Last Week in Lab: Week Ending 02/03/12

Posted on Feb 4, 2012 by kjarrett 2 Comments

This post is part of my continuing series of weekly lesson summaries. My goal is to give parents & caregivers in our school community the resources needed to extend student learning at home, and to share my professional practice with teacher colleagues around the world in the interest of improving my craft.

Week ending 02/03/12

Snowflake by Yvette C.

Kindergarten

What we covered / did / explored:

  • We started the day with some fun and engaging thinking games over at WGBH’s terrific early learning site, Peep and the Big Wide World (click ‘Games’ on the top). The kids found the opening animation particularly hilarious, filling the room with laughter … my favorite way to start the day!
  • We started talking about winter, what we know about this time of year weather-wise, even through in a few references to Groundhog Day … we then used Google Earth’s Weather Layer to see “live” weather across the country and zoom into the radar formations to identify rain, snow and ice on the map. (We also zoomed in to NCS for an overhead view of the school and greentop.)
  • To get kids thinking about snowflakes, we sent them back to their workstations to design flakes using two fun websites: Make-A-Flake and Snowflake Workshop. Their designs were elaborate and we had a great time comparing everyone’s flakes “on the big screen” (my SMART Board.)
  • Once back on the carpet, I fired up a Kidpix snowflake template (created using the “Idea Machine”). My goals for this lesson were to have the kids use the ABC Text and Bucket Fill tools correctly. The design was WAY too complex to teach the concept of symmetry in Kindergarten, but that’s okay, we’ll handle that in another lesson.
  • We saved the student work in my assessments folder.

What I learned / observed / inferred:

  • Kids were fascinated by the online snowflake making activities. The required fine motor skills were not a problem (not a surprise by this point in the school year) even though the sites can be tricky. They could have spent the better part of the period designing and redesigning flakes. I was intrigued by this because in years past, students would lose interest in the activity after about 10 minutes at most.
  • My love-hate relationship with KidPix continued this week as several kids had to start over when their patterns became obscured due to exuberant though errant clicking. Multi-level ‘undo’ would solve so, so many problems. (sigh)
  • If you are going to use Google Earth with ANY class, be prepared for ~25 students to ask simultaneously to “see their house.”

What students can do at home:

  • Explore any of the links provided above, but especially Peep and the Big Wide World. Some of the games are wonderful thinking exercises. For example, have them play Bunny Balance and explain to you why the scale isn’t balanced, and how they balance it.
  • Make snowflakes using paper and scissors, like this.
  • Download and install Google Earth. Explore the weather layer. Play and explore together.

First Grade

What we covered / did / explored:

  • We started the lesson with ABCYA’s Keyboard Zoo, an online keyboarding activity very similar to Type to Learn Jr., which we also use.  (For the full-screen version of Keyboard Zoo, click here.) This game is good because it helps reinforce the “right hand, left hand” separation that is crucial at this age. We don’t introduce the Home Row and proper reaches until very late in Second Grade at the earliest.
  • To set the stage, we had a conversation about playing together – specifically, memories they had of “good” play-dates as well as those that did not go so well. We compared and contrasted them.
  • We watched a BrainPOP movie called “Friends” which was excellent and had a brief discussion about the concepts. (I’m always amazed at the wisdom and insight kids share in situations like this.) Similarly, we watched the video above, “Crawford and Harriet Work Together” and had additional conversation and shared thoughts about what it means to be a friend.
  • I then asked students to use TuxPaint to illustrate a scene where they had a good (or bad) playing experience, and to be prepared to explain what was going on and why. These were then printed in color and sent home.

