USN Lower School Technology!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Happy Holidays to You All!

We're off for Winter Break as of noon tomorrow. I wish you all the best of the best. Safe travelling if you're traveling and happy restful staying-at-home if you're staying at home. See you next year!

Oh, this came in my mailbox yesterday as a result of our work last week!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Mix 9.29 "Cards from Kids" Project!

This week we've ALL been drawing, digitally of course, holiday greeting cards to be delivered to Middle Tennessee homeless shelters and nursing homes by the fine folks at Mix 92.9 radio, part of their Cards from Kids program.

K, 1, and 2 kiddos used Drawing for Children, the freeware drawing program we use at school, and the 3rd and 4th graders learned how to use some of the great design features in Microsoft Powerpoint to create a single slide "presentation" and save it as a .jpg. In the course of it all we talked a little about image file formats (in the older grades) and about how lucky we are and our responsibility to help others whenever we can.

Of course, in true USN style we used the card message you see on the pictures accompanying this post, along with images from not only Christmas, but also Hanukah, Kwanzaa, and any other winter holiday the kids chose to feature. We did not add our names to these pictures, by the way, since we are sending the cards out to people we do not know and we do provide the school location. A little chat about safety also came along with the community outreach charge, and we did have fun doing them.

As you prepare for your own family's holiday, be sure to thank your child for participating in this project!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Powerpoint and Time!

Yep, it's that time again, 3rd and 4th graders are crafting "All About Me" powerpoints and in doing so discovering some of the power that Powerpoint brings to the desktop. I will be featuring just 2 or 3 mini-lesson type tips and tricks at the outset of each session during this little "unit" (this week it was the "views," normal, slidesorter, and slideshow from current slide) and the outcome will be a 5 slide (minimum) shareable slideset from each child. The final week before Winter holidays, we'll be randomly sharing these at the projector and discussing the tools used and the tricks learned.

This year I'm adding some direct instruction showcasing the Help (F1) function on Powerpoint. It's just remarkable that many of us (myself included!!!) haven't spent any time at all using Office Help. Did you know that the Help "Table of Contents" includes topics like "12 simple rules for working with color" and "Unconventional tips for eliminating the fear of public speaking?" Other Office applications, and indeed most software programs, contain Help features that teams of dedicated people put a lot of thought and work into. Try this? Go into Word or Powerpoint and spend 10 minutes in its Help table of contents. Complain personally to me if you didn't learn at least one new useful or valuable thing!

1st and 2nd graders are working with analog and digital time-telling, accessing one of the currently nine URLs in the "Time and Clocks" topic on our webliographer. These options represent a wide range of skill-level practice, from simply moving numbers to their proper places on a clock face to playing "Stop the Clock" to match sets of five digital times to their correct matching analog displays in the shortest amount of time possible.

Kindergartners are either checking out the Winter holiday offerings at or creating and printing holiday drawings with Drawing for Children, at the teacher's discretion. The Boowa and Kwala Premium@School offers 25 separate song and game possibilities relating to the Winter holidays. And Drawing for Chil'ren is full of stamps whose appearance can be customized for creating pleasing patterns and magnificant montages.

Ms. Blankenship's 3rd graders are working in Word to create beautiful original poetry, and the fourth grade classes are utilizing their Writing Process blocks for their own formal verse endeavors. Never a dull moment!

Have a great week and stay warm and safe!

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