USN Lower School Technology!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

February Marches On!

Another big week in the lab, as:

Kinderkids explored lesson number 43 at UpToTen Premium@Schools, now up to 8,377 schools using it; and I have to brag again about our being school NUMERO UNO! This lesson contains four activities classified as "Advanced Mouse and Keyboard" work and the kids had great fun with them--filling a honeycomb with honey from flowers, helping a mole through a tunnel, mousing Zoombunny up into the air to collect acorns and carrots, and finally using keyboard arrows to play a very serviceable version of the old game Brickmaster called "Breaking Bricks." Click the pic above for a detailed descripton.

1st graders explored the Webliographer for resources I've stored there relating to Weather. Some particularly liked the 15 or 20 word "word searches" while others gravitated to the "Water Goes Around" construct-your-own water cycle activity.

2nd graders visited the Webliographer for Mystery links, and explored especially the Fin, Furr, and Feather Federal Bureau of Investigation.

3rd graders cracked open Timez Attack (free version) to take their little guy through a very very nice 3D environment picking up math facts along the way then demonstrating their retention of them by tossing them at a pretty scary ogre who their math releases from a secret door. When the ogre is conquered by the smarts of the player, he disappears into thin air (not "killed," I emphasize, because the next door will surely see him released again) and another door, containing another math fact, is sought. It's a fun, well conceived and expertly executed game, the free version of which (the only limitation is that there is only one environment option, and more can be purchased at the site; but I don't encourage that--to the maker's credit, new environments are not required for full functionality) is downloadable at the Webliographer's Downloads topic or by visiting the TimezAttack website. Parents, if you wonder about the value of playing games for learning, visit and view the excellent intro video at

And, ahem, speaking of games, we (4th graders and I) proceed apace into Quest Atlantis, learning more about the worlds in which we are increasingly engaged. My email 9within QA) to all of the kids this week encouraged them to seek a sense of balance by limiting game play on their own, balancing it with homework, family time, outside play, reading, and other ways to be entertained. Their enthusiasm is sooooo clearly present (I overgeneralize somewhat here--we still have some confusion and mixed reaction and we're working with that) and I'm glad for that, but the last thing anyone wants is for this engaging platform to dominate playtime inordinately. But I will argue to the wall that if there's "screentime" available and there's a choice between a DVR'd episode of iCarly or the Simpsons and Quest Atlantis and a child chooses the latter, a good choice has been made!

We're beginning to get into some missions and quests now, and in addition to the basic iBurst quest and Shardflower Social Commitments mission, the kids are unlocking some interesting things, such as fighting blights with magical critters and seeking out a playable giant piano to commit to Creativity. I'll soon have samples of writing so that you can begin to truly understand the power of this platform to motivate and inspire. I'm also beginning to take a little video of the action in the lab when the kids are all on at once. It's wild!

That's all for this week!

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