Shawn Jackson
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Teaching technology without a curriculum (am I just nuts)?

Started this discussion. Last reply by Studica Skills Dec 10, 2007. 31 Replies


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I am teaching a computer class at a small private school and there are no books to help me. I need to teach kids K-8th grade and I really don't know where to start. We are running office 2000 on P3 and lower computers. they are slow. So we are also looking for new computers free or cheap P4 or better. Can anyone help?

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lesson plans

Posted on July 29, 2007 at 10:01pm 3 Comments

I am a first year teacher at a private school in Kansas City, Kansas. My subjects are computer skills and Gym for grades K-8. The gym I can handle but the Computer class has no manuel. I have to come up with lesson plans off the cuff, no book and ages range from K-8. I am looking for help with lesson plans in this age range. Or a good book to help, any direction or starting point, anything would help. Thank you for your help.

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At 9:00pm on January 30, 2009, Jack said…
Hi Shawn. I was wondering if your students would be interested in participating in a nationwide SAT Vocab Video Contest @ MIT university. If not, perhaps you have some educator contacts you could direct me to. You can view contest details at Please let me know. Thanks!
At 12:46pm on October 30, 2008, Bablingua said…
Dear Shawn,

We already have the website of our project finished and we’d like to share it with you.

The goal of Bablingua is to offer good audiovisual materials filmed in Hispanic countries that can help teachers to enrich their classes. In the website there are short videos, long videos, vocabulary cards and a blog with free activities, games and new ideas for the foreign language class.

Please, visit us at :, and let us know your opinion, comments and ideas you have to improve it.

Alvaro and Laura

At 4:51pm on December 29, 2007, Ellen said…
Hi Shawn,

Proposal writing is a great skill-set and working with middle school students on their writing is commendable. I have one caution that comes to mind and that's one of politics. Proceed with care in reaching out to taxpayers who may feel they are already providing financial support.

I encourage you to respond to current Requests for Proposals rather than have students solicit funds from friends and family etc.

Please know, I believe you're right on as far as reaching out to and involving the community...just looking out at potential outcomes. Good luck!
At 2:52pm on December 10, 2007, Studica Skills said…
Welcome, Shawn! Congrats on your first year of teaching, and I wish you lots of success! I'm a huge advocate of the PBL approach, and have seen some excellent results. My husband is a high school art teacher and he works almost SOLELY through PBL.

I can't wait to read about the great results you're bound to achieve!
At 4:22am on November 30, 2007, Ginger Lewman said…
You know, one of the processes for PBL is to find a question (what's our skin made of? or some such question, depending on the age of the student), and think about some directions you want the kids to go. Is it the structure of skin? Is it the biochemical components of the skin? Is it a beginning investigation into cells?

Every general question can have multiple layers, so you could have all your grades looking at the same question in different ways. You could focus it on Science, or Social Studies (why is there fighting in the Middle East? and do religions, geography, culture, history, current events, etc). You could have them doing Math lessons with a cool tech tool.

Any way you go, as a tech teacher, you need to be teaching academic content with the tools. In that way, maybe other teachers will see it's possible. They'll see you as a helpmate to their classes. Get in with one teacher and have them guide you through an upcoming project they are doing, then consider how to extend the kids' learning through the tech tools.
Science in elementary is pretty easy, since the standards from 4-7 grade are pretty much the same. You just modify the complexity of the question/process/product to fit the age.
(basically, find a good mentor teacher and see what you can do to support his/her kids learning with tech. Find someone happy to guide you through the standards those kids need).
At 6:45pm on November 29, 2007, Ginger Lewman said…
Also, in your picture, is that Dean Mantz behind you?? How funny!
At 6:44pm on November 29, 2007, Ginger Lewman said…
Oh I am DELIGHTED to hear this! We met at MACE this summer, right? And it was the last session of the conference?

You're right, I love PBL and I'll never go back. Kids are engaged and teaching themselves! They can figure out that they can learn and that WE can learn from them and it's an entire collaborative process going on.

You have no idea how much I needed this good news today and right now. Thank you so much for sharing your excitement and success! Let me know if you want a pocketful of tools to help the kids learn their classroom content. I can send you Ben Wilkoff's 101 tools list.
At 7:16am on October 30, 2007, Alecia Berman-Dry said…
Shawn--I think you'll have a lot more luck with the inner circle of the dart boards than you would if you spent eons on a professional grant writer. Especially the childrens' families' employers. It's a great idea. I can't believe how much you are doing. Do you feel you are doing it well?
At 6:16pm on October 29, 2007, Kim Cofino said…
Hi Shawn,

In all honesty, most technology teachers are teaching without a curriculum. I've never had anything to work from in any of the schools I've ever worked at! I just make sure to take a careful look at the core curriculum and then find ways to link to what the students are learning in their core classes.

sually, even when I'm actually teaching IT (not just facilitating) I work with the core teachers to develop integrated projects that bring together what they're learning in their core classes and a new technology skill.

Generally speaking, I would steer you away from "teaching" Word, PowerPoint or Excel. Develop a project-based unit using backwards design (read more about this process on my blog) that links with a core curriculum unit and uses those tools when they are needed. It helps students to find relevance to those tools if they are used in an authentic context.

Plus, with so many great web 2.0 tools available, I think you can find all sorts of amazing projects to participate in that will really stimulate and excite your students about technology!
At 3:02pm on October 25, 2007, Shawn Jackson said…
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, I'm I just nuts?
So here's the plan and you can tell me if "I'm 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 the inner circle 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?


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