It’s almost time for the Hour of Code event for 2018 (Dec. 3-7). To prepare, we went over how binary numbers work with Older Kids, even learning how to add them together. Middle Kids got an “unplugged” introduction to code (learning how a sequence of instructions can achieve a goal). Even pre-readers in Younger Kids have activities they will use to learn about simple coding. Rivendell students always enjoy coding activities, and it’s a big step towards true computer literacy.
Keyboarding is still an important skill. While we can talk to computers, the keyboard is still the primary way to do significant amounts of writing. We introduced the keyboard to Younger Kids with fun games to let them familiarize themselves with the location of letters. Middle and Older Kids learn touch-typing on Typing.com, and we recently got covers that go over their hands and the keyboard to enforce using that muscle memory. Our goal for kids entering middle school is to be able to type 25 words per minute.
This year, we have gotten accounts for Middle and Older Kids on the WeVideo platform to do our video creation and editing. Students simply log in with their Google log-in and they are ready to start creating.
WeVideo has tons of features including a large library of stock video clips, pictures, sound effects and music. Later, kids will be using WeVideo to create book talks, news reports and more. Older Kids' first short project for learning to use WeVideo was to use that stock media, along with titles and transitions, to set a mood. Here are a few of the results:
We want kids to write with style… and, more precisely, with good formatting. A properly formatted document with clear fonts, correct size and weight text for titles, headers and paragraphs, and other formatting elements is easier to read and understand.
I created a sample document and printed it out. The students had to create a Google Doc that looked exactly like—or as close as possible to—the printed document. The Middle Kids used basic font type, size and weight, while Older Kids did more advanced tasks like headings, justification, inserting page breaks, tables and special characters, lists, footers, and more. They had to use menus and keyboard shortcuts. Take a look at the Middle Kids example doc and the Older Kids example doc. How much of this could you re-create?
Once the Younger Kids can start up the desktop computers in the lab, open the web browser, click on a bookmark, and know how to click, drag, scroll and use the arrow keys, one of their favorite things to do is create computer artwork. We have a selection of several cool web sites that let them make different types of pictures, and then we save them in their “computer cubby”–a folder on our server. Parents will be able to access all their work at the end of the year for saving at home. A few samples of their work so far:
We always begin the year taking a look around the school for computers (this year we found over 300!), learning the parts of a desktop computer and wondering exactly what a computer does. It’s simply a device for taking input, processing it, and providing output. We take information from keyboards, mice, touchscreens, cameras, and sensors, and give back new information on in text, sound, videos, motors, and more.
Younger Kids are learning how to use a desktop computer: turn on the monitor and CPU box, use the mouse and keyboard, and navigate around in Windows using the Chrome browser. We have a great site, Boobah Zone, which is great for letting them explore and get used to navigating the the mouse.
Middle and Older Kids all receive Google accounts, so we’ve been logging in and out, creating and sharing documents, and learning about cyber security and being responsible on-line citizens. Soon we’ll be learning more about creating better documents, as well as presentations that they may use for class recitations.
But what’s inside these mysterious boxes that makes it all work? The Younger Kids took a shot at drawing the innards and the results are pretty creative!
Younger Kids have completed their big project in computers, putting together everything they have learned: using the mouse, navigating windows, using the web, doing computer art, and learning the keyboard. Since one of our topic units was dinosaurs, they all searched for dinosaur pictures, then used those pics as a reference to draw and then caption their drawing of a dinosaur. Check out some of their work.
Middle and Older Kids have been working on video projects. We had them do a short weather forecast or news items. They had to storyboard their idea, write a script, video themselves, find or create pictures to illustrate the story, and add titles and music. Check out a couple of the amazing, creative videos.
Younger Kids are using their new familiarity with the keyboard to do simple on line searches. We focused on African Animals. They can read or copy the letters off the whiteboard or a piece of paper, type them into the search bar, click the “Search” magnifying glass icon, and voilà! Pictures and videos of their favorite animal. Some kids went one step further, combining qualifiers with an animal, like “fastest bird” or “largest insect” to learn new things.
We used a kid-safe search engine, Kiddle.com, for YK to do their searches. And our entire school internet is protected by two filtering services to make sure any returned sites are appropriate for kids.
Middle and Older Kids have tried out simple frame animation using a program called Stykz. It lets you easily manipulate stick figures to create animated gifs to watch. It’s fun to play with and is a good lead in to more involved live-action video editing which is up next.