Teacher Update

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rgdavidson@govwentworth.k12.nh.us http://del.icio.us/filmrd

filmrd.edu.blogs.org

Date: 09/19/08

This is an update of computer technology at KRMS for the beginning of the 2008-2009 school year.

As soon as we can schedule the time, we are ready to set up this year’s seventh graders and new eighth graders onto www.thinkquest.com. I have already assigned the user names and passwords. If you do not have a think account, you should see me. “Think” is not only a great way for students to access their work on line, it is very teacher friendly as well. Check out Rebecca’s or my think sites and see how we are able to communicate with the students, parents and teachers. If you would like help setting up your “think” site, let me know. Creating a site is very user friendly. In essence, all my students have their “binders” on line. They also know to regularly check my list of projects that I post to all of their sites. Everything is in one place. All the students have to do is access their own ThinkQuest sites.

The computer lab is already starting to book up, so please see me to reserve computer time. Remember that I am here to help all of you integrate computer technology into the classroom. This can be done either in my room or in your rooms using the laptops. I have ideas for all subject areas. I also welcome yours.

Check out the Portaportal Section of the Kingswood Regional Middle School Website. I am regularly adding interesting sites in all curriculum areas. There are some really cool sites out there and most of them are free.

If you have any pictures or news to put on the expanding KRMS website, please see me or put whatever you have in my box. We have gotten a lot of positive feedback about the site, especially the podcasts and videos that have been posted there. Now that we have the permission forms to post pictures, we also plan to use more images of student activities to make the site more interesting to students, teachers, and parents.

I got the following mantra from Susan Phillip’s Blog. It sums up my view of life better than I could have expressed it. She is a principal in Jacksonville Florida who blogs. As an educator, I can’t imagine life without blogs. It is amazing the ideas and insights that are being shared on cyberspace. We could also be sharing project ideas on thinkquest.

Risk more than others think is safe.

Care more than others think is wise.

Dream more than others think is practical.

Expect more than others think is possible.

Class Over View

Here is an overview of the computer projects in the computer class at Kingswood Regional Middle School.

Course Description-Computer Technology
Rick Davidson

Designing House plans in Paint- Fun way to introduce students to setting up folders, working with the hierarchy of working with computer folders and files. Saving properly.3-5 days
Word Processing (Open Office Writer) including basic layout for pamphlets, letters, and posters
Includes copying layouts and then creating content of their own with similar designs.
Up to four weeks

Periodic typing drills to expose students to the proper typing techniques.
Internet Scavenger Hunt1 to teach proper use of search techniques and using technology for note taking 3-4 days
Web Quest on the Andrea Doria and the Stockholm-to further the development of Internet search techniques. This may take up to a week but not every student will get to it.
Research Project-one week research project, bibliographies, research paper format-more advanced research techniques
Sim City-game simulation to encourage problem solving, expose students to non-violent yet engaging games-encourage reflection and to create a situation where students have to use their thinking skills to figure out the logic of the games. Learning how to use different programs requires the ability to figure out the logic of those programs. It is a very important skill. One week, but students are given time a various other times to work on their final city.
Greeting card-Introduction to desktop publishing- one day
Spreadsheets one and a half weeks
Basic graphs-measurements- one day
basic spreadsheet formulas-addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and auto sum
Create a business order form-multiplication and addition
Yearly household budget showing money earned, spent, balance, and a chart
Grade averages-average formula and chart
Employee data base- basic database concepts

Greeting Card- one day
Math game used periodically the last fifteen minutes of a class to reinforce basic math concepts in a fun way using technology.
Country Brochures-desktop publishing and research-one an half weeks
www.quizlab.com Quizzes I have created to reinforce technology vocabulary and computer safety-students take the quizzes repeatedly and receive immediate feedback. One day and then on going on their own time.
Internet Scavenger Hunt 2- research techniques reinforced-this time two to three days is usually enough.
Holiday Card and Poster-one to two days-desktop publishing
Extra credit-design a menu
Extra credit-use the Internet to make a decision about what car to buy, where to purchase it and how to finance it
Project, if time allows, plan a week’s vacation based on budget and distance limitations

Final Projects: (Four weeks-group work)
Students choose to make a short digital video, work with digital photography, or create a website-in groups students are exposed to skills necessary to complete individual and group projects.
Photo students critique photographs according to composition guidelines and produce a project proposal using skills already used in class. Students learn basic Adobe Photoshop techniques, take pictures and produce collages in Photoshop,
Video Students critique short videos in the advertising media using specific guidelines, create a pitch, then story board, script, shoot, and digitally edit a short fantasy advertisement.
Website students critique existing websites using specific guidelines, create a proposal, learn how to make websites, make three page websites and link them all together.
All groups need to plan their projects, as part of their proposals, using flow charts created in Inspiration.

