The Hour of Code Is Coming!


Next week, December 8th – 12th, is Computer Science Education Week and St. Martin’s students are once again taking part in what may be the biggest educational event ever. During their computer class time, students will be learning some basic coding skills and concepts with a variety of Computer Science activities. Last year over 15 million people took part and this year the goal is to reach 100 million people who have completed an Hour of Code!

For most classes, the week will be a teaser of what’s to come next semester. Here’s some of what St. Martin’s students may be doing:

  • Helping the fuzzFamily explore Smeeborg with the Kodable app and learning about programming logic, sequences, loops and more along the way.
  • Learning about algorithms, sequencing, and debugging with’s Computer Science course.
  • Creating an All About Me project or interactive greeting card with the Scratch, Jr. app.
  • Programming an interactive greeting card using Scratch, a visual programming environment from MIT.
  • Learning about Grace Hopper, the woman who is honored during CS Education Week, and debugging Scratch code.
  • Programming Sphero robots.

This blog will be updated with what each class will be doing as the week progresses. Some of the completed coding efforts will also be shared on the blog after the week is over. If you are interested in what you child is doing each week in the Computer Lab, head over to the Computer Lab Wiki.

If you want to know more about The Hour of Code, you can visit the official website at

What’s Best About St. Martin’s!

This week the K-8 collaborative presentation about the best things at St. Martin’s was finished. Each student drew a self-portrait and wrote or dictated, in the case of Kindergarten, what they think makes St. Martin’s the best school.

Check it out and let us know what YOU think. Does your child (or grandchild) attend St. Martin’s? Did you attend St. Martin’s? What do you think is best about St. Martin’s?

You can use the arrow keys to navigate through the slides or click the play button and the slides will automatically advance every 30 seconds.

In addition to finishing up this project, this week also included:

  • Kindergarten: Finishing up dots for Dot Day and starting Adventures in Keyboarding
  • 1st Grade: Finishing up dots for Dot Day and starting Rainbow Alphabets
  • 2nd Grade: Creating dots that show how they will make their mark on the world for Dot Day
  • 3rd Grade: Keyboarding with Keyboard Climber games
  • 4th Grade: Creating a spreadsheet and taking Keyboarding Speed Tests
  • 5th Grade: Creating a spreadsheet and taking Keyboarding Speed Tests
  • 6th Grade: Keyboarding Speed Tests and learning how to format Science Labs in Microsoft Word
  • 7th Grade: Keyboarding Speed Tests and reviewing how to format Science Labs in Microsoft Word
  • 8th Grade: Keyboarding Speed Tests and first posts on their Google Sites

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

It’s typical that things always take longer than expected in the Computer Lab. Take absent students, students learning to log-in to Google Apps, students learning to use the mouse, and more and you have delays in getting things done. The What’s Best About St. Martin’s presentation is no exception. It’s been a lot of fun watching students work on their slide. Their reactions when they realize that they can see where their classmates are working have been priceless.

Here’s a sneak peek at a few of the slides. Fingers crossed that this will be finished this coming week!

Sneak Peek!

2014-15 Beginning of the Year Projects

Each year, one of the very first projects that all K-8 students complete is drawing a self-portrait. It is really fun to track their progress and see what amazing artists they become as the years go by. Kindergarten hasn’t started this yet because they’re still practicing mouse skills and are learning to use the Tux Paint tools with an International Dot Day picture. Kindergarten through 3rd grade use Tux Paint to draw their portraits while 4th through 8th grades use a more sophisticated graphics program, Paint.NET, that allows for layers and other more advanced graphics editing.

Here are a few samples from 1st grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 7th grade and 8th grade. Other students are still working on their portraits and we’ll be sharing all of them in a fun slideshow once they’re completed!

2014 Self Portrait Samples

Here’s what Kindergarten has started for International Dot Day. Using the mouse is still very new to most of them and they just used Tux Paint for the very first time today! Once their Dot Day pictures are created, they’ll start on their self-portraits!

Dot Day 2014 - Just 2!

Another Year Has Begun!

School started last week and each of the classes came to the lab one time except for Kindergarten who had two classes last week. It was great to welcome everyone back and to meet the new Kindergarten students.

Classes were spent going over the Responsible Use Policy and reviewing the guidelines for using the computers. Middle School students completed the Technology Survey for the year. Most of the 1st-8th grade students started on their self-portraits which is always the first project of the year. Next week all classes should complete their self-portraits. It’s always fun to see these.

Kindergarten is learning to use the mouse. As more and more touchscreen devices are available, students are using a mouse less than a few years ago. When I held up a mouse and asked what it was, some of the students did know the name for it but when I asked who had used one before, no one had. After 35 minutes or so practicing with the mouse using Millie’s Math House, everyone’s getting better. Next week will be more mouse practice for Kindergarten and coloring dots for International Dot Day!

Book Trailers in 5th Grade

5th grade did not participate in the Scratch projects at the end of the year because they were busy making Book Trailers! What’s a Book Trailer, you ask? Do you know what a Movie Trailer is – that preview you see of the movie? Well, a Book Trailer is the same thing but for a book!

Each 5th grader picked a favorite book and set to work writing out a storyboard for their trailer. Initially, the students were going to download images to illustrate the scenes they had written in their storyboard but after searching and not finding images they liked, the students ended up drawing their own pictures using Tux Paint. They did download an image of their book cover. Once the images were done, each student put their trailer together in Microsoft Photo Story 3. If they had time, after they had recorded their voice overs for each image, they also added music from Incompetech. Searching for music that enhances your message is always fun! There was a fairly major problem in one of the trailers so it’s not shared here but enjoy the others!

Leave a comment and let us know what you thought of these!

Scratch (& more) in 7th Grade

Shapes in Scratch

7th grade was part of the “let’s draw shapes in Scratch” crowd this year, too! Of course, they got less direction in how to calculate angles, etc. and had to go a bit further than just drawing some shapes. Rather than just designating which keys would draw specific shapes, 7th grade was required to ask the user which shape should be drawn or how many sides a shape should have and then they would draw the shape. The exceptions to this were the circle and some kind of “surprise” shape that they wanted to draw that wouldn’t follow the rules of a typical polygon. 7th also loves to make Scratch projects their own and most of them drew their own backgrounds and/or their own sprites and most used random numbers to generate the colors for the shapes that are drawn.

6 Word Memoirs

To end out the year, 7th grade each created an illustrated a 6 word memoir for their 7th grade year. The images they chose needed to be linked to their source and were to enhance the message of their memoir.