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Monday, December 20, 2010

Lego Club

I love my job, and I got to do one of my most favorite things today. I had heard that you could get the Lego Club magazine for free, so I checked out the Lego site, and you could.  Unfortunately, it was for the American Lego site.  However I poked around on the Canadian site for a couple of minutes and found out you can do the exact same thing in Canada!  So I ordered the Canadian magazine for the school for free for 2 years!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Kerpoof Spell a Picture

Yesterday one of the Grade 2 classes used Kerpoof Studios to Spell-a-picture.  Kerpoof Studios has a number of different activities, writing stories, drawing, and even some simple movie making/animation sections, but one of my favorite is the Spell-a-picture.  Students can select the letters of the alphabet from the bottom of the page, or type them with the keyboard.  As they type, based on their letters, possible images of what they are typing shows up on the screen.  So if you start with D you may see a diamond, dog, DJ and a dancer, add O and it will update it to mostly dogs and a doctor.  After you correctly spell a word an arrow appears on top of the picture so you can add it to your scene.  Eventually after adding enough characters or objects you can get a pretty nice looking picture.  It is quite fun to challenge the students to come up with as many 3 letter words as they can think of, and make a picture out of that, or try a mix of just 3 and 4 letter words.  It is only available in English.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Engineering Interact (Sound)

Engineering Interact is a wonderful series of sites created by the University of Cambridge.  There are several sites on different science topics.  Each topic has its own little game, or story mystery that must be played through and solved, complete with interactive puzzles and information.  The students are enthralled when they are taking part, and in some ways the activities are very difficult because if you do not read the directions carefully it is impossible to complete the tasks, making the click and jump through crowd unable to progress.  Today we played Ocean Oydessy which is an underwater adventure about sound.  The Grade 4 class seemed to have a great time, and because it was sound based we did have to wear ear phones so everyone could hear some of their own clues.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Norad Tracks Santa!

NORAD just opened their tracking site for tracking Santa! Go to http://www.noradsanta.org/  and check it out.  There is a video of Santa flying around the world, and each day a new game is released.  The first game is a simple snowman tic tac toe, but if last year was any indication, some of the games were awesome.

First Batch of Scratch

Students participating in Scratch are doing great, and I have the first project finished and ready to share.  Nice job to the creator!

Learn more about this project

Aunt Olga's Christmas Postcards

Aunt Olga's Christmas Postcards.  I use this to introduce children to the concepts of postcards.  Then, children are asked to supply a digital picture of their house.  They then digitally decorate the house for Christmas, and we print them at Wal-Mart.  The pictures (4x6) are the exact size to glue index cards on the back.  Students then write postcard messages on the back and send them to someone else.  A great mesh of digital technologies, literature, and the real world.

Below is the houses that were made last year, placed in an Animoto Slideshow.

More Tux Paint

I can't get enough of Tux Paint!  Yesterday 3 of the Grade 1 classes met Tux Paint for the first time.  I love watching them use it for the first time.  They are given a minimum of instruction, then sent on their own to discover what else it can do.  Most often, someone discovers the toilet stamp, complete with flushing sounds, and shows it to their friend, who then shows them how they made a rainbow, and then they get up and show someone that, who shows them how you can change the color of your bricks, and so on.  It is wonderful to watch them share and communicate their ideas with each other.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tux Paint is the Best!

Tux Paint is the best painting program ever.  It is free, flexible, loud, incredibly fun, and most of all, it can make some pretty nice pictures.

Kids love using it.  The stamps offer a large variety of pictures, the drawing tools are very flexible, and the magic tools can add some great effects.  And the eraser!  I mean, all kids painting programs should have such an amazing loud and large eraser.

Use Tux Paint!  It is free!

The Grade 2's were using it today, and we saw some awesome pictures.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Getting Started with Scratch

I just out permission slips for Scratch today to the Grade 6 students that were interested.  Scratch is a programming language for kids that is visually based.  Putting together instructions is similar to stacking lego blocks, and when you are finished you can make small animations, or even games.

Giving characters instructions in Scratch is like stacking blocks.
All of the instructions are based on logic and math as well, making it an interesting activity for students.  You can read more about it:

Creating with Scratch

Learning with Scratch

Programming with Scratch

Friday, November 12, 2010

Grade 3 visits Lethbridge, Placentia, Lab City, and Fogo!

Using the wonderful Google Earth Mme. Daley's Grade 3 class took a quick tour of NL today, visiting some of the places they had studied in their textbook, taking time to visit St. John's, Lethbridge, Placentia, Labrador City, and Fogo Island.  They were able to see the preplanned layout of Lab City, as well as exactly how isolated Fogo can be.  Viewing the  images on the Google Earth gave students a look at what these communities look like in the present, and some other exciting images, like local churches, icebergs that look like seahorses and polar bears, and even some old military bunkers.

