USN Lower School Technology!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

January Means Winter at USN

Happy New Year one and all. I hope that you've had a moment to check out the wonderful parents' resource I posted last week. If you haven't yet done so, check it out and bookmark it. Parents often ask me about how best to talk to their kids about internet opportunities and potential pitfalls, and Net Cetera is one great resource for that.

What's going on here?

The Short Story:

3rd Grade--Keyboarding for Kids
4th Grade--K4K and Scratch "ABC's"
1st "Learning to Read"
2nd Grade--"Winter in Six Words" at the Winter Wonderland Wiki

The Long Story:

For the very first time, I'm introducing Keyboarding for Kids to our 3rd graders. It takes a good while to set up new accounts on this online platform, for which the school pays a considerable licensing fee, but Ellsworth Publishing's decision to take away the required textbook and go completely online has made it possible for us to do so (and well worth the time, considering the potential gain for our kids). 3rd grade teachers consulted with one another about homework loads and decided it was best not to require our 3rd graders to go online each school night and practice their typing for 10 minutes--as is the requirement in 4th grade--and I concur with that decision. That said, any work your child does online between now and the end of May, and during the summer for that matter, will incredibly increase their ease of entry into 4th grade and beyond. It's there for them if they want it, and I have to admit I'm very interested to see how many avail themselves of the opportunity we're giving them.

4th graders continue their Scratch explorations, and I'm helping students who may be falling behind in their keyboarding work by asking them to spend the first 15 minutes of their lab time online at K4K. This indicates increased vigilance over past years' practices, and I hope it will reap benefits accordingly. I have reminded the 4th graders that the computer lab is open at 7:30 each day, so if your home computer experiences issues with K4K, please help by trying to get into school early as often as possible. Thanks!

Kindergarteners and 1st graders are exploring the wonderful world of, the younger group by moving through the alphabet at the "ABC's" section and the older working through the fine online phonics activities at the "Learn to Read" units. We're keeping track of progress via a google spreadsheet to make sure the kids know where to pick up when they return to the lab next week.

2nd graders are drawing winter pictures and typing six words on them. Why? For the Winter Wonderland wiki created by California elementary teacher Vicky Sedgewick. We're modifying the requirements for the "Winter in Six Words" activity and will be recording voice to accompany each picture on a Voicethread website by the end of January. Fun! And a step toward understanding and participating in the global dialog that is the internet of the 21st century.

That's it for this week: Stay warm and safe!

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