USN Lower School Technology!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

We're Really Working Now!

It's a busy time in the computer lab, with these things going on:

3rd graders are opening Scratch projects that interest them (a great number of projects download with the program and are easily accessible with a few clicks) and are charged with the assignment to find one element of one project that they want to investigate, then to look at the script that makes it work and be ready next week to demonstrate it. This is a purely learner-driven exercise that I hope will result in lively discussion during computer lab next week! Parents, if you haven't downloaded Scratch for your home computers, it's FREE, it's safe, and it's available at MIT's Scratch Wiki!

4th graders are being introduced to online tutorials that demonstrate quite clearly how to use Scratch to create a simple animated story. These are at a site called, and are accompanied by download links to the templates they describe. I am already seeing students developing their own self-motivations and exercising wonderful degrees of curiosity about Scratch, and I'm sincerely striving for some great examples of student work in the platform by the end of the school year. How many more weeks? 

Speaking of "Time," I'm encouraging Quest Atlantis work go on at the end of lab periods, during inclement weather indoor recesses, and at home, as we venture into Scratch. We have to get started with these things earlier next year! I do want to share one thing here from Quest Atlantis, however. One of the Quests, "What a Novel Idea!" encourages student Questers to create a piece of artwork. Here's the charge:
We are trying to write the events of the recent past so others can learn about Atlantis. Have you read the comic or the novel? Anyway, we would love some illustrations or other art forms that would help others learn about Atlantis and our mission. Would you please help us? The artwork could show what our environment was like prior to the destruction of the Arch of Wisdom, the problems afterwards, our mission, and even how this might relate to similar problems on Earth. Thank you for your aid and support! We are anxious to see what you create.
Further directions tell the student to bring their work to their teacher so he or she can take a digital picture to upload along with the Quest submission. Well, Ruby, one of my lovely 4th grade Questers, brought to me a little foam piece sculpture she'd created for the Quest. Here's a picture of her with the work, and a close-up:


I soooooo look forward to seeing what other students create for future Quests! And I'll add that the writing one gets from invested and guided students in Quest Atlantis continues to improve with time. Acting as a reviewer for their work, I have become much more than a computer teacher: I'm a writing coach and an ethics guide. I absolutely love it...

Kinderkids and 1st graders are repeating their drawing exercise, this time challenged to depict themselves and their families with the tools in Drawing for Children. See last week's post for the finished slideshows from their "How I Spent my Spring Break" work. This kind of work helps kids understand that there is an audience for their work, underscores our increased dedication to refraining from frequent printing of "artputer" work, and hopefully allows parents to celebrate their children's work at home. K and 1 parents, click on the slideshow you're interested in viewing, click again and you'll be transported to, the hosting site for the images, where you can view the slideshows in larger format, view all the pictures on a single screen, find your child's, and download it to your home computer to print and/or use as your new computer desktop image! When the family pictures are finished, I'll process them similarly! Here's one to whet your imagination!

2nd graders this week are creating business cards for today's (and tomorrow's, in some classrooms) annual Market Day, when the malls open in the classroom to celebrate the culmination of the 2nd grade unit on Business. Each student opened the same Word file, a simple template with one sample formatted card, then highlighted each element she or he wished to edit and typed their business information. The resulting card was saved, and I did the grunt work of editing and copying and pasting into the remaining 9 fields in the Avery-style form, then printing each child's on business card template paper. The resulting cards look like this:

and I printed them off, one sheet to each of my 72 2nd graders, and delivered them to their teachers. I wish their business efforts great success!

See ya next week!!!

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