[Ray Dass Test Prep (954) 415-6352] - iOS
        SARA (iOS version) offers a fresh, dynamic, personalized approach for improving ACT, PSAT and SAT test scores. The program, designed by a team of educators with expertise in test preparation, offers 3 progressive levels, over 400 high definition video tutorials  (narrated by Ray Dass, with whiteboard notations) and 1,000+ practice questions. SARA is nicely scaffolded, and the many exercises, quizzes, practice and review problems promote mastery of essential key concepts.
         After students are enrolled and logged in, they may choose from six topics: Math Test Prep (Levels 1 and 2), Reading Test Prep (Levels 1 and 2) and Writing Test Prep (Levels 1 and 2).         

         ReadingTest Prep/Level 1 illustrates the convention used throughout the program: The course is chosen, then various subcategories are provided (Lessons 1-4… up to Lessons 29-32). Each segment  emphasizes "Reading Essentials," "Have a Plan," and "Types of Passages."
         Many unique details make
SARA a very effective program. Among these are: (1) During the video tutorials, the narrator abundantly emphasizes common pitfalls to avoid, and key points to remember. Useful tips for the Reading Test Prep are: Note the distinction between skimming and active reading; write down the main ideas; underline while reading passages (this helps focus); ask yourself questions; put the passage into your own words; cover up the answer choices and first figure out your own answer, i.e., have a clear idea of what you want the answer to be, before looking at the choices. (2) Reward screens are abundant. Upon correctly answering two review or quiz questions, scoring is immediate, and a message indicates that the student has mastered the Core Essentials concepts and can move to the next level; or try a Skill question.
         There is much to love about
SARA. Did we mention portability? Available online, anytime!       

Exploring Issues
[ReferencePoint Press (888) 479-6436] - Website

         In this era of 'alternate facts' and 'fake news,' how does an educator go about teaching students to think critically and perform factual research? A superb resource is the Exploring Issues website published by ReferencePoint Press.  Winner of the 2017 BESSIES for Critical Thinking in both the Middle School and High School categories, Exploring Issues is a powerful tool designed to engage students while teaching strong critical thinking skills.
            The program offers twenty-two topics, including Illegal Immigration, Cyberbullying, Legalizing Pot, Video Games and Violence, Social Networking and more - all of particular interest to young people.  Each topic begins by setting out relevant questions, and then moving into an Overview of the issue, examining facts about possible problems and benefits. A sidebar links to five chapters which explore the questions evoked at the beginning. These are  organized as
Facts, Infographics, Related Organizations and Websites, For Further Research, and Related Issues within Exploring Issues
             For teachers, there is a downloadable "Teaching Critical Thinking Through Current Issues" guide; and for students, there is a "Guide to Research and Writing" as well as a "Guide to Critical Reading - Understanding Opinionated Writing" -  all important enrichment material.
Exploring Issues is a powerful and dynamic tool, and ideally, a dynamic teacher will be able to make full use of it.  However, in these challenging times, we recommend it for all Social Studies, English, and Language Arts instructors.

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