Tag Archives: computer education

Computer Science Learning Standards

As educators, we agree that STEM education matters. The focus on science, technology, engineering, and math not only prepares young people for the jobs of tomorrow, but also builds the vital skills of design, logical thinking, problem solving, and trouble shooting. We recognize the need for students to develop computer literacy but more than just being confident users of technology, we want to encourage a culture of innovation. This has in turn generated a specific interest in computer science and programming as an essential component of the technology curriculum.

computer science scratch

Schools have recognized the need for students in all grades to develop a foundation in programming. The appearance of robotics in classrooms, coding clubs, and graphical, block-based programming languages such as Scratch, ScratchJr, and Blockly allow even primary students to develop an interest in being builders and creators of technology.

So now we’re committed to the value of computer science in our classrooms. But what exactly are the fundamental and critical skills that we should be teaching? A set of core guidelines can help teachers to develop computer science curriculum that introduces the fundamental concepts, engages students to develop an interest in coding, and fosters computational thinking, creativity, perseverance, collaboration, and all the other valuable skills that programming provides. Some schools, school boards, and states have written their own standards but if teachers don’t have a required set of learning standards, there are many resources available.

Here’s a list of sites with computer science standards. Is there one that works for you? Or, combine ideas and create your own.

Computer Science Teachers Association

  • clear, user-friendly set of learning standards
  • 3 levels: k-6, 6-9, 9-12
  • Strands: Computational Thinking, Collaboration, Computing Practice and Programming, Computer and Communications Devices, Community, Global, and Ethical Impacts

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)

  • includes all areas of technology
  • recently edited to include Innovative Designer and Computational Thinker as two of seven strands, reflecting the significance of process, logical thinking, and breaking a problem into a sequence of steps

Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS)

  • divided into elementary K-2 and 3-5, middle 6, 7, 8, and high school levels
  • programming and designing solutions first mentioned in K-2
  • high school includes specific standards for Computer Science, Game Programming and Design, Robotics Programming and Design, and many more

Next Generation Science Standards

  • search and download by level or topic
  • science-based, but includes Engineering, Technology, and Applications of Science citing the importance of computational thinking, breaking down problems into smaller parts, and real-world applications
  • international; referenced by robotics kits manufacturers such as Lego (Click on Educational Standards to see Common Core and NGSS correlation in this sample) and VEX IQ (VEX IQ Curriculum Education Standards lists learning objectives for its online units)

Prince Edward Island Career and Technical Education: Robotics

  • specific to robotics in Grades 10-12
  • samples of rubrics, rating scales, reflection logbooks, and learning journals

Of course there are many more computer science standards documents online. If you have one to add to the list, please let me know!

Keyboard Shortcuts for Google Slides

As you use Google Slides a few times, you can speed up your work by using keyboard shortcuts for some of the functions you use often. Here’s a list of some of the common ones for a PC that you might find helpful.

keyboard shortcuts

Action Keyboard Shortcut
Working with a Presentation
Open a presentation CTRL + O
New slide CTRL + M
Print a presentation CTRL + P
Presenting the Show
Present from beginning CTRL + SHIFT + F5
Present from current slide CTRL + F5
Exit the show ESC
Editing Shortcuts Common to Many Apps
Undo CTRL + Z
Redo CTRL + Y
Copy CTRL + C
Cut CTRL + X
Paste CTRL + V
Paste without formatting CTRL + SHIFT + V
Duplicate CTRL + D
Select all CTRL + A
Text Shortcuts Common to Many Apps
Bold text CTRL + B
Italic text CTRL + I
Underline text CTRL + U
Insert a numbered list CTRL + SHIFT + 7
Insert a bulleted list CTRL + SHIFT + 8
Insert a comment CTRL + ALT + M
Insert a link CTRL + K
Increase font size of selected text CTRL + SHIFT + >
Decrease font size of selected text CTRL + SHIFT + <
Working with Objects
Bring object forward CTRL + ↑
Bring object to front CTRL + SHIFT + ↑
Send object backward CTRL + ↓
Send object to back CTRL + SHIFT + ↓
Move to the next object TAB
Duplicate an object Select the object, press CTRL, and drag

If I’ve missed any that you use and find helpful, please let me know. Next, I’ll make a list of keyboard shortcuts for Google Docs.