During the final four week period,students must, in addition to their group projects, individually create a ten slide research PowerPoint type project using Open Office Impress.
They need to take the Quizlab quizzes for the last time for credit
Retype one of the word processing projects using a specific layout design
Recreate the first month of a yearly household budget
Internet Scavenger Hunt 3
Students may choose to complete any other projects they may not have completed during the class.

Class Description

KRMS 7th Grade Computer Class

Seventh Grade Computer Course-Kingswood Regional Middle School

Mr. Davidson

Course Description: We are living in a technological world. Technology is changing the way we do just about everything. It is certainly changing the way we learn and the way we think. It is changing the way we research and the way we communicate. It is extremely important for students to develop the skills necessary to make use of all of the ever-changing tools that are now available to them. Using a networked computer lab, this course will help students to learn to use the Windows 98 operating system. It will also help students work effectively with file management, word processing, spreadsheet, database, desktop publishing, basic layout design, basic web page construction, digital photography, multimedia, Internet, and graphics. Since computers are becoming part of every school curriculum, student’s computer use will use concepts that apply to math, history, science, grammar and spelling. Students will learn the principles and vocabulary of computing. Emphasis will be placed on how computers can help the students in their day-to-day lives. In class projects will stress the importance of problem solving and all aspects of computing in the creative process of publishing on the computer. Students will also be encouraged to evaluate their work themselves. They will also be expected to improve what they have already done and to repeat their work until a quality product has been created. The concept of quality work will be stressed.

In fairness to students who do not have access to computers outside of the school environment, homework assignments will not include computer work. However, non-computing assignments may be an on going part of in-class computing projects. Classroom projects will count very heavily in the grading process. This class will be a “hands on course.” The students will be regularly working on projects in the computer lab. Many may find that they will need to spend extra time in the computer lab. There will be on going quizzes on covered materials and concepts. Some quizzes will be announced. Some will not.

Rational: Students today need to understand how to work with computers. Computers have become necessary tools in every walk of life. The ability to use a computer has become as important as the ability to use a pen or a pencil. Students with well-developed computing skills will experience more success both in school and in later life. The computer is much more than a typewriter. The computer encourages the acquisition of data, the assessment of that data, and the assessment of the presentation (output). Total computing encourages the composer to use many different applications to evoke the desired response in his or her publication. Indeed the type written page is no longer the standard of a good presentation. Today we may easily incorporate, drawings, photographs, charts, graphs, maps, video, and music into our publications. Publication on the computer has become synonymous with performance. The assessment and problem solving process that accompanies the desire to perform well is desirable, creative and educationally productive. It is also important that students realize that the computer can be a great tool for helping them complete quality work.

Guiding Principles: Each student should begin to develop his or her ability to work on various aspects of computing. They should also learn how to begin to intuit the functions that are common to all applications within a given operating system. According to state guidelines, each student must show proficiency in word processing, spreadsheets and simple database. It is also important that students be exposed to, not only these skills, but also the wide variety of applications that are available to them. Students should be encouraged to use all aspects of computing in the process of learning to publish on the computer. The process will involve research, assessment, and publication. The student’s will be encouraged to evoke a desired response from their audience. The creative use of the computer can increase skills in all areas, including math, science, grammar, spelling, writing, reading and overall creativity. The ability to save and improve upon work is an important aspect of creating a quality product.

Outcomes: Students will demonstrate an ability to work on the computer. They will display an ability to work with operating systems and file management. Students will show competencies in various computer applications. They will also demonstrate an understanding of basic computer theory and vocabulary. Working with computers will become a lifetime endeavor. Students will have built a foundation on which they can build in the future. The greatest outcome will be reflected in the students ability to creatively problem solve and effectively choose, use and combine the tools that will assist him or her in publishing his our her best work.

Evaluation: Evaluation will be based on the quality and creativity of completed projects. Tests and quizzes will count, but the goal of this course is to encourage students to understand the value of the computer as a tool that can be used creatively in just about every area of their academic and non-academic lives. The student’s willingness to participate in projects will be taken into consideration. Class participation will count very heavily (see-weighted grades). Grades will also be dependent on the student’s willingness and ability to improve upon work that has already been done. Students should be able to continue to rework their projects until their best quality work has been created.

