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!

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