USN Lower School Technology!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Goodbye, November!

Thanksgiving break was a nice respite for the Merricks and I hope it was for you and yours as well. 4th graders are back and working on Keyboarding for Kids as often as they can, developing ever more fluent keyboarding skills with every effort. In computer class, both 3rd and 4th grades are starting to work in Powerpoint, each student creating a slide presentation named "All About Me," or some variant of that, and using it as a discovery learning foundation, around which they will explore as much of what the program can do as time and guidance will allow. I tell them, and it's true, that every time I sit down with the program with discovery in mind I learn something more about it, and as I watch these initial explorations I am encouraged by the discussion and interaction I see going on as they share their discoveries with fellow classmates. Watch for examples of their work here by the start of the new year.

K, 1, and 2 are in Boowa and Kwala this week. I rarely take the 2nd graders there but having introduced the Premium@School lesson 31 to K and lessons 31 and 32 to 1, I wanted to see how facile the 2nd graders would be in locating the solutions to the "Spot the Differences" puzzles presented in the pages lesson 32 presents. They're HARD! But fun, and this sort of activity allows children to exercise discriminatory skills while also helping one another. The lab is abuzz with chat while they find up to 20 differences in very detailed drawings. The younger kids have every bit as much fun with the less detailed, but animated, sets in lesson 31. As a reminder, these Premium@School lessons are only available to students from school machines, not from home, since it's a password protected service offered by the fine folks at It is quite possible to purchase a premium account for your child but I encourage children to enjoy the free version of the website at home and save the premium fun for our "@School" work.

Have a wonderful start to your December and we'll look for you here next week! I may need to get a picture or two today or tomorrow to put up here for you. The collaboration in the lab is at a peak this week!

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Free Choices Thanksgiving Break Week!

The bar graph above illustrates (in order of their appearance in the lab) self-reported free choices exercised by my students in the Lower School Technology for Learning Lab this morning. It's the one day of classes this week, and as such I'm offering the full class session for free choice, as long as each time a student makes a selection it's noted on the board.

The graph was created in Google Documents, which we'll be using soon in the upper grades!

Everyone have a safe and fun and thankful break!

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Welcome to Lower School Open House!

I welcome visitors to the Lower School Technology for Learning Lab today. I see all 352 Lower School students in the lab at least once a week for instruction and activities related to necessary computer skills, linked to the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) "NETS" (National Educational Technology Standards for Students. ISTE is the nationally recognized organization of educators and educational technologists the world looks to for standards, leadership, and resources for technology in education.

This blog is one of many that I maintain, and I have done quite a bit of presenting to teachers on both local and national levels, hoping to share what I've learned about technology with other teachers.

My teaching philosophy can be seen at my online teaching portfolio, but I'll reprint it here for your easy access:

I believe that every child has the right to learn to his or her own optimal potential in a safe, welcoming, and nurturing educational space. I believe that as long as there is life, there is learning.

I believe that human beings are on this fine green globe to help one another. I agree with Henry James, who when asked what the three most important things about being a human being were replied, "The first is to be kind, the second is to be kind, and the third? To be kind."

I know that each child is unique. I know that there is no single pedagogical practice that is the be-all an end-all to teaching's effectiveness. A universe of philosophies and styles exists, and a teacher may succeed best by awareness of as many of these as possible, and by applying them within the framework of an individual child's learning style and abilities. I believe that high expectations, gently and consistently applied, yield great learning rewards.

I think that the teacher who can transcend society's failure to grant professional status to her/his calling and who continually learns toward effectively teaching can do more good in one academic year than most highly remunerated professionals can accomplish in a career.

I believe that I am blessed to be able to share in motivating the learning lives of children, and I hold that charge in utmost regard.