Improvements to Read Aloud and Dictionary Tools!

Why are we upgrading?

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The existing read aloud tool was created quite a few years ago, and is built on technology that some browsers struggle to support. As a result, we have partnered with the literacy software provider, Texthelp, to provide our users with text to speech and dictionary services. Texthelp is well respected organization, and has partnered with high profile clients, such as Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, Pearson, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt , and others.

What are the benefits?

Texthelp change SThere are slight changes between how the read aloud and dictionary section works today, and how it will work as a result of the upgrade. Click to enlarge this image showing the new Texthelp toolbar, and how to operate its features.

1. As mentioned above, the new solution will be significantly more reliable. In addition, the turnaround in producing audio when text is   highlighted will be much faster than the current tool.

2. As text is read, it will now be highlighted, which will help early learners and struggling readers.

3. Voices have a more natural sound, compared to current voices.

4. As mentioned above, the dictionary will now be integrated into the read aloud toolbar, instead of being a separate tool.

5. In addition to text definitions, netTrekker and icurio users will now have access to a picture dictionary as well.

 

 What do you need to do?

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Read aloud and translation settings – Click to enlarge

1. The translation languages (to > from) needs to be set up under your “My Preferences” menu, together with read aloud settings.

2. If you’re having problems accessing the text to speech, dictionary, or translation services through Texthelp, please inform your network administrator that that following two URLs should be whitelisted:

https://knovationservices.speechstream.net and https://knovationtoolbar.speechstream.net

 

 

 

Going 1:1, and Beyond

icurio Customer in Mississippi Uses Blended Learning to Create Personalized Learning for Every Student

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We had the pleasure to facilitate an interview with the Superintendent of Corinth School District in Mississippi, Lee Chlidress, by Scholastic Administrator.

Lee shared the steps adopted by Corinth to launch their “eMerge: Learning for the Future” initiative, to coincide with rolling out a 1:1 initiative. Personalized, blended learning is at the heart of eMerge, though the strategic plan also involves a strong literacy component, early learning collaboration, and additional curriculum enhancements. The district’s ultimate goal is to create an engaging learning system that empowers students to both exceed academic standards in the short term and thrive in a global society in the long term.

eMerge was the byproduct of a yearlong process of planning and discussion among administrators, teachers, students, and parents, and the comprehensive plan was unveiled in January of 2015.

With the groundwork in place, Corinth focused on finding the best digital content and instructional tools for their students, prioritizing content that aligns with state and Common Core standards, offers personalized, real-time feedback through data, and is vetted by educators. After reviewing numerous digital content solutions, the district selected icurio because it packages all of Corinth’s priorities into a single, easy-to-use platform and crafts meaningful curricula. The high level of professional learning services provided by Knovation to guide teachers through the implementation of blended learning was also an important factor in the decision.

We are thrilled to partner with Corinth in the implementation of its successful 1:1 program, ensuring every student in the district will have his/her learning needs met!

Read the full Scholastic Administrator article.

icurio 2.0 May Newsletter – Find: Learning Resource Types to Target Specific Learning Opportunities

icurio’s resources are tagged and contextualized by a team of highly qualified educators with extensive experience around digital learning and educational content. Every resource found in icurio goes through a 127-point certification process that includes resource contextualization by using Learning Resource Type (LRT) tags. LRTs help users target their results for the intent or essence of a resource, describing its primary intent.

Targeting a Set of Resources

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Search for “Angles”: Results for Learning Resource Types 

Any time you use the Find feature in icurio, you will receive a set of resources relative to the keyword(s) you have used in the search terms. Each result could contain a plethora of resources in a multitude of types: videos, learning games, assessments, etc.

So, how do you target these results for the types of learning resources and opportunities for your learners? Opening the Type menu on the left frame of the results window gives you all of the Learning Resource Types available within that particular set of resources.

 

Varying Types of Resources within a LRT

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Some LRTs represent a single kind of resource, for example Video. On the other hand, some LRTs are intended to identify a set of common characteristics, such as Visual Material or Learning Module.