Grade 4, Google Earth Scavenger Hunts

Ms. White's and Mr. Yetmans Grade 4 classes took part in a Google Earth Scavenger Hunt today.  Using Google Earth the students started off their search at the school and had to follow direction leading them across the city, from the Hindu Temple, to the airport, to Georgetown, trying to answer different questions using embedded wikipedia links and images that have been addeed to Google Earth via Panaramio.  The lesson stressed using compass directions, reading the clues carefully, looking at images, and maneuvering through the program.  It was pretty fun, although it can be easy to get lost in St. John's, even virtually!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Make Belief Comix!, Grade 3

Ms. Piercey and Ms. Martin's class came to the lab to make some comics about a story they were reading in their language arts anthology. They were focusing on the 3 main parts of a story, the begining, the middle, and the end. The class used a website, Make Beliefs Comix! to make their comics.  It is a great site that allows students to make a simple 2,3, or 4 panel comic and add characters with different emotions.  Speech balloons and other props are easily added as well.  Very simple way to let children express their ideas without having to worry about manually drawing a comic and having it come out perfect.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Grade 5, Readinglogs.com and Storyjumper.com

This morning one of our Grade 5 classes came down to the lab for their second visit. Our first visit was spent setting up online reading blogs for the students in the class using www.readinglogs.com. It seemed to work pretty well, though there were several sections that were a bit confusing. First, having the students register themselves was slightly complicated. Not to the point of frustration, but some students weren't able to complete it interdependently. Then we tried to use their password generator for student accounts. However, instead of nice passwords, we got the sX68n9Mm kind, with uppercase and numbers. Made it somewhat complicated. After it was all said and done though, most of the students got all their information entered. Their follow-up visit (today) many of them had continued to enter their reading information at home, so it had been working out great. We did run into a small bit of trouble printing, but that was just because it defaulted to printing to a PDF first, which we did not need.

Our second activity was much more fun, using one of my favorite sites, www.storyjumper.com! Storyjumper lets you actually write a book on their site, illustrate it, and share it. The final product looks awesome online, and if desired, can actually be purchased as a hardcover book. The class spent their remaining time becoming familiar with the tools, and started stories of their very own. I saw a ballerina book, another about Godzilla and the Tiny Orange Bug, as well as one about a singing leprechaun that was busy meeting Santa Claus when the bell rang. As a testament to how enjoyable it was for the students to do their own writing and illustrations most of the students wanted to keep their log-in information so they could continue their stories at home! I certainly look forward to seeing their work.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

New School website!

I finally got our schools website updated!  Previously it had been a large collection of static pages, and it was very difficult to manage.  The person who had previously taken care of it was the creator, and was undoubtedly quite used to managing it.  For me, the collection of over 100 pages, as well as hundreds of links, was somewhat unwieldy.

I decided to upgrade it.  At my previous school I had been given control of a website done in Joomla, a CMS system.  It was very easy to manage, with an attractive front end, and an easy to use backend for me. For this school I wanted to continue using something similar, but a little less complex than Joomla.

With a little research I found Microsoft Web App Gallery.  There were a large variery of platforms to choose from, but the one I was most famailiar with, and thought would serve our school the best, was Wordpress.org.  Using its web platform installer I was able to get the Wordpress software, as well as all the accompanying database software, php and mySQL, installed in 15 minutes!  And it was done at a very low level of technical skill.  At no time during the install did I feel panicked.

Getting it up and running after that was pretty easy.  The only issue I ran into was turning off the old site, and pointing the domain to my new site.  That took a little help from a friend who was more familiar with Mircosoft IIS to get it done.  Although even then I broke it once, and he had to come in and help me.  Typing the incorrect domain and then saving it can get you in trouble.

The best part of this site, beyond how attractive it is, and how easy it is to add plugins to extend its functionality, is the fact that once I have it set up it will be simple for someone else to take care of it.

If you would like to take a look, head over to www.mqp.k12.nf.ca and let me know what you think of it!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Base Ten Blocks

I found this yesterday when looking for something to help with Base Ten Blocks with addition and Subtraction for Grade 4.

Base Ten Block Addition

Base Ten Block Subtraction

They work pretty well.  I really enjoy Kidspiration for doing the same thing, however I did not have any more copies available to install on the computers I was using with the Grade 4 teachers.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Grade 5 Atmosphere Infographic

My first time teaching today at MQP.  between walls, and computer repairs I have not actually managed to do any teaching.  So when Mr. Maynard inquired about coming down for their tech perioud today, I realized that we would probably manage to do it.  I had just the right amount of computers for his class size, and this afternoon the immunizations that were taking up the rest of the library would be finished.

He said that they were studying science,  and the layers of the atmosphere.  I was pretty sure I had seen a decent infographic on the topic, took a look, and sure enough, it was there.  An excellent inforgraphic, showing all the important layers of the atmosphere that the Grade 5's needed to know.  I had limited time, so I just whipped up a quick question sheet.  Not the best in the world, but I was in a hurry!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Traffic

Picture of Traffic, Chicago, Illinois, USA - Free Pictures - FreeFoto.com

Today the students learned how to unsnarl a traffic jam in a major metropolitan area.  It went well, except for the fluid thermodynamic math needed to solve the problem is slightly above grade level.

Second Post

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First Post

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