Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Spotlight on: Computer Lab Lessons (from Parent Portal classic site 1/11/16)

All of our K-5 students have a weekly half-hour, regularly scheduled computer lab lesson in their building computer lab. The building library/lab aide delivers that lesson with the classroom teacher present. I plan those lessons and our district librarian, Shanna Gerth, plans a weekly half-hour library lesson. The two of us meet regularly with the library/lab aides to prepare them to deliver those lessons. Often I will create a brief video for them to view with students before the beginning of an activity. When appropriate, Shanna and I provide professional development to those aides as well. When the computer lab is not scheduled for those classes, teachers may sign it out for their own class use. Teachers can also sign out a set of Chromebooks for use in their classroom. Armstrong, Glendale, Lincoln, Shute and Wilson have a set of iPads that can be checked out as well.

In our K-2 buildings, we lay the basic foundations for technology use including teaching mouse skills to kindergartners. With more and more tablets in use in homes, students are beginning school with fewer mouse skills every year. The next big hurdle is teaching them to log in to our computers and familiarizing them with the keyboard. We use a variety of typing software appropriate
for young students at all three grade levels. (See our Typing Web Links: http://www.epd86.org/index.php/82-web-links-level-2/742-typing) We found that, if we waited until 3rd grade to begin typing, most had developed poor habits that were difficult to break. Some kindergartners struggle at the beginning of the year because of an upper case keyboard that types lower case letters. At first, we stress using two hands when typing, one for each side of the keyboard. By the time students finish 2nd grade, they should be familiar with the idea of home row keys. We introduce students to a variety of grade appropriate, educational software as well as use of our District Web Links along with Internet Safety. Kindergartners will use Tux Paint as an introduction to paint type programs tied to language arts, typing a phrase or sentence, depending on their abilities. Our 1st graders began some basic word processing using Storybook Weaver (image right), and will move to Microsoft Word later in the school year.  Our 2nd graders typed a brief paragraph in Word and will be creating a presentation using Google Slides, plus take a brief look at Microsoft Publisher. Both 1st and 2nd graders explored creating a comic that involved dialogue. All three grade levels will work with a word cloud using Wordle (http://www.wordle.net/).  
Our 3rd through 5th grade students have, in the past, been introduced to Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Publisher and Excel along with Movie Maker and Photo Story as well as Internet Safety. Students spent some time learning traditional touch typing skills and creating smaller projects utilizing a variety of other software and websites. All of that changed last school year. PARCC arrived and, after running an infrastructure trial, it became apparent we needed to focus more on PARCC related technology skills and typing paragraphs. PARCC needs to be an assessment of student's academic skills, not their ability to use (or not use) technology. Thus, we focused on those skills much of last year. This year, with the addition of Chromebooks in our 3-5 buildings, we introduced our Google Apps for Education into the curriculum and are using Google Classroom to deliver all of our lab lesson content. We began with a lesson to introduce Google Classroom to the students, then moved to lessons that combine literature and technology to target English Language Arts learning goals. At first we used Google Docs, a word processor, to explore several texts. Next, the district librarian and I created some research skills lessons that spanned the library and the lab. Soon we'll move to some Slides presentation software use and website evaluation lessons. That leads us into Spring Break and the PARCC testing window!  

Wondering, "What is Google Classroom?"

Classroom 101

Our middle school students and staff have three computer labs available for checkout and use, one on each grade level floor.  Each grade level floor also has a set of Chromebooks.  A fourth set of Chromebooks is housed in CJHS’ library, and our middle school library lab aide provides lessons a few times a year to English Language Arts classes.  The bulk of student computer lab lessons take place in two of our Exploratory classes with Mrs. Julie George and Mr. Todd Herrmann.  Mrs. George’s class is a more traditional computer class, while Mr. Herrmann’s class is a modular manufacturing lab supported locally by Caterpillar.  Students rotate quarterly through each of CJHS’ exploratory classes, spending a fourth of the school year in each.  More information about their curriculum can be found on their classroom web sites.  Mrs. George’s website it at http://www.georgeinformationaltechnology.com/ and Mr. Ames' is at https://sites.google.com/a/epd86.org/5-ames/.  Mrs. George and I work together to make sure that a progression of skills and experiences flow from the K-5 levels to her 6-8 students.
What’s coming up next in The Parent Portal?  "Spotlight On: Our iPads and Chromebooks"

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