Have you thought about all the different types of resources that can be used in your lessons? Want to vary the type of assessment of learning? Looking to provide a resource that drives student learning via a game or interactive experience? Curate specifically for these pieces and bring the different types of resources together to help learners accomplish those objectives you are focusing on in your lesson.

Consider some of the most common Learning Resource Types below:

 

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“Angles” – Assessment

Assessment

A resource that provides a method of gauging a student’s understanding of a topic or concept is considered an assessment. Different types of assessments include:

  • Quiz
  • Rubric
  • Self-Assessment
  • Test
  • Worksheet

 

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“Angles” – Interactive Media 

Interactive Media

A resource that delivers interactive media-rich content such as: Flash, moving images, motion graphics, animations, etc. The Interactive Media LRT requires that the user be actively engaged in the resource in some way. These resources may contain conventional video and/or audio as well, but may not be exclusively composed of this media.

 

 

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“Angles” – Visual Material 

Visual Material

Resources that include little text, primarily relying on graphics, illustrations, or other visual elements as the primary source of content are considered visual materials. Different types of visual material types include: Artwork, Chart, Diagram, Map, Slideshow

 

 

There are many other Learning Resource Types that provide additional choices to target your results.  Check out others like: Whiteboard Resource, Learning Game, Test Preparation Material, and eBook. Remember that, depending on what you’re searching for, some results may show a variety of resources in different types. Also, depending on what you’re searching for, some results may not include certain kinds of Learning Resource Types (like Article for a search on Acute Triangles). Make sure you take advantage of the work our expert content team has done for you by utilizing the Learning Resource Types in your Find within icurio today!

 

 

icurio May Newsletter – Summer Learning Can Be Fun!

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As the days grow warmer and the sun shines longer, schools often wind down their learning plans. But we all know that learning never stops. Kids may not be in the formal classroom setting, but their learning opportunities continue. So, instead of treating summer break like a break from learning, we can embrace opportunities that present themselves. There are plenty of ways to get creative about summer learning. Here are some ideas to help warm up to new learning during the summer months.

Summer Learning Tips for Parents: general tips for parents, highlighting the importance of keeping kids intellectually stimulated while also suggesting topics and activities to do during the summer months. It provides a quick summary of the research on sustaining academic activities and gives ideas on how to keep kids engaged.

Summer Reading Fun

One of the most popular summer learning activities is reading. Kids get the opportunity to engage with a variety of books and ideas that grab their interest. Competing with video games can be a challenge, but these Scholastic resources are up to meeting it. These resources provide solid strategies and outlets for age-appropriate, summer reading fun.

Summer Science Exploration

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Just because school’s not formally “in session” doesn’t mean that fun science projects aren’t possible. Quite the contrary; whether you’re in the city, suburb or rural setting, kids have wonderfully creative outlets to “get their science on!” The increased hours of sunlight during the summer gives kids countless opportunities to get outside and explore. With great ideas for science experiments you can do at home, suggestions for exploring nature, interactive science history and geography games, and links to summer science camps, these resources provide great ideas for summer science exploration.

Summer Sun – Health and Safety

That summer sun can be super fun, but we need to ensure that we stay safe. We love to feel the warmth of the sun on our skin, but we all need to remember the importance of protection from too much sun exposure. These resources provide some nice health and safety tips for enjoying the summer sun.

 

icurio 2.0 April Newsletter – Build: Different Angles on Digital Lesson Design

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icurio 2.0 helps every educator easily blend curated digital learning resources and instructional design for their own classroom and learners as they build lessons. Though the lesson components are easily created, there are some angles that can help design student-centered, engaging and easy-to-follow learning .

Angle 1: Dividing a Lesson into Meaningful Chunks

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Thinking about your lesson organization gives you the opportunity to provide a logical flow, comprehensive topic coverage and an uncomplicated layout for learners. Lessons are completed through one or multiple activities, which can be structured to address different levels of knowledge, traditional lesson components, unit plan components or any number of instructional approaches. Each lesson can be organized in the most relevant way for your learners – from structures that reflect textbook organization to formats that scaffold learning from the start to the end of the lesson. Even after you have created your lesson activity components you can change or reorder them using handy drag and drop functionality.

