I still teach a basic computer application course (as opposed to working with HS teachers to integrate technology into their curriculum) and my goal is to make sure students have the tech skills necessary to be successful in class. I don’t, however, want to just teach “computer skills” – and teach technology just for the sake of learning technology. The past few years I have redesign my computer application course around themes, such as career exploration, teen issues, nutrition/recycling, and CSI (computer scene investigation!)
Through out each theme. we use the tools of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Web 2.0 tools to investigate our topic. For example, during the career unit we took a personality tests based on Dr. John Holland’s theory that people and work environments can be classified into six different groups: Social, Artistic, Investigative, Enterprising, Realistic and Conventional. We created tables in Word to describe the attributes of these personality traits and listed careers for each group. We collected data about annual earnings, percent of growth and number of annual openings and analyzed the data in Excel and created graphs to display the information. We made online slide shows, cartoons, and magazine covers using favorite Web 2.o tools like toondoo, polldaddy, photo show and flickr toys. For a final culminating project, we are designing kiosks (using science board type displays) to display all of our information. We will host a career fair to help other classmates discover their strongest personality trait and which career options are best for them.
While I feel that the students are much more engaged in the thematic units, it does require careful planning on my part to make sure that all the required skills are introduced, reviewed and mastered throughout the term.