Grade 6 / Quarter 1 / Quarter 2 / Quarter 3 / Quarter 4


Class: 40 minutes / once a week. (We only do UltraKey to check scores periodically.)
Keyboarding Goal for end of 6th grade: Finish UltraKey. Type 20 wpm / 95%, by touch.
Student keyboarding progress reports printed from the UltraKey program will be given to parents at conferences.




Quarter 1

MaKenna apple.jpg
MaKenna - SumoPaint / Word graphics work

KEYBOARDING: Student keyboarding progress reports will be sent home with report cards.
Goal: Students should be typing 20 wpm / 95% by the end of 6th grade.

Since students spend 2 periods a week typing in their writer's workshop language classes, we can spend most of our computer classes on learning other skills and working on projects.

SKILLS: More advanced word processing in Microsoft Word to prepare for Writer's Workshop assignments; Using "painting tools" in SumoPaint (similar to PhotoShop) to create images to use in a document.

Word Processing / Google Docs: We began the year by learning how to create a heading on a word processing document by setting tab markers in Word. Students also reviewed using the 1st line indent marker to indent paragraphs. Students accessed their Google Apps for Education accounts and learned how to format tabs in this program as well. They also learned how to "share" a document with others so that teachers can advise and correct their writing and so they can peer-edit, collaborate and comment on each others work.

Apple Island / SumoPaint: In 6th grade, I teach students how to work with "paint tools" in a free online program called, SumoPaint. This is a very basic form of Photoshop, which they may have opportunity to use in high school or in some businesses. SumoPaint introduces also students to the concepts of layers, which are used in Photoshop. I gave students a poem about teachers, that when they center-aligned it, it looked like an apple with a stem. They changed the font and color to make it look more like an apple. Then the fun began. I had them use the paint tools in SumoPaint to paint a leaf. Then students exported the image as a .jpg. (It's important when working with computers, that students understand different file formats and extensions.)

Students inserted the image into the Word document. However, they had to do a text wrap on it so the image could be positioned on the page exactly where they wanted. The image had a white area around it, which covered some of the text. I showed them how to crop the image with the crop tool and then use the "remove background" tool (similar to the magic wand) to delete the extra space, so it wouldn't cover the text. Students added artistic "filters" to the image to make it more interesting, as well as drop shadow, bevel and emboss, etc.

Students are now ready to put the project on a wiki so others can see it. The Word document must be converted to an image. To do that, students must save the document as a .pdf file and open it in the Mac program, Preview. Preview allows you to save the file as an image (.jpg). The .jpg image files can then be uploaded to a wiki page, so their hard work could be seen by others. You can see the projects from last year by clicking Apple Island wiki.

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Quarter 2

Ben - Vignette QR Code

KEYBOARDING: Student keyboarding progress reports have been sent home with the student 1/29.
Since students spend time typing in their language classes, we can spend most of our computer classes on learning other skills and working on projects.

SKILLS: Using a paint program (SumoPaint, which is similar to PhotoShop) to create a "vignette" of an image and add a layer of text with a drop shadow and embossing effect; Saving the image and creating an image url for it, so the url can be entered into a QR Code creator; Creating and reading QR codes from images and text; uploading all to a wiki website.

Using paint tools to create clip art and images or modify existing images: Sixth graders learn to work with images, understanding the different formats, and export/import images to different programs to reach a desired goal. Photoshop, which graphic artists use, is an expensive and complicated program. We do have Photoshop Elements on about 10 computers, but that is not currently part of the general curriculum. However, SumoPaint is a free online program that students can access at home and it works the same way and the tools are similar to Photoshop. Photoshop uses layers to create images, where you can have different backgrounds or text layers on other image layers and choose the combination you like best, then "merge" and "flatten" the layers into one image and export it as one complete image. This is a complex idea, on top of the new concept of "paint", where what you create or add does not "float' on the background and you can't just click on it and delete. This can be complex, but the sixth graders have been cooperative, thinking very hard, and helping each other, so I am very pleased with their efforts.

So, far, we have played around with the tools of the program and then started to create a finished product. Students imported an image to a layer and then made a "vignette", by selecting with an oval tool, feathering, and inverting the selection and delete the "outside" part. You may have seen similar effects in a photographer's studio, where the photo was in an oval shape with the edges blurred and softened (feathered). We also worked with text effects like beveling and drop shadow.

QR Codes: I thought it would be fun to take their images a step further and create QR codes out of them. First, we entered text into an online QR code creator. Then we read them with the iPads. Images online have url's which are necessary to create QR codes from images. However, an image that was created in SumoPaint, does not have a url. Therefore, we had to upload the image to "tinypic", a free online program which creates a url for an image. Students took the QR code and pasted it onto a Word document. Through these activities, students are learning how to harness what each technology tool will do in order to get the results you want. We are going to use these skills to create a SCAVENGER HUNT for Social Studies class - with the text, image, and website clues all being in QR Codes!!

Click HERE to see what the students have created so far!