These meaningful chunks of learning are driven by the organization and instruction that comes with each piece – from the lesson overview down through each activity and each question within activities. Every educator looks at lesson design through a unique lens that factors in their instructional style, their learners, their learning environment constraints and many other considerations. The lesson design tools in icurio 2.0 let educators design to that point, making every component of the lesson truly meaningful to their learning objectives.

2.0 activity 1 small5 Activities Leading to Understanding of the Same Topic

 

 

 

 

 

Angle 2: Varying Types of Questions and Resources

Activities are present with each related resource and questions to keep students on track and provide learners with information about where they are in the lesson and what they still have to complete. Developing questions that are relevant to lesson resources gives insight to student understanding, right at that point of learning with that resource. Leverage a variety of questioning techniques that let students show what they know as well as develop their skills with online responses and information literacy. Resources are learning opportunities curated from icurio content searching, external content links, online documents/presentations, and online photos/videos.

Have you thought about all the different types of questions and resources that can be used in your lessons? Whether you vary the type of evidence of learning you ask for in your question or you provide a resource that drives their learning by providing a game or interactive experience you can bring these different pieces together to help learners accomplish those objectives you are focusing on in your lesson. Consider some of the different combinations below:

2.0 questions-examples SExamples of Different Combinations
2.0 activity 2 SDifferent Types of Questions in Activity

 

 

 

 

 

Angle 3: Using Learner Feedback to Improve Design on the Fly

Once a lesson has been assigned to a class there is no looking back, right? Not with icurio 2.0, even after the lesson assignment has been made to your class you are able to tweak the instructions, the images, the resources, the organization, the questions and even the feedback you are giving – this allows you to understand how your instructional design impacts learning and gives you opportunities to adjust instruction based on how your learners are perceiving what they are being asked to do.

The icurio 2.0 lesson builder tool provides strong lesson design that is flexible enough to fit your unique learning situation. Educators have discovered many different angles for managing lesson details, organizing and adding lesson related resources and creating a variety of knowledge gathering questions – strong instructional design tools to build engaging digital learning experiences for every learner!

icurio 1.0 April Newsletter: Celebrating National Poetry Month Across the Curriculum

National Poetry Month

You don’t have to be a language arts teacher to love April. After all, it is National Poetry Month – a whole month to celebrate the beauty, the emotion, the meaning that poetry adds to life. Poets write about all subjects, not just “English-y” ones, and that means that you can introduce poetry into science class, math class, social studies class, art, music, foreign language, even physical education. Shake your students up and start class each day during April with a poem. But don’t think you have to do all the work of finding or reading these poems. Once you get the month started, you’ll find that students are delighted to share poetry they have found.

Off to a Good Start

Poetry 180

icurio offers a broad spectrum of poetry to enjoy, and to begin with, former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins offers a poem that suggests how we might approach poetry in classes across the curriculum in “Introduction to Poetry.” Then, to demonstrate to students that poetry is for everyone, use “Americans Saying Poems They Love.” For high school students the Library of Congress site begun by Billy Collins, “Poetry 180” is a great place to find poetry to share.

Some great general collections of poetry can be found at “The Children’s Poetry Archive” and “Josie’s Poems.”

Ideas across the Curriculum

Science teachers have plenty to choose from, as so many poets have written about the natural world. From “PBS: Poetry Everywhere“, you might choose to share Kay Ryan’s “Turtle,” Ted Kooser’s “Daddy Long Legs,” or Charles Simic’s “Stone.”

Two more interesting sources are Karen Glenn’s poem sampler, “Ten Poems to Get You Through Science Class This Year”,  with selections by William Carlos Williams, Christina Rosetti and others, and “30 Days of ‘Quantum Poetry’ Celebrating the Glory of Science”, which offers seven poems by British biologist and poet Joanna Tilsley.

In math class, you might share “Numbers”, by Mary Cornish, or “A Love Poem for Lonely Prime Numbers”, by Harry Baker.

