Saturday, January 20, 2007

First Things First

Let's assume that you have Linux-based workstations in your classroom. These may be recycled equipment that is big, bulky, but free or relatively free in cost or it may be spiffy, sleek, and comparatively inexpensive when looking at the cost of a new PC or Mac product. In either case, you need to get on the machine and start trying things out. The version our district is using is K12LTSP (Kindergarten through grade 12 Linux Terminal Server Project). More information about this can be found at:
Our network administrator created usernames and passwords for all of us--staff and students. The student passwords are simple 6 character words or phrases like horses, 4worms, 2birds, bigdog, puppies. These are simple enough for the youngest users (Kindergarten) to learn in a relatively short period of time. Our usernames are also easy (and help the K-2 crew learn to spell their last names). They are just first initials and last names.

Initially, I posted a sign over the workstations that read (the italics are not on my sign :) ):
1. Turn the monitor on. (Our old recycled monitors eat up a lot of energy, so I turn the cpu's on in the morning and the kids turn on the monitors when it is time for them to work.)
2. Type your username.
3. Click "OK" or press "Enter".
4. Type your password.
5. Click "OK" or press "Enter".
6. Do the assignment.
(These are usually given orally but I am in the process of getting my students used to looking in a folder that is on their desktop and labeled "To-Do". Our network administrator set one up on my desktop that allows me to put assignments there. She also set up a "Turn-in" folder for them to drag and drop or save to that lets me look at their work.)

The first assignment I gave my class was to talk 3 of them through how to change their desktop background. Then those 3 taught the next group. And the routine continued until everyone was set. The kids love choosing desktop backgrounds. As you might expect some change it daily and others a little less frequently. Why do I encourage this? It's the first step in teaching them that they have some control over the machine. It also helps them get comfortable navigating through the dropdown menus. So, how do you change the desktop backgrounds? It's easy, even a 7 year old can do it. :)

1. Go under System and find the Preferences. Then look for Desktop Background. Click on it.
2. A medium-sized rectangle should appear on your screen.
3. Click on an image and it should appear as a background on your desktop.
4. Click on close and TADA! you are done.

If you want to get fancier, try this:

1. Follow steps #1 and #2 above.
2. Click on Add Wallpaper.
3. This brings you to another screen.
4. Click on a folder in the center box. Click open.
5. There should be a list of images in the center box with a preview of each one on the left hand side.
6. Choose one. Click Open. It will take you back to your first screen and load the image into your choices as well as loading it onto your desktop.
7. If you like the picture but don't like the colors, experiment with the colors at the bottom of the box. My students were much more creative than me with this and had lots of fun while developing their artistic visual skills.

This reads as if its very complicated. Trust me, you can do it.

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