Is anyone using the "Interactive Teaching System" or "SAM Connect"?

Dear Read 180 District Coordinators and/or Teachers, A Few Questions: 1. Has your district purchased the "Interactive Teaching System" (it may also be called "Digital Teaching System") that's compatible with interactive white boards and has online access to the rBook Teaching System? If so, I was wondering how it's going and the pros/cons. Does Scholastic train the teachers on the ITS, or is the R180 Coordinator doing that? The ITS comes free if a district has the "Premium Tech Plan"; however, at this time, we only have the "Basic" one. Just wondering if we should look into the premium tech plan to get the ITS, as we are trying to get interactive white boards next year in some of our R180 labs. 2. Secondly, has your distict purchased "SAM Connect" (released May '09)? If so, again, how is it going and what are the pros/cons? I'm assuming (hoping) that it gives teachers access to SAM from home via the internet (instead of from a distict server). It would be great if they could run SAM reports from home to help plan lessons, do grading, etc. Any input would be greatly appreciated. If you prefer, feel free to email me at: Melisa.Mulder@kentwoodps.org Hope to see you all again at the National Summer Institute 2010! :) Thanks in advance, Melisa Mulder (R180/S44 District Coordinator - Kentwood, MI)

Posted on: January 20 2010
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  • I use the ITS everyday in class with my Promethean Interactive Board.  Its great to show the R-book page to students and where to fill things in.  I got my Promethean installed in November and let me tell you - what a difference!!  I no longer have to make up sentence strips for the sentence starters and answers for the r-book (I teach 3 sections of Read 180) ITS makes it very easy to demonstrate where a question is located and make it easier for students to stay on track.  All of the RDI books are also available, so when I assign a page as homework or review in class, I project the page; there is a highlighting feature to draw attention in; you can project a teacher page or student page, you can zoom in really big; you can add answers in one at a time or show all answers at once I love it.  The only thing I wish it had was the the ability to add in my own answers - the ability to "ink" onto the documents.

    Melissa, SAM Connect is for connecting your teachers with the ITS. Your technology has to set each teacher up through SAM Connect for them to be able to access the ITS at home or school with their SAM logon and password. Unfortunately, at this time, we cannot access SAM at home (but I believe it is in the works... am I right, Dee?). As far as a charge for SAM Connect, there is no additional charge at this time as it is all part of the Premium Tech Plan. Without the SAM access at home, is it worth purchasing the Premium Plan? I'd say yes. To be able to access our Teacher Guides and support material at home for planning is invaluable. Plus, even if you don't have a SmartBoard yet, if your teachers have LCD Projectors, they can still project the images on a whiteboard from their computers. Of course, having the touch capability of a SmartBoard is preferred. Ashley, I'm not familiar with your Promethian Interactive WB, but if it uses the notebook software, there is a way you can add an ink layer and write on your rBook or RDI pages. Open the Notebook Software, click the Tools tab, then click floating tool bar and minimize the blank notebook page. This allows you to write over the images projected on the Smartboard. Just remember that when you try to scroll down, you will loose what you have written. With a little patience, it works. Debbie

    Thank You !! Promethean comes with a program called Inspire Flipbooks; it does have a tool called Desktop Annotate, I had never tried it before with ITS, it works! I have to erase it before I turn the r-book page or it will show up on the screen, but its exactly what I wanted to do. thank you for such a quick response!!!


    You are right about accessing SAM from home.  That is not available yet through SAM Connect.  I went to a session at the National Summer Institute about what is coming in the future.  I don't think we will have SAM available from home in the Enterprise Edition, but I think in the next major upgrade that we will have access to the data and SAM or whatever takes the place of SAM.

    Now that opens up an interesting question - what is in the planning process that will replace SAM? The possibility of having access to our data at home - awesome! Will this be out soon? In time for next year, or is Scholastic still a year or two out? Debbie

    I would love, love, love to be able to access SAM at home!


    I went to a workshop at NSI where Rose Else-Mitchell showed a plan for the future that would make data available at home.  I don't think it will be in the currnt Enterprise Edition version or look like SAM, but in the next major change in the software.  If your students are using a "hosted" system whre Schoalsltic hosts the software for you, you can accrss SAM from home now. Dee


    I wanted to thank everyone for the replies; they were incredibly helpful! We are currently piloting the ITS at one of our middle schools, and your posts gave us some great ideas to share with the R180 teachers. So far so good :). Thanks again! ~ Melisa Mulder


    Accessing SAM from home would be so beneficial for planning and end of term grading, I hope my district decides to upgrade and maybe we'll get Interactive whiteboard for the Middle School!

    What is the interactive teaching systemand Sam connect? How expensive is it?


    The ITS is on-line accessiblity to the rBook, both the TE and the student version.  Also, all of the RDI books are available through the ITS system.  It works very well with interactive white boards, such as Prometheans or SmartBoards.  It is available to all schools that have a Premium Support Plan and that are using Version 1.9 or later which have SamConnect.  You can check to see if you have it at your school by going to SAM Resources and selecting your stage.  There is an ITS tab.  You can try logging in through the connections on that tab.  Sometimes SamConnect has not be implemented yet by your school, so do not despair if you are not able to login the first time you try it.  Call your tech department to see if they have set up SamConnect yet.  If they have not, have them give Tech Support at a call at 1-800-283-5974. All of you who have access to ITS also have access to the Digital Training Zone (DTZ).  That is a wonderful site where there are many how-to videos and even live webinars.  Check out DTZ at http://teacher.scholastic.com/products/edservicesondemand/digitaltrainingzone.asp.  Check it out, too.


    After talking to a Scholastic Rep and further research, I have some more information that others may find helpful: 1) The ITS and DTZ are only available if you purchase the Premium Tech Plan; they may not be purchased separately with the Basic Tech Plan. You may find info and prices on the product maintenance and support plans at the following link: http://edproductsupport.scholastic.com/content/techsupport/sam/documentation/ProductSupport_OrderForm_QDK.pdf 2) Here is what I found out about accessing SAM from home: You would have to have your local server hosted with Scholastic that you'd access through "SAM Connect". To host a server, there's an annual $30 fee per student license. Then, the only way that you can access your students' data to run R180 & S44 reports is IF you have the SAM operating system loaded on to your home computer. I can access SAM from home and run reports, but that's because I had our tech dept add SAM to my laptop and give me access to our district server from home (because I oversee the programs for the district). I doubt they would want to do this for all R180 teachers' home computers (though it would be great!!). I mentioned this to let you know that it is possible to get access to SAM reports from home without SAM Connect, but it's not an easy process. This board has really helped -- Thank you all! ~ Melisa Mulder (Kentwood, MI)

    I love the lessons on DTZ!!! THey have been really helpful.

    I use it everyday in my whole and small group.  I like to add sticky notes of links to photos that explain ideas to my ELL students.  For example, I googled images of a Drive-Thru window menu board, a bolt of lightning, etc. for the disaster workshop. It is great to be able to plan from home and execute in the classroom.

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