Sunday, December 18, 2016

Happy Holidays, One and All

I feel blessed to be coming to work at Warner Enhanced Options Elementary School every day, but I have to admit that this two week Winter Break is a very welcomed event. And while I'll be back at school for Teacher Planning Day or Tuesday, January 3rd, then attending for a Professional Development day on Wednesday, you'll be bringing your child back to school for a brand new semester on Thursday, January 5. It's a new beginning, and based on the amazing progress we made as a community of learners over the first half of the year, it's full of promise.

Our computer lab will also be a much cleaner environment for all of us! On our final half-day this past Friday, I took in our monster vacuum cleaner, a Shark, opened all the computer towers, set their cover plates aside, and vacuumed out each and every one to remove the dust that at the very least threatened to overheat the computers. Here are some before and after snapshots:

And here's how the lab looked with all the covers off and ready for cleaning (click to enlarge):

I feel we're ready. Now over the next couple of weeks let's stay healthy, surround ourselves with family, and rest up toward fulfilling all that promise the second semester holds for our learning!

Stay safe!
Mr. M.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Two weeks of Coding and Alphabet Work until Winter Break

This week we have been exploring beginning computer coding as part of the Computer Science Education Week's "Hour of Code" program. Why is it evermore important that we get kids interested in coding? As far as reasons, I have 10 of them! Watch...

Our kids, grades 2, 3, and 4 will kick off a lifelong awareness of (and perhaps interest in) how computers are directed to do everything from open up an email to run a refrigerator, a.k.a. "coding!" We'll start at, a fantastic set of exercises that offers several levels of learning from its subscription based collection for this year's National Computer Education Week's "Hour of Code."

Students will work as far as they can as "anonymous student" then exit and save, whereupon they will receive a brief random alphanumeric password that will get them in to pick up where they left off next week. during the Spring months, we'll begin learning some more advanced coding and stick to it. Will anyone be creating computer games by the end of May? It's possible! Stay tuned. Try it yourself! Click "Play Now" beneath "Students - Get Started!"

This week and next, Kindergarten and 1st graders will login to to work at earning tickets toward purchasing virtual clothing, pets, and furniture. This is catching on as more students experience the option to shop, a great motivation for them to complete the fun, interactive, colorful, alphabet-based lessons. They need these! And most of them enjoy playing, reading, and singing at the site. Visit to explore yourself.

In this time of winter holidays, may yours be wonderful and surrounded with loved ones. Snuggle up, Winter is here!

Here are some pics of kids learning:
Hour of Code at and successes!
ABCMouse fine motor work and collaboration at

Friday, December 2, 2016

Back from Break and Into December!

We returned from Thanksgiving Break ready to learn and work, and learn and work we did.

Kindergarten and 1st graders signed into their new accounts at for the first time last week, and by the end of this week most were well on their learning pathways beginning with the letter "a." Each activity they complete along the way rewards them with a digital ticket, or 2, or more; and they are able to go visit shops built into the platform and "spend" those tickets on items such as pets, clothing, and toys.

Sure, these "purchases" are all digital, but you wouldn't know that from the gleeful expressions on my wee ones' shining faces when they add a new shirt to the costume their customizable avatar is wearing! ABCMouse is a tremendous learning tool for them, and an excellent teaching tool for the computer lab. Visit yourself! Or better yet, have your child take you to see how it works. They won't be able to login to their school account from home, but if you send me your email address (to and let me know you want that access, I can send you a code to allow you to access from home or library.
The 2nd through 4th graders all got a shot of Internet Safety information this week, first by whole-class viewing of "The Netsmartz Generation and "It's Okay to Tell," two short videos at Netsmartz Workshop. Then they were tasked to go watch at least one other video at the site. The 2nd graders were asked individually about the movie they watched and commented to me one-on-one. 3rd and 4th graders visited a customized page and typed (or in some cases, dictated to me) their comments. Armed with the password "warner," you can visit the page and see your child's work. Many chose only to enter their name and a very few words, so next time I'll up the ante with a minimum length requirement. Still, as preparation for future learning experiences with Padlet, it worked pretty well. Go visit at

Here are a few images from our week in computer lab:

Thanks for the loan of your lovely children!

Mr. M.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Steering toward Thanksgiving Holidays

Hello, Parents,

It's funny how we all sort of use the holidays to punctuate or lives. After Fall break, though we love our work and our time with your children, many of us teachers set our sights on Thanksgiving break, a holiday where family is of the essence, and we use that deadline as a target mark for what we need to have accomplished with our students.

Most recently, I have begun working on actual skills, specific ones that your children will need to have as they begin to use computer programs for which these skills are real time-savers.

Last week with my 3rd and 4th graders we began intentional instruction and practice with Microsoft Word's "copy-paste" keyboard shortcuts, and this week we expanded to "cut and paste." These actions are controlled by key combinations, and it's easy to forget that they need to be learned. Not having had a computer lab last year, and with dubious skills instruction prior to that, it's been a real eye opener for me to introduce the specifics of the key combinations and then to have students work in documents I have prepared for them to copy and paste color names and item pictures into matching fields and then to "Save As" in a folder on the desktop.

