I am at a very small Christian school in Kansas City, KS. and I just finished my first quarter teaching. I am the computer lab teacher as well as the Spanish, and P.E. teacher. I am also responsible for keeping the computer lab and all the teachers computers up and running, and the server in tip top shape.
Now that I have cried a river, let me tell you what I can use your input on. I teach K-8th grade. I have things to keep the little ones busy the K-4th. That leaves me with 5th-8th I know that I wanted to teach them word, PowerPoint, and excel. I think I can handle that without a text book or curriculum. The way in which I want to go about it is where I can use some direction.
The lab here is out dated, so I thought how can I kill 2 birds with one stone? I have equipment that doesn't work or needs to be replaced, and 50 kids that need to learn word, PowerPoint, and excel. Hmmm, I could ask for a curriculum, give them some commands, tell them to commit them to memory, give a quiz, and then a test. Or I can find a way to give them real world experience with Microsoft office tools. Hmmm, how can I do this and update the lab? I went to a work shop on proposal writing, you know so I could update the lab. Well as you can see from the first paragraph I don't have enough to do. Sooo, why not start writing proposals too?
But then after my proposal work shop it hit me, let the kids write the proposals. Am I crazy? What government agency or foundation will accept a proposal from some middle school and grade school kids? And the 5th and 6th graders. I mean really, am I just nuts?
So here's the plan and you can tell me if "am I just nuts". Let me remind you "THIS IS MY FIRST YEAR TEACHING", so feel free to smack me around a bit and point me in the right direction. We are going to start small we will use "word" to make an outline. They will visualize a dart board. We will start with the center and work our way out. The center will be mom, dad, and other family and close family friends. From there we will ask the inner circle to tell us were they work. How open would their employers be at helping us. This will start the 2nd ring of our target buy letting them know if there business or employers have widgets, computers, money, and services, they could donate. They will keep track of the budget and goals in excel. The next circle in the target will be for them to research local companies. The last circle will be anything they choose outside of the local business area. We are hoping that some of the local companies will allow them to present PowerPoint’s. Buy them we will have identified their strengths, the leaders, researchers, spokesmen and number crunchers. And with corporate precision we will make presentations. Well that's the plan. Can you help me make it work?

Tags: Technology, class, computer, fundraising, help, lab, me, new, teacher

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Thanks got it--now I can keep tabs on what you are up to.
First of all, let me put your mind at rest. You are not nuts. Your 5th and 6th graders can use Word, Powerpoint, and Excel to help collect donations to update your lab. You may want to add publisher to your list of software tools, if you want them to create flyers and other print materials to advertise the need.

I have taught data entry in excel to 1st graders, and 2nd graders were able to make powerpoint presentations. Even the Kindergarters could use Word. No, they couldn't use it like an adult would, but they could do some simple things that made them feel really special.

One way to start, would be to make a list of businesses and organizations who will see the presentation. Put it in columns in excel so that it can be merged into a document in word or publisher.

When the kids make the presentation to take to the businesses and organizations (don't forget churches), show them how to use every bit of powerpoint. Let them choose backgrounds, letter colors, insert clip art, and add sounds. Let them razzle and dazzle.

If you start out in your inner circle, you will want to make a print presentation to go home to parents and grandparents. This could be a card, designed in Publisher or in word, (in word, a flyer would be easier). Each child could design their own and then choose which card they wish to send home - their own or someone else's....

When you do the spreadsheets to show how much is needed and how much has been collected, be sure that you show the kids how to insert a graph or chart into the spreadsheet. As usual, look for all the bells and whistles, such as changing the colors in the graph instead of just showing the shades of gray or hashmarks. You may want to take printouts of the excel worksheets along on the presentation and let people look at the products the kids have already mastered. It will set their wheels to spinning.

Consider making a "master" presentation with all the pertinant information in it, and then tailor it to each business or organization that you take it to. For churches, you may want to emphasize the Christian purposes of the school, for businesses and business organizations, you may want to emphasize the "preparing for work" aspects of what the kids are learning. If you can get a spot on the program of academic oriented organizations (retired teachers, alumni groups, etc), emphasize the academic learning involved.

