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Freebee Friday: Summer Starts Now

SC-LOGOTeachers can start signing up their classes for Scholastic’s Summer Reading Challenge. The online program rewards kids aged 4 through 14 who read over the summer and is trying to set a new record for the number of books read this summer. The school that logs the most minutes of student reading before school starts will be visited by an author: either David Shannon – for elementary schools – or Gordon Korman – for middle schools.

Freebee Friday: Classroom Makeover

NEC_300If your classroom’s technology is looking a bit ratty, NEC has the answer. The projector and display company is sponsoring a contest where a K-through-12 school will win $25,000. Just enter before May 6 and submit a 1-to-2 minute video explaining why they need new A-V gear. It sounds like a great class project.

In the Ear

E3The era of the over the ear headphone might be over with Califone’s E2 and E3 ear buds offer high-end audio at an enviable price. Rather than bulky and expensive headphones, these ear plugs are economical, fit into small ears and sound surprisingly good. They work with just about any notebook, iPad, phone or digital music player and come with a 3.9-foot cord that includes a built-in volume control. The earphones cost $4.40 and $4.35 for the E2 and E3.

Nerd or Not

Virtualnerd aWith more than 1,500 online video lessons available, do don’t have to be a nerd to use Pearson’s VirtualNerd Mobile Math. The service is available on a free iPad app or via the service’s Web site; look for an Android version this fall. It covers sixth grade math through geometry and prepping for standardized tests. Everything is free and coordinated with the Common Core standards and VirtualNerd is online 24-7, even during the summer.

Budget in Name only

B50The latest notebooks for classrooms not only have the latest features but sport sub-$400 price tags. In many respects, they actually are more along the lines of mainstream systems than budget ones.

Take Lenovo’s B50, which at $399 starts with a 1,366 by 768 15-inch display, but has an optional 1,920 by 1,080 full HD screen.  The B50 can be set up with an AMD or Intel processor and has surprising creature comforts, like Dolby Advanced Audio v2. It includes Windows 7 software and should be available sometime in July, just in time for the new school year.

13852432055_fdb143aacc_oMeanwhile, the Satellite C family budget notebook from Toshiba starts at an enviable $320 price tag with a Celeron processor. At less than an inch thick, it should fit into any backpack and it comes with either a 15.6- or 17.3-inch screen and your choice of an Intel or AMD processor. There are touch-screen models available and all come with at least 4GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive and Windows 8.1.

Thin is In

Asus zero client monitorFor those schools where less is more, Asus has a new CP240 Zero Client Monitor that can easily fit into a thin client landscape. The CP240 is built around a 23.8-inch wide-screen HD LCD monitor and inside is a capable Teradici TERA2321 processor with 512MB of system memory. It can handle any VMware task you throw at it and the system has gigabit Ethernet built in. It costs $529.


Lock and Charge

Charge & Sync cThe days of charging a classroom’s tablets one at a time with a pile of separate power adapters are over. With Kensington’s Charge & Sync Cabinet, a teacher can get 10 slates ready for tomorrow’s lessons in a locked cabinet. You can even stack three of the cabinets for a full classroom set of slates. The slate safe has adjustable shelves, cooling fan and costs $700. The company has optional short power cables for everything from the old iPad cord to a micro-USB cable that range from $25 to $80 for a five-pack.   

Making the Grade

Gradeable cEvery assignment requires grading, but Gradeable can make quick work of a stack of homework, quizzes or tests. The online service’s iPad app can grade multiple choice and True-False assignments that have been shot with the pad’s camera and instantly enter the grades. The service lets you import your class list and can produce a variety of charts and reports. The service costs $65 a year per teacher, there’s a free 30-day trial.

Connected Report Card

Mastery connect report cardIf paper or limited online report cards are frustrating your school’s effort to provide appropriate feedback to students and parents, Mastery Connect can help with its new Report Card. Aimed at K-12 schools, the system is set up around mastery-based assessments that show a percentage of completion along with indicators for important sub topics.

Three-Way iPad case

BPADi5-GRY16Why settle for a case that just covers and protects a tablet when the BooqPad for iPad Air can also act like a stand and hold a pad of 50 sheets of paper. Made of  Nubuck vinyl, the case includes a screen protector and costs $60; extra pads are three for $10.



Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Tech Tools are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.