Soft Skills for Job Readiness

I’ve been reading a lot of employment ads lately as I’ve been researching career readiness. One recurring theme is that employers are not only seeking people with job specific skills. They also require a strong set of interpersonal or professional skills such as communication, initiative, collaboration, creativity, and responsibility. These are often termed soft skills. Hard skills are the technical requirements for a specific job whereas soft skills refer to a cluster of general personality traits and behaviors. Not only do we have to teach our students curricular learning objectives, but we also need to give them a strong foundation in these employability skills to prepare them for success in the workplace.

Teach Soft Skills to Prepare Students for Employability

We can’t accurately predict what the specific jobs of the future will be, but the crucial soft skills won’t change. Decision-making, goal setting, critical thinking, and problem solving are just a few of the life skills that can be learned and applied to any career. They may just be the difference between equally qualified candidates that determine who gets the job in a competitive job marketplace.

help wanted

These soft skills should be taught explicitly. Students need to be mindful of their personal strengths and needs in these critical areas, and educators must provide skills training. TechnoKids technology projects focus on this combination of curriculum, technology, and soft skills. Through role play, students ‘try on’ professions such as web developer, financial analyst, entrepreneur, and many more. Real-world learning opportunities motivate students to raise their awareness of the job market and what they need to learn to be well prepared.

Here are the top soft skills employers value and how TechnoKids lesson plans teach them with engaging, meaningful activities.

Oral and Written Communication

The ability to articulate thoughts and ideas clearly is essential. In the key qualifications list, jobs ads frequently state: “Excellent verbal and written communication skills”. Teamwork, long distance collaboration, planning documents, sales, customer support, and project report summaries all require a concise and effective exchange of information.

Presenter soft skills

TechnoPresenter is a technology project that specifically teaches public speaking. Students learn how to power up an oral presentation with a slide show. Using speaker notes, practice rehearsals, body language skits, tips, reflection questions, and assessment tools, students develop key communication skills.

Teamwork and Collaboration

To build positive relationships with colleagues and clients who may represent diverse cultures and viewpoints, job candidates need to be able to work as part of a team. Interpersonal negotiation, project meetings, and conflict resolution require a personable, team-player mindset.

Newsletter soft skills

Students design a professional-looking publication in TechnoNewsletter. To build teamwork skills, they can co-author an article. On completion, they share the document digitally and invite peer comments. Before engaging in an online discussion, students explore commenting guidelines. Advice to make comments in a positive and encouraging way, be courteous, and write clearly and concisely is offered. Then students sign a Commenting Agreement to agree to be responsible digital citizens.

Work Ethic

Effective habits such as time management, punctuality, ethical behavior, and personal accountability affect productivity. Therefore employers highly value self-starters who are well organized, establish priorities, and work independently. They also look for an employee who shows initiative, offers innovative solutions, and tackles challenges beyond the job description.

TechnoKids projects offer multiple learning opportunities that build professionalism and a strong work ethic.

Before starting most projects, students plan their ideas in an organizer. Forming an outline in a graphic chart or written plan before undertaking a task builds fundamental organizational skills.

Throughout the projects, student checklists build systematic editing and reviewing practices. These self-evaluation tools advance a student’s awareness of their performance as well as providing feedback for improvement. Checklists are provided as each portion of an activity is completed and at the end of the project too.

Final reflection questions at the end of a completed project provide another method of self-assessment. Students consider their strengths and areas for personal growth in specific technical and interpersonal skills.

Career Management

Knowledge of the career marketplace and how to navigate it is vital. Students should set career goals, know how to explore job opportunities, how to pursue a particular job, and how to self-advocate in the workplace.

STEM career education

In TechnoAdvertise students build skills to successfully manage the job market. To start, they write a cover letter and a resume. Supported by samples, guiding questions, and lists of model skills and qualities, they apply for a position at a fictional ad agency. Once they are hired, they learn advanced word processing skills to design a series of publications for a client. Students create a professional looking advertising flyer, a product catalog, a personalized form letter, mailing labels, and a newsletter.


