November 22, 2006
By Doe, Charles
Price: The cost is based on the total enrollment in a school building. The pricing begins at $9,250 for buildings with less than 250 students.
Audience: grades 9-12.
Format: Online program with audio.
Minimum System Requirements: A computer with a browser and Internet access. This is a complex program or system of programs that works best with DSL or other high-speed Internet access. The program will work on older computers, but the newer and faster the computer, the better.
Description: TeenBiz3000 is an Internet-based reading and writing supplemental program in English or Spanish. The program is basically a learning environment for improving student reading and writing skills.
Installation: In general, there is no initial installation for schools, other than providing Internetcapable computers, preferably with high-speed access. The company, Achieve3000, sets up the initial school or district Web site.
While not a direct part of installation, a very important component of getting started is the included on-site teacher training. A project manager from Achieve3000 assists teachers in training students to use the system; additional online training is available. Installation Rating:A
Content/Features: TeenBiz3000 is intended to supplement regular instruction and curriculum. The program contains a large number of searchable nonfiction articles, graded by reading level, that place some emphasis on technology and financial instruction, as well as on other issues. Students work with several varieties of writing, including e-mail, openended responses, and self-expression.
This is one of the exciting new programs made possible by developments in technology such as Web-based assessment, the power of computers, and the possibilities of high-speed Internet access.
With its Web base, TeenBiz3000 offers rapid access to a huge amount of content-including audio and Spanish components-that might otherwise only be available through a number of more expensive textbooks or on a cumbersome amount of CDs.
The most exciting potential offered by TeenBiz3000, however, is the possibility for relatively easily differentiated instruction. Every student in the class can be working on something different, especially suited to their needs in terms of reading level, language (Spanish or English), as special needs students, or as students with different comprehension problems, and so on.
Each day, the program automatically assesses every student's work to determine the next day's material, using Lexiles and an assessment component called LevelSet.
In case you're not familiar with them, Lexiles are scores produced by the Lexile Framework developed by MetaMetrics, Inc. These measurements examine the reading difficulty of text and/or the reading levels of students, reporting them with scores called Lexiles. Unlike other reading-level or text-difficulty measures, text and student Lexiles are equivalent; scores can match students to appropriate reading material with great accuracy.
TeenBiz3000 generates and checks student scores by administering LevelSet three times a year. Students log onto the program using preassigned user names and passwords. They read about 30 passages and answer Cloze-style (fill-in-the-blank) questions for each one. This takes about 30 to 40 minutes. The results are instantly available and are used to give each student appropriate reading material.
The program uses a five-step process to develop reading and writing skills. Assignments, activities, and integrated assessments are aligned with state standards.
A schema (structure, in this sense, or a bit of prior knowledge) for the day's work is developed through a daily e-mail that students read when they first log on. In part, the message prepares them for what they are about to read and directs them to the material.
Next, the students read a nonfiction article for information. The real-world content of the article is engaging and involving. In the third step, students demonstrate mastery by answering questions that check comprehension, vocabulary, or higher-order thinking skills.
In the fourth step, students construct meaning by writing responses to open-ended questions. And, finally, students form an opinion by participating in a poll about the article. The progress on each day's work is reported and determines the work for the next session.
Teachers can log on to the teacher site using their own password to set up classes; check class progress as a whole and on individual students; and do a variety of other tasks, including checking which students are actually using the program. Teachers can readminister LevelSet if necessary and get a variety of reports, including reports on the various types of writing.
To sum up, TeenBiz 3000 uses online Lexile assessment tools to measure nonfiction reading levels (instantly corrected) to match each student with appropriate, daily, nonfiction reading content.
Writing is supported through daily writing opportunities. All work is aligned to state standards. Ongoing assessment is embedded in each day's work to ensure that the next day's work is appropriate.
Detailed reporting and other features are available to teachers, along with partial or complete Spanish versions. Students can access TeenBiz3OOO anywhere, any time they can find a computer connected to the Internet and, according to Achieve3OOO, approximately 70 percent of the students do so voluntarily.
TeenBiz3OOO is such an excellent, well-thought-out program that about the only thing it needs is writing assessment. The LevelSet and assessment embedded in the instructional material are automatically corrected, but writing has to be checked by a teacher as needed. Content/Features Rating:A
ease of Use: Once learned, TeenBiz3OOO is easy and intuitive to use. It is a complicated system with several components, however, and effective initial training is essential. ease of Use Rating: A
Product Support: The support for TeenBiz3OOO is outstanding. It includes online and telephone contact with Achieve3OOO, online help, online training, and detailed initial training conducted by a project manager who, once teachers have been trained in program use, assists them with student training. Product Support Rating:A
Recommendation: TeenBiz3OOO is marketed for use in educational settings for 9th to 12th grades, including SES, ESL, and most other teaching situations. The program would be especially useful in after- school and summerschool settings because, once trained, students can use the material with minimal teacher supervision.
The program is outstanding for use in any secondary educational setting. Its potential for involving students and improving reading, writing, and other skills is enormous. In fact, Achieve3OOO should develop a version of this program for home use in communities in which schools haven't purchased the program or for use by home schoolers. Highly recommended.
**** REPORT CARD
Ease of Use A
Product Support A
Reviewer: Charles Doe, Elementary Media Specialist, Hastings Area Schools, Central Elementary School, 509 S. Broadway, Hastings, MI 49058; 616/948-4423; [email protected]
Copyright Information Today, Inc. Nov/Dec 2006
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