2008-2009 Electronic Newsletter for Seventh Grade

The seventh grade students have been working on a variety of projects this year. I would like to share our work with you. As we work on the Internet, I have taught the students to find the links through a website called delicious. If you or your children would like to access these sites, you will need to click on the word All Tags on the right side of the screen and select seventh. Your student can demonstrate this process to you.

Saint Michael Delicious account

There is a link saved to send your name to Mars on a computer chip. I gave them the opportunity do this in class if it interested them. You may use the link if it is of interest to you. My whole family is sending our names to Mars on the 2011 mission. As a parent, you may be interested in creating your own Delicious account. You can save bookmarks and open them on any computer.

As the year progresses, I work on many different projects with the seventh grade students. You may click here or click on the word seventh on the left side of the screen to see my plan for the year.

We have used a variety of software this year. We see each other twice per week this year and have been able to complete complex projects.

We explored the ideas of copyright, fair use, public domain, and Creative Commons in September. The students reviewed and commented on the work created by last year's seventh grade class. We explored Gimp. It is a free, open source painting and photo editing tool. It is available for the Mac, Windows, and Linux. The students drew an image to represent themselves as an avatar in the work we complete this year.

Earlier in the year, the students had an opportunity to test our new tablet PCs. We listened to La Bamba through Discovery Streaming. The students practiced typing the lyrics using Open Office Writer. Open Office is a free suite of word processing, spreadsheet, presentation and drawing tools that is similar to Microsoft Office. It is available for the Mac, Windows, and Linux. The seventh grade students used Windows Journal to test writing with the stylus. These tools are now being used on the second floor thanks to the prize we won from CDWG and Discovery.

The students had an opportunity to continue building their skills in PowerPoint with a presentation called "Something You Probably Don't Know". They share something I (and perhaps others in the class) don't know about them. It can be a sport, hobby, thing they've done, place they've traveled to, or any other item they would like to share. The students practiced finding images, proportionally resizing the images, and writing notes. The notes included several paragraphs of explanations on how they became interested, what they've done, and plans for the future. There was great variety in the presentations. When we return from break, the students will watch videos of themselves. They will be evaluating themselves on their presentation style.

We returned to computer programming with Scratch. I introduced this program to the students in the sixth grade. The free program is from MIT. This year the students created a dress-up project. It is a great opportunity to learn the logic behind software. It is fun to see the creativity in our students as they created images and items to dress up faces with eyes, noses, mouths, and clothes.

We work, from time to time, with students from other parts of the world. In order to learn more about other cultures, we added our guesses to this What Could It Mean project from students in Florida. I helped them uncover the true meaning of the images with a guide provided by the teacher in Florida.

During Terra Nova test week, the students and I explored optical illusions. We had an opportunity to use the Activote devices that we won with the CDWG/ Discovery prize package. The illusions can be explored from home. We used the Activotes again as we learned about the Cookers for Darfur fund raising project on Saint Patrick's Day.

The sixth grade is in the process of learning about the Internet and creating movies to explain it to the fifth grade. Their research included reading through an online student's book called Small Pieces Loosely Joined for Kids. First, they created a script, in groups, in Word. They are now learning how to use the built-in iSight cameras on the Mac with iMovie. Once the movie is filmed and edited, they will create intro and outro music in Garageband. The finished movies will be presented to the fifth grade for commentary.

A website we use on occassion is Free Rice . It is a great opportunity to learn and help others.

The school has a Flickr account to store photos taken throughout the school day. Please take some time to enjoy the photos. Click on a blue word (tag) to see that collection of images.