With first graders, we are working on a book “About Me.” It will include a self-portrait, a set of icons to represent the student’s family, a page of “My Favorite Things,” a short audio file about themselves, and a title page. We will use PowerPoint as the background for the pieces of work. We are about 1/4 of the way through the project. They seem to be enjoying it very much.
Third graders have just begun their keyboarding lessons. We are using Type to Learn and it is going pretty well. There is a learning curve with the program. It’s not totally intuitive or not as much as I’d like it to be. Lots of reinforcement is necessary. By 4th and 5th grade, it’s very easy and natural. They like the little articles to read when they need a break from typing. It works for us.
4th and 5th graders have their epals. It is a mixed bag for success. I just approved one email that said, “I don’t have anything else to say.” I am not sure that honesty is the best way to continue an epal friendship!
One 5th grade class is blogging. The teacher, Mrs. Dunham, has spent many, many hours teaching her students how to blog, how to comment, never mind all that, how to log in and choose a design! Please go to her blog-http://jenndunham.edublogs.org/– and on the left hand sidebar, there is a list of her students’ blogs. Please feel free to comment!
Also with Mrs. Dunham’s class, she has begun this video project: http://whsnihongo.googlepages.com/iearn. She asked me to help her. I had to find a free place to create a survey for the 5th graders to anonymously respond to. After consulting with my Twitter group, I decided on google forms. It worked very well. Also, I was thrilled to have a real heart-to-heart talk with three 5th graders about what was bothering them, what do they worry about, how do they see their futures. These three young men spoke passionately about the cost of gas, the people getting killed in Iraq, the amount of money that we are spending over there when they know of kids in their school who have nothing. They talked about how much college will cost for them and wondered how they will afford it. It was an amazing conversation for me. I told them that the main, number one, numero uno concept that a teacher must have is HOPE. I said that teachers would have no purpose, no reason to be if we did not have hope that every single student would continue to grow and learn. I assured them that with their minds that they would go to college and would make a difference. I was humbled.
Our 4th grade classes are so big that I often don’t have enough computers for them. Lucky for me, I have a nice dad volunteer who didn’t mind plan B. Plan B was, would you mind taking these 5 students outside to use these Flip Videos and let them try? He was fine with that so out they went. I was able to move them back in and then a few others went out to try. With help, I was able to get out of a real jam. I really am thankful that Paul Cleworth comes in to help me! With my other 4th grade, I have Sally Zwick to help out. She is also very helpful and knowledgable. Thank goodness!
Kindergarten kiddos are still working on logging in all by themselves. They currently use little slips of paper that has their user names and passwords. But kindergarteners don’t all come with knowledge of numbers and letters. This is a real struggle for some. The class is 30 minutes long. It is a full 10-15 minutes just logging in! The last 15 minutes are usually drawing in Kid Pix or I find some websites for them to use. They are all logging out with aplomb!
Our second grade classes come in at a bad time. Our bandwidth is very low after lunch. The kids are definitely ready to use a lot of the programs on the web but the Internet just c-r-a-w-l-s! Fortunately, we have the fabulous, super duper, wonderful, program: Zoombinis!!!! So 2nd graders are enjoying that math game and they also have been using Neighborhood Map Machine, Kid Pix, and a few others.
For today, that’s all the news that’s fit to print. NOW you all know what we are doing in the computer lab!