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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

6th Grade- "If You Really Knew Me..." Project Update

Because of Hurricane Sandy, the deadline for the Language Arts Scratch "If You Really Knew Me" project was moved to today.  All final projects will be posted on my Scratch gallery by the end of the day today.  Check them out!

Fablevision's North Star App

Peter Reynold's company, Fablevision Learning, has released a new app called "The North Star Smart Stars Survey."  The app is designed to help kids understand their own unique "constellation" or strengths.  The app is a quick, child-friendly survey based on Howard Gardner's multiple intelligences, and it asks questions about the child's interests, hobbies, talents, and strengths to increase their self-awareness.

5th Grade Digital Passport Parent Materials

All 5th graders have now completed two Internet Safety lessons- one on cell phone use and another on cyberbullying.  The next lesson will be on copyright law.

The digital passport site has the following resources available for parents:

Communication: Twalkers (proper cell phone use, multitasking, and distraction)
Cyberbullying: Evolve (cyberbullying, targets, upstanders, bystanders, and bullies)
Creative Credit: Mix-N-Mash (copyright law, plagiarism, and giving credit)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

New CommonSense Media app

Common Sense Media released a new, free Kids Media app for parents, featuring Common Sense's age-based rating and reviews of media for kids.  The app covers movies, TV shows, music, books, websites, video games, and apps.  Click here for the press release.  Click here to view it on Apple iTunes.

Monday, October 22, 2012

6th Grade- "If you Really Knew Me..." Project

6th graders are starting their Scratch "If You Really Knew Me" projects this week.  After finishing their "The View from Saturday" discussions in Language Arts class, they had a challenge day where they shared  stories about themselves as a way to get to know each other better and build community.  As a follow-up to their class discussions, students are now creating Scratch projects about themselves in Technology class.  The projects include a background, a narrative which will be recorded, and an avatar, a virtual version of themselves.  The final projects will be posted on one of my scratch website galleries so students can view each other's projects before departing for Hulbert.

5th Grade Internet Safety

This week 5th grade students started using Common Sense Media's new Internet Safety program called Digital Passport.  Digital passport is a web-based program designed to teach students about digital citizenship, with topics including online safety and security, privacy, cyberbullying, copyright and creation, and finding information online.  The program uses videos, games, and classroom activities and discussions to prepare students for using online and mobile technologies.  It's a perfect introduction to the topics that we will discuss more in depth next year as a part of the 6th grade technology curriculum.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Is Your Child Interested in Programming?

If your child is interested in programming, check out this book I just bought: Super Scratch Programming Adventure!  The comic book is a great way to introduce kids to programming, as it teaches them fundamental programming concepts while they create their own games.  The book takes kids on an adventure, teaching them Scratch programming along the way.  The website for the book also includes downloadable resources such as sample Scratch projects that the kids can play.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Video as a medium of expression

Video is an engaging medium which can tell a story, illustrate a concept, or enrich instruction. Videos can be included in class websites or as evidence of learning.  Here are some examples of teachers and students experimenting with the use of video at BB&N...

As a celebration of Spanish language, and leading up to the Hispanic Heritage Dinner, Upper School teacher Profesora Sánchez-Gómez created a video asking students and faculty members of Hispanic origin about their favorite Spanish word.

Here is an example of a video some students threw together in advance of homecoming...

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Last night we attended a professional development conference "Shaping Our Digital World: You Have the Power" hosted by Common Sense Media and The Good Play Project at Harvard Graduate School of Education, with the Brookline Parent Education Network.  The evening's discussion was centered around tackling the opportunities and challenges of media and technology.  One panel included Howard Gardner (Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education; Co-Director, The Good Play Project, Harvard project Zero), Karen Campbell (a member of the Brookline Parent Education Network), and Elon Fischer (a Brookline High School teacher and parent), while the second panel was comprised of five Brookline High School juniors and seniors.

Panelists discussed the pros and cons of technology in education, and an important take-away for parents was to stay connected with their teens and keep the dialog open.  Gardner pointed out that one of the benefits of technology is the ability to individualize education, yet he acknowledged that one of the pitfalls is the assumption that everything can and should be "technologized."  A theme that emerged through the panels was the desire for a balance between face-to-face and online communication.  Gardner referenced a study in which students rated face-to-face interaction as their preferred form of communication, reserved for close friends.  Texting, which they claimed to use for organizing their lives, came next, with FaceBook surprisingly lower in the ranks.

Towards the end of the evening, when addressing the topic of social change, Gardner also commented, "You'd be nuts not to use social media, but you'd be nuts to think digital media itself can make the change."

-Jen Lavenberg and Megan Haddadi

6th Grade Scratch in the Classroom

6th Grade students are starting to use MIT's programming environment called Scratch.  Their first assignment will begin when they finish reading and discussing "The View From Saturday" in Language Arts class.  They are learning how to use the software by completing the Scratch Cards and several mini projects.

4th Grade- Tech RUP

Fourth graders are currently discussing BB&N's Technology Responsible Use Policy (p. 17 of the handbook) and my computer lab rules while they continue their touch-typing homework assignments.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

5th Grade Update- September in Review

5th graders started their year in technology organizing their network folders on our school server for storing electronic schoolwork such as PowerPoint presentations and Word documents as well as getting acquainted with their brand new BB&N GMail accounts.  Their first technology project of the year, PowerPoint presentations on explorers, will be a coordinated effort between the homeroom teachers, Heather Lee the librarian, and myself, Megan Haddadi the technology teacher.  Over the last week or so, students have started learning about PowerPoint by creating a presentation about themselves.

Please ask your child to tell you about SmartMoves, a "body puzzles for the mind" program I am trying out with all of my students this year for transitioning into the classroom and improving focus.  "SmartMoves is an award-winning cognitive fitness program that combines music and movement to transform the classroom and change the way students learn."  (