USN Lower School Technology!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Foggy, Chilly, and Stimulating

Hey, all,

This week in the lab we're power-moving through Powerpoints in the 4th grade. The "All About Me" powerpoint. Last week I introduced "Custom Animation" and this week in the wholeclass intoduction I emphasized the little-used feature called "Help." How many of you actually use F1 or Help when you want to do something you don't know how to do? I thought so--not many.

In the lab, I encourage my students to help one another, one reason why this room may be more chatty than other classrooms in the Lower School. They'll certainly need to know how to collaborate and learn from one another if they are to succeed in the 21st century workplace. They also need to begin to learn that just because an adult is in the room it doesn't mean that all knowledge comes from him, or from her. They need to start questioning, nurturing their inquisitiveness and exploring natures. By and large, gauging from the energetic chat I'm hearing, it's happenin' in the lab!

3rd graders are working through Type to Learn 3 and the big news for them is that I'm trialing out the new release from Sunburst, Type to Learn 4! This is a completely new build and I'm very excited about the possibility of making it available to our kids, not only in Lower School but schoolwide, K12. Also, it will provide a fun alternative to Keyboarding for Kids, especially those who have finished all the lessons later in the year.

Kinderkids and 1st graders are printing turkeys they made last week, or just beginning to work on ones they will print and bring home next week. We do this using a new twist on the old activity where a child places a hand on a piece of paper and traces it, then adds beak, legs and feet, and a wattle to create a fanciful drawing. The difference in the lab is that the child holds a hand up on the monitor screen, traces it into our freeware Drawing for Children program, and adds details and flourishes using the computer. The results are stellar! I'm going to put a slideshow of many of them, both K and 1, right here on Friday.

2nd graders continue their own pursuit of keyboarding skills with Type to Learn 3. We'll keep working through the year, intermittantly, on this to take advantage of their enthusiasm to learn, though we'll break out into other technology skills as curricula demands. For instance, this week and next we'll work with Nova's great online trebuchet. What's that? Ask your 2nd grader, and next week I'll post an answer!

That's it for the week, and for now I'm prepping for a talk to the Vanderbilt Web developers next Friday, all about Web development in Virtual Worlds. It's never boring in my neck of the woods!

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