USN Lower School Technology!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Week of September 17

A good, solid week of work, with some "lagniappe" windfall software coming our way from that little island in the Indian Ocean, Mauritius.

First of all, the fourth, third, and second grades are all in various stages of working in Type to Learn 3, Sunburst's stellar little introductory keyboarding program. This is the first year I've introduced conventional keyboarding to second graders, and that's a bit of an experiment, though I'm encouraged so far by the children's enthusiasm and focus. It seems that there are always a few kids who just don't seem to be able to internalize a "desire to acquire" typing skills, but I understand the developmental readiness of our students varies in this arena just as it does in all others, academic and physical.

Next week, the 4th graders leave TTL3 behind in their introductory exploration of Keyboarding Online, or Keyboarding for Kids. I'll have a great deal more to say about this work beginning next week.

In the K-1 arena, we began exploring a different set of skills, diving into the software program "Around the World with Twelve Songs" from our buddies Boowa and Kwala. I received this site-license version of the software from my friend Jason Barnard, the co-creator and the voice behind the big blue dog Boowa. It seems an attendee of a teacher workshop I gave in Atlanta last November purchased 25 school site licenses of the program from UpToTen and Jason thought to himself, "I should send one to Scott" for helping design his world-popular UpToTenPremium at School program. Very nice of him!

The program leads children through the website's first online book, which details the adventures of our favorite cartoon pair from the day Boowa discovered Kwala on the beach, lost and confused, and set off with her to find her family. The neat addition of a gentle British-accented reading voice and highlighted text as the syllables are read is an important one. As a child hears words spoken while reading the text simultaneously, phonemes come alive in recognition memory, and reading skill is gently enhanced.

I don't detail the program here in order to encourage its purchase by any of my families: Your child has access to it here at school, and in fact we will have it on the K and 1st grade classroom computers as well as in the lab, by the end of next week. For those reading this blog from other locations (see our "Clustrmaps" Visitor Locations map in the sidebar!) I say "go for it!" It's a very sweet and engaging and pedagogically valid early reader software. It has the MisterMerrick Seal-of-Approval!

No pics this week: I'm finishing up work on the new 2nd grade projector laptop/projector cart. By next year, every classroom in the school will have its own ceiling mounted projector for technology-enabled presentations and lessons; and we're making strides this year by positioning two such carts on each floor, with ceiling-mounted projectors in every 4th grade room already!

Cheers, and have a happy and safe fun weekend,


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