Author Archives: Christa Love

Christa Love

About Christa Love

Christa Love, Vice President - Christa Love has a passion for education and technology. A graduate from Brock University she has an Honors Bachelor of Arts in Child Development, Bachelor of Education in Primary and Junior divisions, and Masters of Education in the area of Curriculum Studies. Her work at TechnoKids Inc. began more than twenty years ago as an instructor at a local learning center. Since that time she has operated the summer camp program, taught at the research and development center at John Knox Christian School, trained educators throughout the province on issues related to technology integration, and overseen the curriculum development of hundreds of technology projects. In recent years, Christa has become the vice president of TechnoKids Inc.

Blend Microsoft Office and Google Docs into Curriculum

It can be a challenge to blend Microsoft Office and Google Docs into one program. Are you teaching in a school that requires your students to learn how to use both Microsoft Office and Google Docs? Or are you in a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) setting where students have a variety of devices and software applications? There is a solution. TechnoKids computer curriculum is a collection of technology projects that use a project-based approach to learning. Lessons are available for Microsoft Office, Office Online, and Google Docs.

There are advantages to students knowing how to use both Microsoft Office and Google Docs applications. By becoming proficient in both, they will be better equipped to select the best technology tool to complete the task. Use the suggestions below to effectively blend Microsoft Office and Google Docs into curriculum using TechnoKids instructional materials.

Blend Microsoft Office and Google Docs

How to Blend Microsoft Office and Google Docs into One Program

Provide students with the project version that suits their device

Almost every TechnoKids technology project has a version available for Microsoft Office 2016, Microsoft Office 2013, Office Online, and Google Docs (there are a few exceptions). This allows schools with a BYOD policy to accommodate all students. The entire class can complete the same technology project. However, each person will use the project version that matches the software on their device. Since TechnoKids instructions are illustrated and step-by-step, students can work independently to complete assignments.

Select projects based on device availability

Many schools have a blend of devices that are available to students. For example, some may have a computer lab with Microsoft Office installed on the desktops, with classrooms that have access to mobile carts with Chromebooks. In this case, to provide a balanced program, you can divide the TechnoKids technology projects between use in the computer lab and classroom. A computer teacher could select a technology project that targets technology skills using Microsoft Office. At the same time, a classroom teacher could select a different technology project to integrate Google Docs into a curriculum unit during language arts or social studies class.

Divide the projects by grade

Some schools have assigned which grades will use Microsoft Office and which will use Google Docs. Often this decision is based upon when students are permitted access to email and online storage services. TechnoKids computer curriculum is designed to gradually build proficiency in using technology tools. Teachers in the elementary grades can use the Microsoft Office technology projects to build a solid foundation and promote digital citizenship. Later, as students enter Junior and Senior High they can use the Google technology projects to transition easily to web-based applications. Alternatively, a school may prepare older students for Microsoft Office Specialist certification or the workplace. In this case, the school program could use the Google technology projects in the elementary grades and then transition in middle school to TechnoKids’ advanced Microsoft Office technology projects.

Choose a project according to instructional goal

Study your curriculum and know the skills you must teach. Often, the learning objectives will dictate whether Microsoft Office or Google Docs is required. For example, if you are expected to introduce database skills then you will be selecting a Microsoft Access technology project from the TechnoKids computer curriculum collection. Or if you are required to teach Mail Merge then you will be selecting a Microsoft Word technology project as this function is not available in Google Docs.

TechnoKids Computer Curriculum

Pick a project version based on program features that boost creativity

Sometimes you can complete the same technology project in either Microsoft Office or Google Docs, but the final product will not look the same. This is because the software applications offer different features which can restrict or enhance creative expression. Certain TechnoKids technology projects have more razzle dazzle if they are completed using Microsoft Office. For example, TechnoMap uses the Zoom feature in Microsoft PowerPoint which gives the interactive map more “wow” than one made using Google Slides. Another example is the visual story produced in TechnoToon. This is more fun to make in Microsoft PowerPoint because there is advanced control over animation and effects. If you must blend Microsoft Office and Google Docs into curriculum, determine which product features will engage students the most and use that as a guide when selecting the application to use.

