Tag Archives: integrate technology

Microsoft Office Proficiency and Career Readiness

In a recent post about STEM education and career preparation, I searched online to find jobs related to science, technology, engineering, and math. In the search box of popular job site listings such as Indeed or Monster.com, previously I had put job titles. Instead, this time I entered the keywords Microsoft Office. I was shocked to see the number of jobs in which Microsoft Office proficiency was listed in the Skills/Knowledge or Key Competencies requirements.

Microsoft Office

Skills in Microsoft Office programs is a common requirement in job postings

What does this mean for the students of today? As teachers, one of our main areas of focus is career preparation. It’s apparent that employers value technology skills in addition to the qualifications related to the specific job. Regardless of the career, whether it is as an environmental scientist, software developer, civil engineer, financial analyst, or any of the countless possibilities for the future, a foundation in the basic Microsoft Office programs is a benefit. A well-rounded proficiency in general word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, database, and desktop publishing skills is often expected. Once students acquire a balanced foundation, they are well prepared to branch out and learn more complex, job-specific software.

microsoft office proficiency

A wide variety of STEM jobs require a basic knowledge of Microsoft programs

Microsoft Office, STEM, and an Integrated Curriculum

STEM education advocates a blending of disciplines. Also, students should be given meaningful, real-world tasks. A typical challenge may require resources from a variety of curricular areas. Technology tools should be used as they are needed. To pick an application to complete a task, students need a well-balanced background in a suite of programs. Once they have a sound understanding of Microsoft Office, students can tackle an inquiry project and make an informed decision about which apps they need to use. If they need to write a report, they should already know how to use the main tools of Word. If they want to create a graph, a fundamental understanding of Excel is needed. If project results should be displayed as a visual presentation, previous experience with PowerPoint is indispensable. The skills to use the right tools empower students to solve problems effectively.

Microsoft Office and Interpersonal Skills

As students build Microsoft Office proficiency, the confidence they gain inspires them to confront new challenges and further inquiry. Their critical thinking skills, flexibility, and troubleshooting expertise help them to adapt to other computer applications that they may encounter in upcoming years at school or in the workplace.

Microsoft Office Proficiency and TechnoKids Technology Projects

As teachers, one of our essential goals is to equip students with technology and professional skills while offering an interdisciplinary curriculum in order to prepare students for the workplace of the future. This task can seem formidable for sure! Project based learning can achieve all of these goals.

TechnoKids technology projects are integrated activities that pose real-world problems. Students complete assignments such as publishing a newsletter, launching a new business venture, preparing a budget, collaborating to debate a controversial issue, or promoting a weekend getaway. As students solve these challenges, they learn the key computer skills that they need. TechnoKids Microsoft Extra Package is a collection of ICT and STEM technology projects for Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and more.

microsoft office proficiency

TechnoKids Microsoft Extra Package builds critical career readiness

Using a project-based framework, students build fundamental skills in word processing, spreadsheets, presentation, desktop publishing, and databases. In addition, the technology skills are blended with professional skills such as time management, communication, and teamwork. These are all critical elements for career readiness. Presented in a real-world, meaningful setting, each TechnoKids project engages students, fosters computer literacy, and inspires innovative thinking. By developing a sound basis in Microsoft Office today, students can be better prepared for STEM job opportunities in the workplace of the future.

STEM Lesson Plans for Career Readiness

Current emphasis on STEM education and the preparation of students for the workplace of tomorrow prompted me to research job opportunities recently. I found lists of the best STEM jobs and articles about essential skills we should teach our students. There is a consistent agreement that to promote career readiness, we should focus on:

  • Technology competence in a broad variety of apps
  • Professional skills such as flexibility, time management, and communication
  • Critical and innovative thinking
stem career readiness

TechnoKids technology projects support STEM education

In this post, I’m picking one particular job and exploring how we can engage students with career readiness skills training. If we can spark kids’ interest with a fun activity and then build valuable STEM proficiencies, the knowledge, attitudes, and skills gained will transfer to other areas. Developing an awareness and interest in STEM related careers is the first step to preparing students for the workplace of tomorrow. Trying on one job can encourage young people to reflect on future goals and choices.

