Filed Under (Computer Lab Updates, News) by on July 29, 2012

This marks the conclusion of four wonderful years blogging the technology news for the Downtown School! I am transitioning to a new position teaching fifth grade reading and language arts this year, and will be starting a new blog to document integration of educational technology. I will post the new link once I get settled in my new school (only 4 miles from my house…woot!).

In June, I taught a class at the Memphis City Schools Got Tech summer camp. This year, the theme was “Going Green.” The amount of technology these kids were able to learn and produce in a week was astounding. In fact, they told me to stop hovering. I apologized, reminding them that I am used to teaching applications to younger kids! So, I stepped back and let them get to work. Many finished the required projects (GoAnimate, Tagxedo, Voki, paperslide videos, blogging, etc.), so I had a little time to introduce them to stopmotion animation. We had a fabulous, informative, fun, and productive trip to the Memphis Zoo to observe and photograph endangered animals, and the week was just all around awesome. Check out the kids’ blogs (which contain links to all their various projects):

Got Tech 2012 Blogs

Here is a link to the homepage of my new school: Cordova Elementary


Fourth grade classes are wrapping up an interdisciplinary unit themed on the elements air, water, fire, and earth. A small group was tasked with researching how to make a camp fire. They wrote a script and made a storyboard, then came down to the lab ready to get started on making a movie.

The students built a set and props using mostly construction paper and model magic. Using iStopmotion, students filmed a scene depicting the steps to make a campfire, then narrated it. Click the link to view the movie.


Filed Under (Resources) by on February 9, 2012

With an elementary school computer lab buzzing all day long, the Macs tend to accumulate big download folders and the Photo Booth folder fills up with a million goofy pictures. I decided that it’s a lot easier to make these go away with one click rather than looking through the folders of each computer.

All you need to do is go to your applications folder and open the AppleScript subfolder. Inside, open the Script Editor. Paste one of the codes below, save it as an application to the desktop. Now it is ready to import to the student stations. To run the program, simply double-click it.

If you use Remote Desktop, transfer the script file to your applications folder and then copy it to the application folder on all the student stations. Then in Remote Desktop, select Manage>Open Application>Script. Voila!

Script: Empty Downloads Folder and Trash

tell application “Finder”

delete every item of folder “Downloads” of home

empty trash


Script: Move Photo Booth Photos to Trash and Empty Trash

tell application “Finder”

open folder “Macintosh HD:users:Student:Pictures:Photo Booth”

delete every item of folder “Macintosh HD:users:Student:Pictures:Photo Booth”

empty trash

close folder “Macintosh HD:users:Student:Pictures:Photo Booth”

end tell


Here are some reflective questions to think about when teaching technology centered lessons:

  • Why is this learning important?
  • Can students explain the objective in their own words?
  • Can students explain the product they are tasked with creating?
  • Is there a good balance between you demonstrating and students doing?
  • Does the task involve applying knowledge to solve a problem or generate a product?
  • Do you simply tell a student how to solve a problem, or probe with questions to guide student to logical solution?
  • Do you adjust and reteach using a different method if needed?

Here are some question stems for guiding students to think more deeply about the technology:

  • Is there a better solution to…?
  • Could you have _____ through a different set of steps?
  • What examples can you find to support…?
  • What would result if…?
  • How is ___ similar to ___?
  • Why did … changes occur?
  • How many ways can you think of to…?
  • Can you design a ___ to…?
  • How would you improve…?

A couple years ago, I wrote a post about using digital map making tools for a variety of classroom learning activities, but I’ve found one that I particularly love. My sixth graders used it to create maps for a social studies project. It is easy for the kids to use, prints well, and has enough features to sneak in a geography lesson or two, even if you’re using it in language arts.

Stone Sword’s World Maker

Trying to get your students more involved in creative writing?  Maps are a great way to give students a nudge to start coming up with fictional story ideas.

Activity: Starting with the map maker, create your own “land.” Show different land features. Once you print the map, assign and name villages, castles, rivers, mountain ranges, deserts, forests, and lakes (and/or oceans).  Write a few notes about this land. Is there a leader? Who is it? What kind of money do they use? What are the people like? Where are the dangerous places? What kind of animals live there? Are there monsters? Once you have notes on your imaginary land, think about a certain person who lives there. This will be your main character in a story set in this land. Think of a reason this character will travel to different places on the map you created, and write a story telling what happens and how the character gets home again (or doesn’t).