Pick a project version based on program features that offer a richer learning experience

In most cases, Microsoft Office and Google Docs are similar. However, there are times when the tools available in one application are superior to another. For example, TechnoKids technology projects that include a poll, survey, or questionnaire are best done in Google Forms because it has more options and better reporting. Although TechnoKids provides choice, you should select the project version that provides students with the most meaningful learning opportunity.

Decide on a project version based on file output

Consider the final product version and how it will be shared with others. For example, will it be printed, shown as a video, displayed on a screen, or posted to a school website? The answer to these questions can determine whether to use the Microsoft Office or Google Docs version of a TechnoKids technology project. For example, you may want to use the Microsoft PowerPoint version if the goal is to convert a presentation to a video to play at an Open House. However, if the goal is to post a presentation to a class blog then it would be better to use the Google Slides version of the technology project, as it can easily be linked or embedded.

Sequence projects to compare applications

TechnoKids computer curriculum provides an assortment of activities that target the same technology skill area while making an entirely different product. For example, there are multiple word processing projects that have students create books, journals, fact cards, newsletters, biographies, resumes, cover letters, advertisements, and more! When offering a blended program, you may want to teach a word processing project with Google Docs and then a different word processing project with Microsoft Office. This will introduce your students to both applications without them becoming bored by completing the same task. It is also an excellent reflective opportunity to compare application features.

Select one project, but complete it using different versions

There are several ways to blend one project version with another. Choose the option that best suits your situation:

  • Start the project in one project version but complete it using another. TechnoKids computer curriculum includes the same technology project for multiple versions of software. If time is a restriction, you can select the beginning assignments from one version of the technology project to start to create a product in one application. You can then select the ending assignments from another version of the same technology project to complete the task in an equivalent application. For example, students could begin to design a fact card in Google Docs by adding content but complete the formatting of the publication in Microsoft Word. This option provides an excellent way to compare program features and maximize instructional time.
  • Create the project in one project version but extend learning using another. TechnoKids technology projects include extension activities. These additional lessons can be used to combine the use of Microsoft Office with Google applications. For example, students could create a publication or presentation using the assignments in the Microsoft Office version of a technology project. Upon completion, they could then use Google Docs to complete an extension activity related to the theme.
  • Create the project in one project version but collaborate using another. TechnoKids technology projects include activities that include an opportunity to work with others. To blend the versions together, students could use the Microsoft Office instructions to create a product. Upon completion, the file could then be uploaded to Google Drive and shared with peers. Using the Google version of assignments, students could co-author, engage in a question & answer session, or peer review using commenting.

We are here to help! If you are expected to blend Microsoft Office and Google Docs applications into curriculum, it is important to be familiar with program features to provide students with the best learning opportunity. Contact TechnoKids to discuss project selection or program design.

Google Forms Lessons – TechnoQuestionnaire

Christa’s Top TechnoKids Pick

It was my turn to choose a favorite TechnoKids technology project this month. After lots of waffling, I finally settled on TechnoQuestionnaire, a technology project with Google Forms lessons ideal for Grades 6-12.

It was very difficult for me to pick only one. I love each technology project that TechnoKids publishes for different reasons. For example, I like the creative spark that ignites when students complete TechnoToon. The graphic stories always look fantastic when they are finished. TechnoToon is a top selling TechnoKids project, but it is not my top pick.

Another technology project that I love is TechnoBudget. The shopping spree concept is something that engages students. The activities make spreadsheets easy to understand and fun to use. TechnoBudget is a favorite of many teachers, but it is still not my top pick.

