A Guide to Finding Technology Curriculum for Middle & High School
Are you a new technology teacher on the hunt for technology curriculum? You are not alone! We get a lot of questions from teachers, especially from new ones who do not have a wealth of experience, who are struggling to find relevant instructional resources. Just this week, these two emails crossed my path...
"I fall into the large number of teachers who are frustrated with the lack of resources available to teach the curriculum required in a technology-based course. Thus the reason why I decided to try Business&ITCenter21. Thank you for designing a curriculum to ease the struggles a technology teacher faces!"
"I signed up for Business&ITCenter21 to SAVE TIME! It is so much simpler to 'tweak' someone else’s PowerPoint than create one from scratch! Time is precious as a new teacher, and I really appreciate all the help I can get!"
So what are your options as a new teacher in a technology based computer applications or introduction to technology course for middle school or early high school?
Certifications for Computer Technology Curriculum
Certifications are worth a mention before we start looking at resources. Certifications that come to mind regarding technology curriculum are Microsoft Office Specialist, Microsoft Office Expert, and Microsoft Office Master and IC3.
Microsoft Office Specialist
Microsoft says this about the MOS certification:
"Demonstrate that you have the skills needed to get the most out of Office by earning a Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certification in a specific Office program. Holding a MOS certification can earn an entry-level business employee as much as $16,000 more in annual salary than uncertified peers."
With Microsoft’s own Microsoft IT Academy Program, you’ll find customizable Microsoft Office lesson plans. You will also find all sorts of valuable information and content for developing and refining your own computer applications lesson plans for Microsoft Office. You can also check out Microsoft in Education for some great ideas.
Microsoft IT Academy provides specific instruction intended to help students pass the Microsoft certifications tests. It offers training on technology skills to help students pursue a career in IT after graduation. The certifications provide differentiation in a competitive job market.
The Microsoft IT Academy is a great tool to help students that want to achieve certification for Microsoft products. Microsoft supplies the software, lesson plans, e-learning content, and test prep. They also write the actual certification tests. The company is clearly in the best position to help students who want to get certifications.
The Microsoft IT Academy program is the best way to gain a Microsoft Certification, but it’s not going to help your students in all aspects of your curriculum. Microsoft uses the same e-learning material for professionals and students. The content leads to certification but may not address state and national education standards.
My recommendation for teachers who want students to pursue MOS certification? Use the Microsoft IT Academy. The cost to schools is relatively low and they provide the best certification prep material. Take a close look at the material so you understand how it fits into your curriculum and where you need to add additional resources.
For business and computer applications teachers and CTE directors and administrators getting students prepared for IC3 certification is an ongoing responsibility, and frequently a struggle. But a necessary struggle…as Certiport so effectively puts it,
“A job candidate or college applicant with IC3 Certification is instantly recognized as already having the critical entry-level skills needed to function effectively in academic and work environments.”
That’s what you are providing for your students when you prepare them well for IC3 certification.
To achieve IC3 certification, students must pass three exams in these areas:
- Computing Fundamentals: Computer Hardware, Computer Software, Using an Operating System
- Key Applications: Common Program Functions, Word Processing Functions, Spreadsheet Functions, Presentation Software Functions
- Living Online: Networks and the Internet, Electronic Mail, Using the Internet, The Impact of Computing and the Internet on Society
Textbooks for Technology Curriculum
Well, I was prepared to share some really fabulous textbooks for computer applications and technology curriculum. However, I couldn't find any. So I asked a couple of computer applications teachers and here's what they said:
When the two best computer applications teachers I know (and I know a lot!) say they can't think of one textbook title to recommend, I acknowledge and move on!
Online Computer Class Curriculum Systems
There are a several online systems out there that can bring your technology curriculum to life. Three that stand out are Cengage SAM, Pearson's MyITLab, and Business&ITCenter21
Their site provides a brief demo. The demo shows a PowerPoint presentation of the student experience. That experience begins after a student has successfully signed on. The student starts an assignment and goes through three steps of training: observe, practice, and apply. These steps are all completed via a simulated Microsoft Office interface. Students can then complete exams, also via an interface.
The system tracks (grades) mouse clicks. Then supplies immediate, detailed, and customized feedback to the student. Students can use that data to remediate or generate custom study guides that highlight where that individual needs more learning and practice. This is pretty amazing! To be able to provide individualized instruction to students without the teacher having to grade or hand-assess anything, is actually quite premier!
Students can also complete Microsoft Office projects that are automatically graded (via screen clicks). As with exams, students get immediate feedback about areas where they may have struggled.
Finally, students can complete reading assignments directly from the Cengage SAM interface. Students can essentially complete all of this digitally…no papers, no grading. Sounds pretty amazing. And in regards to no paper and no grading…yes, it certainly is.
Cengage SAM offers many documents showing how the system is a proven method for engaging students and teaching Microsoft Office applications. If you are seriously considering Cengage SAM, take some time to read over some of these documents. I admit that I only skimmed one, but I found it impressive.
Very similar to Cengage SAM is Pearson’s MyITLab. Students work in a simulated Microsoft Office environment. Generally the learning process is that students read an eText, watch a video demonstration, and then practice skills in a Microsoft Office application simulation.
As with Cengage SAM, grading is automatic and based on “clicks” within a simulated environment. Students get immediate, customized feedback. Students can then move on to projects that are completed in the live Microsoft Office applications. These are also automatically graded by the system’s grading engine. If students need some help completing a task, help is immediately available. Students are quickly given the option to go directly to where that skill was taught and can instantly remediate before attempting to complete the task.
Teachers can create custom projects, as well. If you have your own favorite projects that you prefer, there are ways to integrate those into the system.
Business&ITCenter21 is a library of multimedia lessons, quizzes, and projects designed to engage students, lead to Microsoft Office certification, and save you time. Business&ITCenter21 will provide you with engaging, interactive, age-appropriate and up-to-date curriculum for middle school and high school. Students go through Fundamentals and Projects curriculum and then take quizzes. Later, module tests verify their achievement in the content areas.
Not only is the curriculum provided, but the grade book helps you gauge how well your students are learning and understanding the content. This is more than a digitized textbook thrown online. That’s been done. This is a fully developed tool that includes many resources that follow “Understanding By Design” techniques, starting with what students need to understand and then designing curriculum that will bring students to that end.
Free Computer Lesson Plans
Teachers.net provides some free resources under the subject of "computer." Just scroll through and look for the appropriate age group. I found this lesson on Internet Safety for high school, but it looks like it would work well for middle school, too.
Teachnology.com also has resources under "computing" for a variety of age groups. I liked the looks of this one: Does Your Fitness Compute? It uses spreadsheet software. NOTE: For Florida teachers, this lesson correlates to many Florida State Standards and Florida Process Standards!
Another fabulous resource? Teachers Pay Teachers is a must. Just type in “technology curriculum” on the site, and you’ll find all sorts of options for projects and activities. You can narrow down your results for age-appropriateness. Just a note of warning, these lessons are NOT necessarily free. So you have to do a little more hunting here if you absolutely must find no-charge resources.
So while you may have to hunt for technology curriculum for your middle and high school courses, it won't be in vain. There is a wealth of resources available from free to thousands.