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Technology News: December 2012

In 2/3 technology, students have been working hard on their current project, called “kinetic contraptions”. Students are learning about the engineering design process and working in teams to build their own contraptions! They are also using the iPads to document their work with photos and videos.

 

In the 4/5 technology classes, students have finished their slow motion videos, and we celebrated this by watching them in class during our last session. We were off last week for Thanksgiving, but will be starting a new cross-curricular project integrating technology, language arts, and social studies, based on the “Pure Michigan” ads.

 

The Middle School technology classes have been finishing up their data collection activities and reflections. I expect all classes to be done by the first week of December, allowing us to start our next project at that time.

Technology News: October 2012

Welcome to another exciting year for the technology program at Honey Creek! I am really looking forward to working with your students this year. In 2/3 technology, students have started out their exploration and use of technology with our iPad cart. The first few weeks, we worked on basic usage, including procedures for how to get out the iPads and use them, our appropriate use policy, and exploring with several different apps. Since then, we’ve started to investigate why and when we use different tools (for example, making a drawing on paper vs drawing with an app on the iPads) and when each tool is appropriate. Last week, we had a discussion about systems, and students identified systems and their components by annotating on a digital photo they took with their iPad. In the 4/5 technology classes, we started out the year by getting students geared up to use the technology they will need to be familiar with during the school year, including their new Google Apps accounts for document creation and sharing, as well as introducing our typing program Type to Learn. The last 2 weeks, we have begun our first project, which is guided by the essential question, “How can we use technological tools to allow us to learn and discover more than we could without them?” This connects to the observation work  students in 4/5s have been pursuing in science class; in this technology project, students are learning how slow-motion video can allow them to observe more than they could with the naked eye. Students have been writing up their proposals for what they’d like to see, and are getting ready to start recording their own slow-motion videos using our tools. The Middle School technology classes have also started out by getting familiar with the technology they’ll need during the school year. For middle school, this includes Google  Apps, Moodle, and the various computing devices like laptops and iPads. We did a series of quick activities the first 3 weeks to make sure students were familiar with these tools, and have now begun our first inquiry unit. During this unit, entitled “Better Understanding our World Through Technology”, students will be learning how to use sophisticated instruments like temperature probes, pH sensors, and others to collect data about the natural world, and help them analyze and understand this data through graphing and research. Finally, the first-semester technology elective this year is called Appropriate Technology. We started our semester by bringing in special guest John Barrie, who runs the Appropriate Technology Collaborative in Ann Arbor. Appropriate Technology, sometimes called “Design for the Other 90%”, deals with the use of varying technologies to improve the lives of people all over the world, helping to bring about clean water, renewable energy sources, and so on. The first projects students are working on are solar ovens, which allow one to cook without consuming fossil fuels. I look forward to a great year in technology this year!

Technology News: May 2012

The 2/3 technology classes have spent their last 2 sessions learning about macro photography, which allows us to take photos of things that are extremely small. Students had an opportunity to go outside and see the natural world in a different way, taking close-up photos of things like flowers, bark, and other things. We’re learning now how to import these photos into the computer to use in our own designs.

The 4/5 technology classes have started a new project: they are identifying and coming up with a technological solution to a problem they face in their school day. They are working in 2-3 person teams to identify a problem, then figure out and build a prototype solution. To facilitate this project, they’re using Moodle for the first time to discuss and document their work. Moodle is the online learning management system we use, and this is especially important for 5th graders who are moving up next year, as it’s a tool we use a lot in the Middle School. Lots of interesting school-day problems have been identified, and students’ solutions are really taking shape!

The Middle School technology classes are still working hard on the Sustainable House Design project. We spent 2 sessions learning about different building materials and the tradeoffs involved (for example, using a gas furnace versus a geothermal heating/cooling system).  Students are finishing up their final floor plans using graph paper, design templates, and other tools, and are working on calculating the estimated cost of construction for the house they’ve designed.  Construction has begun on several house models already as well!

The Middle School technology elective class, 3d Modeling and Prototyping, has been making great progress in the process of drawing, designing, and creating objects. Students are having great fun going through the design process, using SketchUp to bring their ideas to life in 3-D. Prototypes are being built, and we continue to go further into topics like 3-D animation, 3-D printing, and the manufacturing process.

