USN Lower School Technology!

Monday, October 27, 2008

artclectic 2008 Slideshows!!!

Hey, all,

artclectic 2008 has come and gone, and I saw so many of you there that I might easily believe we saw 100% attendance from our families. However, I was listening to my young charges as we talked about USN's wonderful, fabulous, beautiful annual art show during classes last week, so I'm sharing the ~1000 pictures I took to chronicle this year's event here. I put them all up in my Google picasaweb albums for easy viewing by students, families, artists, and art lovers all over the world. Play each slideshow to view, and if you see a picture you want to save, just click on the slideshow image again to visit the album proper. Then click "View Album" and find your pic, and follow the googleintuitive directions to save it to your hard drive.

I did not get to "loadout" on Sunday, and I'm looking forward to my photomentor Kimberly Manz's sets from that day. I'll add another show or a link to her (admittedly much more professional) work just as soon as I get it!

Feel free to leave your comments or questions at the bottom of this post!

Slideshow 1, artclectic2008 setup and Patrons Party:

Slideshow 2, artclectic2008 setup and Education Day:

Slideshow 3, artclectic2008 Community Party:

Slideshow 4, artclectic2008 Saturday:

Slideshow 5, artclectic Sunday:

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

October artclectic week!

artclectic, USN's spectacular annual art show and sale, is close to my heart, since my dear wife Lee Ann, USN Arts Coordinator, is the prime mover of the event. It's HUGE, with dozens and dozens of dedicated parent volunteers working for weeks before the event. See for more information, and I most of all want to encourage everyone to come and see this year's offerings, work by 52 artists, 22 of them completely new to the show, from 10 states (including Hawaii!).

Details are at the artclectic website.

This week in the lab I'm sharing parts of the video I made, "artclectic, selected art from selected artists," with my own original (excepting one "traditional) instrumental recordings. It's around 30 minutes long and I'm pretty happy with it. If you have a fast internet connection, feel free to download and view it from USN, where I'm storing a "smaller" version of it for website publication. The larger version does more justice to the art, but if you want to spend a pleasant half hour with some stellar art in the privacy of your home, have at it. It's a ~154 Mb .wmv file, so it may be a long download for you! I hope to put it up at YouTube later in the week. At the same location is a smaller movie about the whole event that I put together last year, using podcast safe music from

It's the last week for Keyboarding for Kids in the computer lab for 4th graders, and the 3rd graders are moving well into Type to Learn 3, honing those beginning skills that they'll need to be refining over the next few years. Kindergarteners are starting to draw digitally, taking first tentative steps into the world of freeware program Drawing for Children. This program is free for download, and you can find it by visiting the Downloads section of our Webliographer. After a very brief introduction at the projector screen, the K-kiddos are asked to go open the program, choose a tool, and write their name at least once, raising their hand when finished. The teacher assistant or I then save the file locally and reset the page so the more fun work of exploring the tools can begin. Each week over the next several I'll share one or two important tools or skills with D4C and then set them about discovering new ones on their own. Ah, Guided Discovery Learning. I love my job.

1st graders will be diving back into Drawing for Children for the first time this year, and I differentiate for them this week by having them draw their names as many times, and in as many colors, with as many tools, as they can. The results, even this early in the week, are heartening. Here are a couple:

Second graders are creating abstract illustrations in Paint, then saving them in their "My Documents/My Pictures" folders so they can find them when we go back in and paste them into Word next week, resize them to fit the whole page, and format the images to washout in order to make personal stationery for their letter writing unit. It's interesting how engaging this can be, and how successful otherwise sometimes behavior- or focus-challenged kids can be when faced with a computer-enabled creative task. Here's one second grader's work, 20 minutes in a program he'd never used before. Don't you think it'll make a nice stationery design?:

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Friday, October 10, 2008

The Week Before Fall Break!

It's been a good, solid week here in the computer lab, with my big project being gettin' the 72 Keyboarding for Kids textbooks for 4th graders purchased up to par, editing the instructions and the parent letter to be sent home with each one, and labeling each one appropriately in an effort to reduce the number of replacement textbooks we'll have to buy for students in 4th grade next year. All done, the books went home yesterday. I gather that the typing practice homework will not start showing up until next week, but I'm cheered that quite a few 4th graders have made it a point to let me know they've logged in successfully from their home computers.