Poetry about sports can help us see more than the play on the field, just as physical education teachers know that they are teaching more than just rules of a game. Poetry Foundation has several collections of sports poetry to share:

Find these resources and more in icurio with the keyword search: April Newsletter

netTrekker and icurio named EdTech Digest Cool Tool Award finalists

Cool Tool Award

This week we learned that both netTrekker and icurio have been named finalists for EdTech Digest’s Cool Tool Awards. netTrekker was named a finalist for the “content provider solution” category and icurio is in the running for the “e-learning solution” category. We’re honored to join the distinguished list of nominees for the acclaimed online education publication’s annual awards program.

As more and more school districts shift to digital, they need solutions that truly support teachers and impact students. netTrekker and icurio help make this transformation more manageable by providing easy access to standards-aligned, educator-vetted Open Educational Resources (OER) and tools for building and delivering instruction in a blended learning environment. . We’re thrilled that the education industry recognizes the importance of Knovation’s solutions to truly personalize learning and engage all students.

Stay tuned for the results; the winners are announced on Thursday, March 19. You can view the full list of categories and finalists here.

icurio 2.0 March Newsletter – Featured Lessons in icurio 2.0

Featured Lessons in icurio 2.0

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Featured Lessons is in the Lessons Tab

The Knovation content team has created Featured Lessons for icurio to provide teachers with high-quality models for designing digital instruction in icurio 2.0. Our curriculum designers share lessons developed by the Knovation content team or built by other icurio teachers. Teachers can easily copy, reuse and repurpose Featured Lessons in their own classrooms.

 

Using Featured Lessons

Featured Lessons - copy smallCopy Lesson Button
  • To copy a Featured Lesson, simply click the grey Copy Lesson button when viewing any of the Featured Lessons.
  • The Featured Lesson will be copied into your My Lessons area where you can then modify activities, resources or questions to meet your needs.
  • When you’re ready, you can assign the lesson to your class.

 

New Featured Lessons

New Featured Lessons were recently added in mathematics and science.

Lines of Symmetry

Dive into the concepts of symmetry using a new fourth grade mathematics lesson titled “Lines of Symmetry.” In this lesson, students discover if all figures have the same number of lines of symmetry and whether there are figures that don’t have any lines of symmetry at all. This engaging lesson includes videos, hands on interactives, and fun games to reinforce skills.

Weather vs. Climate

Explore the differences between weather and climate in our recently featured lesson for fifth grade science titled “Weather vs. Climate.” In this lesson, students discover weather patterns and phenomena, making connections to the weather in a particular place and time. They are then led through the process of predicting upcoming weather events from weather data collected through observations and measurements and explain global patterns that influence weather in different parts of the world.

Some other Featured Lessons include:

icurio Champions Program

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The new icurio Champions program is designed to build a PLC to create and share best practices, develop and recognize educational leaders who share a sense of purpose on the path to educational innovation, and support districts in increasing icurio’s adoption and impact.

Following a learn-by-doing model, icurio Champions develops resident icurio experts within districts and provides new ways to leverage the power of icurio and its digital learning resources to create engaging, dynamic learning activities. No matter what your role, icurio Champions is for you if you feel:

  • Passionate about discovering new ways to bring blended learning into the classroom
  • Inspired by the opportunity to connect with peers to collaboratively build engaging learning activities
  • Eager to develop best practices using icurio to transform instruction
  • Enthusiastic about becoming the resident icurio expert and guiding its adoption by coaching others

 Sign Up to Learn More

 

icurio 1.0 March Newsletter: Ready for the New Season!

Kites: So Much to Learn from Them!

Spring Kite

March 20, 2015, is the first day of Spring! The warmer weather brings many of us outdoors to enjoy the changing season after a long winter of snow and cold temperatures. For many, these activities include flying kites.

Kites are not only a fun activity to do outside but they can also provide a theme to learn and apply math, language arts, science, and social studies skills. This month we will explore several resources that teach students about different types of kites, why they fly, and how they have been used in history.

