Technology News: November 2013
In the 2nd/3rd grade technology classes, we’ve been continuing our exploration of the question, “What is technology?”. This has taken several forms over the weeks in October.
One week, students took a “virtual field trip” around the state of Michigan using Google Earth. We talked about how this technology works, and looked at several famous places in Michigan, including the Mackinac Bridge. Over the next two weeks, we used the topic of bridges to explore how technology and engineering differs when we use real-world tools versus computerized tools.
The first week, students watched a historical source video about the building of the Mackinac Bridge and then built physical models of bridges using K’nex. The students had great fun testing these to see how much weight they could hold!
The next week, we watched a short video that showed how engineers and designers use computer simulations before building to test their ideas, and the students got a chance to try their hand at a computer simulation called Cargo Bridge. They really enjoyed using this fun simulation, and we were able to have deeper conversations about using physical materials as compared to building virtual bridges using the computer simulation.
These rich experiences of using Google Earth, building and testing K’Nex bridges and using the computer simulation led into two weeks of students writing about their experiences, using their Google Drive accounts. This is a tool used widely across the 2/3 curriculum, and is a tool that students will be using as they continue at Honey Creek. The first week, students accessed this using the laptops, and the second week they used the iPads to compare and contrast those experiences.
In the 4/5 technology classes this month, students have been learning Scratch programming, which teaches computational thinking, computer graphics, creativity, and math concepts such as the X/Y coordinate system. There is a ton of excitement around this project, which will continue into November/December. Look for final student projects at Curriculum Celebration in January!
During the most recent week of the project, students also learned about an exciting new way to interact with their Scratch projects – the MaKey MaKey! This board plugs into the computer and lets you turn almost anything into a button. For example, one student made a Scratch project that played a sound when a blob of Play-Doh was touched, using the MaKey MaKey to take advantage of the conductive properties of Play-Doh!
MS Technology Update
This month, students have been working hard on finishing their Tamarack Video Diary project. They’ve been downloading photos and video to use in their diaries, editing in iMovie, creating or downloading music to add as soundtracks, and writing narration to be recorded as voiceovers. Look for these finished products to be displayed at the Winter Curriculum Celebration in January!
In the Web Design class, students have been continuing to learn the basics of HTML and CSS, through a series of carefully-paced learning modules running on our school’s Moodle server. For each learning module, the students are asked to create an assignment showing the skill, such as using CSS to change the color or size of text on a Web site.