Combine Inquiry Based Learning with Google Forms

Why pick TechnoQuestionnaire? The quick answer is I love how Google Forms can be used to create meaningful learning experiences. I wish more teachers used Google Forms in their curriculum.

google forms lessons

Discover how Google Forms can be integrated into curriculum.

I know that many teachers are reluctant to use Google Forms, but it is one of my favorite web-based apps from Google. I like how easy it is to gather information. The variety of question types allows students to gather a range of information. In addition, the automatically generated report clearly summarizes the survey results. I like Google Forms so much that I designed a second technology project, TechnoTrivia, for elementary teachers.

One of the things I like the most about TechnoQuestionnaire is that it uses a real-world problem-solving model. The technology project applies an inquiry-based approach to learning. In the lessons, students learn how to select a research question and design a questionnaire to collect data. Afterwards, they explore data analysis techniques to interpret the findings. TechnoQuestionnaire has activities that offer a practical use of technology. The skills that students learn can be transferred to new situations.

google forms lessons

Google Forms Lessons Make Learning Meaningful

Have Students Become Researchers

I remember being part of the curriculum development team in charge of designing TechnoQuestionnaire a few years ago. In the beginning, I worked with several classes of Grade 7 and 8 students. I had two goals. I wanted students to understand the practical application of Google Forms. I also wanted to design a series of activities that middle and high school students would find interesting. I didn’t want them to be bored. Instead, I wanted them to appreciate the power of Google Forms and understand how they could use it in real life. It was fascinating to watch students become researchers.

When the unit came to an end, the curriculum development team created TechnoQuestionnaire. I like all the things that make it unique. I like the school spirit survey activity because it provides a concrete example of the purpose of a survey. I like the presentation of findings at the end of the project because it gives students an audience bigger than their teacher. I also like the pivot chart extension activity – because I like pivot charts.

Learn More About the Google Forms Lessons in TechnoQuestionnaire

TechnoQuestionnaire is a technology project best suited for middle and high school studnts. Check out my top pick!

Publish Books – TechnoBookmaking

Laurie’s Top TechnoKids Pick

This month’s TechnoKids top pick is from Laurie Gerard. Laurie’s favorite technology project is TechnoBookmaking. In TechnoBookmaking primary and elementary students publish books including picture books, flip flap stories, unfolding riddle books, layer book of facts, bookmarks, greeting cards, and more.

publish books

Publish books with Microsoft Office or Google Docs.

What makes TechnoBookmaking Laurie’s all-time fav is how enthusiastic kids are about what they are making. They are having so much fun! “Kids love the end result, and are always wowed by what they have made.”

Laurie has been a valued TechnoKids team member for over twenty years. One of the things she likes the most about her job is watching the pride students feel when they see what they can do with technology. “I like seeing them smile when they pick their work up from the printer, they just beam!”

publish books

Laurie’s top pick is TechnoBookmaking.

Another reason, Laurie loves this projects so much is because it can easily integrate into any subject area. Students can write a funny story for language arts, a fact book for science, or an unfolding riddle book for social studies. The templates can be used over and over again. This makes it a technology project that a teacher can reuse throughout the school year.

Publish Books with TechnoBookmaking

Check out Laurie’s top pick! TechnoBookmaking, is an engaging project that has kid publish books. Discover what makes it Laurie’s favorite TechnoKids project.

TechnoKids publishes a wide selection of computer lessons for kids. Other titles you may want to check out include TechnoMe. This title is ideal for an All About Me unit. You may also want to learn more about TechnoGallery. This technology project includes a collection of fun drawing activities using Google Drawings. You will be amazed at how creative your students can be with this web-based app.

Engineering Activities STEM for Elementary Students

To be competitive in today’s global economy, students will benefit from an understanding of engineering. It will help them identify possible career pathways. In addition, engineering activities develop problem solving skills, teach essential science and math concepts, and promote collaboration. TechnoKids technology projects can help elementary and middle school teachers integrate engineering into curriculum.

