Monday, November 2, 2009

Tweens Browser Review

Tweens Browser is designed for children 7 to 12 years of age. It is full-screen software, 100% secure that will block inappropriate sites and pop-up windows. It offers 10 categories of websites, full of resources specifically selected and accessible with just a few clicks of the mouse.

One of the important challenges that Tweens Browser attempts to meet is to remodel and filter the Internet for children in the 7 to 12 year age group. The choice of Internet sites is updated manually, and only sites that are considered excellent are made available with Tweens Browser. Sites that include violence, racism, pornography, and chat are automatically removed by the software. Another important challenge that Tweens Browser wants to address is the connection of users of all nationalities, physical appearances, and levels of mental development.

Tweens Browser is available for free at

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tech @ BG: An Introduction For Parents

A few days ago, I was out for dinner with some friends. One of my pals brought along someone I had never met before. When we got talking about our careers, I explained that I am a computer teacher. My new acquaintance looked blankly at me, and asked, "An elementary computer teacher? What can you possibly teach them? They're too young to learn anything interesting!"

That got me thinking. People who have been out of school for a while really don't have any idea of what we DO in the Computer Lab. As an introduction, I invite you to check out this video (below). It was created by the fine people at MIT, as a part of Project New Media Literacies, and it outlines just a teeny-weeny bit of what we do every day.

Monday, July 20, 2009

First Term Units

I have received a number of requests for information about the units that we will be working on during first term. While there may still be changes over the summer, here they are:

Kindergarten: Cooperative SMARTBoard Games
Grade 1: Creative eStorytelling
Grade 1/2: Windows Movie Maker
Grade 2/3: New Media OR Network Mapping (depending on whose class you're in)
Grade 3: Blogging from Start to Finish
Grade 3/4: Digital Video (Entries for the BG Film Fest & Pj Party)
Grade 4/5: Introduction to Graphic Design (Print advertisements for the BG Film Fest & PJ Party)
Grade 5/6: Introduction to Online Publishing (Yearbook)

Questions? Comments? Concerns? Send me an email!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Summer is Here

Ah, vacation. After a long year filled with hard work and many adventures, it's time to unwind with summer break.

I look forward to seeing all of you back for the 2009/2010 school year. As I work on this year's units of study, I will post updates. You can always feel free to email me at my work account , or post a comment here with questions.

Here are some answers to questions I've already received:
  • Why doesn't my TEL account work?!
You may have noticed that your Toronto Education Link account has stopped allowing you to log in. This TDSB communication tool (that includes email and instant messanging) does not work for students during the summer. Basically, in September, a staff sponsor sends student numbers to the IT Department, and the IT Department connects your accounts. As your staff sponsor, I would be responsible for you online. Obviously, since it's summer, and you're not in my class right now, I can't sponsor you for a TEL your account is closed. If you're going into grade 7 or 8, you will need to have a staff sponsor at your senior public school. Make sense?
  • Is it true that the school schedule is changing a little next year?
Yuppers. It's changing. We're going to switch back to half-hour periods. That's awesome, because it means that all of my classes (excluding kindergarten) will have computers with me for a double period each week. A straight hour of computers. Now that's awesome. Additionally, we're not on a Monday-Friday schedule, we're on a Five Day schedule. Huh? The first day of school is a Tuesday. That is going to be Day One. Every time we have a long weekend, or vacation, the schedule will change slightly; after Thanksgiving weekend, for example, Day One will change.
  • When is my computer class?
Check out the sidebar to the right. :)
  • I'm an old BG student. Can I drop by to visit?
Sure you can. We always love to see you and hear about your life outside of Beverly Glen. However, you need to remember that our school is a workplace. It is also private property. Ex-BG students wanting to visit should come no more than once a month (I would recommend coming no more than once a term, so that you can have something to talk about when you show up). You must sign in at the office. It's also considered generally polite to email/facebook the teacher you want to visit before you come so that they can make themselves available to spend a little time with you. Finally, there are some completely awful times to visit BG. Coming during report card writing season, on the Friday before a long weekend, or during a generally busy time is never a good idea.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thinking Ahead

Use the comment section of this post to make suggestions for next year's units of instruction. The more details you include, the more consideration your ideas will receive. Does your suggested unit require special hardware or software? What about field trips? What grades are your unit best suited for?

To get your brains working, check out Kori's awesome animation; created during the Claymation Unit. When she made it (earlier this year) she was only four years old!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Welcome to the Video Game Unit!

This term, Nazareth's 3/4s and Holden's 4/5s are taking part in the wickedly cool Video Game Unit. This unit is tied to Language and Media Literacy.

During third term, we will learn about how video games are marketed to children and adults, and how they are portrayed in the media (both positively and negatively).

Students will be given the opportunity to use Photoshop to redesign video game packaging, debate about the pros and cons of video gaming in our society, and engage in meaningful dialogue about their own connection to video gaming.

To better help students understand the games that we will be studying, each child will get a chance to play a couple games, and write a review about the experience.

Respond to this post with one paragraph about one of the following:
(a) Your opinion about video gaming.
(b) Your parent's opinion of video gaming.
(c) How video game corporations market video games to youth.

We will discuss these during our next class.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Junior Research Project Reflections

Believe it or not, it's the first week of February already!

With seven weeks of Term Two left, it's time for us to talk about our projects. As we work through the research process, it's important to stop and reflect. If we pause to consider the work we've done so far, it will help refocus us toward work that needs to be done.

Respond to this post with a one paragraph comment, about your research topic. Level four comments will include the following:
  1. The title of your topic
  2. Why you chose to learn about that topic
  3. Your group member(s), and why you chose to work with them (or by yourself)
  4. Three things you've learned about your topic so far
  5. Sources that you've used to find information (be specific!)
  6. Things that you're finding easy and difficult about the research process
  7. How you're planning to present your topic
  8. How you are feeling about this project right now (and why you feel that way)
I'll post the first comment, so that you can have an example.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Grades K-4: Stop-Motion Animation

With second term in full swing, almost all of the (kindergarten - grade four) students at Beverly Glen have finished storyboarding for their animation projects.

Storyboarding involves drawing a series of cartoon-like sketches to show what a finished film will look like. My storyboard (pictured at left) shows Orange Guy coming out of his hole, and walking off screen.

Once students complete their storyboards, they need to create sets for their characters to walk around in. My set consists of a background (pictured), a grassy floor, and a couple of trees in the foreground for Orange Guy to hide behind as he leaves his hole.

Once the clay we've ordered gets to the school, students will be able to make their characters, and use some of our brand-new Samsung S760 cameras (thank you parent council!) to take the pictures that were drawn on their storyboards. We'll be using Photoshop Elements to make WMA animations and Glikr to create GIFs.

Since I'm sure you're curious, here's the WMA test version of my animation. It's a rough copy, but it's still pretty cool.