Friday, December 13, 2013

First Graders Learn to Code!

Mrs. Hall's Hoppers and Ms. Wilson's Wizards had a great time learning how to code this week - without even using a computer! They began the lesson by discussing vocabulary words such as "algorithm" and "debugging", and learning what it means to write code.

Ms. Wilson's Class Learning the Commands

After working on a whole-group program, students were divided into coding partners. The students were given a specific set of commands they were allowed to use in their programs, and began to write code that would enable a "robot" (really just a teacher!) to create a specifically-designed stack of cups.

Coding Partners

Partners then had a robot execute their program to check their code. This involved a lot of debugging at first, but they soon became quite proficient at writing accurate code!

Writing Code

The Debugging Process

The students had to work together to solve problems and communicate their ideas, think critically and logically about how to get their code working, and then evaluate their work and make changes. Lots of good learning was taking place! 

Check out this video for one example of the many good conversations students were having:

Way to go, first graders!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

LME Participates in the Hour of Code

This week is Computer Science Education Week, and LME is celebrating by participating in the Hour of Code initiative. The Hour of Code is designed to introduce students to computer programming by allowing them the opportunity to do some basic coding for one hour during this week.

Many teachers on our campus have written lesson plans this week that will include the Hour of Code, although the activities and lessons they've chosen vary widely. Mrs. Ferriola's TAG class, for example, will be working on a Khan Academy lesson. The Tech Club students will be given a variety of self-directed activities to choose from, ranging from JavaScript lessons to Scratch to coding with Angry Birds!

Why are we getting involved? Most schools don't teach coding, but we want our students to be ready for the future!

To learn more about the Hour of Code, check out this website: CSEd Week - Hour of Code

Monday, December 9, 2013

Google Research Tool is a Hit!

LME students all over campus are working on research projects with a wide variety of topics and products in mind. Now that we've gone Google, many students have chosen to create products from their Google Drives, and almost all of them are using their Drive to create and organize their research.

One tool that everyone LOVES is the Google Research Tool! Students can conduct research and find photos from within their documents. They can drag and drop photos easily, and the source is automatically cited for them! The research tool makes it super easy to cite online sources too, which is a difficult skill to learn.

The teachers love the research tool as well, and are doing a fantastic job of utilizing it along with the other methods of research they already teach their students!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Safire Racing Team Visits LME

Yesterday our 5th graders were excited to hear from the Safire Racing Team from UAE, who are in Austin to compete in the F1 in Schools World Finals this week.

The Safire team talked about aerodynamics, friction and energy as it relates to the design, manufacturing and construction of a world-class miniature F1 car. These highschoolers use software called Autodesk to design their car from the inside out! 

LME students were excited to hear about the design process, as well as see the awesome videos and songs the team created for their presentations. 

Click the links for more information about Safire Racing or F1 in Schools.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Tech Goes Wild with iNaturalist

Mr. Hance's Enrichment Cluster has begun using an app called iNaturalist on the eleven Samsung tablets purchased by our PTA for outdoor learning. iNaturalist is one of several new resources dedicated to "citizen science", where regular people post information about wildlife they encounter, such as photographs, location, and observations, and scientists help curate and accurately label that information.

The iNaturalist website

Laurel Mountain students are contributing to the effort to document species found in our area. The students photograph wildlife they encounter in the Preserve using either digital cameras or the tablets, then upload those photos online to the iNaturalist website utilizing either the iNaturalist app (which integrates easily with the iNaturalist website) or any internet-connected computer.

Using iNaturalist to document sightings

Uploading photos using the app

This morning at the Enrichment Cluster meeting, scientists from Texas Parks and Wildlife came to speak to the class about iNaturalist, which is a tool they use in their everyday jobs. The students and Mr. Hance learned quite a bit about how to use all of the site's many neat features. The scientists also helped the cluster identify animals within photos they've taken, and learned some very technical vocabulary in the process!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Kindergarten Loves KidPix!

Mrs. Miranda's Moonbeams recently visited the computer lab to learn how to create awesome pictures with a tool called KidPix.

First, the students had to learn how to log on to the computer. Pushing Ctrl, Alt, and Delete at the same time with little hands can be difficult! We use shiny star stickers on the keyboards to help the students learn where those keys are located.

We introduced the pencil tool, which lets you draw freely with the mouse, and showed the students how to change colors. We also demonstrated the stamp tool to place pictures onto the screen. After the quick introduction, the students were able to experiment with the program.

Exploring KidPix

Students worked together to show their discoveries and to teach each other the new things they figured out. By the time the Moonbeams were finished with their lab time, some students had created amazing pictures with backgrounds, stickers and stamps, and hand-drawn pictures.

Sharing New Ideas

Way to go, Moonbeams!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Student Interest Survey Results: Tech Is IN!

All LME students recently participated in a survey to find out what each child's interests and talents might be. Laurel Mountain's innovative SEM program uses the results from these surveys to create Enrichment Clusters, during which students and teachers work together to explore a particular topic of study. Classroom teachers also use the survey information to help design lessons that integrate student interest.

One thing was clear from the results: technology and computers are very popular! "Creating Video Games" was one of the top interests in each grade level.

Our 4th and 5th graders will began clusters last Friday, and there are several technology-oriented ones we are excited about:

  • Into the Wild: Citizen Scientists cluster is using Samsung Galaxy tablets and several "citizen science" apps to observe and document wildlife in our outdoor preserve.
  • LME Computer Institute students delve into the worlds of hardware and software.
  • Web..Web..Websites! cluster will learn webmaster and HTML skills and create their very own websites.
  • "Scratch" the Surface - Making Computer Games You Can Play will use Scratch 2.0 to create their very own games.
  • 3,2,1 Action! cluster will use flipcams and video editing tools to create their own movies!
  • POWERPoint students will get techy with Powerpoint and Prezi and make amazing presentations. 

Be on the lookout for ways LME gets I.T. right in these enrichment clusters!

For more information about the Student Enrichment Model, please visit the SEM blog.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Smart Sleuths Create Video Games

Mrs. Smith's 3rd grade Smart Sleuths spent a Friday enrichment session learning how to create a video game with Scratch 2.0. Using a kid-friendly programming language created by MIT, the students made a game called "Feed the Shark"!

In the game, a fish falls from the top of the ocean. The player uses the arrow buttons to move a shark back and forth across the screen to eat the falling fish. When the fish is eaten, the player receives a point. If the fish reaches the ocean floor, the game is over.

Students learned to create and import sprites and program those sprites to move and interact with each other. This required some deep thinking and problem solving! The Sleuths worked together to make their games work and were proud of their finished product.

If you want to learn more about Scratch, visit the site and take a look at what you can do!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

LME Students are Going Google!

This year, Round Rock ISD issued Google Apps for Education accounts to each student in 2nd through 12th grade. Laurel Mountain students have been learning about and exploring their new Google tools!

Students received lessons on using and customizing Gmail, along with some etiquette rules on how and when to email others. Many teachers and staff members have received email messages from LME students!

Many classes are learning how to organize their Drives with folders and naming conventions so their files are easier to locate and share. Teachers and students are collaborating on projects and documents relating to what they're learning. Ms. Holzinger's 4th grade class, for instance, is working on Google Presentations that demonstrate what they've learned about the regions of Texas.

LME students are very excited to use this new tool!