2008-2009 Electronic Newsletter for Eighth Grade

The eighth 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 eighth. Your student can demonstrate this process to you. As a parent, you may be interested in creating your own Delicious account. You can save bookmarks and open them on any computer.

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 the year progressed, I worked on many different projects with the eighth grade students. You may click here or click on the word eighth on the left side of the screen to see my plan for the year.

We have used a variety of software this year. We saw each other twice per week 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 their work created last year as a 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. We also learned how to create an animation in Gimp. The students learned how to explore layers to create an animated aquarium.

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 eighth 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.

This year, we used the iMovie software to create movies. The movie theme was tied into the DAR essay about Lincoln's speech at Gettysburg. The students enjoyed writing a news show script. They were asked to pretend they traveled back in time to interview people about the effect of Lincoln's speech on an average person. They created music in Garageband. I shared the videos with the sixth and seventh grade students.

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 eighth grade students used Word to create their yearbook page.

The students had an opportunity to continue building their skills in PowerPoint with a presentation called "Time Travel Agency". They chose a decade from the 1900s. The students practiced finding images, proportionally resizing the images, and writing notes. The notes included several paragraphs of explanations on the major issues, world events, arts, sports, clothes, music, architecture, visual media, and literature of the time period. There was great variety in the presentations. Before the school year ends, the students will watch videos of themselves giving their presentation. They will be evaluating themselves on their presentation style.

We are closing out the school year with a choice of four projects. It wraps up their computer education at the school. They have learned so much over the years from drawing and painting in Kid Pix as second grade students, through the use of Microsoft Word and Excel, Internet safety and responsibility, making music in Garageband, making movies in iMovie, collaborating through wikis, and a myriad of other tools.

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.