At the beginning of 1st grade we do a lot of work with the kid’s names. One of the projects I did with all the 1st graders when I was the tech specialist and what I did with my own class this year is done in Kidspiration. I love using Kidspiration with 1st graders. I’ve already used it for 2 projects this year. In the sample I have above you can see that the kids put the letters of their names and then search the huge library of graphics in Kidspiration for words that begin like the letters of their names. They had a good time and were practicing letter sounds as well. I’ve taken 3 different name projects that we did and put them together in a slide show on our web page for them to share with their families. if you’d like to take a look you can go to this LINK.
My 4 5th grade classes had a ball with the photo efects available for free on BeFunky. We spent one class session doing crazy things with pictures! First they took one regular picture of themselves using Photo Booth. They uploaded the picture to BeFunky, played around with the effects, and then saved it back to a folder I’d set up on the server. The next class session I wanted them to learn about using the Publishing layout view in word, not terribly exciting of course but with the opportunity to add the pictures they’d created they loved it and practiced using text boxes, inserting pictures and using Word Art to create a page layout. So….what do you think of my new portrait?
Professor Melonhead has the most annoying music but you can turn it off by clicking on the speaker on each page. Regardless of the music it has a lot of activities that would be perfect for using on the Smartboard, very visual and easy to do with the tap or the drag needed. The site could certainly be used on individual computers as well. It has a wide variety of activities from one that shows how a letter is written while it says the letter name to a puzzle map of the U.S. that also shows the state capitals when the piece is placed correctly. So give it a try and see what you think but don’t forget to turn off the music!
Thinkquest is used by the 4th graders at my school. I got the teachers into this last school year by registering our school and showing those teachers the site. One of the 4th grade teachers calls it Facebook for kids. When you realize how many kids that are too young have Facebook accounts you’ll appreciate how Thinkquest acts as a safe substitute. We have kept our account closed to all but the enrolled classes at school so Thinkquest allows a safe environment for kids to create their own blog, respond to teacher questions, do teacher assignments, create book lists and message their classmates. The teachers have had to set guidelines on Netiquette and it’s been a great start on how to participate in a social network correctly and responsibly. Thinkquest requires registration by a school, permission from parents, and regular monitoring of student submissions. Access can even be shut off during times when teachers won’t be able to monitor regularly. The kids are excited and motivated to be on their Thinkquest pages both at school and at home and they’re learning how to be responsible online.
What We’re Doing in 4th Grade Technology
I started a project in December with 4th grade. There is a focus in the late fall on kindness and 4th graders every year have a full day kindness retreat where they talk about bullying, sing, play games and at the end get to apologize to classmates if they want to. This year I decided to focus a big project on the kindness theme. It’s a collaborative project. I used the “name picker” page in Notebook software for the Smartboard and picked groups of 3 that way. some complaints at first of course if there were 2 boys and a girl or the other way around but only one group out of 4 classes has had any real issues with it. In fact since we started this project they haven’t even been working individually on computers during their tech classes. We’re in the process of creating….. from script to finished iMovie. Their scripts are done, they’ve broken them down into recording chunks. Some are telling about the retreat, some are working on a story of their own about bullying, and others are doing kindness tips. They’ve also planned what pictures they need for their movie and are using pictures from the retreat, taking pictures around the school, or acting out a scene and taking posed pictures. Some are drawing pictures in Tux Paint and others are designing pages in Comic Life. They’ve had free reign. During my last 4th grade class half the class was out of the lab with cameras or out sitting in a quiet spot recording their voices with their scripts. It’s been great to see them huddled around one computer, talking, typing and planning. This project has gone much better than I ever expected and I’m anxious to get them started putting it all together. Watch for an update when I’m done and the projects are public!