at three different times: before a trip, while at the museum, and after leaving. It also spotlights child friendly exhibits occurring at the Smithsonian and provides downloadable activity sheets to provide kids with new learning opportunities anytime.

The children’s section is a great resource for a young person to further their own education. The Idea Labs present on the main student portal feature information about presidents and walking on the moon as well as knowledge tests and facts about the Smithsonian. Additional main topic headings that children can explore include art, science and nature, history and culture, and people and places. Kids can also download and print their own fact sheets, ensuring that learning continues even when they are away from the computer! Anyone interested in improving their own knowledge or enhancing the education of children will find a great variety of resources available at SmithsonianEducation.org.