Saturday, October 22, 2011

Purposeful Work in Preschool

This year I am delighted to have the preschool three and four year old classes visiting my room. They are coming to do whole group and individual work on the computers. It's going to be an exciting new look at student learning from my perspective. I want to begin tracking our projects.

Finding Resources
The classroom teacher and I began thinking about the types of learning that the PreK3 students are doing in class. They are working on colors and shapes. I searched using Google's Advanced Search. My search terms were preschool shapes because I wanted both the word preschool and shapes on the page I would find. Under the File Type drop down list, I selected Shockwave Flash (.swf). A few hits down the list I came across an adorable game called Purpy's Shapes.

Here is an interesting aside: When I searched using the Advanced Search option and chose the link, I only get the game filling the whole browser screen. If I go directly to the web page, I still get the game, but it is surrounded by advertising. This makes the web page so much better for preschool children.

Once I knew that Sheppard Software had a great game, I went directly to their web site to investigate other flash games for preschool. I found Bloople's Colors

Whole Group Work - PreK3
The classroom teacher and I introduced the activity on the interactive whiteboard. We read the words on the screen and taught the children how to use the pen to select and drag items on the screen. They enjoyed the activity. I told the students we would work on my "big computer" this week and that they would return to work on the "little computers" next week. We started with Bloople's Colors.

Individual Work - PreK3
When the students returned, they learned how to sit on their bottoms on the chairs with wheels. I had them all raise their left hand and explained that they would need to press the left side of the mouse (the same side they had raised their hand) to make the mouse work. Most students had no problem. About a quarter of the three year old students needed extra help. To make life simple, I went to those computers and disabled the secondary mouse button. They will build those skills over the course of the year.

Whole Group Work - PreK4
The four year old students were working on patterns. Rather than using Kid Pix or Tux Paint to build patterns, I decided to use Kidspiration. The screen is much less cluttered and I felt they would be more likely to concentrate on the task rather than trying to draw.

As a whole group, I taught the students one step at a time how to use the Kidspiration program through increasingly more difficult patterns. I have the entire lesson on my lesson wiki.

Individual Work - PreK4
We followed up the group work one week later with individual work on the lab computers. The only thing I forgot to do was switch the icons to the bottom of the page to match the set up I used on the interactive whiteboard. They adapted quickly and had so much fun with their patterns.

Next Steps
It looks like the PreK3 and PreK4 students and teachers are enjoying their work in the computer lab. I will post more ideas as we continue through the year. I'm so excited to work with this age group!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sharing Time

I am starting up a new wiki called Sharing Time. It is a based on a wiki that I have been using for the last three years called Time Zone Experiences. The previous wiki was originally set up by Lisa Parisi and Christine Southard. I'm moving to the new wiki because I want to take the project in a different direction. I still like the original premise, but thought I'd start anew. With Lisa's blessing, I'm looking forward to seeing where the project goes from here on Sharing Time.

Looking for Partners
The project is intended to help students and teachers work on several ISTE NETS standards and learn about time zones through comparing their school day with school days of other classes and students around the world.

The project begins within the walls of a school. Students do some research on their own into:
1) Why we have time zones
2) The name of our time for our school
3) Where in the world is the home of Greenwich Mean Time
4) How many hours ahead or behind GMT is the school

Currently, my fifth grade students are researching on their own and sharing their answers with me through a comment to an assignment posted in Edmodo.

Next I will break the two classes of fifth grade students into podcast teams.

Sharing Our Day
The podcast teams are going to write scripts about something that goes on during a time period of the school day. We will write about subject and specials classes and post the podcasts to the wiki.

My hope is to have several other classes in different time zones join with their own creative work to explain their time zones. It will be up to each individual school to decide how they would like to share their day. Some might choose to use Voki, others might use Voicethread, still others may choose a different tool such as drawings.

Once the sharing begins to happen, the teachers leading the projects can choose to set up a Skype session, Edmodo group, or other means to get the students sharing and asking questions about that part of the world.

Would You Like to Try This Project?
Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions. I will be working on this project throughout the year until May 2012. If international partners outside the United States join us the project can continue until September 2012 when I will begin the project anew for our school year.

Sign up via the form on my wiki by either following this link or clicking the Join Us link on the left side of the wiki. I look forward to Sharing Time with you and your students.