This year both 2nd Grade and 3rd Grade were very small classes so they came to the computer lab together. This presented a few challenges but worked very well for the most part. I think it really helped the 2nd Grade students do their best work to prove they could do what the 3rd Grade students were doing. Both classes really enjoyed using the Jumpstart series for their grade as their what to do when you are done activity during much of the year and everyone was really excited when they got to use next year’s version (Jumpstart 4th Grade for 3rd Graders & Jumpstart 3rd Grade for 2nd Graders) at the end of the year for a few classes. I wouldn’t want to use these programs as what the students always did during computers but they do supplement what the students are learning academically and the students enjoy them.
Keyboarding & Microsoft Word
Starting in 2nd grade, students begin to do some real keyboarding lessons. This year I used some of the levels of Dance Mat Typing with 2nd & 3rd Grades. The students really enjoy this site but many of the students don’t have time to finish a level during the 30 minutes that they are in the lab. I think next year I may do my own directed lessons teaching the keys in alphabetical order that way I have more control over the length of a lesson. I’m still working on how exactly I can present this but I hope to have it figured out by the time September rolls around.
As I look back on the work that 2nd & 3rd Grades did with Microsoft Word, I feel that I need to take a slower approach to Word Processing. Even though they, used Microsoft Word for a variety of writing projects, many of them continue to struggle with where to find things and how to format sentences and paragraphs. We do not have the most current version of Microsoft Office on the computers in the lab and won’t be getting an upgrade any time soon. This means I want my students to understand the basics of any Word Processing (or Spreadsheet or Presentation) software so they can use newer versions at home or use Open Office of Google Docs and still accomplish what they need to do.
Collaborative Projects: Winter Wonderland & Monster Project
2nd & 3rd Grade also participated in the Winter Wonderland Project again this year during December and February. They completed the Holiday Traditions VoiceThreads and the Holiday Card exchange in December which helped them to understand the collaborative nature of the project. They absolutely loved seeing all the cards from the other classes and enjoyed hearing other student’s holiday traditions. In February, they participated in the Winter Olympics poll and got some practice using Excel by doing Candy Heart Graphing.
The Monster Project was a big hit again this year. Based on my experience with the project from last year, I did involve the classroom teachers this year. They students drew their monsters during computer class in KidPix and then I printed them out and they wrote their descriptions during their writing time in class. They then came back into the lab and typed their descriptions which were then added to the Monster Project Wiki. For some reason this year, things just seemed to be rushed and there wasn’t time to have the students record their reflections; instead, I just compiled all of the written reflections into a single file and shared them in a book format.
I love this project in that the students do get that they are working on something with another class far away. It was disappointing that no one seemed to post reflections this year and again I would love to have had a Skype session with our partner class but that didn’t happen either. Oh well, there’s always next year!
Lessons I Learned:
- 2nd Graders hands are really small and it takes them a lot longer to type things than I think it will!
- Students don’t instinctively know the toolbars in applications. I really need to take the time to explain toolbars more and point out the similarities.
Things I’ll Definitely Repeat Next Year
- Winter Wonderland Project
- Monster Project
- Educational Software & websites – these are great for fill in time after students complete a project or activity and are waiting for the rest of the class to finish.
What are some successes you’ve had with 2nd Grade or 3rd Grade in the computer lab or with technology infused projects?