How To Prepare Your Middle School Students for the Microsoft Office Specialist Certification

With Business&ITCenter21 there’s no lesson plans to create, no grading, and there are engaging lesson activities for the students. That's our main concern... when we need to sit down and write lessons, and make sure the lessons are engaging, and then we need to grade thousands of papers, that's a turn off.

With AES we don't have to do that, we have more time to do other things… to do individual teaching, because when the students are working with AES, I can walk around and help individual students. If I'm just in front of the class, with a lesson, I can't do that.

Daisy Questell
Liberty Middle School, FL

Many computer applications teachers across the United States are working to have their students receive a Microsoft Office Specialist certification. Having a MOS certification can set your students apart from others in the workplace. But as a teacher, you have many other things to accomplish during the school year than just prepare your students for certification. Anyone can purchase certification prep materials, but you need to do more in order to give your students the foundational knowledge before they even start thinking about certification.

Finding enough time to do this is a struggle when you are spending time working on your lesson plans and grading student work… not to mention finding ways to keep your students engaged. So how can a computer teacher accomplish all of this and prepare students for success on the MOS exam?

Daisy Questell is a teacher at Liberty Middle School in Hillsborough County, Florida and she has found a way. Jim Schultz traveled to meet with Daisy and learn how she and her students are succeeding by using Business&ITCenter21.


Meet Daisy Questell from Liberty Middle School

Daisy is currently a business and computer teacher at Liberty Middle School, where she has been teaching since 2002. Prior to teaching at Liberty Middle School, Daisy was in Puerto Rico teaching business courses to adults.

I’m Puerto Rican… I worked in Puerto Rico at the Banking Institute, a post-secondary business school.  I taught accounting and business math for a couple of years and then became an administrator for ten years.

In 1991, I came to the United States and I didn't work for ten years… I decided to stay home with my son. When he started sixth grade, it was the perfect time to continue with my career. I received my certifications in Business Education and Spanish. I have a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration from the Catholic University of Puerto Rico and a Masters in Technology Integration. from Nova Southwestern University. I am a National Board Teacher in Career and Technical Education and a Microsoft Office Specialist Master.

Since 2002 I have been teaching Business, Video Game Design, and Microsoft Office Certification courses.  In addition, I am a Future Business Leaders of America chapter adviser and a district director.


Saving Time with Ready-to-Use Lesson Plans and Automatic Grading

When talking with Daisy, Jim asked her what she sees as the biggest value in using Business&ITCenter21 in her classroom. Daisy shared two ways that Business&ITCenter21 is saving her time and allowing her to spend more time to focus on her students’ success.

“Well, Business&ITCenter21... It's a great help for teachers. Especially when we don't have textbooks. We don't have to sit down and create all these lesson plans to have the classes engaged, because they really like it and they enjoy the lessons. For teachers, I think it's fantastic. For example now that we're doing the Microsoft Office Certification, Business&ITCenter21 is a lifesaver.

It is very user friendly, and all the PowerPoints that are available for teachers, I can customize them. Because there are PowerPoints there that I can go and customize, like: I don't like this, I remove it, I put something else... it's easy. With all the work that we have to do, then we don't have to do more.

Also, I get all the grades from [Business&ITCenter21], I export them to Excel, I delete what I don't want, and add to my gradebook. For me, it is a lifesaver. I don't have to grade anything.”


Keeping Students Engaged with Relevant Lessons and Differentiated Instruction

Like many middle school computer teachers, Daisy has struggled to keep her students engaged and interested in her lessons. Making the important topics in the MOS certification relevant to her students can be difficult. Daisy and her students shared how Business&ITCenter21 is more engaging for middle school students than a traditional textbook or instructional materials created for older students.

“It's a great learning tool, rather than just looking at the textbook and just reading about it, because that doesn't really help you learn. But this is really hands on and engaging.” - Student

“I found that, especially with the Word Skills Project, that was very interesting and interactive. I find that when we work on the projects, they’re more effective and interactive and engaging… We actually get to do hands on experience with it.” - Student

“A middle school population is different from high school… The students in the middle school, they need hands on and engaging activities. We cannot make them do what they're doing in high school, or college, because it's boring.

With Business&ITCenter21 there’s no lesson plans to create, no grading, and there are engaging lesson activities for the students. That's our main concern... when we need to sit down and write lessons, and make sure the lessons are engaging, and then we need to grade thousands of papers, that's a turn off. With AES we don't have to do that, we have more time to do other things… to do individual teaching, because when the students are working with Business&ITCenter21, I can walk around and help individual students. If I'm just in front of the class, with a lesson, I can't do that.”

Daisy also touched on something that many teachers wish they could easily accomplish - differentiated instruction:

AES is perfect for differentiating instruction because they're working at their own pace and skill level. For example, I have some students that need more verbal direction from me, so I spend more time working one-on-one with them, while my more independent students can work through lessons on their own at their own pace. If they finish Word Basics quickly, they can move on to the advanced module while I continue working with the other students that need a little extra guidance.

It's a great benefit...to do differentiated instruction. It's perfect. I've been teaching 12 years, and AES...you need to do AES."


How To Increase Microsoft Office Certification Pass Rates

By worrying less about technology lesson plans and student engagement, instructors have more time to really focus on what they want to accomplish with the students. In Daisy’s case, preparing her students for the Microsoft Office Specialist certification. When Jim asked what Daisy would say to a computer teacher who wants to know about Business&ITCenter21, this was her response:

“I will show them how good it is… I will explain to them exactly what it is. That they can go online, create their classes, and choose all of the lessons that they want. Using AES they will increase the rates for passing Microsoft Office certifications. I will convince them… It’s easy to do.”

Daisy and her students have seen an increase in MOS certification pass rates since starting to use Business&ITCenter21. While it is not specifically created for certification prep, Business&ITCenter21 helps to solve many challenges Daisy faces in the classroom, which allows her to better focus on getting her students ready. Business&ITCenter21 provides the foundational knowledge and relevant context middle school students need before moving on to the test prep materials.

Did the challenges that Daisy faced sound familiar to you? Business&ITCenter21 could help you better engage your students, save time, and improve your Microsoft Office Specialist certification exam pass rates. See for yourself by signing up for a free trial:

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