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Quarter 3

SKILLS: Learning programming with Scratch!
scratch just logo.jpg


Scratch (Programming to create animations and video games!)
Students are learning programming skills with the free online website developed by MIT, called Scratch. I have been using Scratch for years in Challenge class. Last year I introduced it to the 6th and 7th graders. This year, after the focus on programming with "Hour of Code", and seeing the excitement students had for learning this skill, I decided to add it to my 6th grade curriculum, replacing the MediaBlender interactive multimedia presentation project I usually do. As with most computer activities, students are engaged and using higher order thinking skills to create interactive animations and video games. They are also using standard computer literacy skills, such as adding audio, using paint tools, creativity, analyzing problems, and iterative design (breaking a huge task down into smaller tasks, solving one small problem at a time, testing it, and adding it to the whole). Scratch uses block programming so students need to determine which type of block is needed to make the action happen: motion, control, sensing, etc. They are also creating "variables" to have their games score points. Students are making characters (sprites) respond to commands. The sprite may speak something the student recorded or turn, dance, move up or down or across the screen, or react to another sprite or when it touches something. Students also add backgrounds to their projects. Our first project was making a sprite bounce on a trampoline by hitting the space bar. The trampoline moves when the sprite touches it. Students also made their sprite turn or say something, or change color, etc. when the user hits one of the arrow keys. Our current project is to create a video game where a sprite has to move across the screen without hitting the moving "villain" to grab the golden key! We will then add coins to create along the way in order to get points for scoring.

Download Scratch for free online! Scratch would be a great summer project for your child! If they create something neat, they can submit it to me to enter in the PA Computer Fair next year. I can take 3 submissions in this category. The link to the program, plus tutorial videos is on our 6th grade wiki for this year. Click HERE.

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Quarter 4

Avery scroll game.jpg
Avery's Scratch Game with Scrolling Background and Scoring

SKILLS: Scratch: Programming a video game with a scrolling background and scoring, by using variables.

Scratch Programming
Several students have been working on their own with Scratch. Damian asked if he could teach the class how to create scrolling backgrounds with variables for a video game. He demonstrated the game he created and students downloaded it to play it. This was a complex task, but students were able to eventually create it, each adding their own creative twist. Avery taught the class how to score points when the character hit "coins" and how to make the "coins" disappear when hit. Students uploaded their games to the Scratch website so we could see and play them. The username is: kraybill; The password is: kms12345. Encourage your child to create with Scratch over the summer!

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Quarter 2

SKILLS: Creating Egypt Prezi presentations for Social Studies.

Students used research skills to gather information on topics for Social Studies. They wrote their facts in a Google Doc so that they could work at home. They printed out their facts to be graded by Mr. Steckbeck. Students copy/pasted the information they wrote in the Google Doc into their Prezis. Then they downloaded pictures for the presentations and uploaded them to their Prezis. Mr. Steckbeck created a wiki for hosting the Prezis. Students created a page on the wiki and embedded the code from the Prezi onto the page by pasting the code into a widget. Such strange terms! Students learned the difference between linking and embedding something on a web page. It sounds complicated, but as students create and share online using these types of tools, it becomes a simple procedure.

Check out their Prezis!

Next, we will be blogging!

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Quarter 3

SKILLS: Using an online bible commentary and to find scripture and better interpret it; Blog and comment positively on blogs; Using to do collaborative brainstorming online. Creating Comic Life cartoons to reinforce good Internet Safety and Digital Citizenship practices.

Using the Internet to better understand scripture and discussing scripture through Blogging
Technology allows us to find answers to our questions immediately. As students recited Psalm 121 in homerooms each morning, Mr. Rush told the staff that some of the students had had some questions about whether verse 3 was to be taken literally or not. I took that as an opportunity for student initiated learning which involved technology. I had the 6th graders look up the verse in Bible Gateway and then copy it into a blog post in Gaggle (a blog site for students which can be protected and blocked from inappropriate content a student might enter). Then I had them write their interpretations of the verse. I had them pair off and comment on what each other had said, emphasizing that they needed to avoid being judgmental or negative. Next, I directed them to a website where they could type in the reference and see what several bible commentaries had to say. This was a bit complicated, so we worked through the interpretations together. We discovered that what the students were taking from the verse were all valid interpretations! Cool! You can view the blogs by asking your child to help you log in to their account on

Online Safety & Digital Citizenship ( and Comic Life)
I did a unit on Online Safety and Digital Citizenship, discussing how to be wise when we are online (inappropriate content, posing as someone else, being careful what you say and pictures you post online, consequences of posting the wrong thing online, being mindful of someone's impression of us from what we post, or how we can unintentionally hurt someone else online, bullying and why people do or what to do if you or someone is bullied.) In the lessons, I showed students some effective videos to drive home my points. Students brainstormed on, where they could add connecting boxes to contribute issues we need to keep in mind when being online. Students used the brainstorming maps as reference for creating comic strips to illustrate good online behavior. They had a lot of fun with this project, as they used the computer camera to take pictures of themselves and added speech bubbles. Students are uploading them to a wiki as they finish. Take a look!

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Tessellation by Kayla:

Quarter 4

SKILLS: Integrating Media Blender multimedia program with Science Class; Programming a video game with Scratch

Creating multimedia presentations on severe weather
The sixth graders completed their MediaBlender multimedia presentations on severe weather. If I had't brought the project to a close, they would have enjoyed going on for a lot longer. They had so much fun adding more to the presentations. There is so much you can do with this program. We made buttons that made text scroll all by itself. Some buttons moved to the next page with a transition. We created hyperlinks for text that linked to YouTube videos showing actual tornadoes, hurricanes or hailstorms. We made images play tornado sounds when you clicked on them. We got great sound effects from Some students created path animations so that when a button was clicked, an image (like a tornado) moved around the page. Some students used the "timer" effect so that a sound played or an action occurred a few seconds after arriving on a page.

Students had to write three questions with multiple choice answers. The first set of answers had to be linked to sound effects (buzzers and bells, etc.), so that when the user clicked on an answer, they could tell by the sound if they were correct or not. The second set was linked to voice recordings the students made where they said, "Sorry, that's incorrect," or, "Yea, you're right!" The third set linked to text boxes that were "hidden", but would appear to display "Correct" or "Wrong!" or whatever the students chose to write. At least one question had to link to a website where the answer could be found. We spent a session watching each other's presentations and voting on the best.