Elementary – Build, Listen and Learn

Interactive Resource: "The Insect Kite"
Interactive Resource: The Insect Kite
  • Make a Giant Insect Kite – This interactive resource gives step-by-step instructions on building a kite using the items many classrooms already have.
  • Days with Frog and Toad: The Kite – One of the “Frog and Toad” children’s stories written and illustrated by Arnold Lobel. In this story, Frog and his friend Toad spend the day together flying their kite and having lots of fun.
  • TeachEngineering: Will It Fly?– Your students can explore what makes a kite fly through this lesson plan. They will learn about the four forces that affect flight and variables involved in the engineering design of airplane models as they build their own balsa glider.

Middle – Physics and Electricity

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Video: PBS Teachers – Kites
  • PBS Teachers: Kites – Danielle and Jasmin love to fly kites. Through this video, students will learn that kites come in all kinds of shapes and designs. They will enjoy watching Danielle and Jasmin prepare for a kite flying contest as they test a variety of kite styles to see how each will perform.

High – Math and History

Franklin's Electricity
Franklin’s Electricity
  • CK-12 Foundation: Geometry: Kites – Using geometry skills, students can explore why a kite is a quadrilateral, along with other properties of kites and how to apply them.
  • Engines of Our Ingenuity: Franklin’s Electricity – Some research puts Franklin’s electrical work in the scientific and political context of his day. An interesting point of view, one not usually found in comments of Franklin and electrostatics.

Find these resources and more in icurio with the keyword search: March Newsletter.

icurio 2.0 February Newsletter: Using Collections to Support Your Digital Curriculum

icurio’s Collect features will provide structure and flexibility as you design digital instruction.

Just as chefs need to have their kitchen and ingredients organized to be effective at creating culinary masterpieces, educators benefit from having a digital curriculum organization approach as they are creating lessons and activities for their learners. What does your digital curriculum landscape look like? Is it organized around your instructional calendar? Around new learning standards you are addressing? Or around topics you are getting ready to address next in your classroom? Whatever digital resources you are working with and whatever your style, the icurio Collect functions will provide structure and flexibility as you design digital instruction.

Just as chefs need to have their kitchen and ingredients organized to be effective at creating culinary masterpieces, educators benefit from having a digital curriculum organization approach as they are creating lessons and activities for their learners. What does your digital curriculum landscape look like? Is it organized around your instructional calendar? Around new learning standards you are addressing? Or around topics you are getting ready to address next in your classroom? Whatever digital resources you are working with and whatever your style, the icurio Collect functions will provide structure and flexibility as you design digital instruction.

Visual Organization Leading Lesson Development

Digital learning happens in many different ways and with many different instructional objectives in mind. Whether you are looking to aggregate resources around one particular topic on the fly or map our your entire year, the Collect function lets you easily build structure, curate content and manage resources. Every collection is readily available to pull from as you build digital lessons or to share with school populations. Change your mind on the structure? Drag and drop collections or individual resources into different areas to quickly redesign or realign to your instruction. This efficient design approach leads to quick and effortless digital lesson development.

No Resource Left Behind

Count on the Collect feature in icurio to help bring together all your instructional content…even if it is not in the icurio library. Pull together online database resources, virtual lab sites, Google docs, image sharing locations or any content that has a unique URL you can capture. With the “Custom Resource” option in every collection, you can easily add those pieces inside the related Collection in your digital curriculum map. What’s more, once they are added you can share them or pull them in to your lessons and activities–easy and convenient!

Sharing Recipes: Collections from Colleagues

Do you work with one of those educators who has great ideas, and wish you could access those ideas to work into your instruction? Most of us have repurposed lesson plans and taken ideas for new approaches from conferences to use in our classrooms. In icurio, you have a constant supply of those ideas, and the resources to go with them, from colleagues you can trust. Opportunities to leverage shared collections exist within your school organization or from our Featured Collections area. Trying to attack that new writing standard in a new way? Check out compelling Featured Collections like “How to Win an Argument.” Looking to work in more STEM concepts? Discover the “Explore Engineering” Featured Collection. Working with a Math curriculum team at your school? Share resources at your My School area in Collections to leverage every educator’s expertise and save you time.

Make all that amazing digital content work for you in your classroom!

Start developing your digital curriculum landscape now in icurio Collections. Finally a way to have your own relevant, organized and accessible resources for digital learning design!

Explore the previous posts on Finding Resources, Building Instruction and Engaging Students in icurio!