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How to Set Up a Slide Template for your Students (Google Classroom and Google Slides)

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For the last three weeks I have been experimenting with using Google Classroom in the Junior Primary grades. I started with Grade 3, my 'oldest' bunch of students. They took to the whole experiment like ducks to water.

The first thing I did was log each child into their browser, which I detailed in my previous post -How to log into the Chrome Browser (and Why). This meant that children didn't have to log into any Google services, their browser remembered who they were. I also set the Google Classroom website to be a bookmark on each student's bookmark bar. All of this has turned out to be a huge timesaver, we now just double-click on our Chrome shortcut then click on our Classroom bookmark to get to the work that we are doing.
How to Set Up a Slide Template for your Students: I started the Grade 3s off with a Google Slides assignment which I had already ready for them. I chose to start them off with a pre-built slide deck. This is because last year we worked on a local…

How to Log into the Google Chrome Browser (and Why)

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After passing the Google Certified Educator level 2 exam at the end of last year, I have been getting more comfortable with the idea of starting to use GAFE (Google Apps for Education) with younger students. The Twitter chat-tag #GAFE4littles has been invaluable in giving advice and ideas in this project, many thanks to everyone there. I highly suggest you check it out if you are also trying to get Google Apps into the hands of youngsters.

The situation:

I manage a computer lab of 26 Windows desktop pcs. Last week, I manually logged each Gr 3 child into their Chrome browser. I was able to do this because each student already has a unique desktop login so their browsers will remain separate. Logging into Chrome is a great step because my default it logs you into any Google website you visit, like Google Classroom or Google Drive. With younger children this is a great timesaver and will prevent you going grey trying to get them to learn yet another login!

How to log a GAFE student into th…

Mrs Robot: Intro to Programming using Sandwiches

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Term 4! The windy and wild term here at Bridge House School. A few weeks ago, my Grade 1 classes had a very special visitor: the one and only Mrs Robot!


I was inspired to try this crazy idea by a discussion on the CS Unplugged website about introducing programming concepts to young students. It lead me to this great video by Phillip Bagge showing his portrayal of a sandwich-making robot. I loved his use of a 'robotic' voice and totally hammed it up when I did my version.


Why did I pretend to be a robot?
We had a discussion at the start of the lesson about robots and what they are. They are machines that are programmed by people to do jobs for them. They have computer brains and they need very clear instructions so that they can do their job. My Grade 1s assured me that they all knew how to make a sandwich, so I asked them to go and write down their steps for making a sandwich. These steps, I explained, would be called an algorithm - a special list of instructions that a comput…

Learning with Minetest Part 3: Impact on the Students

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This blog post is part of a series of posts exploring the concept of using the Minetest game as a learning platform in a primary school. Click below to access the other posts:

Learning with Minetest Part 1: Rolling out Minetest in Pre-Primary
Learning with Minetest Part 2: Activities and Aims
Learning with Minetest Part 3: Impact on the Students

Our Minetest experiment has ended for the moment. During the last month my Pre-Primary and Junior Primary students have been exploring the game Minetest in their IT time. This post will discuss the impact that Minetest had on the students.

Spatial awareness:
Students have had to learn how to use both the keyboard and mouse independently. Minetest has been an enormous motivator for children to become comfortable with manipulating the controls with both hands working independently of each other. I have been surprised by how quickly the reluctant children became able to move around the game world. Every child that played was able to complete the bas…

Grade 2: Wow Day Invitations

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Just a quick one today, in between Minetest updates.

Next week is our Wow Day at school. Our Wow Day is similar to a parent showcase, the children have their classwork and artwork ready to show to their visiting families. We had been asked to create an invitation for Wow Day and it was a great excuse to polish up our MS Word skills. I had provided the Grade 2s with a very standard template for an invitation to our Wow Day. It looked something like this:

Functional, but not very exciting. Within an hour lesson, they managed to transform their bland templates into these!


Skills that we worked on:
Inserting picture - This is a tricky one for my students since it involves navigating through the file directory which they are still getting used to. Formatting picture - The only way we could get our invitations the way we wanted them was to use the wrap picture - tight option. This is a new skill for us.Adding page border - Brand new skill. At least this option is easy to locate. They were ex…

Learning with Minetest Part 2: Activities and Aims

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This blog post is part of a series of posts exploring the concept of using the Minetest game as a learning platform in a primary school. Click below to access the other posts:

Learning with Minetest Part 1: Rolling out Minetest in Pre-Primary
Learning with Minetest Part 2: Activities and Aims
Learning with Minetest Part 3: Impact on the Students

It's been 3 weeks since I set up Minetest in the computer lab at school. I wrote more about the installation in my previous blog post here. In this post I want to discuss the various activities that I organised, the worlds that I hosted and what aims I gave my students.

Rules

Before we started, each class and I formulated rules about our Minetest experience. It was important to spend the time having conversations about appropriate and inappropriate behaviour, and for the guidelines to come from the players themselves. This all helped to facilitate student buy-in to the rules agreement. All of my classes settled on something similar to the foll…

Learning with Minetest Part 1: Rolling out Minetest in Pre-Primary

Image
This blog post is part of a series of posts exploring the concept of using the Minetest game as a learning platform in a primary school. Click below to access the other posts:

Learning with Minetest Part 1: Rolling out Minetest in Pre-Primary
Learning with Minetest Part 2: Activities and Aims
Learning with Minetest Part 3: Impact on the Students

As a person who is an educator and has also played Minecraft, it's been obvious to me that the idea of mixing the two concepts together would be hugely successful. A 3D world focused on building is a very suitable game-space to develop many areas of learning. The creation of MinecraftEDU, which has recently been bought and re-released by Microsoft/Mojang, seemed inevitable. The US dollar price-tag for MinecraftEDU wasn't ideal, though I have always been interested in the possibility of bringing Minecraft into my computer lab.

Last week, I stumbled across Minetest. Minetest is a free, open source game which takes it's inspiration heavi…