USN Lower School Technology!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Rolling into May!

Wow, it's hard to believe that May is just around the next midnight! We'll be off into our summer worlds in no time. Still, we're hard at work in the Technology for Learning Lab.

Third graders are doing differing things in the lab this week according to the needs of their teachers' classrooms. Ms. McKay's class started exploring the Japan Study links on our Webliographer and Ms. Blankenships students continued searching and copying/pasting/printing pictures to cut out for their Thailand reports. Ms. Anitra's young'uns will do the webliographer work for their China studies and Ms. Webb's will follow suit for India.

Fourth graders are pulling digital photos from the network folder their teachers have saved them in, into brief Photostory3 for Windows "photostories," fun movies made from still pictures. In the course of that they're learning a bit about picture and video formats and learning a valuable tool they can use this summer to make fun movies from their vacation pictures.

Kinders and 1sters are drawing in Drawing for Children, the freeware of choice for the lab, illustrating a favorite activity in Kindergarten or 1st grade from a list we have brainstormed on the Smartboard. I hope to compile welcome shows for next year's entering K and 1 students from these: Maybe I'll use Photostory!

2nd graders are also exploring the webliographer, but they are taking the lab time to explore the dozens of good links we have compiled over the years in the "Insects" topic. Ask them to tell you some things they found! We'll share these out next week--nothing helps learning quite so powerfully as teaching and sharing about something.

FYI the date for us to hear about State and Regional winners from the Doodle4Google competition is May 12. I'll have a report right here just as soon as we do...

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Friday, April 25, 2008

More "Ultracompact" News

The XO take-home project has generated a lot of interest in the category of computers that's come to be called "ultracompact." While the XO is not available for purchase inside the US (save for large district wide initiatives like Birminghams) there is a race to market that may benefit consumers, especially parents who might like their children to have their own computer (how to put a price tag on keeping them off the one you need for work from home?).

From this morning I found an info packed listing of already (or soon-to-be) available ultracompacts. I hope that if you're looking for one this helps you find the one that is right for your child or yourself.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day Week--Opportunities to Teach and Learn

This week as we roll over the middle of April Hill, looking ahead into May Valley, I'm pleased to treat our Lower School Students to a plethora of ways to look at the way we are treating our planet. I discovered the fantastic "Story of Stuff" website yesterday and almost scrapped everything to share that with the kids, but after my second viewing of the 20 minute film I decided that it might be better shared with older kids, and certainly with friends and family who are adults. Hey, you're probably an adult! Get yourself a cup of free market coffee and watch The Story of Stuff.

Here's the breakdown of activities in the lab, in the order of the daily classes:

  • 3rd and 4th graders get a brief intro to the concept of hyperlinking, with asides about Wikipedia and Google, necessary for the activity to follow. Then they go to their computer stations and click through the network folder path to the document I prepared for them to 1) find and add at least three bulleted lines of linked resources, and 2) link at least three times within the text of the document. They're also working (see pic above!) on Word documents their teachers are calling "4th Grade Memoirs." It's never boring in here!
  • Kindergarteners visit Boowa and Kwala and help them clean up litter in a badly messed up river, sorting the appropriate materials into their appropriate containers. This is fun, as is the section's song, "Superheroes of the World."
  • 1st graders are watching Magic School Bus's "Recycling" video, served up on our internal Safari Media server. It's heartening to hear them singing the theme song and bursting into rhythmical clapping at the right times, and in the right time!
  • 2nd graders visit the Webliographer to play the Great Green Earth game, hosted by the Union of Concerned Scientists. It's a java-based game that offers them a thought-provoking series of multiple choice questions to answer, geared to help them increase awareness of the impact their own choices can make on our planet. Did you know that burning a gallon of gasoline releases around 20 pounds of carbon monoxide gas into our atmosphere, far more than the weight of the original liquid? I didn't, but I do now!
As we move through May, I'll be helping my students get ready to move on up into their next year of learning (and teaching). Be sure to follow along!

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Graphs, Folk Tales, Business Cards, Base Ten, and Podcasts--What do they have in common?

They are all pursuits of the students these past couple weeks in the Lower School computer lab, that's what! I'll have pictures soon, but I wanted to get my "digital newsletter out--I'll add them later.

The third and fourth graders have been working with Excel graphing in their lab sessions, turning meaningful data (how many traveled, and where, over Spring Break; and what times we go to bed on school nights and non-school nights) into graphs and then manipulating the design factors to their liking. Kindergarteners and 1st graders did some Drawing for Children last week, creating Spring pictures and then visited a wonderful Folk Tales website this week. 1st graders worked with Base Ten skill-practice from the Webliographer, and Second graders have spent the past two weeks working with a template in Microsoft Word to create business cards for their group created businesses. I hope that many of you parents will be coming to their Business Day on Monday--check the 2nd grade newsletter for more information!

More later!!!

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

USN Doodle4Google Winners Announced!

The judges (Steve Smail, Web Manager, and Jeff Goold, Publication Design Editor) have done their durndest and the 6 entries for the Doodle 4 Google competition have now been selected! Everyone of the several hundred entries was stellar, and I'm still considering ways to share them with our blog readers. Stay tuned!

Pending receipt of parental consent forms and artist statements, the entries are, from youngest to eldest:

Marie, Ms. Blankenship's 3rd grade:

Emily, Ms. Noel's 4th grade:

Arden, Ms. Marler's 4th grade:

Adelaide, Ms. Hunt's 4th grade:

Asha, 7th grade, Ms. Russell's Advisory:

and Sam, 12th grade, Ms. Crenshaw's advisory:

Thanks to our jurors, thanks to everyone who entered, and good luck to our six "doodlers!"

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