Mr. Ryan Keeshan

6th–8th Computer Teacher
Hello and welcome to NDV middle school computers! In our classes, we focus on how to learn new skills and software in a rapidly changing world of technology. We emphasize research and analysis skills, creativity, collaboration, resilience, and critical thinking.

What's Happening in 6th–8th Computer

March Update

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Spring has arrived and we have another update from Middle School Technology.

Our Third Trimester is underway, here is what we will be working on in the coming weeks:

6th GradeSurvey Infographic Investigation: For this project, students will be learning about data collection, analysis, and visualization. In groups of three, 6th graders will create a Google forms survey with at least four questions investigating a driving question about issues impacting middle school students. Once we have our surveys, we will spend a class taking everyone’s survey so that we have some data to begin analyzing. Students will look at the data and unpack what it tells them about their peers, then create an infographic poster explaining what they have learned.

7th GradeCommon Sense Media – Finding Credible News: To prepare for our study of the credibility of information online, 7th-grade students used their search skills to determine whether a series of common misconceptions and questionable statements are true or false. Our next step is to look at the reasons why false information is posted online and how to tell the difference between credible and false information. Students will practice evaluating different websites for credibility and guess which sites are trustworthy and which sites are not.

8th GradeFinalizing Portfolio Websites and 3D Modeling with Sketchup: We will be completing our portfolio websites and then moving on to an exploration of the world of 3D modeling with Sketchup For Schools. Students will be introduced to the basics of the Sketchup interface and will then complete an example project.


February Update

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Greetings from Middle School Technology!

We have had an exciting and productive second trimester. Here is what we have been working on:

6th Grade – My Vacation Project: Students have been learning how to leverage technology to help them plan a dream vacation. Each student or pair of students have been given a budget and tasked with planning a vacation to a place they have never been before. Our first step was to create an automated budget calculator using Google Sheets to help students quickly figure out how much of their budget they were planning to spend. Next, students explored flight and hotel aggregation websites and read about travel seasons to figure out when and where they would travel. Students then had to find at least three activities to do at their vacation destination. At least one activity must have cultural or historical relevance that they will have to explain. We then learned how to create a custom Google map with all of our vacation plans laid out to help figure out local transportation options. Finally, students are currently working on putting all of this information together in a multimedia presentation with Google Slides. We’re excited to present our plans in class in the coming weeks!

7th Grade – Multimedia Museum of African American Inventors: In celebration of Black History Month, we are creating a gallery of narrated animations about different African American inventors. Students have been assigned an inventor to research and create an animation-heavy Google Slides presentation about. We will then create narrated screen recording videos of these presentations that we will then turn into augmented reality experiences. Once we’re finished, we will have a class gallery walk to learn more about the important contributions of African American inventors throughout history.

8th GradePersuasive Techniques in Advertising: We began this study of advertising and its impact on our lives by learning about persuasion techniques. Drawing from the work of Aristotle, we looked at examples of ethos, pathos, and logos as they are applied by advertisers in commercials. Students then read about other common persuasion techniques and did an analysis of advertisements they find in their lives in different mediums – TV, streaming, social media, and websites. Our next step is to apply what we have learned about persuasion techniques by creating two advertising campaigns – one political and one commercial. Students choose whether to create print ads with Pixelmator graphic design software or video ads with iMovie. Of course, some students will choose to combine these tools when creating their ads (we love ambition!).

What’s Next?

As we move into the third trimester, here is what we will be looking forward to in Technology classes:

6th Grade: Data Collection and Visualisation with Google Forms

7th Grade: Creating a How-To Screencast Video to help Struggling Students

8th Grade: 3D Modeling with SketchUp

September Update!

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Greetings! As we’ve settled into the school year, our first projects are getting closer to completion. Here’s an update on where we are:

  • 6th Grade is in the final phase of completing their Fun Fact Card projects. We have been exploring how to create an outline of research about a topic and how to create a great looking one-page fact card for younger students. Once we’re done with the project, we will print our fact cards and put them in the library for other students to read.
  • 7th Grade is also working on a biography research project and they have been learning more about what’s hidden under the hood in Google Docs in the process. Students are now working on turning their outline into a biography complete with a title page, automatically generated table of contents, an infographic, and a media gallery. When students finish, they will have completed a fully featured e-book that they can share with others.
  • 8th Grade has been working on creating portfolio websites. These websites are an online representation of what the students feel is their best work from their years at NDV. We have been learning about creating websites with the new Google Sites (or Wix for advanced users), and the process of reflecting on previous work. We will revisit and update these websites throughout the school year. Currently, 8th graders have been learning the basics of graphic design and digital image manipulation with the iPad app Pixelmator. This week we created business cards, and next, we’ll learn how to superimpose an image on top of another.

