09-10 Reflections: 2nd & 3rd Grades

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.

09-10 StM Monster Project Reflections

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?

More Current Events in the Lab

I blogged earlier about what we did in the computer lab during the election season. On Tuesdays, I have both 7th & 8th Grade for computers. They had watched the swearing in ceremony and Obama’s Inaugural Speech during their first period of the day. During computer class on that day we began with the Dateline Video: Hope Change & Symbolism on Inauguration Day

Following the presentation we had a discussion about the video and about what they felt Obama’s message was in his Inaugural Speech. We then viewed a Wordle that I had created from the text of the speech to see if the words used most frequently in the speech matched up with the feeling that they got when they watched it.

They found this very interesting and would love to use Wordle sometime themselves. We then reviewed how to write a formal letter and each of the students wrote a letter to President Obama. These are being mailed to The White House for any students that wish to send them. I was amazed at some of the students that definitely wanted their letters mailed. Most of the letters were very positive and supportive, a few were somewhat critical and most of them offered very thoughtful ideas on the items these 12-14 year olds feel are the most important things that the new President should be addressing.

Cyber Bullying

Middle School has just finished up a unit on Cyber Bullying. Each of the classes watched and discussed Episode 1 of Adina’s Deck. All of the classes seemed to enjoy the videos though 6th grade seemed to like it more than the other grades which may have to do with the students in the class more than the video content. I plan to continue using this episode with 6th Grade in future years and plan to purchase other episodes for use later this year or next year with 7th and 8th grades.

After the discussions each class created a project about Cyber Bullying. 6th Grade created a 6-panel comic in Microsoft Word, 7th Grade created a Glog and 8th Grade created a short Public Service Announcement using Animoto. Most of these were completed well and taken seriously (even if their project was done in a humorous way) but it amazes me that some of the students still feel that cyber bullying is no big deal or that it’s okay if you’re just bullying your friends. When did bullying of any kind become okay?

This week Lori Drew was convicted in federal court in Los Angeles in a cyber-bullying trial. She may face 3 years in prison and a $300,000 fine. At this point she hasn’t been sentenced and I’m sure that if she is sentenced to the maximum that she will appeal so who knows what her actual sentence and/or fine will end up being. I just cannot fathom a mother making up a 16-year old boy on MySpace and lying to a teenage neighbor. How can we expect our pre-teens and teens to act appropriately when parents are doing things like this?

I hope that in addressing this issue with the Middle School students in my school that at least they will think before doing anything like this online. I do plan on following up with them in the next week or so about the conviction of Lori Drew in the hopes of reaching those who think it’s no big deal.