Guest Blogger: Gina

Fr. Steve and two Native American students working on the computer.
Who is teaching who?

What a year our students have had!  The biggest change was me!! My name is Gina and I teach computer class.

I came to St. Joseph’s in September fresh out of the business world.  Together, the students and I grew by leaps and bounds.  Among a lot of new skills acquired , the first and second  graders now know what a CPU (central processing unit) is, what the letters stands for, and what it does.  Besides improving their typing skills every class period, they delved into programs such as KidPix and MS Word making graphic pictures and posters.

The best part of helping  kids at this level is the moment when they “get it” and they realize they do.  There was one young boy who consistently had a LOT of trouble just signing in to the computer with his name and password.  Shortly after Christmas break, he was in class and I heard a big shout out from behind me, “I DID IT ALL BY MYSELF!!” and he threw up his hands in triumph!

He had finally mastered signing in without help from me or his neighbors.  I went over and high-fived him, and the ear-to-ear grin on his face said it all!  That was worth every struggle he had weathered,  just to see the sense of accomplishment and pride he had at that moment.

The third graders learned many new things in Word and KidPix also, but their final project was learning an internet based program called Little Bird Tales where they wrote a book titled “All About Me.

They had fun drawing scenes from their lives and writing a sentence about it.  When they finished their project, the stories were printed and bound so students could take them home and share with their families.

Monster's at St. Joseph's Indian School.
Joe’s monster he drew for the Monster Exchange!

The fourth and fifth graders did a Monster Exchange project where they drew a “monster” in the Paint program and then wrote a description of it to exchange with the other class.  They then had to try and draw the other class’ monster from the description.  The results were quite interesting to say the least!  They learned that drawing from the description was not as easy as it seems.

The upper classes (sixth  through eighth) learned a lot about Microsoft Office and its programs.  For one of their projects, each student made a PowerPoint presentation about themselves and their life at St. Joseph’s.  They learned all about the bells and whistles of the program. They LOVED to have the computer applaud for them as they started their presentation!

One of the best projects we did this year was with the eighth graders in collaboration with the Social Studies class.  They are required to write a research paper and present it to the school, so we worked together to complete the project. We did assignments that would benefit them not only in computers but would also be some of the work they had to do in Social Studies.  I really enjoyed doing this as it showed the kids that the stuff we do in class does have an actual real life purpose.  I really hope next year I can do more projects like that.

All in all it has been a very productive year for us.  I am looking forward to finding new and fun ways for them to learn all about technology.

Student projects doing great

A couple interesting student projects of note. The William Home (4th-5th grade girls) has set a goal this quarter of 10,000 cumulative laps around the gym. Several mornings each week the home gets up early and goes out for a walk and exercise. They are keeping a thermometer on the door to the fitness room and coloring in their progress as they reach each new level. They’ve already passed the 3500 mark!

Gina’s computer class is spending a few minutes each day at the website Free Rice where fun quizzes increase their knowledge, make learning fun and educate them about hunger issue throughout the world. The students were talking about the activity even on the playground, so I knew it was a big hit.

Today was my day to run errands in town, to the bank and county building. While out, I stopped in to check on our folks downtown at our Thrift Store. With February around the corner, they’re redecorating with lots of red clothing for Valentine’s Day. The store is a great service to the community, and a good after school job opportunity for a few of our Lakota students.

St. Joseph's Indian School's cheeleaders.
These girls did a great job cheering on the basketball teams!

I ended the day in the gym, where our 6th-8th grade teams were in action. Besides the players, I cheer for our cheerleaders and encourage them to keep on improving. They had the help of our younger students, the 1st-3rd graders, who make up the pep club. This year they all have matching shirts that are St. Joseph’s basketball-style jerseys. They sure get both enthusiastic and loud when they start cheering. Half way through the games however, the time came for them to leave for supper, homework and bedtime. The gym quieted down considerably, but the action was still close and worth cheering for.