Technology News: April 2012

    In 2/3 technology, we are finishing up the “Inventors and Inventions” unit. The last inventor we studied was Leonardo da Vinci. Students heard a historical fiction story about him during read-aloud time (“Monday with a Mad Scientist”, one of the Magic Treehouse books), and we were able to use this as a language arts tie-in to make connections with what students already knew. Students also practiced sketching mechanisms by drawing and writing about some simple tools and machines, and have been using Erector to build their own “useful machines” inspired by Leonardo’s designs and ideas.

     The 4/5 technology classes have now finished their Trading Cards project. Students took photos, learned how to design cards using Pages, and have been getting their designs printed out. They look great!

     The Middle School technology classes are in the middle of the Sustainable House Design project. Most students have finished their rough floor plans (which they created using Autodesk Sketchbook Mobile on the iPads), and are working on finishing their final floor plans using graph paper, design templates, and other tools. We’re starting construction now that we are back from spring break!

     The Middle School technology elective class, 3d Modeling and Prototyping, has been making great progress in the process of drawing, designing, and creating objects. Students are having great fun going through the design process, using SketchUp to bring their ideas to life in 3-D. Watch for more great things in the next few months, as prototypes get built and we go further into topics like 3-D animation, 3-D printing, and the manufacturing process.

Technology News: March 2012

In 2/3 technology, we are in the middle of our “Inventors and Inventions” unit. We’ve finished roller coasters, and then moved on to flight, studying the Wright Brothers and testing wing designs. This week, we studied Henry Ford and the invention of the moving assembly line.

The 4/5 technology classes are continuing work on their Trading Cards project. Students have been taking photos, learning how to design cards using Pages, and getting their designs ready to print out.

The Middle School technology classes are in the middle of the Sustainable House Design project. They have been doing their design work. This includes things like analyzing what a house’s ecological footprint is, and starting the rough draft of their house’s floor plans. They are using the iPads with a new  tool called Autodesk Sketchbook Mobile, which is giving a new experience on drawing.

The Middle School technology elective class, 3d Modeling and Prototyping, has been making great progress in the process of drawing, designing, and creating objects. Students started out doing basic 3-view plan drawings, then started SketchUp training for their first assignments. Some students have moved on to start their first design project, using Moodle to get the requirements for the project and designing their projects using pencil & paper, Google SketchUp, and working on building prototypes of their objects.

Technology News February 2012

In 2/3 technology, students finished the “Engineer’s Notebook” project using the iPads. We have now started a new unit called Inventors and Inventions. This unit helps students learn more about the invention process, study famous inventors, and gain a deeper understanding of how the fields of technology and engineering have changed our world.  We’ve started with a fun invention to spark student interest: the roller coaster! Students started with using a computer simulation called WHOAler coaster, and have been working on building actual roller coasters (for marbles) the past few weeks.

WHOAler coaster can be found here:

http://pbskids.org/fetch/games/coaster/

In 4/5 technology, students have been working on becoming more expert with several different tools. We started using Google Earth as a way to understand how technology can allow us to learn more about the natural world (lots of connections to the 4/5 social studies geography here!). Over the last two weeks, we’ve been learning search strategies that can be used to become better at searching the Web for information.

The Middle School technology classes finished a major assignment called Analyzing Technology, where students were required to analyze three different styles of computer mouse and recommend one as the best choice for a school purchase. Over the last 2 weeks, we have started a new unit called Sustainable House Design. Students will be designing and building their own homes, based on a number of factors that include environmental impact, cost, and the occupants’ requirements.

The Middle School Technology elective finished the Programming with Processing class, and students displayed their work at the Curriculum Celebration. The new semester’s elective has now started, and it is entitled 3D Modeling and Prototyping. This class focuses on the engineering design process, and focuses on using Google SketchUp as a tool for creating 3D models.

Technology update for January, 2012

The 2/3 technology classes have been working on a project called “The Engineer’s Notebook”, combining design and building with using the iPads. In this project, students have been working on designing a simple idea using DoodleBuddy (an iPad app), then gathering the pieces for their project (either Lego or K’Nex), and documenting their building process using the iPad’s camera. Once the building process is complete, they are creating a notebook documenting their experience using Pages on the iPad. This has been a great project and I’m excited to show this work during January’s Curriculum Celebration.

