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Where Do Reindeer Come From Anyway?

In today’s world, people are probably more apt to call reindeer “caribou” and dismiss any magical powers they may possess. But a few of us still hold fast to the fantastical image of Santa’s flying reindeer. Where did this legend originate? Most likely, the idea of flying reindeer came from Clement Clark Moore’s early 19th century poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” The well-known poem reads: “He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, and away they all flew like the down of a thistle.” And the leader of the mythical flying pack? He was created by advertising copywriter Robert L. May in 1939 for the Montgomery Ward department store in Chicago. May wanted something festive for his store's Santa Claus to hand out to parents and children. After consulting with an artist friend, May created the shiny red-nosed reindeer “Rudolph,” a name chosen by his four-year-old daughter.

Milton Hershey

That Christmas, 2.4 million copies of the “Rudolph” poem booklets were handed out in Montgomery Ward department stores. In 1947, one of May’s friends, Johnny Marks, put the poem to music, and in 1949 Gene Autry released his recording of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” turning the song into a perennial Christmas favorite.


Magic Reindeer Food

Many families have a tradition of setting out milk and cookies for Santa, but what about the poor, hungry reindeer? Magic Reindeer Food not only will help the reindeer find your home (ensuring timely gift delivery), it will also keep the reindeer full and focused during their long night of travel!

In a small bowl, combine:
• ½ cup uncooked oatmeal
• ½ cup sugar
• ¼ cup red or green sugar crystals (as used for cake decorating)

Magic Reindeer Food

On Christmas Eve, sprinkle  Magic Reindeer Food on your lawn or deck; the sugar crystals will reflect the moonlight, leading Santa’s sleigh to your home!


Rudolph Everlasting

Pop culture regularly heralds Rudolph as a sort of “arbiter of hipness,” returning to the magical flying/glowing creature again and again as fodder for TV shows, holiday decorations, and humorous spoofs and songs. What’s not to love about a cuddly, scruffy reindeer with a glowing red nose? Rudolph’s first appearance on screen came in 1947 in a brief cartoon short. DC Comics next published a series of 13 comic books from 1950-1962 titled “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” After Gene Autry’s classic tune of the same name in 1949, and 1964’s “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” stop-motion movie, Rudolph became synonymous with Santa as a symbol of the Christmas season.

Rudolph in DC Comics

Over time, numerous companies have harnessed Rudolph’s popularity for TV ads. A very red-nosed Rudolph starred in a memorable 2008 video for the insurance company Aflac, and Verizon featured Rudolph’s misfit friends in a 2009 ad. This year, Microsoft used Rudolph and friends in a series of online and TV spots advertising its Bing search engine.

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Jan. 23-26, Orlando
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SIIA Information Industry Summit
Jan. 24-25, New York
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TCEA Annual Conference
Feb. 6-10, Austin, TX
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CoSN Annual Conference
Mar. 5-7, Washington D.C.
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Some Very Shiny News

eChalk, a pioneer of school communication and instruction management software, reached a new milestone in helping educators foster an engaging 21st century learning environment personalized to students’ needs. The company’s software has been implemented in more than 100 Brooklyn schools and more than half of all Staten Island schools. Upwards of 400 schools in the New York City area are now using the eChalk platform, a microcosm of eChalk’s impact in educational institutions across the country. Read more…

CollegeSolved announced a new scholarship program, in which current high school and college students can earn up to $1,000. The “No More Ramen Noodles” scholarship drawing will award $1,000 to a prospective or current college student who refers high school students to, with each referral earning one entry when the high school student creates an account. In addition, referred high school students who register will be entered into a drawing for $500. Read more…

Six Flags and Discovery Education launched Read to Succeed, an online-based educational program designed to inspire K-6 students to read for recreation. Students who complete six hours of non-school-related reading are eligible for a free admission ticket to a participating Six Flags theme park. Teachers with 10 or more students who complete the program also are eligible. The Read to Succeed website is full of classroom and at-home resources provided by Discovery Education. Online registration for Read to Succeed is open to all schools nationwide. Read more…

While studies show response-to-intervention programs can be effective in improving student outcomes, program implementation is a complex, system-wide process that requires ongoing planning and support. To guide schools through the process and ensure success, STI, a leader in education data management and instructional coaching, debuted ResponseNOW. Delivered through STI Achievement Services, ResponseNOW is a customized professional coaching service that helps schools successfully develop and implement response-to-intervention programs based on research-based strategies and data-driven decision-making. Read more…

According to Knowledge Delivery Systems CEO Alvin Crawford, focusing on strategic professional development is the best way to truly change teacher practice so teachers can be more effective. Improving the quality of classroom teachers will do more to advance student success than simply the tools, textbooks and technology they use to learn. According to recent professional development studies, teachers who receive substantial professional development can boost student achievement by about 21 percentile points. Read more…

In an open letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, Funds For Learning CEO John Harrington requested that the FCC increase the available funding in the E-rate program. With demand outpacing available funding, Funds For Learning is asking the FCC to allocate more funding from the Connect America Fund to the E-rate program—a move that wouldn’t increase taxes or fees. Funds For Learning has posted the open letter, video, background information, and petition online, and is encouraging others to sign in support of increased E-rate funding. Read more…

