Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Foci for Academic Years 2009-2011

Fourth and Fifth graders began the year with reviews of English Language Arts and Mathematics using Word Munchers, Math Munchers, and Math Missions.
Keyboarding practice was accomplished with several sessions of Type to Learn 3.
Students then completed activities described in the award winning site:
Internet Safety for Kids.

Fourth graders collaborated on crafting Powerpoint presentations about New York State, and after viewing NGS videos, produced reports on Native American tribe of choice.

Fifth graders built upon Weblogs entitled "Major Events in American History." Log in and access snags were largely eliminated by having students use the teacher's Google account and password (AOL permits 7 screen names, and Blogger permits over 100 blogs under each account).

Fifth graders did Internet research on Canada and Mexico and produced draft Powerpoints covering what they learned. They then engaged in Logo programming of Tina the Turtle (TERC Investigations) to produce various polygons.

We began the new year 2011 with a review of Guidelines for Internet Safety. Inspired by Ms. Kathleen Gerard (P.S. 116), students engaged in dramatically illustrating selected Guidelines using Comic Life. Students worked in teams of 2 or 3, and best work has been displayed in hallways.

The major challenge of the next few months will be for upper grade students to "collaboratively integrate multimedia elements into audiovisual formats using iMovie. Again, this challenge draws upon the talents of Ms. Gerard, whose great work may be viewed at www.ps116.org. Selected 3rd graders also have been exploring features of iMovie during our "extended day" program.

Fourth graders have "adopted" last year's fifth graders' blogs to input what they have been learning in class and in the lab about Life in Colonial America and beyond. They viewed NGS videos, took notes, engaged in documentary research, and were guided to focus on areas of conflict and cooperation between the European settlers and the Native Americans ("First Peoples").

Targeted research is being facilitated with use of Webquest worksheets, and guidance concerning choice of search engine and keyword combinations. Identification of reliable sources and credible information has been the focus of several lessons. As with all activities, note is being made of student progress, and of students needing individual attention and assistance.

In the spirit of accountability, students were asked to produce an essay entitled "Evaluation of Computer Lab" consisting of 5 questions about what they liked, did not like, what they have learned, what difficulties they may have had, and what they would change. They were then shown how to copy and paste their polished essays into the comment area of this Weblog post. The anonymous comments have been screened by the teacher to ensure that no identifying data are included. They may be viewed by clicking on the comments link below. They are very constructive, and will guide classroom activities through the end of the year. Specifically, students will be given great latitude in the selection of partners, programs (esp. iMovie, Weblogs, and Comic Life), and topics (evolving from personal interest to academic), and they will come to understand that this is what Dr. Hackbarth means by "free time"! (-;

Parents have been reminded to check this site at: hackbarths.blogspot.com, to read their children's comments, and to post comments of their own.