What’s next? Here is a preview of what we will be doing in the coming weeks:

  • 6th Grade – Once we finish our Fun Fact Cards, we will do a quick boot-camp for slide presentation skills and best practices. Students will learn guidelines for great presentations while creating a short slides presentation about their favorite piece of technology.
  • 7th Grade – Once we finish with the writing and peer review process for our Biography Project, we will take a look at Khan Academy’s Pixar-In-A-Box activities. This set of lessons is a collaboration between Pixar and Khan Academy to teach students about all of the different domains and disciplines that come together to create Pixar’s award-winning films.
  • 8th Grade – When we finish learning about graphic design with Pixelmator, we will begin working on “TechTalk” presentations. These presentations are our version of a TEDTalk, where students will research a technology that will have a significant impact on our future and deliver a 5-minute presentation about what they learned to the class. The challenge is in the details: students will use slide presentations, but they will not be able to put any text on their slides. All information must come from note cards or memory. Additionally, students will be recorded while presenting and must do a self-critique. Our goal is to develop better public speaking skills while learning about how rapidly changing technological advances will change our world.

Welcome Back! The 2018-2019 School Year is Here!

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Greetings! I hope you all had a restful summer and are ready to come back to school.

Here’s a preview of our first few weeks:

All Classes:

  • Review of the 2018-2019 Syllabus
  • Review of Acceptable Use Policy
  • Baseline Typing Tests

6th Grade

  • Fun Fact Card Project – We will learn about research and document formatting in the creation of one-page Fun Fact Cards about a topic of your choice.

7th Grade

  • Biography e-Book Project – We will learn about research and document formatting in the creation of a media-rich Biography e-Book.

8th Grade

  • Portfolio Website Project – We will learn about website creation and design by creating a portfolio website.

What’s Happening In Computers? November 2017

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Here’s a quick update to our classroom activities since we last checked-in:

6th Grade completed Presentation Boot Camp, where we learned presentation creation skills in Google Slides by making a presentation about our favorite piece of technology. Practice presentations in-class went well!

7th Graders finished their Biography projects, and they look great! This week, we started previewing Pixar In a Box, a Khan Academy class created in partnership with Emeryville’s own Pixar Animation Studios. This class shows students how the math and science skills they learn are applied by professionals in a real-world setting. Students can choose a topic they’re interested in, whether it’s color, patterns, hair physics, and more, and work through the self-paced lessons. After Thanksgiving break, we’ll break into groups and work on topics we find interesting together.

8th Graders will finish their portfolio websites when we return from Thanksgiving break. The plan from there is to learn about 3D-modeling with SketchUp. Hope everyone has a plan for their dream house!

What’s Happening in Computers? October 2017

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The first quarter is almost over, and we sure have done a lot of great work!

Sixth-graders have just completed their Fun Fact Cards in Google Docs, look for some of those to be posted here soon. We will be printing, laminating, and placing our Fact Cards in the library soon! Great work, sixth grade!

Seventh-graders are in the final stretch of a biography project, also in Google Docs. In a matter of weeks, every seventh-grade student will have a media-rich e-book that they can show their friends and family. They have worked extremely hard in compressed time, and the results are fantastic!

Eighth-graders have started working on their portfolio websites, and they look pretty great so far! We will periodically update these websites throughout the year. Eight-grade has also had some fun learning how to edit images with Pixelmator, a powerful image editing app for iPads that is similar to Photoshop. We have created some great looking business cards and recently learned how to superimpose one image over another, or “How to go on a Vacation Anywhere Using Image Editing Software.” We have had some very creative submissions so far!

Next quarter, we will take a dive into programming and see what else we can create. Thanks for checking in!


-Mr. Keeshan

The 2017-2018 School Year is Here!

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Welcome back from vacation, students! I hope you enjoyed your break and are ready to come back to continue building upon your successes and challenges from last school year.

Here are some projects and topics we will be learning about this year:

  • Getting the most out of Google Apps for Education
  • 3D Modeling with SketchUp
  • Coding
  • Keyboard Typing Skills
  • Research Skills

Other Activities:

  • NDV Newspaper
  • NDV Student Tech Support Team

4th Quarter Preview

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With the 3rd Quarter finished, here is a preview of how we will finish out the year in Middle School Computers:

6th Grade is working on a group Survey-to-Infographic project where they will poll their peers with a survey in Google Forms, then take their polling data and create an informative Infographic with their findings.

7th Grade is working on a group How-To Video project where they are tasked with creating a How-To instructional video that focuses on skills, tasks, or helpful tips that will assist incoming 6th graders in adjusting to Middle School.

8th Grade is learning how to use a compact, yet versatile image editing program on the iPads called Pixelmator by creating their own business cards. Later this quarter, they will finish their portfolio websites and practice 3D modeling.

