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Tech Tools

The Latest Look at Education-Friendly Technology

By Ken Royal | February 2009

PolyVision eno.

What’s amazing about the new eno 78-inch-diagonal whiteboard is that the tough ceramic and magnetic surface can be installed anywhere—it’s cordless. Resurfacing classroom walls for interactivity is now a possibility, as it installs with a few brackets. It works with RM EasiTeach (included), and other software. With its “Forever Warranty,” eno’s only replacement cost would be for markers. $1,595.

Vernier LabQuest.

With its colorful touchscreen, LabQuest is a portable science data-collection lab. Use it with a computer or as a stand-alone. New GPS, rechargeable batteries, and wide-range temperature sensors add to the latest probes. Also, 400 free national and state standard-aligned downloadable experiments help with classroom implementation. Plus, it’s splash-proof. $329.

HP SmartCalc 300s.


HP's SmartCalc 300s scientific calculator is just right for high school science and math work. It can't graph function but it can do fractions and has close to 250 built-in functions. The SmartCalc is solar cell–powered, making it a green choice. The large display shows full expressions just as they appear in textbooks. The price makes it a real education bargain. $15.

Renaissance Learning Neo 2.

The Neo 2's shape will be familiar to those who have used AlphaSmarts for word processing. The Neo 2, though, is a full-fledged wireless computing device. This laptop alternative is rugged, with a keyboard the right size for young hands. It runs Accelerated Reader quizzes, AccelTest and 2Know! for math, and Co:Writer SmartApplet software for struggling writers. Under $200.

SMART Table.

SMART's multi-touch, multiuser interactive table is making PC/table technology useful by putting it in the classroom. Small groups can huddle around the 29-inch-wide, 25-inch-high table to use its applications, including SMART Notebook. Instead of standing at a whiteboard, students can comfortably work together. Tables are a good fit for classroom center activities at the elementary level, but the price may keep it out of all but the best-funded schools. $7,000–8,000.

System 44.

Scholastic's new System 44 is designed for the most struggling readers, grades 3–12, that is, those still struggling with basic phonological awareness. It is research-based phonics instruction delivered through highly motivating and age-appropriate adaptive technology, offering detailed assessment and RTI tools to track achievement. District pricing varies.
Bottom Line:
Great for students not ready for Read180.

Turnitin WriteCycle.

WriteCycle streamlines and manages writing assignments through multiple revisions for teachers of writing and their students. Three features stand out. Automatic “Originality Checking” helps educate students about plagiarism and discourages offenses. Because the program is Web-based, it is easy for students to work both in class and at home on the same projects. A “Peer Review” features allows to students to see and comment on other students' papers in an appropriate forum.
Bottom Line:
Both teachers and students will like the convenience and intuitive design of this writing program.

HELP Math.

Designed to help ELL students, especially Spanish speakers, HELP Math has become a way to assist struggling math students in grades 3–8. The idea is that math is difficult to master if the vocabulary used to explain it is foreign. So hyperlinked vocabulary is part of every HELP lesson and task. Students are able to work at their own pace. The lessons are for grades 3–5 and 6–8, covering topics such as algebra, geometry, operations, and measurement.
Bottom Line: A useful tool for struggling math students if the problem is language, rather than arithmetic.

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