Category: Kindergarten

5 Favorite Websites for K-5

One of the biggest problems I face as a technology teacher is the wealth of information out there for teachers, parents, students. I try to stay on top of it (as you who subscribe to my hook-76785_640Weekend Websites know), but there is so much more than I can cover with one-a-week.

So, this week, I’m giving you 5. You will love these. I find myself sharing them with colleagues in answer to their tech ed needs so decided it was time to share them with you also:

BrainPop Game Up

BrainPop offers a great group of games for science, math, social studies, and health–all easy to maneuver, age-appropriate and fun learning. The gamification of education is alive and well at BrainPop

Fly Across America

This is a gorgeous eight-minute tour across America via biplane. It took my classes by storm.

Knowmia

Filled with Free video tutorials and interactive materials for your students. This is a website and an app with tutorials, over 10,000 lessons, ‘knowledge maps’ for chemistry and biology, even a how-to for creating video lessons.

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tech ed awards

Weekend Website #119: 4 Great Websites to Teach Letters

teddy bear lettersHelping munchkins learn their letters is one of the most frustrating–and rewarding–tasks in Kindergarten. Te ability to decode words leads to the vastness of the universe available through reading. If you’ve every met someone who can’t read, you know first hand the pain and embarrassment that dogs them every day in a world where literacy is expected not exceptional.
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Anything to make this process fun is a good thing. Here’s a great list of websites that do just that. Students can see the letters, trace them on the screen with their fingers, play games with them, and suddenly find A to Z as comfortable as their favorite teddy bear.

5 Great Websites to Teach Letters

485097_abc_blocksEvery year, I add to my list of websites that teach kindergarten letters. I find out which ones students are working on in class, then demonstrate using each of the following websites how students can practice on the computer.
Which do you think is their favorite?
  • Find the letter--three different levels so you can personalize this to student needs–easy, medium, hard
  • Find the letter–how many letters can students find in 30 seconds?
  • Bembo’s Zoo--letters that morph themselves into the animal name. Entrancing!
  • Starfall Letters–lots of practice with the most age-appropriate games you can find on the internet
  • Click the Square--click on squares to create letters. Each click plays music. This is mesmerizing. Have them write the letters, their name, whatever they want

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How to Thrive as a Digital Citizen

Thanks to the pervasiveness of easy-to-use technology and the accessibility of the internet, teachers are no longer lecturing from a dais as the purveyor of knowledge. Now, students are expected to take ownership of their education, participate actively in the learning process, and transfer knowledge learned in the classroom to their lives.

In days past, technology was used to find information (via the internet) and display it (often via PowerPoint). No longer.  Now, if you ask a fifth grade student to write a report on space exploration, here’s how s/he will proceed:

Understand ‘Digital Citizenship’

Before the engines of research can start, every student must understand what it means to be a citizen of the world wide web. Why? Most inquiry includes a foray into the unknown vastness of the www. Students learn early (I start kindergartners with an age-appropriate introduction) how to thrive in that virtual world. It is a pleasant surprise that digital citizenship has much the same rules as their home town:

Don’t talk to bad guys, look both ways before crossing the (virtual) street, don’t go places you know nothing about, play fair, pick carefully who you trust, don’t get distracted by bling, and sometimes stop everything and take a nap.

In internet-speak, students learn to follow good netiquette, not to plagiarize the work of others, avoid scams, stay on the website they choose, not to be a cyber-bully, and avoid the virtual ‘bad guys’. Current best practices are not to hide students from any of these, but to teach them how to manage these experiences.

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How to Teach Digital Citizenship in Kindergarten

Understanding how to use the internet has become a cornerstone issue for students. No longer do they complete their research on projects solely in the library. Now, there is a vasy landscape of resources available on the internet.

But with wealth comes responsibility. As soon as children begin to visit the online world, they need the knowledge to do that safely, securely, responsibly. There are several great programs available to guide students through this process (Common Sense’s Digital Passport, Carnegie CyberAcademy, Netsmart Kids). I’ve collected them as resources and developed a path to follow that includes the best of everything.

Here’s Kindergarten:

Overview/Big Ideas

Students learn how to live in the digital world of internet websites, copy-righted images, and virtual friends who may be something different.

Essential Questions

  • What is a ‘digital citizen’?
  • How is being a citizen of the internet the same/different than my home town?
  • What are the implications of digital citizenship in today’s world?

Objectives and Steps

The objectives of this lesson are:

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mouse skills

Dear Otto: Should Lefties Use Right Hands for Mousing Around

[caption id="attachment_7341" align="alignright" width="176"]tech questions Do you have a tech question?[/caption]

Dear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please complete the form below and I’ll answer it here. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got from Sandy:

Q: I am a Computer Teacher for Early Education (3 & 4 year old) and also Elementary students. My question to you is if a child is left handed, should you teach them to use their mouse with their left hand?

A: That’s a great question. I’ve seen lots of different answers, but there’s only one that makes sense to me: Allow students to use the hand they’re most comfortable with. If they want to use the left, I set the mouse up so it works for them. Often, it’s a shared station, so I help the student get used to reversing the mouse buttons themselves. If that’s enough to convince them to use the right hand, so be it, but many times, they are eager to take the few extra seconds to visit the control panel and set the mouse up to suit their needs.

By allowing students to choose, I first don’t let my prejudices influence how they learn. I don’t want them to go one way because I told them to. I want them to make up their minds and act in their own best interests. This also prevents me from interfering with the parenting they receive at home. Moms and dads may have strong opinions on this subject and nudge their children accordingly. I don’t want to interfere with that when experience tells me it doesn’t make any difference.

What do you do with your lefties?

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