Multimedia Projects Take Over: Third Quarter Update

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Multimedia Projects are the third quarter theme in our computer classes. Here is a summary of what students have been working on:

6th Grade

Currently working on My Vacation, a project where students learn how to plan a vacation step-by-step: from managing a budget to creating a map of vacation plans. Scope and sequence:

  • Students work with a partner to split a budget of $10,000. Students can also choose to plan alone.
  • To keep track of money, students create a budget calculator spreadsheet using Google Sheets that automatically calculates their spending and lets them know how much money remains in their budget.
  • Using flight and hotel rate aggregation websites, students find and book flights and hotels to their dream destination. Students must plan when they will go on their vacation and for how long, as long as it fits within their budget.
  • To plan what they will do during their dream vacation, students use crowd-sourced travel information sites like WikiVoyage. Students must plan for at least 4 activities, and at least two must have cultural or historical significance. Students must also find out how much these activities cost, and add them to their budget.
  • Students also must plan for how they get around when they arrive at their destination. To do this, we learn how to find information about airport shuttles, public transportation, Taxi cabs, and rental cars.
  • Once plans are finalized, students learn how to create a custom Google Map with all of their vacation details (airport, hotel, activities).
  • Finally, students put together a multimedia presentation using Google Slides to share their vacation plans with their classmates. In-class oral presentations will follow.

7th Grade

Similar to 6th Grade, the 7th Grade is planning a vacation for Easter Break. The scope and sequence is the same, but there is additional work required. 7th Grade students will also record a narrated screencast of their final Google Slides presentations.

8th Grade

In celebration of Black History Month, The 8th Grade has begun work on a Multimedia Museum of Black Inventors. Students are assigned an important African American inventor from history and are tasked with creating a short video exhibit explaining who the inventor is, what their important invention(s) are, their struggles, and their lasting legacy. Students will first create animated presentations in Google Slides and then record a narrated screencast. These will be posted with their presentations on a website that will be known as the Multimedia Museum of Black Inventors.

Stay tuned! I will post some of the vacation projects when they are finished.

Plans for Quarter 4:

  • 3D Modeling using Sketchup (finally!)
  • 8th Grade will finish Portfolio Websites
  • Google Forms surveys and Data visualization
  • More TBD

First Quarter Recap, Previewing Second Quarter

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It’s hard to believe that our first quarter is almost over! Here is a recap of what we did:

6th Grade

  • Practiced typing skills by writing a short personal essay
  • Created a spreadsheet to track progress in typing speed and accuracy tests
  • Practiced using screen captures to take pictures of what’s happening on our computers
  • Created a reference pocketbook of useful keyboard shortcuts to remember using Google Slides
  • Learned about how search engines work and the tips and tricks of effective searching
  • Completed an independent research project to practice what we’ve learned about searching

7th Grade

  • Completed a Presentation Creation Boot Camp assignment in Google Slides (or Prezi) for the prompt: What is Your Passion?
  • Created a reference pocketbook of useful keyboard shortcuts to remember using Google Slides
  • Created a spreadsheet to track progress in typing speed and accuracy tests
  • Worked with partners on a collaborative research project about important pioneers in computer science and technology, culminating in a research document and presentation.

8th Grade

  • Completed a Presentation Creation Boot Camp assignment in Google Slides (or Prezi) for the prompt: Who is Your Inspiration?
  • Created a spreadsheet to track progress in typing speed and accuracy tests
  • Brainstormed and collected our thoughts on what makes a great website
  • Worked independently on the creation of portfolio websites using Wix. This is a project we will revisit and work on throughout the school year

What’s Next?

In the second quarter, we will continue to build upon our theme of research and curating good information from online sources. We will also introduce some new applications and disciplines.

Here are some key topics we plan to cover:

  • Coding month, starting at the end of November and throughout December
    • Independent practice in coding discipline of choice using self-directed tutorials
    • Hour of Code participation
  • Designing 3D objects using SketchUp
  • A Refresher on Collecting and Manipulating Data with Google Forms and Sheets
  • Continued practice in typing and research skills



Our curriculum is tied to the 2016 ISTE Standards for Students, which are organized into the following strands:

  1. Empowered Learner
  2. Digital Citizen
  3. Knowledge Constructor
  4. Innovative Designer
  5. Computational Thinker
  6. Creative Communicator
  7. Global Collaborator

We are a Google Apps for Education school and we use Google Classroom for assignment delivery and collection. Additionally, we use web-based programs and services. Student privacy is important to us, and the programs and services we use are compliant with COPPA/Student Privacy Pledge.

Skills and Disciplines of Focus:

  1. Typing
  2. Presentations
  3. Research and Information Curation
  4. Coding/Programming
  5. Collaboration
  6. Learning new software, operations, and processes (heuristics)
  7. Multimedia creation
  8. Leveraging digital communication and creation tools to pursue passions and support lifelong learning

Gradebook Categories and Weights:

Classwork: 25% - Weekly assignments and work done in class.

Effort and Participation: 30% - Being on task, following class norms and rules, completing work to the best of your abilities.

Projects: 25% - Final summative grades for completed long-term projects.

Quizzes: 20% - Periodic assessments and typing tests.


Here are some of the resources we use in our class:

Common Sense Media


Google Apps for Education

My Sketchup





Students are to complete work they do not finish in class for homework. This can be found posted on our Google Classroom site or on the NDV Middle School Homework Page.

Students may also finish their work during study hall.



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