Special education teachers across the country participated in a grant program sponsored by PCI Education in celebration of the company’s 20th anniversary. Nearly 300 educators submitted activities and shared best practices with colleagues as part of the program, and five grand-prize winners received a $200 cash grant and a Flip Video camera to capture their ideas in action. PCI Education also awarded $200 gift certificates to the next 15 teachers who received the most online votes to spend on teaching materials for their classrooms. Read more…

Participants in FundingFactory, the nation’s largest fundraising-by-recycling program for schools and nonprofits, recycle an average of 4.2 million printer cartridges and cell phones annually. FundingFactory has expanded its list of recyclable items so participants can now exchange small electronics such as digital cameras, MP3 players, and GPS systems for cash or points redeemable for new technology. Additionally, in honor of America Recycles Day, recognized annually on Nov. 15, FundingFactory conducted a photo contest to build awareness about the importance of recycling. Find out the top three winners at Read more…

And the awards keep rolling in... e2020, Inc., recently earned industry recognition for its Lesson Search and Virtual Classroom Suite from the Annual Educational Software Review (EDDIE) Awards, EdTech Digest, Tech & Learning, and District Administration. e2020 offers a customizable virtual instruction platform and rigorous, standards-aligned content spanning core and elective curricula for traditional school districts as well as virtual schools. Its Virtual Classroom Suite, bundled with Lesson Search, offers students self-paced courses with additional searchable activities to expand and customize their learning experience. e2020 has expanded steadily this year through client growth and several acquisitions. Read more…

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, enrollment in postsecondary institutions increased from 14.8 million to 20.4 million between 1999 and 2009. The popularity of postsecondary education produces a competitive and oftentimes convoluted application process for aspiring students. To help guide them through the application and entrance process, Shmoop debuted College 101. The free online resource addresses topics such as admission essays, entrance tests, financial aid, scholarships, and money management tips for students and parents. Read more…

StudyBlue, a mobile and online study service for students, introduced an updated StudyBlue mobile app for iPhone® and Android™ devices that lets students create flashcards on their smartphones. The free app offers students the ability to snap and insert photos, as well as transcribe speech directly into flashcard text. Having these study materials accessible both online or on their phones allows students to turn normally unproductive time, such as waiting for the bus, into study sessions to improve their comprehension. Read more…

Online learning environments today are far more sophisticated than a decade ago. Beyond synchronous and asynchronous options, adaptive platforms, interactive tools, and mobile technologies offer a breadth of instructional and learning opportunities. Kaplan 12 Learning Service’s white paper, “Online and Blended Learning: What the Research Says,” offers an easy-to-digest overview of how best to harness online and blended formats and to apply instructional best practices to deliver effective programs. Pulling from a breadth of research in cognitive and neuroscience, this paper highlights key findings and outlines a prescription for engaging students in ways that result in long-term academic success.

Four Catholic schools in New York (Holy Family and St. Mary’s in the Bronx and Blessed Sacrament and Guardian Angel in Manhattan) introduced the Time To Know Digital Teaching Platform to their fourth and fifth grade math classes. Teachers are building lesson plans based on the Common Core Standards, customizing assignments for students based on their current levels of achievement, and monitoring student progress in real time. Students are utilizing the program’s interactive learning activities and gallery feature to post their work for peer review and collaborate with fellow students. The schools purchased netbooks for student use, and Time To Know is providing classroom teachers with professional learning and technical support throughout the year. Read more…

Monarch Teaching Technologies (MTT) announced its VizZle Player App for iPad is now available on the App Store, giving children with autism access to award-winning visual supports and lessons. The content in the VizZle Player App comes from a peer-reviewed shared library within VizZle, an award-winning software that autism educators use to create visually supported interactive lessons that can be played on interactive whiteboards, touchscreen computers, PCs and Macs, and now, iPad. Read more…

The Education Division of the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) estimates a $7.5 billion U.S. market for educational software and digital content, based on the results of a survey conducted in part by the Consulting Services for Education, Inc. (CS4ED). First in a series of SIIA market reports, the "2010 U.S. Educational Technology Industry Market: PreK-12 Report" values the overall market for PreK-12 non-hardware educational technology at $7.5 billion dollars—with content-related products representing 42 percent of that revenue. The study focuses only on revenues for software and digital content or resources (no print, hardware, or analog products), and institutional sales to paint a picture of the overall revenue of educational technology companies. Read more…

The Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) recently started a new “CoSN International” blog for the Senior Delegation to South America. CoSN is committed to a global dialogue focused on the strategic use of technology for the improvement of teaching and learning in elementary and secondary schools. CoSN led a delegation to Uruguay and Argentina from Nov. 9-16, to see how these countries are practicing innovative education techniques, especially through using technology. The delegation visited several schools in South America, observing teaching methods, teacher training classroom equipment, and administrative techniques. Read more…

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