ComputED is pleased to provide reviews of some of our award winners

TypingInstructorWeb for Kids
[Individual Software (800) 822-3522]

         Over the years, keyboarding software for children has taken many forms, all using different conventions for teaching proper fingering and posture, and offering games to reinforce learning and add interest. Too often, these programs overemphasize the game feature, and the user could spend too much time playing games instead of learning proper posture and keyboarding skills; or there may be difficulty navigating within the program.
Typing Instructor (CD) has had many upgrades, and has remained a cut above the rest. Enhancements to Typing Instructor Platinum, Version 21, the latest CD, take the program to a whole new level.
         In January, 2012 the company launched
TypingInstructorWeb for Kids, an innovative, colorful, child-friendly online version that uses comic book graphics and an adventure theme to motivate kids (ages 6 to 12). Tour guides, Lafitte (a parrot) and Toby, show children how best to explore Typer Island, the objective being to complete typing lessons to earn rewards and capture the castle. Many creative typing games are interspersed throughout, but the central focus of learning typing skills is never lost. The five exciting virtual environments (The Old West, On the Water, In the Air, Over the Edge, and Under the Sea) will be irresistible to kids, and they won't even notice they are learning keys on the home, top and bottom rows!
         Program features: Eleven complete typing plans; multi-level/multi-play typing games with learned keys; accessibility online anytime (with subscription); complete reporting/results on student progress; follows guidelines of NETS/ISTE; management center for administrators and teachers.
TypingInstructorWeb for Kids is a BESSIE Award winner in the Upper Elementary Keyboarding Website category.

[Shmoop(650) 279-8147]

         "We Speak Student" is the motto of
Schmoop, winner of the 2012 BESSIE for Teacher Resources, and speak student they do! A digital curriculum and test prep company, Shmoop offers rigorous content to secondary students and teachers in upbeat and timely language designed to hold and keep interest alive.
        Offering 7,000 titles delivered via the Web, iPhone, Android devices, iPad, Kindle, Nook and Sony Reader,
Shmoop's (primarily) free content will find the most enthusiastic users in Language Arts teachers, and students who need to prepare for any of the college entrance exams. Other subject areas include math, social studies, science, music; and some test prep material is delivered in Spanish--but it is in literature that Shmoop really delivers. Most of the secondary canon is presented in exhaustive detail, presenting thoughtful discussion topics, essay prompts, and links to well-vetted, relevant material on the web.
         A few quibbles:
Shmoop's home page feels a little cluttered and confusing; also, some parents and teachers may object to some of the language used (after all, 'We Speak Student' is exactly that).  But quibbles aside, Shmoop is a terrific tool and well deserves a prominent place in the classroom.


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