After finishing work on their Scratch projects, the 4/5 technology classes were introduced to our newest technology asset, the iPad cart! We’ve had several sessions for students to learn how to use various apps, including iMovie on the iPad (which is a great tool for quickly putting together a video with multiple clips, music, and easy
transitions between segments).

The Middle School technology classes are currently wrapping up a project called “Analyzing Technology”. In this unit, students are given the hypothetical situation that the school must replace all the computer mice in use, and are given 3 options. Students are required to research the 3 choices, and write a convincing argument for one of the 3 choices, based on 4 points of data (including cost, student preferences gathered from classmates, and other data of their choosing).

The Middle School technology elective, Programming with Processing, is wrapping up, as the semester winds to a close. Their final work for this class is to choose their 3 favorite pieces of work to assemble into a digital portfolio, which will be shown during January’s Curriculum Celebration.

Technology update for December, 2011

The 2/3 students were extremely excited to be the first class to use the iPad cart! All students had a chance to use the iPads and explore this exciting new piece of technology. We then continued working on a few new computer applications. Students used the Graph Club program to create a graph of something that interested them, then used Pages to write about what was in their graph. Using Google Images, they were able to add images to their informational text.

The 4/5 technology classes are finishing their Scratch projects. Scratch is used to design and create their own interactive stories, games and animations. This week is our final week to work on Scratch projects, and students will show their projects at the Curriculum Celebration.

The Middle School technology classes have now finished the revised versions of their “What is Technology?” videos. These videos examined the 3 aspects of technology (process, knowledge, artifact) and described them in the students’ own words. Most students have finished uploading their videos and are submitting them for review via the school’s file server. They will be receiving feedback using the Moodle online class management system. The Middle School classes were also introduced to the iPad cart! Students have been alternately using the iPads and laptops, learning about the strengths of each one and gaining a better understanding of when to choose one over the other as a learning tool. I also did instruction on moving files between home and school as related to the Middle School Independent Project.

The Middle School technology elective, Programming with Processing, is coming along nicely, as students are continuing to work on their own programs that generate visual images. Students have been working with color, using control structures such as loops, and learning advanced functions in the Processing environment. Each assignment is posted to the class Moodle site, which allows students to work at their own pace while receiving feedback and comments about their work.

Technology Update for November, 2011

In 2/3 technology, students have been doing a variety of things. We spent several weeks using technology to better understand aspects of Michigan history and geography. One week, we used Google Earth to fly around Michigan on a virtual field trip. The next week, we zoomed in on the Mackinaw Bridge and used K’Nex building toys to build and test our own bridges. The following week, we used a computer-based simulation to build digital bridges, and discussed the differences between building with physical materials and building computerized simulations.
The URL for the bridge building activity is: http://hoodamath.com/games/cargobridge.php
We’ve since moved on to learning some of the productivity tools that we use in 2/3, like Pages for word processing and page design, and typing programs that can help students type with better speed and accuracy.

The 4/5 technology classes were interrupted somewhat in October due to the MEAP testing, but students are continuing to use Scratch Scratch to design and create their own interactive stories, games and animations. Each week I introduce a new concept, show them examples, and give them work time. We’ve learned how to make sprites (characters) move around the screen, how to design characters and backgrounds, and much more.

The Middle School technology classes finished off their Google Apps lessons, and have been spending the last 3 weeks examining the question, “What is Technology?”. Students made a short video answering that question in their own words the first week, then spent the next session learning the definition of technology, discussing examples, and examining the 3 aspects of technology (process, knowledge, artifact). They are now writing scripts for a revised version of their video and will be recording and editing these in the upcoming weeks.

The Middle School technology elective, Programming with Processing, is going quite well, as students are learning to write their own programs that generate visual images. Students have made computer-generated characters, created interactive drawing tools of their own design, and are now diving deeper into the Processing environment. Each assignment is posted to the class Moodle site, which allows students to work at their own pace while receiving feedback and comments about their work.

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