NO Power!

So what do you do when you teach in a computer lab and rely on having electricity and access to the Internet and the power’s out? That was the case today at school. So were the computer classes canceled for the day? Absolutely NOT!

1st Grade: Pumpkin Life Cycle

1st Grade uses iPads this year and though what had been planned for the day needed the Internet, Plan B was quickly put into place. After a quick discussion about the life cycle of a pumpkin, 1st grade got to work drawing pictures of each of the 6 parts of the life cycle. Next class, they’ll finish those up and then create short animations or maybe animated GIFs to show off the pumpkin life cycle. Anyone know of a good app for creating animated GIFs for 1st graders?

Pumpkin Vine with Flowers

2nd & 8th Grades: Algorithms with Legos

Both 2nd and 8th grades were given a small Ziploc with 5-6 Lego pieces. They were told to build something with them (while not showing it to others) and then to write an algorithm that they could give to someone else to rebuild the same thing. This is based on this Activity Guide from 2nd grade got through the building and mostly through the writing process. They will try the rebuild during their next class. The good thing about this for 2nd grade is that they participate in the Monster Project every year and that also has them create something and then describe it so someone else can recreate it. 8th grade completed this activity with a few “almost” successful algorithms but mostly non-successful ones. It’s tough to be that detailed even for 8th graders!

7th Grade: Power Back!

The power came back on before 7th grade came into the lab so they did their regularly scheduled lesson (using EasyBib to create a bibliography for their DAR Essay). They were very disappointed that they didn’t get to play with Legos but that will happen later in the year for them!

Mrs. Sedgwick has decided that she needs to have more “unplugged” activities ready to go just in case!

Back To School

We’ve been back to school for a week and a half now and classes are getting busy in the lab. Here’s what’s been happening so far!

Kindergarten & 1st Grade:

Both Kindergarten and 1st Grade will be using iPads for most of the year rather than the desktop computers. Kindergarten & 1st grade started the year with an introduction to the iPads including the names for the parts of the iPad and have taken selfies and a few other pictures. They will be definitely getting more practice with the camera as the year goes on.
Kindergarten & 1st Grade also participated in International Dot Day which is a celebration of creativity centered around the book The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds. This year over 10 million people world-wide were part of the celebration! Both classes heard the story, The Dot, and then created color wheel dots, inspired by Tricia Fugelstad, an amazing art teacher from Illinois. The best part was seeing their dots come to life using the Quiver app on the iPads. I love hearing the “gasps” when it first happens!

Kindergarten and 1st grade have also started drawing their self-portraits using the Tux Paint app. We will use a variety of drawing apps this year to try to figure out which one we like best.

2nd & 3rd Grades:

After an introductory review of the Computer Lab Rules, our 2nd & 3rd graders have been drawing their self-portraits. This is something that we do every year from Kindergarten-3rd grade and it is always fun to see how these evolve over the years.

4th-8th Grades:

Our upper elementary and middle school students always start off the year with a series of keyboarding speed tests to see how well they are currently typing. They retake these same tests every quarter and create graphs of their growth at the end of the year. This isn’t only a keyboarding activity but a chance to work with some data in Google Spreadsheets as well.Every year the passwords on student accounts are reset. This year rather then just generating random passwords for all of the students, all students in grades 4-8 are participating in lessons on how to create strong passwords. Students will be generating their own password for the year based on some specific recommendations. Coming up in the lab, all students in grades K-5 will be participating in the O.R.E.O. Project – yes cookies will be involved and Google Spreadsheets, too!

Summer’s Here!

Well, it’s almost here for St. Martin’s students. Are you are looking for fun (and educational) things to do this summer for free or minimal cost? Research dating back over 100 years has shown that students will often lose a month or more of the academic skills they gained the previous year during the summer months.

Check out our Summer Learning page for ideas on things you can do this summer both virtually and physically to combat the “summer slide” and they’re fun, too! This page also has information about logging on to various websites with the student login information sent home for the summer.

