I have had the opportunity to teach computer applications for the past 7 years to middle school 8th graders. Well with the exception of last year when the higher ups thought it would be a good idea to cut the class and make the computer teacher teach reading. But that was squashed and I am back teaching computers once again.

With the budget cuts that have been happening I am finding it more difficult to branch out of my normal routine. I have a classroom of 34 computers all with the district required software. ZERO budget.

Current semester course: (Designed after talking with high school tech teachers)

Computer Basics - Computer History, Parts of a Computer, Binary, How to build your own computer, How the internet works, viruses

Typing - We use a computer based program Type to Learn.

MS Office - Word, Power Point, Publisher (variety of projects in each)

HTML - Basic programming, students create a web site based on their school schedule

Is anyone using low-cost/no-cost programs that can add or enhance these current areas? Or any other ideas? I feel like i am in a rut and want to make my class even more interesting than it already is.

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i think having zero budget might actually be a great position because it will get your kids off their local machines and into the cloud where so many programs are free (and far more interesting)... there are many great online typing programs, google docs for online MS Office, Edublogs for personal web sites/HTML, on and on and on...
just remembered this site, could be killer for your HTML class: Squad, a web-based collaborative code editor
Do you have internet access for all the computers? If so, go online.

We use gaggle.com for email and chat. In my language arts class, I teach netiquette for e-mail, chat, discussion boards, etc.

We use edu.glogster.com for creating interactive media "posters."

We haven't any typing programs so I use a site from the bbc to teach keyboarding skills and online games to improve typing speed.
Online and/or open source is the way to go!! I teach a class called Computer Presentations. The goal is to teach students a variety of applications that can present information to an audience. We use the following:

SqirlzMorph - will allow students to morph 2 or more pictures and/or images together. My kids (10th graders) had a ball with this application. Final morph can be saved as an .avi or flash file. (open source)

Tripod.com - hosting site for individual students' web sites

camstudio20 - will do video screen capture with sound. (open source)

gimp 2.6.7 - a "first cousin" to Photo Shop!! This program does just about anything that Photo Shop can do and more! There are lots of websites with tutorials and projects. (open source)

gimp-gap - suggested add-on for Gimp (open source)

gmaker - Really cool application! Students learn how to create their own video games. Very easy to learn!! There are many websites that offer tutorials and project ideas. (open source)

scribus - desktop publishing software. Very easy to use. (open source)

Hope this list helps!!
Sally Irons
Niles, Michigan
I like the idea of having students taking pictures with their cell phones, uploading them, and then using SqirlzMorph to modify them... Unfortunately, as this requires downloading software there will be some logistical problems. Might be a great "winter break" assignment...
The internet would be my route too. Free apps include Google Docs, Zoho, Animoto, Glogster, Student blogs/websites (from Weebly or similar), etc. There are plenty of free things to source out online.
I use Camstudio to produce screencast for teachers and students. How great would it be for you students to create tutorials for your teachers. its a very powerful program and its free. You can even do PIP with a webcam.


I forgot about Wordle. Maybe you could see about including that. Here is a link for 10 ways to use Wordle in the classroom...



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