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: http://bit.ly/warnercopypaste .

 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!
from http://abcmouse.com

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 code.org 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 http://studio.code.org. Don't just allow that--encourage that!

This week has been all Halloween all day in our lab. I added a Holidays folder to http://www.tizmos.com/scottmerrick 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: http://interactivesites.weebly.com/halloween.html

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!