July 24 Update: Scratch Camp was just added to the list of resources. This starts today and runs through August 13th. All rising 2nd-8th grade students have Scratch accounts they can use to participate in this online coding camp.

Check Out Our ePortfolios

Did you see? Our 3rd graders finished setting up their Google Sites for the year and adding their first post about drawing their self-portrait. Check out their sites so far!

5th grade is currently working on getting their Google Sites set up. We have two that are live so far. More will be coming soon!

2nd grade has been busy adding the work they have completed to the 2nd Grade Seesaw Blog and Kindergarten also has some completed work on the Kindergarten Seesaw Blog. 1st grade will be wrapping up a project soon and sharing it as well.

4th grade and Middle School are busy with beginning of the year assignments but will be creating or updating their ePortfolio sites soon! Keep checking back on our Student ePortfolios page.

December in the Lab

The main focus during December in the Computer Lab was the Hour of Code though for most classes this was more than an hour. What did each grade do? Here’s a little peek into the action.


Kindergarten students spent some time on the Planet Smeeborg helping the fuzzFamily solve mazes using the Kodable app on iPads and Android tablets.

1st  Grade

1st Grade also used iPads and Android tablets to solve levels in The Foos app. They loved building with the Builder and growing and shrinking as the Ninja.

Kindergarten and 1st Grade also did some activities about Christmas. Kindergarten heard Jan Brett’s story, The Gingerbread Baby, and then they decorated their own Gingerbread person with a few guidelines: the eyes on their Gingerbread person were to have eyes the same color as their eyes, the number of buttons were to represent their age and were triangles if the student was a boy and hearts if the student was a girl. 1st Grade heard the story of the Nativity and then drew their own Nativity scenes.

2nd Grade

2nd Grade also used tablets and did some block-based coding in the ScratchJr. app. They first learned how to make characters move using a guided activity to drive a car (or other vehicle) across the screen. Then they learned how to make characters talk, both with speech bubbles and using their own voices. Finally, they created ScratchJr. Christmas cards and here are some examples:

If you’re interested in what their “code” looked like, check it out:

 3rd & 4th Grades

Both 3rd & 4th Graders solved levels and then created their own Minecraft level (if they got that far) in the Minecraft Tutorial. Keep an eye on their portfolios once school starts back up in January because they will be updating their experience and sharing their created Minecraft adventures.

5th Grade

5th Grade also used a tutorial but they did the Star Wars JavaScript tutorial including creating their own Star Wars game at the end. Check out Quarter 2 on the 5th Grade’s Google Sites after we’re back in school in January for reflections on the Hour of Code and links to their Star Wars games.

6th Grade

6th Grade started off the month doing some research on Computing Pioneers and Innovators. They will be finishing up some trading cards for these in January which will be shared on this blog and on the students’ Google Sites. 6th Grade then spent their Hour of Code time debugging problem programs in Scratch and documenting what they did using Google Slides. They will be sharing the process on their Google Sites in January.

In addition to debugging and documenting, each time a bug was solved a bug was drawn on the whiteboard.

7th Grade

7th Grade also started out the month doing research on Computing Pioneers and Innovators. They, too, will be creating trading cards and sharing these in January. The Hour of Code this year was all about moving from block-based coding into text-based coding. 7th Grade used a tutorial from Khan Academy and did some drawing with code using JavaScript. They will be documenting this process and sharing their final project in January on their Google Sites.

8th Grade

8th Grade also moved into text-based coding this year during the Hour of Code. They learned some Python using Trinket. They will be finishing up their posts about this in January once we are back in school and will be sharing their Python creations on their Google Sites.

The Hour of Code was just a kick-off to a larger Computer Science unit that classes will be doing during the 2nd semester.

Thanksgiving Thankfulness

Kindergarten through 2nd Grade celebrated “thankfulness” this month, not only during chapel and their character development classes, but also in the Computer Lab. Kindergarten and 1st Grade students drew a turkey in Tux Paint and then had their turkeys tell the world what they were thankful for. 2nd Grade students also used Tux Paint to draw their pictures but they drew and labeled pictures of what they are thankful for.