Sunday, February 3, 2013

Welcome to 2013

It's been a slow start to the new school year for me. It's really hot at this time of the year and the lab is uncomfortable most of the time. Although there is an air conditioner it tends to trip the power and we have to spend 10 to 15 minutes of our precious time booting up the server and PCs again so I try to do without it.

Nothing can dampen the enthusiasm of the students for their weekly time slot in the computer lab. There is no access to technology of any kind in the classrooms so the lab is a highlight for these children of the technology age born with "blue teeth". :-)

Something that surprises me at the start of every year is how the majority of the Grade 1's cannot even manipulate the mouse. We spend at least two weeks getting the position of their hands on the mouse correct. I stick a star on the left mouse button and tell them to use their Peter Pointer finger on the star but I often find their little fingers creeping across to the right mouse button or trying to press the wheel in the centre.  We've played the blocks memory game to get the click action right and using Paint we click and drag to make circles which we then fill with colour. I know that by the end of term 1 they will be adept at handling the mouse but at the moment things are slow. The best way to get the little ones confident is allowing them to choose from a selection of educational games in a special folder for the last 15 minutes. That is where they actually learn the most about handling the mouse and of course the incidental learning about the world around them.

Grade 2's learned about Word Art. They wrote their names using the open letter template and then I pasted them to Paint and saved them for the next lesson. The next week they had to navigate to their saved .bmp file, open it and decorate their name. We will use their beautifully decorated names in a future lesson. Sadly we don't have the funds to refill our colour laser printer in the lab so we aren't able to print any of the children's work. In the past I printed and laminated their names and they were able to display them in their classrooms or take them home to put in their bedroom.

Grade 3's have been using the All about Me theme from class to create a word cloud of adjectives to describe themselves.  We then used their word clouds in their first blog entry in I'm so excited about using blogs with the children as their digital portfolios. During the year we will be able to post work to their blog which can be accessed by parents if they have access to the Internet. It's a way of presenting their work without having to use costly paper and printer resources. The fact that their blogs are visible to the whole world is a great motivating factor.  This wiki gives some information about blogging and how it is used by teachers.

On Friday evening (SA time) an online blogging presentation was held. Here is a recording of the presentations
I have joined a global group of teachers who connect via Skype. They are known as HWLSkypers. This is short Hello Little World Skypers. They also have a Facebook page and a blog. I am hoping to use Skype in the classroom again this year to connect with classes from other countries. Through this the children will learn about continents vs countries and hopefully gain some understanding of time zones.

We're also getting involved in the Traveling Rhinos project,  Special Events newspaper project and we're expecting a scrapbook to arrive at our school. We'll use the scrapbook to tell our story. All of these projects serve to flatten our classroom walls, enhance literacy skills and give children a broader view of the world around them.

Exciting times in 2013. Here we go.....

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