USN Lower School Technology!

Monday, March 31, 2008

April Roaring In, Lionlike!

Good. Some rain, some cool weather--makes me look for that welcome lamb at the end of the month. I can't believe there are only seven more weeks in the school year, and we plan to make best use of every day here in the Lower School computer lab.

First, my apologies for dragging my virtual feet on posting here. With the XO laptop sign-out program and doodle4google both happening in ways that needed some extra public-relations work, I didn't want to cloud up the top of the blog with new posts. Now we'll get back on track with weekly posts. The in-school "d4g" program deadline is now passed, and the jury are about their work selecting which six worthy submissions will head out of USN toward Google's judges by the 12th of April. This time of year it's hard to get 4 teachers in one room at one time that hasn't been scheduled all along, but we're using the neat little tool '' to agree on meeting times.

Here's what's been going on in the lab, just to catch up:

We spent much of last week working on graphing at the NCES "Kidszone" Create-a-graph website. This is a great free online tool, and I wanted its gentle introduction to graphing K-4--with the exception of 2nd grade--(the littlest kids entered birth-month data with tally marks on the smartboard and visited while I created a pie graph for them to see when it was time to go, and the 3rd and 4th graders entered their data and then made their own graphs, finishing up by emailing them to their teachers).

2nd graders, embarking on a study of business and businesses, got an introduction to the fine little freeware program "My Lemonade Stand," once available from its designer in the UK but now incorporated into a rather costly package of educational software (we're using the freeware version I got long ago). In it, students have 30 days to build a $2.00 virtual bank into as much profit as they can by selling lemonade. Factors to consider include the weather forecast, cost to make a single glass, how many to produce for sale, and what to charge for a single glass. Any of these can make a business work or not, and in the course of playing students begin to see how complex running any business can be.

This week we're moving the graphing work, grades 3 and 4, to Microsoft Excel, first creating a simple pie graph with information about Spring Break travel, then learning how to manipulate the graphic elements to make for a more interesting result. 2nd graders will have another go at making their fortunes with lemonade, and K and 1st graders will be drawing and printing pictures on the theme of springtime with Drawing for Children. They so love to print their drawings and I find I need to humor that desire at least occasionally!

Lastly, I should report a fabulous conference workshop experience last Friday at the Tennessee Ass'n of Independent Schools Technology Institute in Memphis. I was lucky enough to help with famed edublogger Will Richardson's three presentations, one on Weblogs in Schools; one on Podcasts, Vodcasts and Screencasts; and one on RSS. If you want to learn more about any of these, a great place to start would be by treating yourself to his keynote address from Friday, or to one of the three sessions I archived for him at my video repository. It's all described at

I'm sealin' this post but I may be back! One of the beauties of blogging is the ease of editing!

By the way, you might notice the clustrmap in the sidebar looks a little sparse. That's only because clustrmap archives visits and starts over after it's been runnin' on a site for a year. Since this post is otherwise graphic-less, here's what last year's map looks like! It's not exactly the announcement of a franchise, but more an opportunity to thank those of you who find this blog worthwhile! THANK YOU!!!

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Friday, March 07, 2008


Last week we looked at the doodle4google competition, a fantastic opportunity for U.S. K-12 students to "mod out" the Google logo and win a $10,000 college scholarship. All the details are here at the program website. The theme? The wide-open "What if...?"

Each registered school in the nation may submit only 6 entries in the competition, and those must be sent in by April 12. After that, the selection process pace quickens (through state, regional, and finalist levels--somewhat like American Idol runs down to its final contestants: there'll actually be a 3 day period of public voting) until its culmination on May 22, when the national winning doodle will be featured as Google's website logo for a period of 24 hours. Regional and finalist contestants will win a trip to the Googleplex, a sprawling headquarters of the corporation, to be in attendance for the award ceremonies the day before.

At USN, we'll be accepting googledoodles in any medium (the final 6 must be physically mailed via "snailmail" bearing the alphanumeric keys issued by Google) until March 31 at 3 pm. Then an independent jury will choose the USN entries. Since there are four levels--K-3, 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12--from which the final four national finalists will be chosen, it makes sense to send at least one entry from each of the grade level groups, then the other two will be selected across the board from the ones the jury feels have the best chance of winning. it should be fun!

If you want to download the templates to print out for your child to sketch or complete, visit the "Forms" page at Google.

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