USN Lower School Technology!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

April Rolls in Just as Quiet as a Lamb!

Yep, my prediction earlier was right. That earlier March weather was the bringer of extraordinarily springlike weather for us. Now coming up there's a hard freeze this weekend: Cover your beautiful flowers!

Meanwhile, we've been very bizzy here in the Lower School computer lab. 4th graders (excepting one class) have completed very interesting and sometimes hilarious blog posts at our edublogs "Lower School Student Blog" site. They're not complete yet, since one class missed their computer lab time last week, but there are currently 72 comments in the blog about how each of us spent our Spring Break. The 3rd graders spent last week and will finish up this week, for a couple reasons: Their time in the lab is briefer, they don't type as fast, and they have one year less experience as writers. Still they are doing a great job, by and large; and I'm proud of all of them. I'll make a big announcement when the job is done, but both these grade levels of students have now embarked on their first Web 2.0 experience!

This week in the lab we're exploring the concept of copyright with 4th graders, utilizing the new "Copyright" topic in our Webliographer. Try exploring "Copyright Bay" on your own. You may be surprised by some of the answers to the scenarios the site poses... ©

Kindergarteners and 1st graders have been exploring the weekly game offerings at this week (and last). Jason Barnard, the site's creator, is knee-deep in production of a television cartoon show for release in Europe, and we're hoping it makes its way across the ocean sooner or later. The last time I looked, his "UpToTen Premium@School" feature had been adopted by no fewer than 4336 teachers signed up for the free service, which I helped him create: USN enjoys the historic position of school number 1! Both grade levels played games reinforcing directional skills, body part names, listening skills, and decision-making. These folks are among the most focused and kid-friendly on the 'Net, and I'm proud to know them. I just wish they'd fly me out to Mauritius for a visit some day!

Last week second graders learned how to play the fun business-basics freeware game "My Lemonade Stand." It used to be that this game was available for free download on the Internet, but unfortunately it looks like the software has been taken off the freeware market and is only available bundled with other programs, and at a cost that I would call prohibitive. That said, our kids can still play the game in the computer lab, and they have been enjoying the work--30 days of business, making decisions about how much lemonade to make (or whether to make it at all) and how much to charge for it, based mainly on weather conditions and cost of materials (lemons, cups, sugar) which keep changing throughout the month.

This week since they're working on making change for money in the classroom, I took them to the award-winning where we took on a challenging way to look at counting up with coinage. Go try it yourself: While it's not easy, teachers worth their salt know that the best learning happens while a learner is just outside her/his comfort zone. I think that they're benefitting greatly from this fresh look at handling coins.

That's all for now!