Problem? or not?

Just wondering how many of you have this same issue. (conflict with the upper level grade instruction tract)
back ground:
I teach middle school computers. 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students. We program games using scratch before school in computer club and work on learning html5, css, javascript, perl and php. These skills teach problem solving, linear thinking, abstract thinking and reinforce language and math skills.

In 6th grade I teach keyboarding, but have seen a large decrease in student abilities due to the elementary curriculum changes. Now the elementary teaches computers and keyboarding by playing games for about 1/2 hour a week. The instructor is part time and uses a mobile lab. They used to teach keyboarding a couple hours a week but budget cuts have limited their instruction time. So the students come to me keying about 10 words a minute. About 15 words a minute slower than they used to key.
I have them type word documents, work on formatting, accuracy and speed. We take timed writing test about every 3rd day and students are expected to improve by 5 awpm each time they retest. To cover keying numbers we type spreadsheets in the spring instead of word documents. Timed writing is part of their grade.

In 7th grade I have moved from teaching keyboarding with the mandate that we teach more 21st century skills. I instruct the students on how to program html, css, edit audio, edit video, write ebooks and enhance them, make smartboard applications (games), and presentations to review core lesson materials. We use economics as our subject matter to support lessons in the social science classrooms. This is a subject I am familiar with and which the core classes have difficulty fitting into their year.

In 8th grade we study the U.S. Constitution making podcast, videos, using online classrooms to work collaboratively with other classes in different hours over the internet.
All my classes are provided online in a flipped (podcast and vidcast) format and I use class time as lab time to work on the projects. The kids work in teams and have to make contracts with each other and assign jobs. Each kid gets part of the project and they combine them over the internet.

My problem is; Should I go back to just teaching keyboarding, word and excel? You see, once the kids leave my class and go to High School they do not get any of the programming, podcasting, vidcasting or online format classes. They don’t take my lessons to the next level. They don’t work online collaboratively or anything.
What they do is type. Word processing, research papers, power-points and excel.
I have been told that I am not preparing my students for High School because I do not stress these topics of study. However I feel that 1. there is more to technology than typing and business. and 2. what is the point in teaching them something over and over that they will be getting more instruction on in HS? How does just teaching business and keyboarding instead of programming, use of online classrooms, and multimedia preparing our students for the 21st century?


About merlehall

I am a technology teacher for Macon Middle School. In Northeast Missouri. I have been using an online classroom with Moodle for the past several years. My students use a hybrid online, brick and mortar class. My classes are designed to support the core classes in that: In 8th grade we study the Constitution of the United States using smartboards, podcast, vidcast, internet research and word. In 7th we study economics using HTML, game creation, ebook writing, podcast, game playing, excel spreadsheets, and database design. In 6th grade we study geography and math using Monopoly with checks, spreadsheets, and work on keyboarding, speed typing, touch typing and dictation. In addition to education I am an avid fisherman, hunter, hot air balloon lover, front porch setter, square dancer, so you will also be seeing information on these subjects as well from time to time.
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2 Responses to Problem? or not?

  1. Jennifer says:

    A very interesting problem. I have not yet landed a job, thus I only have my internship experience from last fall. I was in a 5th grade classroom and the students’ typing skills were HORRIBLE. They only had technology (computers) one day a week for about 40 minutes. Our tech teacher was full time, but her curriculum was odd. Every day I picked them up, they were all playing computer games. I believe they had some free time at the end of the classes, but with only 40 minutes, how can there be free time? They also spent a lot of time writing with pencil on worksheets (!?!?). I am not sure what the goals were, but the kids hated the class (and I have never seen a kid hate a computer class) and I never saw their typing skills improve. I think my 6 year old son has better computer skills than many of my students. I think you should continue with the coding skills- it will interest some to continue on their own and the problem solving/ linear thinking skills are so important.

    • merlehall says:

      I have seen classes like that before. In our elementary classes they play games a lot. I have to admit in my classes if they get done with their work, and have nothing else to do they used to play games a lot. It took me awhile to figure out how to keep the advanced kids entertained (enriched) without using games. Games are to easy and therefore I think a trap for technology teachers. However, it doesn’t look to good if everytime someone comes by the kids are playing games. It begs the questions why aren’t they making good productive use of class time. I have since begun offering other things besides games for enrichment. We animate cartoons, we write ebooks, we learn css, html5, php, perl. We program our own games. (In that case they can play games. They are challenged to play other classmates games to look for glitches and improvements.)
      What I have found is my kids love my classes. I have very few discipline problems and I even have trouble getting the kids to stop when class is over.
      I have made the keyboarding a challenge. If they improve they can earn a priviledge or reward. Sometimes we have races against each other. This helps with the tedious nature of the keyboard lessons.

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