USN Lower School Technology!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

K4K Texbooks Coming Home for 4th Graders

Hey, there, ya'll,

Just to let you know that though the official assignments to do daily Keyboarding for Kids practice (let's not call it, shudder, "homework") won't start until next week, I have sent home the textbooks with students today. There are two (sorry) full-page letters going home with them. My main message for everyone is this: In no way should this practice routine become a source of family stress or conflict.

I think I have done as much as any teacher could do to drive home to the students the messages that

1) this skill is one that is literally necessary in the 21st century, not only for the workplace but also for schoolwork

and 2) the students have a responsibility to themselves to see that they learn it

andand 3) there is no way to learn it besides practice, in home-row key position, regularly.

Should there be connectivity issues or scheduling conflicts at home, the 4th grade team and I are absolutely committed to helping your child find the time to work at school. In my never-to-be-humble opinion, the best prescription for success is regular work in the comfort of home; but the operable word is "regular."

Please read the long letters, help me charge your child with the responsiblity to practice, and keep a good thought. In case for some reason you do not receive the letters, here is the personal one from me, and here is the form letter Ellsworth Publishing makes available to their teachers/schools. This, by the way, is their reworking of a letter home that I originally wrote and shared with them. More later on the week. Just wanted to get this out today :)

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Hey, all,

Just a quick note to note:

I've reconsidered, with 4th grade team advice and after a couple concerned emails from parents, the timetable for sending home the textbooks. They'll now go home on Tuesday of next week, that's October 23rd, and after a week to settle out any connectivity issues that may arise, we'll begin the "homework" on the following Monday, October 29.

Factors contributing to this decision:

  • The very-first-of-all-time Fall Break at our school begins Thursday, October 18

  • I will be out of pocket from Thursday thru Sunday, as I'm taking my son fishing with his uncle in Texas: Texas bass, start worrying!!!

  • The *USN Strategic Plan (see the whole thing by visiting the school's website and clicking "About Us") calls for a balance of curricular objectives with family life--this is a guiding factor in my every effort, and I am especially mindful of its mandate when it comes to the computer lab's adding to the homework load

  • I am rethinking my home letter from last year and completely redrafting it for clarity and stress reduction!

*From the Strategic plan:

5. Creating Balance in Life
It is important to maintain a healthy, cooperative
balance between responsibilities at home,
in school, and in the wider community.
We will:

bring students, teachers, and parents
together to determine ways to manage
academic, co-curricular, and non-school

conduct a K-12 curriculum review mindful
of our commitment to helping faculty,
students, and their families establish and
maintain a healthy balance with regard to
school commitments.

explore scheduling alternatives to support
our commitment to establishing and
sustaining this healthy balance.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Week of October 8! and "Free Choice Options"

This week we're all working on typing/keyboarding skills acquisition. I've posted enough about those to indicate which programs, etc., we're working with, and I can report that textbooks will come home with 4th graders next week so that they can begin working from home. I'll send a letter home with the textbooks with all kinds of detailed information, but the most important thing to remember is this: If there are internet connectivity issues for your child at home, we'll do everything in our power to allow them time during the school day to work with the program. It might take some creative scheduling, but the 4th grade team and I want to see to it that every one of our 4th graders has ample opportunity to improve his or her typing skills.

Well, there is another "most important thing." HOME ROW KEY POSITION!!! ALWAYS!!!

More on that later :)

I also want to report that over the past several weeks I've been soliciting suggestions for "Free Choice" in the computer lab (for those times when the work is done and choice itself is an option. These suggestions are being pre-reviewed by my capable HS lab assistant, Dylan Pittman, the 9th grader who comes to help in the lab twice a week this semester. I'll likely post Dylan's pre-review here, then I'll certainly take my own look at these and add them to the Webliographer in the "Free Choices" topic. This project should be completed within a couple more weeks. Meanwhile, here are the sites we're looking at, less the ones already on the Webliographer!

Added to Webliographer
-Typer Shark
Other Suggestions
-Lemonade Stand
-Club Penguin

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Everybody's Typing!

The keyboard retains center stage this week, as we continue our introduction of Keyboarding for Kids (I call it "K4K") with the 4th graders. 3rd and 2nd graders continue work with Type to Learn 3 and we are using the freeware "Drawing for Children" program to do some very light work in that area with the Kindergarten and 1st graders.

This is a fun new activity for the 1st graders, using the "draw text" feature to fill a page with one's own name--in as many sizes, colors, styles, fonts, and directions as we can manage in the two class periods we have to work on the project. I'll have a fun slideshow featuring some of the children's efforts here soon!

The Kinderkids are working into much of the same content but at a much more gentle pace. So far they've worked up to typing their own names three times on a page but in different colors. We'll take a break from that path next week and do a serious Boowa and Kwala lesson on "Click, Drag, and Drop!"

On the K4K topic, we'll continue using the program in the lab for at least two more weeks before sending home textbooks and adding daily practice to the homework list. There'll be more on tha tas we get closer to sending them home.

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