Good luck!!!
WOW!!!! PROJECT BASED LEARNING ROCKS. We had our first project based lesson and I don't know why we teach any other way. I had to make them leave the class room they were so involved. AND GET THIS, this was the first time EVER not one child asked me "Mr. Jackson can we have free time and go on the internet before the end of class?" It's like a constant chant I here over and over and over all during computer class I have nightmares about it. Anyway, these kids worked until I forced them out of the class.
So I'm sure you want to know well did they learn any thing? When class started I showed them how to use the help in word 2003. A few weeks prior we learnded internet search techniques (finding filetype:, intitle:, using "", and a few others.) The week before we looked at the "DID YOU KNOW" video ---THANKS Sylvia Martinez --- You guys can look it up on you tube. As a class, we discussed it and began talking about how to get their parents involed. Our goal is to produce a letter that they can give to there parents. The core was to start networking, find out who can help us and if not do they know someone who can.
The first assignment was
1. Break up into groups of 3 or 4, and list your names and grade below.
a. ____________________________________
b. _____________________________________
c. _____________________________________
d. _____________________________________
2. Each of you will choose a job to fulfill. All of you will give input on the letter.
a. Researcher, this person will have to lookup things on the internet or in microsoft word help. If your team doesn't know how to do it you put your research skills to work and figure it out.
i. _________________________________
b. This person will do the typingand work close with the designer.
i. _________________________________
c. Designer, this person will have to decide what style the letter will be in and if or not to add clip art ect.
i. ___________________________________
d. 2nd researcher if needed looked up statistics on the benefits of computers in the class room and whatever else researcher 1 coulnd get to.
i. ___________________________________
3. Explain how you contributed to the team effort.
a. Researcher 1 what did you lookup on the internet or in Microsoft word help? How did you use this information?

b. Designer what did you add to improve your letter (photos, clipart, or templates)? Where did you find it? And why did you choose it?

c. Typist was spell check helpful? How helpful where the changes your designer made? What did you learn form your researchers?

4. Explain how you contributed to the team effort.
a. Researcher 2 what did you lookup on the internet or in Microsoft word help?After the "DID YOU KNOW" video We had came up with a general outline that had to be in the parent letter. So everyone on the team had to contribute some extra information to add into the letter and present it to the typist.

The first 5 or 10 min of class they asked me how do I do this or how do I do that. And I just directed them to there researcher. They taught themselves intermedate and advanced word skills in the process. Next week before we get started, each team will select someone to reteach a few skills they learned in Word. I will keep u posted please give me any advise you may have. The ship has sailed from here we sink or swim. Thanks guys for all of your help Delete Comment
Your enthusiasm is contagious. I'm sitting here grinning.
Hi Shawn,

Yes, your enthusiasm is contagious!

One of the things that I love about Classroom 2.0 are the lessons and ideas that are cultivated and grown out of the collaboration made possible by a network like this. In this and many other instances, the discussion - even though I may have been passive - articulates an idea or concept that has been floating around but won't seem to gel - even, something in hindsight, that may be simple. It's usually after a discussion like this that the proverbial light bulb goes on that allows the gears to start turning for me. Without a network like NING and Classroom 2.0, it may taken days, months, or even years longer.

So thanks for sharing your questions and experiences...and keep us posted.

edubuntu is a great os for low power workstations and free. Heading into blogs, wikis and others use the power of the web and are less machine intensive and great collaborative tools for publishing for oyu and the kids. Google docs saves local installs and allows students and their parents to see data from home and collaborate on it. Getting parents to log in and see student work ? Novel idea ; ) Not all the hardware need match either. Getting kids to take ownership rather than heading into the lock down, secure approach is as simple as honest conversation sometimes. Getting kids to rebuild machines that are broken creates a sense of ownership. Have a few old machines setup as hot swaps. Get those kiddos using Google.com/ig aggregate. The school can hook into 'Google for Domains'... free email, hosted by Google under the school domain name. No kidding.

Many people like concept mappers for younger grades like Inspiration or the free version called FreeMind. There's an online one too now that looks fairly slick called MindDomo. Audacity, Gimp, Paint.net TuxPaint,
http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/ebooks, online photo edting tools at fauxto. The Scratch program from MIT is worth a good look too. Teaches programming skill in a great, intuitive interface. Sketchup and Google Earth... great stuff and totally free.

Give the kids as much ownership / ability to contribute and things will take off. Being honest with them and challenging them to take off against some odds will go a long way. Great post. Best of luck to you.
Shawn - you've already gotten a ton of great ideas from some of the successful (and innovative!) educators here. I want to commend you on keeping such an open mind and trying to set a precedent with your lack of structured curriculum. Keeping yourself open means you've got a lot of flexibility, and new opportunities are always popping up, so there is some great potential for you!

If you've already been convinced to have your students make videos, then you might want to submit them into our competitions, which are free, and could lead to software and/or cash prizes for your classroom. The generic competitions allow you to use the software of your choice for editing/production, but also have a look at the Powerpoint competitions!

We have a middle school teacher in Amherst, NY, who has been registering his students in the Studica Skills competitions for three years, and he's won more than $5000 in software and prizes for his classroom. Certainly if you're looking to broaden your resources, here's a great opportunity for you!

And don't be intimidated by some of the things you might see on the main page - if you have a look at the full competition overview here), and I encourage you to have a peek at the submissions from Amherst Middle School here:
Amherst's entries to give you an idea. Some of the simplest messages are the most effective, and these students are very passionate about what they do!

If you are interested at all, let me know, and I'll hook you up with some freebies (I send out free teacher's kits to anyone interested, whether they participate or not)!



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