Try it yourself! Do it with your child on your computer! Here's the link: .

 For cut and paste, I made another document just for words to copy in beside their pictures, using Ctrl-X and Ctrl-V.  Try that one.

With K and 1st graders, we're venturing into ABCMouse, a very cool experience that's packed with grade appropriate activities. Students can customize and recustomize their avatars, and as they progress through My Learning Path they are awarded "tickets" that they can go on to trade for digital merchandise--clothing, pets, all sorts of things. Each child in each of these grades has his or her own account. Once it's selected, your child is on the way to a love of learning and a fun time in computer lab!

2nd graders are playing Thanksgiving games at Interactive Sites for Education. Go ahead, try that, too!

The Code Club goes apace, our Ronald McDonald House pull-tab challenge has been won by Ms. Wolfe's 1st graders, and yes, we are rolling into Thanksgiving break next week. Have a great one!!!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Into November!

We've been busy in the computer lab, just having finished week 2 of a 10 week program in computer coding with our small group of 3rd and 4th grade pioneers. It's too early to say, but I'd say we will have a good solid number of them completing the work by the end of the CodeCamp. If your child is in the camp, and if you have online access in any way, they should be able to work anytime at Don't just allow that--encourage that!

This week has been all Halloween all day in our lab. I added a Holidays folder to and we have been playing games. Playing games, you say? Yes. These games help develop thinking skills, mouse dexterity, and hand-eye coordination, in varying ways with varying games. Visit our Tizmos and click Halloween then go to "Interactive Sites for Education," the very first item in the folder. Here's the direct link:

I'm particularly fond of the "Marble Lines Halloween" game, down toward the bottom of the screen, which promotes focus and hand-eye work to make high score and travel through the increasingly difficult levels. With my 4th graders, we talk about why this is a good game--what makes it that?
 Also in the lab, Mrs. Sandler and I have adopted a group of 4th graders who are pioneering in another way. Our Reading Intervention strategy with these students is based on ReadingPlus, a scientifically designed, results-proven, program used all over the world. Read about its success with Dade County students here.  This is a pilot program I was lucky enough to win at last summer's International Society for Technology in Education conference in Denver, Colorado. I go every year but rarely any of the many many sweepstakes drawings, but this year I got lucky. So did my students!

So stay tuned! As we gear toward the next calendar benchmark, Thanksgiving, we'll be exploring more and more interesting, challenging, and productive opportunities to learn about technology!

And, btw, click to check out our lovely Jack- o'-Lanterns from K, 1, and 2 classes last week!

Monday, October 24, 2016

This week--Literacy Night at Warner

Hello, parents and others,

I've been working apace on several projects, in addition of course to delivering technology-centered classes for all our K-4 children.

Last week, the 4th graders started their first PowerPoints, beginning with a stock template called "All About Me." The children opened a folder on their lab computer desktop called "LANSchool files" which contains the template, then started by typing the byline on the first page, then discovered the "Save As" command to save their creation in the same folder with their own name as its filename. They then continued to enter several facts on two slides, then saved it again. This week, we'll be opening Paint and creating cartoon self-portraits that we can use in the developing document.

Kindergartners counted birthday candles and matched them with numerals at's "Kindergarten Counting."

1st and 2nd graders worked on's "Learning Coins" activity, in part because we identified the need for more coin literacy during testing this past month, while 3rd graders chose any reading activity at's "Learn to Read" or "I'm Reading." Allowing and encouraging scaffolded choice both empowers students and allows for differentiated instruction/support.

Speaking of literacy, please bring your Halloween-costumed child(ren) to our first ever Literacy Night, Thursday from 6pm to 7:30pm hear at Warner, beginning in the Auditorium. Parents will have the opportunity to investigate our plans for improving reading levels this year at every grade level.

In the computer lab, Ms. Sadler and I have combined our two small groups to make one group of 15, and we have been experiencing reading-specific games at for the approximately 45 minute block, students do one long block of those games, choosing and playing, then we take a whole class movement break at and then go deep with audio-visual book readings by Screen Actors Guild actors and children at It's uncanny the way the room hushes as children become literally immersed in these readings, supported by closed-captioning so that they can read along. In the works for all children at Warner, a school-wide pilot of ReadingPlus, which I actually won last summer at the ISTE conference. See for more information on that conference, and for more on this fantastic opportunity to make great strides in our children's reading proficiency.

It's all at .
Warner Reading tab
That's all for now, but I hope to have some pics for you next week from Literacy Night and also from work done in the lab. Thanks for all your support and your loving care for your children--our children.

Oh, we start our CodeClub afterschool today. I'm so excited! See the last post for details. And thanks to Nissan International's Mr. Patrick Fettig for leading off this initiative to get kids involved in learning a skill that can last them a lifetime!

Have a great week! And stay safe over Halloween.