USN Lower School Technology!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The First Full Week!

Well it's really Tuesday and I've really just said "see ya next week" to my first class of 2nd graders to login to Type to Learn, Jr. toward embarking on a long relationship with touch typing. It's a very gentle introduction, and today's class went very well. I have no doubt the classes the rest of this week will follow suit.

First graders, for whom this is the first week of full days, came in and got the much abbreviated AUP talk I wrote about last week. It's of crucial importance to me that we have a beginning of the year dialog about the right choices in computer use, and the rules that make our network safe and reliable for all of us. We had that talk, and next week, it's Boowa and Kwala here we come!

Kindergarteners got a sorting out onto their assigned computer number seating places, a 3 sentence version of the AUP, a dismantling of a computer mouse, and a short preview of, where we'll go first thing next week. The free-to-schools version of the site is wonderful, safe, exciting, and rife with kindness as its driving theme. Years ago, I helped work up (with the creator of the website) the schools version of the site, which offers 50 lessons with 4 activities each in a scaffolded introduction to computer skills, from mouse floatover to higher-level thinking activities. Well, most everything is higher-level than mouse floatover, isn't it! I'm proud to lay claim to USN's being school number 1 of the now 7169 participating schools all around the world.

Fourth graders got the sermon about the value of keyboarding and the dangers of going about the learning half-heartedly and logged into the Keyboarding Online website to continue their own journey in touch typing. It's a proven learning platform, and the children will reap from it what their drive and determination sows. I'll be sending home a note about the program when, in three or four weeks, all students are comfortable enough with expectations and process to send home textbooks so they can practice every day. It'll be soooooo good for them to improve typing skills, and so supportive of the dynamic 4th grade team's writing programs.

Third graders were treated to a more detailed version of the AUP, since they did not come in last week, the exception being Ms. Bryant's class, which I wanted to "AUP" last week due to my upcoming absence on Sept. 5th. I'll be in Tampa for the Second Life Community Conference, as a representative of the International Society for Technology in Education, ISTE, and helping deliver sessions into that virtual world via streaming video.

That's the haps for this week, ya'll. It's such a joy to see your children's bright and eager faces and to reacquaint myself with their individual personalities. A term my retired colleague Kathy Woods used to use (in another context) applies: It's almost "an embarrassment of riches!" See the slideshow below for an example--more will be added over the coming week!

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Monday, August 18, 2008


I'm VERY excited to see your children this week, mostly up and down the halls, as K and 1st grade won't be coming in since their first week is half-days; and 3rd, their computer time being the very first thing in the day, will wait until next week to begin stopping in. I'll see the 2nd grades and the 4th grades, though (assuming their teachers want to bring them by) and this is the week we won't be getting to computers, but rather spending time talking with one another about how computers should, and must, be used in our school setting.

There's a very formal, legalistic document that everyone should know about, since by coming to USN everyone agrees to abide by it. It's called the "Acceptable Use Policy," and I don't know of a computer-using school that doesn't have some version of it. From the very youngest to my old 4th graders, we'll talk about AUP at the beginning of every school year. I'll scale it down for all the kids, since it's really no fun to read, presenting some with pictures, some with a Powerpoint, and playing the grand old game "Concentration" with others.

We'll also talk about the basics in the lab--where everyone sits, how everyone enters the room, and take a good look at how I've completely remodeled the computer lab, having taken advantage of the carpet replacement to move things around. Drop by a bit later in the school year to see: I've cleared the front third of the room for floor seating, moved my desk up front, and rearranged computer tables from their longstanding positions around the rooms perimeter to three pods of six computers, and I think everyone's really going to like it!

Welcome, welcome, and welcome! All 352 of our friends!!!

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Hello Friends and Colleagues, 2008-9!

We're gearing up for a wonderful school year, and I've spruced up the USN Lower School Webliographer to suit the brightest year yet, the academic year 2008-9! Working mostly from home, excepting for the times I need to drive into campus to attend technical training meetings for our new Student Information System, I'm setting up the new system with the help of the new classlists, the new room numbers, and some new teachers! I'm not sure that you know that 3rd grade teacher Lara Webb (about to have her first child) will be replaced for this school year by the marvelous Kari Bryant, and that our Allison Dent will be starting the year but will take off around 4 weeks into it to have her second child. Michelle Moseley moves into the 2nd grade team to replace California-bound Katie Lang, and the wonderful Betsy Hoffman returns to 1st grade to fill Michelle's spot.

We welcome some new families into the community, especially those new to Kindergarten; and also one new 4th grader, two new 3rd graders, 2 new 2nd graders, and 9 new 1st graders! Thanks to new carpet and paint in the Lower School wing over the summer, the computer lab layout has been completely rethought and redone, exchanging the years-old seating plan for one with three pods of 6 students and opening up the room with more floor seating for demonstration sessions and clear lines of visibility from each seated station. I taught 7 teachers a week-long class in the revamped lab this summer and I was extremely pleased with the way the new plan made it easy to see and work with them.

I am soooo looking forward to the school year. See you soon!!!

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