I'm very serious about what I say in the letter. Do not by any stretch of the imagination make this assignment a new point of conflict or stress in your homes. It's supposed to be good practice, first and foremost, and if a few lessons get missed I'm okay with that (though Ms. Marler may not be!) :).

I took a brief jaunt in to history with K and 1st graders this week, sharing how 'way back in 1999 the wonderful website began by releasing a single online chapter of the book, "Around the World in 12 Songs with Boowa and Kwala," and I set them onto exploring the marvelous online offerings that have been built by this creative husband and wife team and their creative staff since then. There are hours of safe, kind, gentle learning experiences at the site--not a whit of sarcasm or meanness to be had; and I'm proud to have helped contribute to the fact that there are now (as of this writing) 7551 schools around the world using the resources to help children play and learn on the computer. Funny, when I logged in with the Kindergarteners this morning, there were 7550 schools. We're proud to have been school number 1 in their baby steps to success and service.

2nd and 3rd graders either began or continued their journey into touch-typing with Type to Learn 3, and as I've mentioned I'm resolved to stay with it, with them, for a good bit before moving onto other skills and other programs and online resources. It's that important.

Next week, I'll be away in New Orleans for the Internet2 fall meeting, where I've been invited to speak on a panel about Virtual Environments. There's complete info about that at the News site for the Vanderbilt Center for Science Outreach. Stellar sub Ellen Hicks will be here on Tuesday and Wednesday, then we're off to Fall Break! That said, you probably won't hear from me here next week. If you're missing the stream of consciousness feel free to google my name :)

Cheers, and thanks again for sharing your wonderful children with me!

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

Parent Teacher Conference Week, a short 'un

Greetings, all,

This week is a landmark one, and I'll finish landmarking it next week, since this one is a short one. We're out after half-day Thursday and then off Friday. Classroom teachers will be holding parent-teacher conferences during the "off" times and they are looking forward to seeing everyone to talk with you about your wonderful children.

What's the landmark? For the very first time I'm introducing 2nd graders to touch-typing, for real, with Type to Learn 3. This is a fun, challenging but not too-much-so, animated computer program designed to instill home-row-key typing skills in its users. We'll be spending considerable time this year in the computer lab working through its 25 lessons, or as far as we can go with it before other imperatives in the lab force us to move on and relegate its lessons to the realm of "free choice options." By the way, I also added several new links in the Webliographer's "Keyboarding" topic section, to online practice websites, and we'll explore those intentionally as the weeks go on, giving 2nd and 3rd graders resources that they can use anytime, anywhere, to practice their touch typing.

This decision is largely one based on the broad progress in our children's writing output brought about by last year's writing initiatives in the lower school. I believe that as children are writing more they should have the option of typing and if they are typing any significant amount they should begin learning correct (efficient) keyboarding skills so that they don't develop the incorrect (inefficient) ones that they may be forced to "unlearn" to improve upon. So right now, with 4th graders knee-deep into Keyboarding for Kids, and 2nd graders joining 3rd graders in Type to Learn 3, we are all about typing in the Lower School Technology for Learning lab.

All, that is, except the Kindergarten and 1st graders, who are all about K-1 Go Here, the little portal I long ago designed for those whippersnappers at our Webliographer. These young folks began to explore the other three "centers" at the portal this week, including Li'l Fingers Storybooks, PBSKids Between the Lions, and one of my very favorites, Boobah. We'll look more closely at those three kid-friendly sites over the next couple of weeks before jumping into computer-facilitated art, or "artputer."

That's all this week, excepting for a couple of pictures I'd like to share in a slideshow. Note the glee on the faces of the Kindergarteners who explored the completely wordless (all image and sound) Boobah, especially the one child who discovered that one of the characters he could play with on using his mouse was a ringer for his father, so he made all the characters on the screen into his dad! Also note the seriousness in the eyes of the 2nd graders. That's a good thing (though they're having fun, too, especially with the "Key Figures" in history that they are rewarded with during one of Type to Learn 3's activities.

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