USN Lower School Technology!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

New BubbleShare Feature

Hey, all. I just discovered "BubbleShare," a free (Beta) photosharing website I'll be experimenting with here in the lab. The first little set only has three photos, taken whilst kinderkids worked at Boowa and Kwala the other day, but I have many more photos on my lab teacher computer at school and I'll be adding a bunch of those soon. Here's the little slideshow you can play and then access larger versions for printing by clicking on the picture; the photos themselves will reside on a private, password protected site you can access by requesting a password from me and I have larger resolution ones I can email you upon request. Just be sure to describe the pic well enough for me to know which one you want. Neat!

Friday, September 22, 2006

3rd Graders Type to Learn!

Watch this to the end and look at the expression on Meredith's face as she finishes a lesson! There's more for this week in the post following this one!

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Typin' in the Lab and a Thought-Provoking PowerPoint

Hey, ya'll,

Here's the breakdown of what's happening in the lab this week:

  • Kindergarteners continue to work through lessons at Boowa and Kwala's UpToTen Premium@School site. This is a site upon which I was consulted to design a useful tool for very early computer skills introduction and practice and I'm pretty proud of it. Parents should know that it's not necessary at all to pay for a subscription to the site to utilize a whole lot of great age-appropriate content at home. Just go to our webliographer and visit K1GoHere! (ask your child once you're at the page!), click center number 2, and instead of clicking "Premium," which is what we do at school, click "Enter Here" (toward the center of the page, right over the heads of Boowa and Kwala. The resulting page will, yes, contain some advertising in a little sidebar, but much of what the children can do in the way of games and songs and stories is accessible from this completely free webpage!
  • 1st and 2nd graders are digging into the freeware program, Drawing for Children, to begin to hone their computer graphics skills in a pretty powerful little program. I use this software partly because if you want to download it for use on your home computer (PC only--sorry Mac users) you may do so from the Downloads topic in our webliographer. 1st graders are free-exploring the program, discovering and sharing their discoveries; 2nd graders began "My hope for 2nd grade is..." drawings they'll finish up next week
  • 3rd and 4th graders are continuing their keyboarding adventures in Type to Learn 3, a licensed program that may also be found at our webliographer, though this one would be a purchase. I actually don't recommend home purchase unless your child is so completely excited about learning to type that you feel you must have the program at home. Use of any typing program must be monitored and encouraged to assure development of home-row key skills and the program here at school should provide most of our kids with what they need, monitored and delivered in a timely manner. 4th graders will be typing at home soon enough, with the homework they'll be doing online with Keyboarding for Kids! If you want a supplementary software, I'd recommend looking into a more game-like program like Mario Typing or Spongebob, programs all available from the link at our webliographer. Okay, I'll stop driving you to the webliographer :) -- Here's a direct link to the software page!
I also want to share this week a PowerPoint created by a fellow technology coordinator in Virginia. He didn't have the amount of time allotted this year for technology professional development the first day of teacher in-service, so he created a looping PowerPoint that he ran on a giant projector screen as the teachers entered for the day. I'm in the process of checking his facts and verifying their sources, but most of these are statements I've run across already in my own professional development and I'm pretty sure you can take 'em as gospel. His school specific facts finish after the first few slides. It's worth the wait...

Here's Karl Fisch's PowerPoint, Did You Know?

That's it for this week's post. I'm going to post a little .wmv movie separately!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Week of September 11

Heyllo, everyone.

I have to laugh at myself when I think that it's my goal to put up a posting here every week. I hope that you'll forgive me for dropping back to every other week occasionally. This is one of those times. I can't tell you how busy everything's been!

Well, I'll try. In addition to teaching your lovely children (and meeting many of them for the first time!) I am setting up mobile carts, four of them, each with DVD player, Internet-connecting laptop, and new LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) projector. Here's a picture of one of them:

Each of these will "live" in a classroom--one on the first floor, one on the Kindergarten Lower Level, and two on the 2nd floor in 4th grade classrooms. Any teacher on any floor who feels the need may borrow the cart to demonstrate or share Internet activities in the classroom or on an atrium screen or to share a video resource, be it digital file or DVD, in the classroom. YAY, I say! They'll be deployed to their classrooms the day after the 3rd and 4th grades' Parents Night, Thursday night September 21, and I'lll be demonstrating their use to the teachers as needed until every teacher feels empowered with video in the classroom.

I'm also knee-deep in transfering every one of the 50 Lower School Curriculum Guides to a new template format that will make it much less work for the grade-level teams to revise in an ongoing manner. It's a cut-and-paste fest, if that means anything to you, and each grade level is taking me a day or two in between classes to get finished. Once these are finally proofed and approved, we'll send out a new notice via email to remind you how to find them!

On to teaching and learning. Check out this video if you are the parent of a Kindergarten or 1st Grade child:

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Very fun! We're utilizing the great "UpToTen Premium @ School" website at to introduce and practice basic computer skills, many of which we grown-ups forget are learned ones. Ask your child to take you to the site, and if they need help getting there, it's easy! Just go to, click "Academics," then "Lower School," then "Lower School Webliographer." Let your child take it from there!

2nd Graders are working on very basic typing skills by exploring the wonderful little introductory software "Type to Learn, Jr." and their friends in 3rd and 4th Grades are warming up their own typing skills with that program's older brother, "Type to Learn 3." More on that later!


Sunday, September 03, 2006

The First Full Week!

Hey, everyone,

We've completed the first full week of USN Lower School and what a week it was in the lab! I always go home the end of this first week with a tired voice and a great feeling that I've done the right thing by our children. Why?

Well, this is the week I go over our schools Appropriate Use Policy (AUP) for use of our computer network. I think I have settled into a pretty nicely scaffolded age-appropriate set of schpiels for these discussions, and though few students actually set a hand on a computer mouse the first session I'm hoping it sets a nice tone for safe and considerate computering for the rest of the school year.

The AUP is a pretty densely worded legal-eze document with several main sections, including Acceptable Use, Privileges, Vandalism, Reliability, Nettiquete, and more. These talking points give me ample opportunity to give the kids just enough information for their grade level while making sure they know that as long as they use computers at school in the proper ways (and refrain from using them in improper ways) they'll always have fast and safe Internet access at school as well as access to some of their favorite educational games.

This year, for the 4th graders, I re-tooled a PowerPoint Jeopardy-style game as fun way to go over the salient points and also to get the kids off their seats on the carpet. It has been really fun to get them involved in "fierce and friendly" competition over the concept of appropriateness. Wow.

I put the PowerPoint up online for your viewing and playing pleasure ("mileage" will vary according to the specifics of your browser and operating system--for best viewing, download the file and display it within PowerPoint).