Required materials: Each student will maintain a folder containing in class notes, projects, handouts, test, quizzes, and grade receipts. Students will be allowed to use all materials in their folders on tests, quizzes and on going projects. Copies of other student’s materials are not allowed.

Grade Rubric: Every project will be presented to the instructor with a grade rubric. Students and the instructor will establish criteria for quality for each project. Once these guidelines have been established, a specific rubric will be created and used to evaluate whether the students have achieved their self-initiated goals.

Parents signature…………………………………………………………………………

One of My Many Outside Interests-Catamount A North Country Thriller

My novel, Catamount A North Country Thriller has been published.

Man’s sacrilegious infringements on Nature’s delicate balance calls down a forgotten Indian curse and releases a raging mountain lion, a catamount in the North Woods. This creature is not supposed to be there and is not supposed to prey on humans, but two young children and their dog pick up its trail behind an isolated summer camp not far from the Canadian border. The children do not return and a search and rescue party sets out after them, but the rampages of the malevolent ghostlike cat hinders their efforts and a violent storm sets off a serious forest fire in the tinder-dry forest.

Opinions

I just finished reading an article in “Teacher Magazine” about Bill Cosby. When he started out as a geometry teacher, he was asked “Why I gotta know this?” He didn’t have an answer and decided that, at that point in his life, he was not ready to be a teacher. He feels that somehow, we need to “tell the children the beauty of our passion.”

As a computer technology teacher, I have not been asked this question often but it has been asked. My response has not always been the most convincing. Sometimes I have quoted some statistic that employers want such and such a skill from their employees. This is, of course true, but these statistics mean very little to a middle school student. Perhaps, I evoked the old adage that it is important to learn how to learn. Again, I strongly believe that this is true, but does this piece of wisdom mean much to a twelve year old.

One thing I have observed, though, is that, in spite of themselves, even students in this age group can become totally involved in what they are doing if they are really interested. Witness that most middle school kids are capable of learning what they need to know to progress to different levels of video games. They are developing and using skills that require problem solving, reflection, and the ability to adapt quickly. Even students with learning disabilities are often capable of doing this. Maybe we should be encouraging more of these types of activities rather than discouraging them.

The answer to the “why do I need to know this”, for me, might fall into the following categories.

1. To express the passion I feel, for stories and fantasy. I think this is what Bill Cosby was talking about.
2. Those stories whether they are in books, on TV, in movies, or photographic, all add to the quality of our lives. In many cases they provoke reflection and open us up to ideas beyond the limits of our own experience. You can learn how to make your own stories.
3. To learn how to problem solve and find solutions in order to produce a publication or product. To cooperate with other members of a group.
4. To understand that computers can make some tasks much easier. Certainly modern word processing beats the old fashioned typewriter for most people. How did I live without the ability to rewrite without starting from scratch?
5. To use the Internet as an incredible source of unlimited knowledge, communication, and, yes, fun.
6. It is not necessary to be a “computer guru”, to reap the benefits of day to day computer use. It is a source of information from finding the weather, the news to perhaps finding a mate. It is rapidly becoming the primary provider of music films, shopping, and, yes, even books.
7. Do some of us, students and adults spend too much time on a computer?
Perhaps, but what a world it is. I don’t want to encourage computer addiction, but how does one of my generation express to the new generation what an incredible tool the PC is?
Tools whether they are music making tools, video making tools, writing tools, web making tools, game making tools, or photographic tools bring out the potential of inner creativity.

The list could go on, but I guess my answer to the student who wants to work in the woods cutting down trees would be to think about the possibilities that are now available to him even if that is his chosen work. The truth be told, I love working in the woods and spend a substantial part of my life away for all the innovations of the modern world. Maybe though I can somehow express my passion for all the opportunities that, I feel, have been opened up to me by the computer. I can only imagine what the future will bring.

I also try to create projects that involve the students so much that they forget that they are learning, or for that matter, working. It works with some of the students a lot of the time, but not all of the kids all of the time. The concept still needs work, but I do believe we should start including those things that the kids themselves are naturally attracted to, such as iPods, gaming, and different forms of communication. It can be done in safe ways. We have, as adults, the tendancy to want to prohibit anything that can be abused. The reality is that the telephone, a car, the US Mail, and hand-written notes can all be abused. I would suggest that we ought to be encouraging our children to not only embrace technology, as most of them already do, but to also to use it wisely.

I would welcome any input as to how better use technology in the classroom. Photos by Rick Davidson

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