USN Lower School Technology!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

What's Going on Here, Anyway?

Hey. What's going on here is that I've been sooooo busy helping to get the Lower School curricula online (look for it within the next couple of weeks!), helping my lovely wife Lee Ann with artclectic (this year is the 10th anniversary of that very cool event!), and teaching that I haven't posted here in a while. Of course we're moving apace in the lab. Some highlights:
  • We're making our way through Type to Learn 3 in the 3rd grade. By the time we're finished, your children will be well situated to put more of their great thoughts on paper
  • 4th graders are enjoying (well, mileage varies) an introduction to Keyboarding for Kids this week. We'll work for a few weeks to build a solid foundation in the use of the program before sending home textbooks for daily homework!
  • Kindergarten and 1st graders are exploring the "other centers" at K-1 Go Here!, my portal for those grade levels. We've looked at the BBC Little Animals Activity Centre, the Li'l Fingers storybook site, and this week we're finishing up by visiting the great Starfall beginning readers' site. Visit K1GoHere! to check these out!
  • 2nd graders are working with the same graphing tool we visited in previous sessions, the National Center for Educational Statistics "Create a Graph" website. We've made a simple pie graph and a simple bar graph and now we're using our pie graph data collected last week in response to the question, "Who Went to Fall Fest?" Here's my graph:

I believe that after working with this site a number of times 2nd graders should be able to visit it anytime to create graphs for displaying findings in many classroom curriculum units. It will be a resource they can use for years to come!

I also want to point you to a nice little movie I put together after Ms. Dent's 4th grade class spent nearly an hour seeing and hearing and visiting with Kiana, their classmate who's in Holland with her parents until January. Visit my USN Interactive Videoconferencing blog to view it!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Top 5 Lab Celebrations!

Scott’s Top Technology for Learning Lab Celebrations for October 2006:

  •  Keyboarding: Kids are “getting it” better than ever, more quickly, more consistently. I’m working the 3rd grade all the way thru Type to Learn 3 (or as far as I can get them by winter holidays, and the 4th graders are doing 6 solid weeks of that program before moving them over to begin Keyboarding Online (Keyboarding for Kids), which they’ll be able to do every day. The TTL3 will then be an activity for choice time.
  •  Graphing: “Create a Graph” website at the National Center for Educational Statistics website is a remarkable new (revitalized) website that we’re using in the lab to create graphs. It’s truly flexible and offers the option of emailing completed graphs without printing them. I’ve long been looking for an appropriate way to handle graphing at the applicable grade levels and I think this is the bomb. After having used this site extensively for 1st and 2nd grades the 3rd 4th graders will take to Excel graphing work much more readily in coming years.
  •  K1 Go Here!: Having worked K students well into lesson 6 and 1st graders through lesson 9 of the 50 available ones at Boowa and Kwala’s website, we’re moving on to other “centers” at the “K1 Go Here!” website that’s stood us in such good stead since 2001. Students began exploring the “Little Animals Activity Center” at the BBC website this week, and we’ll get to all four of the centers before the holidays.
  •  The new laptop carts: 4th grade teachers are using these carts extensively. Karen Marler proudly dragged me into her room to show off her writing class setup with overhead projector displaying her hand-drawn story map and the laptop connected to the network to bring up her error-ridden Word document story for use whole class. With this capability she can bring up student stories to share whole class without printing and copying them all, visit websites, view online tutorials in the classroom, and prep her students for labwork without using lab time to do so, so that they are ready to work when they come into the lab. I expect other grade levels to begin using these more and will be making a concerted effort to educate teachers on options for their use.
  •  Publisher Newsletters: Notice a new look to the grade level weekly newsletters? Babs Freeman-Loftis, our Lower School Assistant Head, has empowered our teaching teams with Microsoft Publisher to create extraordinary-looking publications with pictures and important information for you every week. An efficient system has been put in place for teachers to upload their finished and approved newsletters to a network file folder and then I reformat them as .pdf files and upload them to our web server on Friday of every week. I think this system will help keep our webpages in place, and those newsletters that do go home in backpacks will certainly be more widely read by parents! Now, to teach the teachers how to save as .pdf!
  • Webliographer!: Our USN Lower School Webliographer was recently featured in Home Education Magazine magazine as a resource for homeschooling parents and children. We created it and maintain it for our own students of course, but one of the wonders of technology is the ability to share work with the world. I'm very proud to bring some of what we do here at USN to children who are unable to be here every day: It's a broader, more global community we live in today, and the more we can share our hard work with the world, the better a world it will be.
  • Videoconferencing: 4th grader Kiana Jansen's family took advantage of the chance to work in Holland this fall and since her mom uses Skype, the free voice-over-IP computer program that I use every day, we are arranging for meet-ups with her classmates, Kiana in her home in Holland and Allison Dent's class in the lab and even in the classroom. High School Technology Coordinator Penny Phillips has graciously donated a webcam for the laptop cart in Ms. Dent's classroom (a cam she won in an online geek poetry contest last year!) and we're going to make it work for virtual visits from now until Kiana returns to school in January!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Empty Bowls at TACA

I've got more post to share later this week, but I wanted to put this up, candids from USN's amazing outreach effort at the Tennesee Arts and Crafts Fair this past weekend. A great deal of money was taken in; but more importantly, there were hundreds of new bowls made for the Empty bowls "bowl bank," which you can more fully understand if you visit artclectic2006's website and view the "empty bowls" link in the sidebar. Better yet, come to artclectic this year and make your own contribution to Food Security for all Middle Tennesseans!!!
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