USN Lower School Technology!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Middle of February

The Short Story:
3rd Grade--K4K
4th Grade--Math Options: TimezAttack, Multiflyer, and ArithmAttack
Kindergarten--Starfall-- Learn to Read
1st grade--Starfall-- It's Fun to Read

The Long Story:
3rd Grade--Third graders continue their orientation to Keyboarding for Kids, the online-accessible touch-typing learning system we are using with them for the very first time this year. It is so important that they are typing through the lessons using "home row key position" so that they can learn to type without looking at their hands, so if your child is working on this at home (and quite a few, to my pleasant surprise, are!) please remind them to use that approach to typing! Finally, I have added the K4K Troubleshooting support page to the Webliographer for those who want their children to work on their typing but may be encountering difficulties connecting to it online.
4th Grade--We have used the computer lab so much this year for writing related work that it struck me that we need to be sure not to overlook some of the other benefits computers and online resources can bring to bear on our learning. Consequently, I offer our 4th graders three options this week (see above, The Short Story, for links). All three take an approach to learning with what is termed "skill and drill" technique--sort of a technology-enhanced flashcardKin approach, and it's been interesting to see the choices the students make. Predictably, the "ArithmAttack" activity is overlooked: It's a simple javascript flashcard interface with timer and a running count of correct answers and incorrect ones. The Multiflyer online activity can win half the students or more--a trip through the Solar System (including the space rock formerly known as the planet Pluto) with energy points earned by entering correct multiplication products. Edging Multiflyer out in most classes is TimezAttack, from, a "defeat the troll" 3D interface which has you, the little green alien, working your way through a dark dungeon encountering trolls you must defeat by clobbering them with your multiplication problem answers. The whole educational foundation of this game can be viewed at the BigBrainz website. While you're there, you may see that you can purchase a full version of this program for US$39.95. I want to emphasize that I do NOT recommend people purchase this (or any other program) for their home computers. In TimezAttack's case, the upgrade purchase provides several additional environments for practice of the same skills covered in the basic FREE version. If this is something your family decides is important, by all means, go for it.

Kindergarten--We visited Starfall a few weeks ago, and now I'm taking our Kinderkids back to "up the ante" to the next phase: Learn to Read. It's all part of my plan to get them interested in how to practice the skills their teachers are expecting them to gradually master as they get older, and practice them in a safe, interactive, fun, engaging way. I really like the way that many of's activities culminate in a printable product, but one that is printable in black and white (cost saving) and also usually includes something to be completed by the child in pencil on paper. Most kids either printed from the "Make Your Own Calendar" activity or the "All About Me" one.
1st Grade--Also working at Starfall again, but just like the Kindergarteners, they are moving up a level, and their new level is "It's Fun to Read." At Starfall, it is fun to read, and the reading contains everything from classic poems to brief information about famous painters. It's fun, it's engaging, and it's learning.
2nd Grade--Visited the 2nd Grade Go Here page from the Webliographer and worked out with Funbrain's Changemaker activity and with one of's wonderful games geared to opensourcing online pre-K to adult learning. We'll be exploring's site more often and soon.

Come on last week in February. We're almost ready for March!

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