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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Hey, Shawn, have you checked out techsoup?

It's got lots of extremely inexpensive grant-donated software, and some hardware, for 401-c educational corporations like yours. The kicker is that the Microsoft licenses are granted to nonprofits that aren't just educational institutions (maybe they think public schools have enough resources, dunno). So, if your school is incorporated to be something bigger than just a school (community daycare, summer camp, environmental education outpost...) you might be able to get Word for a song. Read your bylaws and the techsoup specs. Most other software on the site is much easier to get.

If you don't qualify for that, really check out the alternative software. Google docs and zoho notebook are getting rave reviews, and quite free.

For your curriculum question--don't feel bad for inventing the wheel. Any canned curriculum can't help but be a bit stale these days, because of the quickly changing nature of the tech, and you know at least that yours will have a genuine product! Don't think you can go wrong with that!

I found the ISTE NETS were very helpful in getting me to think out my curricular goals, the products I wanted my kids to be able to make, and the student evaluations, even. I'd be happy to share if you want more info...

I'm teaching in a K-8 Quaker school way off in the countryside, dealing with satellite internet, keeping the tech going, being the librarian and library skills teacher...much the way you have many hats!

"Accidental techie" was an option on one survey I took, that really spoke to me!
Shawn, this is Dean Mantz. from Lyons. You know, the guy just over your right shoulder from MACE. I would absolutely agree that Open Office would be a great option for your classroom. To be honest, we are looking at going with it K-8 and MS office at 9-12 because of state funding in our business classes. Anyhow, www.voicethread.com would also be a great option as mentioned earlier. Students could take pictures or use pics from a different site and create audio descriptions and conversations related to the images. Visit www.podomatic.com to create podcasts in the classroom. Google does provide Google Earth Pro (usually $20 per license) free of charge after completing some paperwork. Then you can have the students go through the online training and guides along with you. There are many websites that provide virtual tour files that can be imported into Google Earth as well.

Please fill free to contact me with any additional questions you may have. I will be glad to help and may have some leads on computer equipment for you.
Shawn, please review the attached file. I found this PDF file while browsing for open source software for my school district. I am sure there are several software applications that will work for you too! Best wishes and good luck!
Attachments:
There is absolutely wrong with being nuts. Like many said, the first step is asking questions. You are on the right track. As it is taking me a few days to get to your post, I see my advice will be stored in a long line. I apologize if I missed the post on my suggestions. So, if you get this, one thing you could try would be using Google Apps. There are drawbacks (creating Gmail accounts) and positivies (nothing to download, use at home), but that would be up to you and your district. I don't disagree with what everyone else has said about the open source software. It is also a very good resource.
About your curriculum: Why would you create specific lessons to know how to use Word, etc.? Why not team up with your teachers, find an assessment or lesson they are doing, and teach the kids how to use the computer program/software during that assignment? You will hopefully get help from the classroom teacher, plus you are teaching them the computer skills. Too many times, computer skills are thought to be an extra topic, which is why it never gets "top billing." Use it with something that is already going on in your school.
Hello,
First off, congratulations on your first year as teacher.
I am an aspiring teacher currently, in NYC.
I am still learning a lot about teaching and technology, but to me, this sounds like a great plan. It will certainly help the students get more acquainted with technology as they go through different rings of your dartboard image, and this is a great collaborative work effort: they'll learn to work together to reach a common goal. :)
I think that while the students are striving toward thi endeavor, maybe you could write your proposal. As you said, I'm not sure how seriously the gov't will consider kids' ideas/requests. It could be like a back-up plan. And with so much effort the kids are putting in, the whole project (maybe you could make a video of the efforts) will be evidence of how recourceful and intelligent these kids are, and therefore how deserving they are to receive a proper technology-based educational facility.
Good luck!
Jannatul
Hey, I am starting a new program without curriculum as well. I am having a blast teaching the kids how to make movies with photostory, how to navigate Google Earth, and now they are making 3-D models in Google Sketch-up. ALL free software. Don't limit yourself to Office, after my first trimester Office feels old, stuffy, dusty compared with the newer programs. I still teach them basic word processing and some powerpoint, mostly because the classroom teachers want the kids to know those programs, so I use it as an opportunity to teach them about file management and getting used to the mouse, handles, etc. I did want to do some computer basic content, but was at a loss until I found this site.. http://education.kaboose.com/tutoring/brain-computer-lesson.html
The information is starting to get out of date, but it's a good place to start. I am hoping to rewrite a lot of it for next trimesters students. Especially the worksheets, they were too easy. I didn't do all the lessons either, too much content and they were bored (and we weren't on our computers as much). But I even managed to squeak some web2.0 in.. I created a podcast of me reading some of the pages for them to listen to. Next time maybe they will make the podcasts!
Google SketchUp. What a great idea. I wish I would of thought of it first. Oh wait, I did.... Anyways, Greg if you have any lesson plans for it I would like to see them.

