Grade 7 / Quarter 2 / Quarter 3 / Quarter 4

Quarter 4

Class = 40 minutes / once a week. (5 minutes keyboarding optional / 35 minutes computer skills)
Writer's Workshop is held in the lab for a double period each week.
Keyboarding Goal for end of 7th grade: Type 25 wpm / 95%, by touch.

SKILLS: Integrating database/mail merge with language class - Creating an address database & parts of speech database

Using"database" to collect/organize data and "mail merge" to pull data onto a word processing document

Database and Mail Merge - The basic skills taught in computer classes are; keyboarding, word processing, spreadsheet, database, presentation programs (MediaBlender, PowerPoint), and Internet use. Database is the computer’s way of storing information so that it can be easily gathered, categorized, sorted, subdivided, and entered into another document. I show students how I use a database to keep track of the businesses that advertise in our yearbook. We begin understanding how to work with a database by starting an “address database” of classmates. Students create “fields” (categories) like: first name, last name, street address, city, etc. Then they go around to the computers adding their information into the blanks that were created on each “record”. We make it more interesting by making one of the fields a set of “radio buttons’ so that students can click on ‘boy” or “girl”. We make another field a “pop-up menu”, asking what the person’s favorite restaurant, song, sport, etc. is. On the computer, the layout of the database can be changed, adding color, changing the format of text, adding clip art, so students used their graphics skills to make their databases more attractive.

More work with Database/Mail Merge - Students see that the database can be viewed in records that look like recipe cards or in a list. Both views can be printed. We work with sorting databases and creating new layouts which show just names and phone numbers or show only the girls who like basketball best. Last, we write a letter and use mail merge to automatically insert the information. This gives us personalized versions of the same document, just like companies do for mass-mailings. I then demonstrate how I use mail merge to insert the business information into letters and address labels for yearbook.

Integration - To integrate these basic skills into what they are learning in class, students create another database, this time with parts of speech. The “fields” are: “past tense verb”, “prepositional phrase”, etc. After students fill in the data for several records (write examples of the verbs, etc.), they copy a short paragraph I’ve written, and do a mail merge. The result is several versions of the paragraph - each with different nouns, verbs, etc. pulled from the database. In other words, they create a “mad lib” using database and mail merge! We also use a fun Internet site, called “Wacky Web Tales”, where students create more mad libs.

Quarter 3

Class = 40 minutes / once a week. (5 minutes keyboarding optional / 35 minutes computer skills)
Writer's Workshop is held in the lab for a double period each week.
Keyboarding Goal for end of 7th grade: Type 25 wpm / 95%, by touch.

SKILLS: Integrating MulitMedia/Animation with Science

Using animation to show the blood flow through the heart

Creating a Stop-motion Animation: After using an interactive website to introduce the process of animation, students were guided in creating a simple stop-motion animation of a flower growing. Of course, with students' imaginations, we ended up with wonderfully creative variations! The animation was made by beginning a drawing using paint tools in MediaBlender, Only a small portion of the drawing was made. Then the page was duplicated, and more was added to the drawing. Eventually, students had 20-50+ pages. Students learned that motion is created by seeing a series of images which have changed slightly in rapid succession, separated by a short period of darkness. "Persistence of vision" makes the brain see the images as one, and the "phi phenomenon" makes the brain see the varying images as movement. Therefore, the pages needed to be just images. Fortunately, the program allowed students to export the pages as images (.jpg's) This gave opportunity for discussion about file formats and extensions that indicate program files and image files.

Next the images were imported into a related program, Frames. The images in this program were now referred to as frames. The program is a simple video editing program, so students could click on the play button and watch the images before them as a flip book. Students selected the frames and adjusted the speed to make the animation smoother. They then added a blank frame and created a title page. Next, I directed them back to the MediaBlender program to look through their files of music. Background music was added to the animations to add more life to them. We had a great time watching everyone's cartoon!

Of course, we are using technology to help help us learn, so our main project was to create an animation of the blood flowing through the heart. Students went through the same process and added sound effects (heartbeats) from the site: This gave them opportunity to download audio files and learn about new file formats: .wav, .aiff, .mp3.

Check back later to see some finished animations uploaded to this wiki!

I will be talking about online safety this quarter. Please check out my page of resources for parents on this wiki.

Quarter 2

SKILLS: Integrating web 2.0 tools (Wikis) with Social Studies; Integrating MulitMedia/Animation with Science

Using the Internet to do research and Wikis to share information; Posting feedback to students online; Using animation to show the blood flow through the heart

Researching on the Internet: Our "Exchange Teacher" from Egypt, Miss Selvia visited our 7th grade computer classes and shared some slide shows and Youtube videos about her country. She made a list of things she thought the students should research to get a feel for her country. With Mr. Steckbeck, students had focused on "ancient" Egypt. As the 7th graders finished their podcasts and online quizzes, they chose a topic and did some quick research, posting what they learned on their own wiki page. They added images and in some cases, audio files. They took time, often working at home to finish and make their page look good. Some students worked together on the same page. Wikis are great for collaboration since several people can work on the same page from their own homes! I took the opportunity to guide students in good web design techniques. They were in fact, creating their own web pages!

Adding a comment to their classmates' pages: When students know their work will be "published" on the Internet, they will often put more effort in the project because they know many others will see it. Students will be assigned 2 other names and will read the page of each of those students and then give some positive feedback. Each page of the wiki has a discussion tab, so that students can easily offer feedback or discussion.

Click here to view the Egypt wiki!

Creating a Stop-motion Animation: Trying to remember the way the blood flows through the heart can be tough. However, if you make a cartoon showing the blood actually moving through the chambers and label everything, and then add sound effects and music, it can be a lot of fun because you are making your own "cartoon"! And, by creating all of those images that are necessary when making a cartoon, you have actually memorized that scientific process!

I introduced animation by using the interactive web site from the Museum of the Moving Image to help students understand the illusion of motion. Because of "visual persistence", our eye perceives several images as one image - if those images are flashed before us very fast with a brief interval of darkness between them. The "phi phenomenon" causes us to see several images that progressively differ, as moving. They work together to make a series of frames or images appear as a cartoon or movie. Students are creating a short animation, just to understand how we can do it using the computer. They are creating images in MediaBlender (the program they used last year to create a multimedia presentation on weather). They they will export the images and import them into the program, Frames. This program will flash the images at whatever speed you determine. Students can add a title card and sound effects, their own voice, or music. The project can then be exported as a Quicktime movie!


New students: Most Kraybill students have completed UltraKey in third/fourth grade, so I don't spend much time in UltraKey during computer classes in middle school. Since students type in weekly Writer's Workshop classes, it is important for them to have correct keyboarding skills. If students are behind or new, I encourage them to work through the program during a study hall, but working only once a week is not the best way to get through the program. Experts recommend 3-4 twenty minute sessions per week to learn keyboarding. Therefore, if a student is new to keyboarding and cannot type by touch (without looking down), I strongly suggest that you purchase the UltraKey program and work through the program at home.

You may send in a request for UltraKey to the homeroom teacher, the office, or myself and a check for $19.95 payable to "Kraybill School". The program works on a mac or PC. UltraKey divides the letters into nine levels or lessons & tests. Students are allowed to move onto the next level of letters after passing a test twice with 10 wpm / 95 %. Students can tape one edge of a piece of paper to the top of the keyboard so it covers their hands during the tests, to help them type "by touch".

Free online games to practice keyboarding: