USN Lower School Technology!

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

End of January, Cold Outside but Warming Up in the Lab!

4th graders get PowerPoint guidance from Ms. Noel
Hey, all,

I was out away from school the week of Jan. 15 and so "in the weeds" (a restaurant worker's term for so busy one can't see what to do next) when I returned back to school that I just didn't get to post last week. The reason I was out was that my family and I moved from our Green Hills home of 13 years to a new residence out in West Meade. We love our new home but downsizing by half has been a challenge of logistics, decision-making, and my lower back. We're hoooooooome now!

In the lab, we're doing some interesting things. My lists of grades often work from 3rd down to 2nd in the order I see the kids, but here's one from Kindergarten up, just for fun.

Kinderkids finished up their Boowa pictures with Drawing for Children last week and after such hard work I treated them to a new website at Center Number 4 of K-1 Go Here! It's "Boohbah," a wonderul "right-brain" experience of sound and color where there are virtually no direct instructions or examples to guide the visitor, just things to click on that do have results, though the results may not be "logical." It's interesting to me to watch how different children react to something so "out of the box" and to watch them invariably warm to the idea of exploration for its own sake. While it may look, at first glance, like fluff, the site (an offshoot of a successful British television show) is the result of come careful thinking on the part of its creator, Ann Wood, also the creator of Teletubbies. Hmmmm... See the Wikipedia entry on Boohbah here.

1st graders explored base 10 concepts at BT Bear's site last week and this week viewed a great Schlessinger Media film via our Safari Montage media server. Part of the "Earth Science in Action" series and 25 minutes long, "The Water Cycle" took up most of their computer time but they didn't want to stop it before seeing the whole thing. They were especially intrigued by a demonstration of an experiment to help understand the concept of an Artesian well, a well that needs no pump due to pressure on the groundwater that produces it. After a brief chat about the water cycle most of the classes were able to spend a few minutes at Boohbah.

2nd graders began looking at the Iditarod Trail Race this week, getting a little introduction via a video at my fellow podcaster Scott Sloan's project, This is Scott's 2nd year to manage this seasonal podcast and he looks positioned to really deliver some content this year over his Alaska Podshow and the special Iditarod Podcast. With any luck we'll be able to chat with him via a Skype videoconference next week. More on that later! I still have other friends in Alaska, too. A little known fact is that my Alaskan folk band, the Last Frontier Band, was the official Iditarod Trail band in 1978-9, and we performed numerous benefit concerts to support the Trail Committee. It tickles me that the impetus to study the race came from the teachers and I'm very happy to be able to help enrich the students' experience with my own.

3rd graders are exercising copy and paste skills with Word, Internet Exporer and Google, as they populate a Word document with images found on the Internet in order to print a couple pages of images to scissors up and use in their hand-written artist reports. Next week we'll create title pages for those reports using a Word template.

4th graders are in the lab every available moment as they work on their Aztec PowerPoints and Aztec newspapers. Last week I introduced them to the PowerPoint tutorials available on the USN Lower School Webliographer. These are looking great and you may expect to see them on the 4th grade website soon!

That's all for now!

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

First Full Week Back from Winter Break

4th graders visited the NASA website to post evaluations about their recent videoconference after viewing a movie to refresh their recollection of the event. The 9 minute movie is online and may be seen by visiting the Interactive Videoconferencing at USN blog. We continue to work on our constellation PowerPoints and to hone keyboarding skills with Keyboarding for Kids and Dancemat Typing.

3rd graders explored the webliographer Master Artist resources toward preparing to investigate the life of one particular artist. This week they chose their artist, and it's my hope that these two weeks of exploring research tools (the Webliographer, Google) and some instruction in their use will come in handy!

2nd graders discovered BaseTen Bear at his website (Try it yourself!!!) and also visited the National Library of Virtual Manipulatives for a little base ten practice.

1st graders had a blast at GameGoo, a site filled with fun and challenging educational games, for practice in abc order and reading/writing concepts like opposites, rhyme, and even alliteration!

Kindergarteners began drawing pictures for Boowa and Kwala's gallery at Once everyone's had a chance to complete a drawing, we'll compile them and send them on to the island of Mauritius (really!) for inclusion in the gallery.

I'm out next week, moving to a new house, so there'll be a capable substitute teacher here. She'll have lesson plans and lab directions and lots of backup. Wish me luck!!!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Happy, Snappy, New Year!

Welcome back. I for one had a great Winter Break even though we were snowed in by the Great Denver Blizzard of '06. I have a picture slideshow from the trip up at

Speaking of other blogs, check out my Snacks4theBrain! podcast (that I produce for Vanderbilt Center for Science Outreach) and--more pertinent to this discussion--see the USN Interactive Videoconferencing blog for description (and a video!) from this week's 4th grade IVC with a NASA space science expert. It was stellar!

The third graders started exploring our Master Artist resources at the Webliographer. If you don't have the Webliographer bookmarked or "favorited" on your home computer's browser, there's no time like the present.

Second graders practiced math (addition and subtraction) facts at our own Arithmattack! skill-and-drill webpage. It's a marvelously simple interface designed by David Baurac of the Argonne National Laboratory and used on our website with his permission.

First Graders and Kindergarteners visited Boowa and Kwala's site to use our @School only Premium account to play games (matching shapes, following paths, clicking for color changes, and matching colors) that foster "comfortableness" and fun with computers. These were all in lesson number 37 of the "200 Activities in 50 Lessons" interface that I helped create.

Cheers, and Keep the Fun!