Looking for ideas? Middle School Computer Lessons

Archive for January, 2012

Middle School Computer Lessons; Google Earth Scavenger Hunt

Middle School Computer Lessons; Google Earth Scavenger Hunt

If you are looking for an interesting way to introduce Google Earth to your students, I have an activity for you. This this activity is good for about 3 class periods.

During the first class, I like to introduce Google Earth (GE) to the class by a little class discussion to see who is familiar with it. I find about half of younger students have never heard of it. Either way, I will show the location of our school then introduce some of the basic tools. I give the rest of the period as a day to “Explore” GE. I ask them to find the school, their house and at least one other place and add place marks to them. Towards the end of class we will discuss some interesting things that they have discovered.

I use the iPad in my class by showing them GE on it and then having a few students travel down the hallway with it and they can observe the little blue dot move as they move in the building. (This is pretty popular with my students). Your building would have to be wireless for this to work.

The next day I pair up my students and hand out my GE Scavenger hunt. It includes Questions that you need GE to answer and a rubric for them to write their answers on. I total up the points when they are finished, It takes 1-2 class periods. This can get pretty competitive, my classes love this activity and it makes them use GE as a tool in ways that they may not have thought of before. During this activity, my role is to guide the pairs of students as needed. I don’t give answers, only clues.

Google earth scavenger Hunt & Rubric

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Middle School Computer Lessons: Why I deleted my Twitter account.

Middle School Computer Lessons: Why I deleted my Twitter account.

Teaching technology to young adults it like teaching fish how to swim.

They already know how and they are probably already really good at it. There fore, my daily challenge is to capture their interest long enough to introduce them to something they may not know about.

I am all about expanding the “Tech Experiences” of my students. It may be something as simple as showing them where the “~” key is on the keyboard (That is a tilde, by the way) or as complex as programming a robot to follow a line on the floor.

However, when it comes to social media I am no expert. I purposely never started a My Space or Face-Tube or whatever account, it just really didn’t interest me. Not too long ago I did start a Twitter account exclusively to get Tweeters from Jeff Probst of Survivor. It went pretty along with no problems and I added a few more people, I was kind of into it, it was kind of interesting. But after a while I would have hundreds of tweets and I was constantly checking my account, I became increasingly annoyed. Then just deleted the whole thing. Do I really care what “Steve Martin” is doing, apparently not that much. The novelty wore off and I was done. I dont want more things to do on my phone/device. Is Twitter here to stay, maybe but not for me.

Really though, when I ask my students who has a Twitter account it may be about 2 per class 8%….I am surprised to see the ones that don’t even know what is is. Facebook  however, I would say that 90%+ have one. They could teach me a thing or two.

An interesting activity I do in class it to make a graph of students who use what type of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Myyearbook, and even “email”)

I would love to hear your comments!

For Middle School Computer Lessons and ideas visit www.middleschoolcomputerlessons.com

Middle School Computer Lessons; 3 Best Classroom Tools

Middle School Computer Lessons; 3 Best Classroom Tools

Teaching in a Middle School Computer class can be challenging. Dealing with things like getting 25 computers working at the same time while adding 25 pre-teens into the mix can be quite a task. I find these three tools most useful in my experience.

1. Projector with remote– Most remotes will give you a “Freeze” option. This will freeze the projector screen while you can still use the pc screen without letting the class see what you are doing. You can be preparing the next lesson while the directions for the current assignment are still up.

2. Bluetooth Keyboard and Mouse– Wireless slate…nope. I had a slate for years, the fancy one too and I find that a bluetooth mouse is way better. I can move around the room and control the pc that is connected to the computer. I can also pass around the mouse to students when I teach. Or even just use it as a clicker when showing a powerpoint. The keyboard can be passed around the class too, typing is difficult or impossible with a slate.

3. Laser pointer This can be used on your screen or flash it on a student’s pc when they need to focus on the task at hand instead of disturbing a quiet class to get a student to get on the home row.

I would love to hear your comments and ideas.

For more ideas for the technology classroom visit: www.middleschoolcomputerlessons.com

Middle School Computer Lessons; Future of Tech Education

Middle School Computer Lessons; Future of Tech Education?

With all the new technology coming out these days, where are we heading for the future in technology (Computer) classes in K-12 schools? Every time I attend a tech meeting inside my district or on a bigger stage, I feel overwhelmed about what is going on in the field.

Is it Ipod touch carts? Ipad carts? 1 on 1 computing? BYOD (Bring your own device?) or is it a combo? Where does traditional desktop computing fit in? The future is wide open and I feel teachers need a shared vision with their school district as to what direction they want to go.

With all that being said, I feel that basic computer classes for grades K through 12 is a vital need. Teaching things like basic word processing, keyboarding, spreadsheets, presentation tools, web skills and the like are aspects that all young learners may not get through using their personal devices. Computer classes need to fill in those gaps for kids.

Just because a kid may be able to post on facebook, download an app or play angry birds does not mean that they are proficient in basic computer skills.

If you are looking for materials for your computer classroom that teaches skills like MS Office, Web 2.0, and more check out www.middleschoolcomputerlessons.com

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