City Today - March 2011

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City Today – Schools
Tue, 03/22/2011
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Welcome to the March edition of the City Today!

Bringing you all the latest from Education City!


PlayLive Just Got Smarter!
Our immensely popular PlayLive feature now allows players to compete with classmates and peers within their own school! When a student begins a new game they are now able to choose to play:
1.      Anyone – the computer will randomly match you with another player
2.      School – PlayLive will select a player of the same ability within your school
3.      Class – play against another student in the same class
Idea! Set up your own school challenge, compete head to head and crown a PlayLive Champion!
New! Open & Save Feature
Open and Save is a brand new feature now live in the Language Arts Word Recognition Topic Tool. This new feature allows the data in Topic Tools to be saved, giving you the ability to:
1.        Prepare for lessons in advance.
  1. 2.        Add data to tools from the schemes your school regularly uses.
  2. 3.        Start using a Topic Tool in one lesson and continue in another.
  3. 4.        Copy pre-loaded content for use in another grade level.
Check out the handy user guide – accessible when you open the Word Recognition tool.
Brainstorm with Mind Map!
Mind Map is a new Topic Tool that gives your class a smart and easy way to brainstorm and organize ideas. This tool will help you improve your students’ thinking, writing and organization skills. With Mind Map you can record and display words, ideas and concepts generated by your class and organize them in a visual format on an interactive whiteboard or computer. Each idea can link to others using a variety of connectors by color and proximity.
Find Mind Map in our Language Arts and Science modules. Each tool features a range of pre-loaded Mind Map templates, plus a bank of images to assist in illustrating processes and exploring ideas.
Common Core Update
Mississippi, South Carolina and Oregon are the latest states to see live Common Core State Standards (CCSS)! To-date California, Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, and Washington CCSS have been released. We’re rolling out the updates as fast as we can. Stay tuned – you’re state could be next!
TEA Ratings Jump Since Implementing Education City
When Park Place Elementary School, a Houston Independent School District school, was first built, the school received bond money for several computer-based programs. While the Park Place faculty saw the value in these technology-rooted programs, they had trouble getting timely product updates. “Since these programs were on the server, each update had to be evaluated before being added to the server and sometimes this could take months,” said Mary Carpenter, Park Place Campus Technologist. “There were so many glitches with each update on top of having to wait months to get new updates. We just stopped using them.” During the school’s 21-day trial of Education City, Carpenter appreciated the regular updates taking place and has since extended the school’s subscription for seven years.
All Park Place students have access to Education City and log in for about one hour each day. Park Place takes advantage of their Education City subscription for use in intervention, tutoring and even after school programs. Principal Kim Heckman estimates the school as whole logs approximately 5,000 hours each week on Education City.
As the school’s point person for all things technology, Carpenter says that for the past 12 years she’s been emphasizing the fact that computer use is not about games – but about finding a resource that helps her students learn. She says that while the school uses other online learning resources, the teacher component and user-friendly nature of the resource are key benefits. “Teachers have to be able to see results,” Carpenter says. “They have to be able to assign specific objectives. Education City is engaging for the students and easy for our teachers to use.” Another key benefit that sets Education City apart from other resources in Carpenter’s opinion is the fact that it’s a web-based resource. “One of the main reasons I choose online resources, like Education City is the fact that the content is always growing and improving. The activities are not static like other computer-based programs.”
In 2009, Park Place Elementary School made the jump to an “Exemplary” rating. Heckman notes that the school has overcome many challenges, including teaching many students who are in their first year of residency in the United States as well as having a Title 1 status with 90% low-income students, 75% of students identified as at-risk, and a 26% mobility rate. “One of the ways our success has been accomplished is through using technology and research-based computer programs to interest and develop our students’ academic abilities,” Heckman said. From 2007 to 2010, Park Place saw an increase in Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test scores across the board and an overall average of 15% improvement across subjects!
Do teachers need more professional development in serving diverse learners more effectively?
60% of district leaders say yes!
43% of teachers and specialists agree.
SOURCE: Blackboard Survey on 21st Century Learning, 2010
We LOVE hearing what our subscribers have to say!
“I have had students using the PlayLive feature this school year at 1st grade level. I have 1 student who has surpassed over 119,000 correct answers. This is a student who has gone from counting on fingers to answering as many as 85 questions in 60 seconds on PlayLive. AMAZING!!”
-Jason Peterson, Special Education Teacher, Smithville Elementary in Texas
Find out if Education City will be in your area!
Education City will be at the following upcoming events. Join us for an online demonstration or a quick update on what's new. We look forward to seeing you there!
Mar. 26-28                          ASCD Annual Conference, San Francisco, CA
Apr. 7-10                            NAESP 90th Annual Convention and Expo, Tampa, FL
See you in April!
If you have any news or views for the City Today, please email us at
Any feedback you wish to provide about Education City is always welcomed and valued.

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