What I learned / observed / inferred:

  • The BrainPOP movie (which you can’t view unless you subscribe) was excellent on its own but was a great compliment to the Crawford the Cat video (which we also use in Kindergarten.) Normally fidgety kids sat patiently through both videos (each was about five minutes long). The discussion afterwards was phenomenal – rich with details and extremely thoughtful.
  • The TuxPaint illustrations were fantastic but the narrative explanations absolutely blew me away. (I’m kicking myself for not taking several images home to share in this post.) The kids totally GOT IT. Their pictures might appear to be basic, unremarkable, childish drawings but each and every student had an amazingly detailed explanation of what happened in that scene, why, and a reflection on it too. I was in awe. Suddenly these six and seven year olds (who can be quite a challenge at times from a classroom management standpoint) became, as a group, even more angelic, kind, thoughtful and loving towards each other. It was incredible. I’ve never seen anything like it.
  • There was quite a bit of evidence of higher-order thinking, too. One student drew a picture of himself and his brother playing catch. I couldn’t see his brother in the picture until he pointed out that he’d drawn him very small, off in the distance, indicating an understanding of perspective. That’s just one example!

What students can do at home:

  • Use TuxPaint to create a similar image. Ask them to include many details and be able to explain themselves!
  • Check out the full series of Crawford the Cat videos on YouTube and while you’re at it, check out the full, official Crawford the Cat website, where you can purchase the DVDs if you like.

My Favorite Activity by Gracen C.

Second Grade

What we covered / did / explored:

  • We warmed up with Typing Pal, and once again made a big deal the “Zero to Hero Club,” in which kids that get “0 errors” on at least one warmup excercise get a big high five and then race up to the SMART board to proudly write their name on the list of “Zero to Hero Club Members.”
  • Kids retrieved and continued working on their PowerPoint “scripts” for their movies. These were finalized and printed (nine slides to one page), becoming the “script” for next week’s movie recording.
  • Student then resized all the images to full-screen, eliminating all text, then saved the PowerPoint to .JPEG images, which will be imported into PhotoStory next week.

What I learned / observed / inferred:

  • Everyone is doing a fantastic job here. Some are writing tons of content, others, I am confident, will “improvise” once the voice recording process starts – they always do!
  • We did this project last year using black backgrounds. I chose this year to go with white, and hope the results are worth it!

What students can do at home:

  • Practice keyboarding with Typing Pal. Celebrate with them when they achieve “0 errors” because accuracy is more important than speed. Speed comes as their finger muscles mature!

Third Grade

What we covered / did / explored:

  • We warmed up with Typing Pal, and once again made a big deal the “Zero to Hero Club,” in which kids that get “0 errors” on at least one warmup excercise get a big high five and then race up to the SMART board to proudly write their name on the list of “Zero to Hero Club Members.”
  • This week was a mixture of two activities – some finished their Word Search puzzles (and traded with other students to play) and other classes did the “Files and Folder Organizing” lesson I did a few weeks back.

What I learned / observed / inferred:

  • Kids love making Word Searches – and this activity is a fun way to reinforce the concepts of rows, columns and data entry into a spreadsheet!

What students can do at home:

  • If your child has Excel at home, they can open this template and create a word search on their own. Or they can try designing one themselves, but we have not worked much with the concepts of resizing columns, so their grids will be misshapen until they figure that out.
  • Practice keyboarding with Typing Pal. Celebrate with them when they achieve “0 errors” because accuracy is more important than speed. Speed comes as their finger muscles mature!

Fourth Grade

What we covered / did / explored:

  • We warmed up with Typing Pal, and once again made a big deal the “Zero to Hero Club,” in which kids that get “0 errors” on at least one warmup excercise get a big high five and then race up to the SMART board to proudly write their name on the list of “Zero to Hero Club Members.”
  • Students retrieved and completed their “Inanimate Valentine’s Day Cards” using Microsoft Publisher.

What I learned / observed / inferred:

  • Kids love these cards! They really enjoyed the creative writing aspect, and, some printed two copies – one for my bulletin board and another to take home. Love it when they are so proud of their work!
  • Publisher is a horribly complex, needlessly frustrating, ridiculously counter-intuitive program … especially for fourth graders. (It’s my second-most hated Office 2010 application behind Access.)

What students can do at home:

  • Practice keyboarding with Typing Pal. Celebrate with them when they achieve “0 errors” because accuracy is more important than speed. Speed comes as their finger muscles mature!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...