I'm looking for innovative and creative middle school cycle course ideas for the 8th grade level that integrate technology. Our budget is very limited so we are restricted to using computers with any free or existing resources and software. Any ideas? What does your school teach?
This question has numerous possibilites depending upon what direction you wish to take. If you want to help your students learn technology, you could include courses in keyboarding, word processing, spreadsheets, drawing, presentations, and databases. For example, Learn2Type is free for schools and has a good online course to teach students typing with an evaluation component for teachers to use in monitoring individual student progress.
Open Office (Download it now) is a free office suite that you can download, use, and distribute. It is compatible with other major office suites. So you could develop a middle school course using any of the following software programs:
|Writer – a word processor you can use for anything from writing a quick letter to producing an entire book.|
|Calc – a powerful spreadsheet with all the tools you need to calculate, analyse, and present your data in numerical reports or sizzling graphics.|
|Impress – the fastest, most powerful way to create effective multimedia presentations.|
|Draw – lets you produce everything from simple diagrams to dynamic 3D illustrations.|
|Base – lets you manipulate databases seamlessly. Create and modify tables, forms, queries, and reports, all from within OpenOffice.org|
|Math – lets you create mathematical equations with a graphic user interface or by directly typing your formulas into the equation editor.|
If you are interested in a photo editing course, you could download Gimp for free on all your computers and use the online tutorials to start your curriculum on how to manipulate pictures. Gimp is very similar to Adobe Photoshop which is not free. I also like Picasa which is another free photo editing program that you can download and use with students. This program is easier to use than Gimp, but it does not have all the special features that Gimp offers.
I would suggest that you join the group Online Tools for Educators. Many free Web 2.0 tools are featured in this group. Some of the tools may give you ideas of courses you can develop integrating free technology software with your curriculum needs.
Let us know what innovative and creative courses you develop for your middle school. You have started a really good discussion. I look forward to reading other responses.
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Thank you for all your information. I am familiar with many of those web 2.0 tools. My question is really about a course for middle school students. For example, our 6th grade students learn keyboarding, general file management, and office application skills through an entrepeurnship class. I was thinking about a Global Communications course for 8th grade or an introduction to programming (using scratch). Maybe a multimedia project course of some kind that integrates a communication project that students share on the Internet.
I'm going to check out Gimp for photo-editing as we might be able to use that in a course.
Thanks for your help!
Have you investigated the U. S. Army's eCybermission website. They have an awesome annual competition for 6th-8th grades. I used it as a cross-curriculum tool for several years. They students get excited about it. they get cool gifts from the army. They have the chance to address real world problems and offer solutions. I had them do extensive research both online and within the local community. they had discussions/interviews with civic leaders.
Check it out. You'll see the possibilities. If you are interested, post here and I will tell you more about my classes' experiences.
PS We also used the program to launch multimedia presentations that we showed at our county's annual Soil and Water Conservation Banquet.