Global and Intercultural Fluency

Any career in the workplace of tomorrow requires an employee who respects individual differences. They must demonstrate inclusiveness, sensitivity, and the ability to interact respectfully with people from diverse cultures, races, ages, and genders.

STEM skills middle school

Students express their opinions and personal expertise in TechnoBlog. Writing in their own voice, they begin by identifying the audience, topic, and purpose of a blog article. Then they are guided in writing a series of blog posts. Afterwards they exchange ideas with others as they comment on their peers’ blogs and respond to others’ comments on their own writing. Student workbook instructions focus on social skills such as etiquette, maintaining privacy, and making encouraging comments. As they express their opinions, students learn how to state viewpoints respectfully and courteously. A key goal of the project is to prepare students to become responsible digital citizens.

Critical Thinking

Young people who are ‘career ready’ exercise sound reasoning to study issues and make decisions. They use creative thinking skills to solve problems. They are able to find and interpret facts to build knowledge. They deal with conflict. They accept a challenge and resolve the issue in inventive and original ways.

soft skills

Students prepare an animated debate in TechnoDebate. They take a stand on a controversial issue to persuade an audience. To start, they research evidence to support a viewpoint. They collaborate with a partner who prepares the opposing position. Next, rebuttals are formed to refute the opponent’s claims. Viewers of the debate are invited to comment and debaters defend their positions. The debate forum builds critical and creative thinking as well as research skills, persuasive expression, and savvy decision making.

Digital Literacy

Basic computer skills are likely to be a component of most jobs in tomorrow’s workplace. Job-specific software skills can only be developed on a foundation of essential computer competence.

TechnoKids projects are ICT and STEM project-based activities to integrate technology into curriculum. Students analyze information, collaborate, solve problems, and make decisions. The interdisciplinary activities target learning outcomes from language arts, mathematics, social studies, science, history, geography, and creative arts. By tackling real-world problems, students build word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, and programming skills. Blended into the learning are the universal soft skills that are a passport to career success.

Quick Search Tip for Quality Results

site:search

Any search tip that makes online research more efficient is a welcome relief for teachers and students. Researching online with students can be a time consuming and sometimes frustrating task. The amount of information available on the Internet is mind boggling. Too often searches result in a lot of worthless or irrelevant information, or data of questionable trustworthiness. How can searches limit results to quality content?

Limit a search to a website

Site:search is a great way to save time and limit search results. This method restricts a search to a particular site or a specific type of site. It’s simple: in the search box, type site: followed by the limiting factor and search topic.

For example, if you want to just search the Smithsonian website for information on Wilbur and Orville Wright, type site:smithsonian.com wright brothers. Results yielded will be all references within the Smithsonian web archives, instead of the millions of suggested sites that will appear after a search for ‘wright brothers’. Left out are blog or opinion articles, all commercial sites using the name Wright Brothers, or any other unrelated sites. As an added bonus, since the source of all information will be the Smithsonian Museum, you know that the facts will be authentic and trustworthy.

Limit a search to a domain type

Learn Research SkillsInstead of limiting a search to just one site, you can restrict it to a type of site. This eliminates a whole minefield of biased or unreliable sources. For example, if you are searching for information about forestry and you type gc.ca Canada lumber, you will receive only sites that are published on Canadian government websites. Such information is authoritative and saves time researching the credibility of sources.

Here are some ways to restrict searches to trusted websites appropriate for classroom use.

Limit a Search to a Domain Type:
site:gov site:org site:edu
Limit a Search to Government Sites:
site:epa.gov site:nasa.gov site:loc.gov
Limit a Search to Organizations:
site:britishmuseum.org site:pbs.org site:worldwildlife.org
Limit a Search to Publications:
site:nationalgeographic.com site:timeforkids.com site:popsci.com
Limit a Search to Research-Based TV Shows:
site:history.com site:biography.com site:discovery.com

site:searchTeach your students the site:search tip. Their online research will be more efficient and will yield better, more legitimate results. TechnoResearch is a technology project that introduces essential research skills to elementary and middle school students. Learn how to plan, retrieve, process, share, and evaluate information. Using this fun and engaging project, students will acquire skills that are transferable to any inquiry challenge in all areas of the curriculum. Read more about TechnoResearch here.