What is an Engineer?

An engineer develops technological solutions by applying their expertise in science and math. During the design process they define a problem, conduct research, analyze information, and develop a solution. An engineer must test ideas and consider various choices to select the solution that will have the most successful results. The field of engineering is very broad. There are four main branches of engineers: civil, electrical, mechanical, and chemical. Each branch has multiple types of engineers that have a wide range of job duties. Most people specialize in a particular field or area of expertise. To learn more about the engineer profession visit Engineers Canada or read the Engineering Wikipedia article.

Many, many years ago the word engineer was used to describe a person who made siege weapons. They were makers of military engines. Today, the term can be used to include a variety of professions. An engineer can be a software engineer that develops computer programs, computer engineer that controls computing devices, environmental engineer that monitors nature, architectural engineer that designs buildings, aeronautical engineers that builds spacecraft, or a biomedical engineer that creates prosthetic limbs. This list is just a few of the exciting career opportunities related to engineering. There are so many more!

TechnoKids Projects and Engineering

TechnoKids projects can be used to teach elementary and middle school students about engineering. The instructional materials are project-based. The engineering activities can be used to develop a foundation for future learning in high school or college.

STEM and TechnoKids projects

STEM and TechnoKids projects

Electrical Engineer

An electrical engineer studies or creates devices or systems that use electricity. This role often includes other branches of engineering. An electrical engineer might write software programs, maintain computer hardware, design telecommunication systems, or design electric devices such as motors or circuits. TechnoKids has projects that apply electrical engineering tasks. For example, in TechnoHTML students become software engineers by writing code to build a web page, and in TechnoSpecialist students become computer engineers by learning about the function of hardware components. These are meaningful engineering activities that students enjoy.

Civil Engineer

A civil engineer designs, constructs, and maintains the physical and natural environment. This job is diverse, extending from infrastructure projects such as roadways to construction projects such as dams. A civil engineer might develop structures such as bridges, build transportation systems such as railways, or conduct environmental assessments such as monitoring air pollution. That is a lot of different types of jobs!

TechnoKids has projects that introduce civil engineering concepts that are suitable for elementary and middle school students. For example, in TechnoRestaurateur students draft a floor plan for a restaurant. This problem solving activity requires students to consider people’s needs to develop a viable layout. The combination of creative and critical thinking required to complete the task is a precursor to applying engineering fundamentals in fields such as architectural engineering. Another TechnoKids project that applies engineering principles is TechnoQuestionnaire. In this project, students design a questionnaire to research an issue, analyze the findings, and propose action based on the results. The design process and reasoning required to complete the activities are similar to the methods used by engineers when researching a problem.

Mechanical Engineer

A mechanical engineer designs and operates machines and mechanical systems. This job includes a wide range of professions. They may manufacture items; design vehicles such as boats, cars, or spacecraft; construct power plants using a range of energy sources (coal, geothermal, tidal, wind, solar); or monitor the efficiency of building systems such as heating or air conditioning. This year, TechnoKids will be creating a project that uses 3D modelling that will target this area of study – it is going to be so fun!

Chemical Engineer

A chemical engineer mixes natural and man-made materials using chemical processes to produce various substances. This area of engineering is vast. For example, it includes refining petroleum, creating paper products, and manipulation of genes. Although a fascinating career path, TechnoKids does not have a project that targets this area specifically. Instead, there are several TechnoKids projects that could be integrated into a unit of study related to chemical engineering. For example, TechnoDebate could be used to explore the ethical issues related to engineering practices, TechnoPresenter could be used to explain an engineering process, or TechnoResearch could be used summarize an engineering topic.

Don’t Hesitate – Integrate Engineering Activities into Curriculum

Engineering activities can be suitable for elementary and middle school students. Instruction does not need to wait until high school or college. Instead, young children can learn about engineering and how it applies to real life to create a foundation for future learning.