P.S. If you have any trouble burning them to DVD, let me know.
I scanned the comments. Don't have the luxury of reading them all.

I take an different view.

You need a curriculum, and the Technology Curriculum should parallel, support, expand and elaborate the content area curriculum.

Running a separate, tech curriculum is counter productive for your students.

Prove the value of the technology in producing measurable student outcomes in the content areas, and you will have plenty of money for equipment. Software and hardware companies will trip over each other in their scramble to give you what you need to demonstrate that their products deliver.

The use of free stuff is a stop gap measure. If you focus on free and cheap solutions, the decision-makers get the wrong idea about technology.

Communicate that you are developing a pilot program to demonstrate and document how well student achievement increases with the proper equipment. software and network infrastructure.

If you have an interest in professional planning documents, send a note. I have lots of files that I used when I was a district technology coordinator (ten years worth) before retiring.

Please be specific.

Best of luck on your new career.
I agree that technology should not be taught in isolation. Our superintendent has never wanted tech "teachers" in the elementary school--she always contended that the teachers would never take ownership if someone else was "teaching" computers. What I would like to see, in a perfect world, teacher and tech person working together to integrate technology into the curriculum.

Aside, with the pressures of NCLB I have noticed a huge drop in basic technology skills. I teach in a gifted pullout program, not in a regular classroom. I had a new 5th grade student ask me what "indent" meant the other day. Yikes!
Shawn, last year I was in your shoes. A first year teacher teaching science and tech and little to no curriculum (technically I was only required to teach the delete key). The school's programs were over a decade old. MS Works 4.0!!

A few hints:
Think integration. By including other subjects, you include other teacher to help with the workload. This also gives you a reason to do something. For example if you have to practice spreadsheets, you could use the data from anywhere it might as well be relevant. Anything from the results of a lab, to a poll of everyone's favorite ice cream.
Technology breaks
. Plan on it. Always have a plan B, in case the internet or something else vital goes down.
Ingenuity. There is more than one way to practice anything. For example, to practice typing I have my students write to penpals in a foreign country using Penpals.com. Practice the skills, not the programs.
Keep variety in the lab Keep them guessing what the next topic will be.
Know your strengths and use them.
Plan long term projects instead of daily. Anything worth doing takes more than a day. Plus it simplifies planning.
Don't be locked into any software. I been having my students use more and more online software sites. It's simple and doesn't need to be installed. Use open source, even if it's for no other reason than the price.

I post everything online for easy access. Here's my site if you need a few lesson plans or ideas http://www.mrstoffel.com/Fall2007/compmain.html

Need more advice, let me know.
Mr. Chaos--is there RSS feed to your computer class blog? I tried to add it to my aggregator but "no feed".
Actually yes. It's half science and half computers. I ussually post every sunday night. The main page (mrstoffel.com) runs a script that converts the RSS feed into html. The info comes from http://aplington.wordpress.com/ which is hosted off www.wordpress.com.

Here's the links to the feeds
http://aplington.wordpress.com/?feed=rss
http://aplington.wordpress.com/?feed=rss2
http://aplington.wordpress.com/?feed=rdf
http://aplington.wordpress.com/?feed=atom

If this doesn't work let me know.

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