USN Lower School Technology!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Second Week in March, Come On, Spring Break!

The Short Story:
3rd Graders work in Keyboarding4Kids.
4th Graders are re-entering Quest Atlantis!
Kindergarteners are enjoying an introduction to Stacker Blocks followed by Free Choice Options.
1st Graders revisit the Literacy section of the BBC Bitesize learning website to share a couple of the games before engaging in lab Free Choice.
2nd Graders share their favorites at BBC Bitesize Science full class before they turn to Free Choice Options.

The Long Story:
3rd Graders continue to work in Keyboarding4Kids. I had planned to report progress to their teachers last week but in light of the relatively little time they had to work last week due to the introduction of the Google4Google competition I moved that back a week. Teachers will get a comprehensive report to help them identify students who may need some additional motivation to work, and to identify them early on.
4th Graders are re-entering Quest Atlantis! After an hiatus generated by a couple missteps in online chat, we are re-entering with the goal of completing initial activities and then diving into the Mesa Verde Quest, a series of task performances with an underlying theme of cultural diversity. Here is an online slideshow to give you a taste of how rich this environment is, followed by a statement about the unit from the Teachers' section of the QA website:

Mesa Verde Overview: The Mesa Verde Unit provides students with an opportunity to travel back in time to learn more about the Ancestral Puebloan people who inhabited an area in the American southwest until about 800 years ago. Along the way, they'll learn about the characteristics of a civilization, features of the Ancestral Puebloan culture, and how to balance your cultural heritage with the need to fit in as a teen in today's society.

Students will visit the Spruce Tree House cliff dwelling at a virtual representation of Mesa Verde National Park to witness how this ancient society created their unique arts, beliefs, customs, and lifestyle amidst the harshest of conditions, and they will attempt to determine why these cliff dwellers suddenly left their beautiful stone city. Additionally, students will explore their own heritage and the artifacts that have shaped their OWN story, learning that we all contribute a chapter in the greater human experience.

Kindergarteners get an introduction to StackerBlocks, the wonderful freeware software program we have on all our lab computers. It's a Tetris-like game, with good customization options and I've used it in the lab for years. Spacial literacy skills are hard at play and predicting and manipulating the falling blocks is good practice for those neural muscles. After the introduction, kindergarteners may make their own Free Choice options and many do choose to begin working with Stacker Blocks 3D. It's available at the Webliographer in the Downloads section for download at home, too!

1st Graders get to share favorite BBC Bitesize Literacy games from last week before a quick reminder about Stackerblocks and Free Choice options. I blogged all about my "Free Choice" guidelines back in September (you can read that here).

2nd Graders share their own fave BBC Bitesize Science activities from last week's pair-off exploration, completing the jigsaw activity (where a large set of activities is distributed amongst the group for visiting and then the group reconvenes for sharing), then heads off to Free Choice.

With Kinder, 1, and 2, I am recording just what choices the children make during their Free Choice, and I plan to report the results next week in a spreadsheet created graph. I'll be explaining to the older children just how I came up with the graphs and how to interpret them!

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