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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Nuts? yup - but you are my kind of nuts!

My advice? Why stop with Office. Can the kids make an audio recording, write a song, or make a movie that illustrates their efforts? Show the kids the "Did you know" video and have them make their own about your community and their lives using their voices. it's not even a movie, just a slideshow with music. You can have them research your community, do storyboards in Word and timelines in excel.

The more this becomes the kids effort, the more invested they will be in learning to use the tools to do good work, not just to get a grade. And the skills will come. Better yet, I bet this will be a project the kids will remember for years to come.

Make some memories ;-)
Well you could always start them on OpenOffice. It's a free microsoft office replacement. It's similar enough to office that they will be able to function on it if they need to later on in life. But more importantly they will be learning on a software that is free and probably will be for a long while. Rather than leaving them dependent on something they will have to shell out cash for later!

Second, I think that having the students take part in the getting the resources is incredibly awesome! Seriously, can you get more "real world" than that? If I had the choice of being extremely well funded due to my work or somewhat well funded by the student's efforts, I would choose the latter.

Third, there is so much you can do for free. Sylvia pointed out some excellent possibilities. Get the students blogging, podcasting, publicly speaking, etc.... all those can be done free and the students gain life long lessons. Way to go Sylvia for those suggestions.

Fourth, Donorschoose.org might be a consideration as they allow for you to submit your needs and have donors donate to it. I wouldn't think of replacing what you want the students to do with this, but it could be some excellent side funding.

The best thing about your "going nuts" is that you are seeking help. Two nuts are way better than one(no pun intended). Keep seeking ideas and collaborating. And keep us updated!
Thanks,
I have to do a elective class for the 7th and 8th graders the 3rd semester. and you just sold me on making a video. Great advise and keep it coming.
The kids were amazed by the "Did you know" video now I want to show them that they can do it. any success stories of students trying to do what we are trying to do? let me know if you come accoss any.
They could make help videos for other classes, too. Teaching is learning.
Sounds daunting but exciting. I would look at refurbished desktops. It is not our first choice but for some of our districts who simply don't have the funds we purchase a desktop for $200 and use the old monitors where we can...and I would look into using the Open Office suite which is free...we are just now experimenting with it and it is looking very promising with few problems and no big software license fee looming over us. And i agree with Sylvia there are a lot of things you can do with Digital StoryTelling that can help influence local foundations, service clubs etc using slideshows or movies.
Having the kids help is a stellar idea. I've written tech grants before. With help I was involved in writing a $460,000 federal Challenge Grant for our district special education classrooms and I have written 3-4 much much much smaller grants on my own. There is a ton of info online about how to go about doing it but the best advice I was ever given was "don't ask for the stuff".

Plan a project that you could only do with the stuff. For instance, develop an oral histories project in a KCK neighborhood, say Strawberry Hill. BUT, "ah ha I can't do the project without a set of laptops, digital cameras, video cameras etc" Secondly, focus on the life skills you want your kids to have-- collaboration, problem solving, team building,etc to set the objectives for the grant. Don't focus on "learn to use Microsoft Word, etc.". Does that make sense at all?

Here is the last project we did with grant movies CSI: Cemetery Scene Investigation." Good Luck, N
You are not nuts! This is a great way to teach technology tools. Make digital stories around their other curricular topics, work with another classroom via a wiki. Follow a lot of the other suggestions. As for equipment - I would go with linux running on inexpensive terminals -- Edubuntu is my choice.
Just a few ideas.
Shawn-

I think Voice Thread is a very cool way to document all of this...just go to the site to see some ideas that you and your students can use to create some powerful presentations
First of all check out the ISTE standards- Most state and district curriculumn framework extend the ISTE standards. There are lots of open source software out there. In fact the only software I use that is not Open source is MS Office which came on the computers. Here is the addy for my computer classroom wiki. Feel free to use any ideas that inspire you! http://computerkiddoswiki.pbwiki.com
For each grade level I teach a programing unit, word processing, organization unit, desktop publishing unit, digital photography, slide shows and presentation, and CAD.

*For programing I use- Logo 2 &3rd, Tesselmania 4th, Westpoint Bridge 5th and Squeak, 6th Scratch, 7th Alice, and 8th HTML

* Word Processing- Open Office, Word. Tool factory

*Organizational -Trial Inspiration, Excel Google Spreadsheets

*Digital Photograph- Microsoft Digital Phot Editor, Paint, Picase, Snapfish

Slide Shows- Photostory, PowerPoint, Comcast slideshow

CAD- Google SketchUp, Drawing with Kid Pix, Tux Paint,
Hope these few ideas help you out a bit
Kelley,

The animation videos are excellent!
Your students would do wonderfully in the Skills competitions. The programs you use definitely figure into the competitions - I'd love to see them rewarded for their work!
Shawn:

Great thread.

You might want to look at Edubuntu, the Linux operating system that has "thin client with old computers" built in. For the Open Source Pavilions at CUE and NECC we use a similar project called K12LTSP, which lets you take really old computers and run a great, stable lab basically for free--just the investment of time to get it up and running. We use a dual-xeon 2.4 GHz workstation as a server, and run 40+ old workstations (can even be Pentium 1s) off of it. The server used on eBay would be $500 or so, if even that. Or you may have one around.

And OpenOffice runs like a dream on Linux thin client. Also, you could try xubuntu, a Linux OS that is specially configured for older equipment, if you didn't want to go thin client.

If you don't find enough information on Google on this stuff, and want to know more, feel free to contact me directly.

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