Project-Based Learning and STEM Education

career readiness

TechnoTravel is a technology project in which students take on the role of a travel agent. They research a travel destination and then use presentation software to construct an advertisement that promotes a weekend getaway. The project-based activities correspond to STEM education guidelines:

TechnoTravel Builds Workplace Skills

What does a travel agent do?

A travel agent needs to listen to clients to understand their needs and interests. They must research information and prepare a proposal. They must schedule an itinerary, calculate costs to fit a budget, and attend to details. Finally, they need to promote the trip to the customer in an attractive and persuasive presentation. In TechnoTravel, students practice all of these skills as they plan a trip considering a target audience and then prepare a presentation as an advertisement.

Completing this project develops effective work habits such as time management, problem-solving skills, communication, perseverance, and productivity.

A travel agent’s responsibilities are similar to many other careers. The work ethic and skills learned, both professional and technological, can be transferred to other jobs.

TechnoTravel is Interdisciplinary

Integrating technology into other curriculum teaches multiple learning objectives in one activity. The teacher guide for TechnoTravel offers a great variety of suggestions for integrating technology into curriculum. Language Arts, Social Science, Science, History, or Geography learning objectives can be combined in a single project. Here are just a few of the many ideas listed in the guide:

  • Ecotour – Promote environmental stewardship by taking tourists into a natural or wilderness area.
  • Follow the Footsteps – Visit places of historical importance by following the route of a famous explorer.
  • Celebrate Cultural Differences – Feature the festivals, folklore, and cuisine of a unique culture.
  • Transport Back in Time – Travel to an ancient civilization with a time machine and experience the values, beliefs, and daily life of the time period.
  • Explore the Undiscovered – Visit other parts of the solar system or the ocean depths using futuristic technology.
  • Indulge a Hobby – Design a trip that caters to a specific sport, hobby, or interest.

TechnoTravel Develops Technology Skills

Students master a variety of learning objectives in an integrated project: online research, word processing, presentation, and spreadsheet skills, including:

Research Skills – apply search strategies, organize facts in a planner, gather websites with travel advice, pictures, and maps
Word Processing Skills – format text and paragraphs, copy formatting, select paste options
Presentation Skills – customize the slide master, insert and format picture files and objects, organize information in tables, insert links and videos, apply transitions and animation, customize the handout master, configure output options for presentations
Spreadsheet Skills – enter and format data into a workbook, modify columns and rows, apply currency format, calculate data using the Sum feature, apply fills and borderlines

TechnoTravel Engages Students

Learning is enhanced when students are interested and find a project personally meaningful. Planning a weekend getaway is a sure way to spark student interest and make connections using a relevant, real-world activity.

STEM lesson plans

TechnoTravel Builds Creativity

As each student designs a unique travel promotion, they generate original ideas, solutions, and final projects. STEM education stresses the importance of creative thinking in the jobs of the future. We don’t know exactly what the careers will require, but the ability to develop innovative insights and concepts will be essential.

STEM lessons

TechnoTravel Supports Personalized Learning

As students choose the destinations of their travel ads, they design unique promotions. Differentiation is a key part of the project. Students build on their individual strengths, needs, and interests. They gain ownership over their learning as they develop technology and interpersonal skills. TechnoKids step-by-step student workbooks allow for flexible pacing. Performance-based assessment is achieved through testing of the slide master, checklists throughout the project, and an itemized final marking sheet. Teachers play the role of mentor as students take the responsibility for their projects. An inquiry-based, student-centered approach is the foundation of personalized learning.

TechnoTravel Adds the “A” to STEM

steam career readiness

Educators frequently propose adding art and design to STEM education to change it to STEAM. TechnoTravel builds creative arts skills along with technology, curricular, and personal skills. Students are challenged to design a promotional tool enticing clients to take a travel vacation. They discover the value of a unique slide master design, attractive presentation appearance, eye-catching formatting decisions, and an easy to read and balanced layout.

STEM Career Readiness with TechnoTravel Technology Project

Visit TechnoTravel to learn more about this technology project. View a short video of a sample student project, examine the learning objectives, and read teacher reviews of TechnoKids projects. Teach STEM and STEAM career readiness skills in a fun, engaging activity for middle school students.

Why Not Use Paint?

use paintIt is simple and has been around for a long time. Microsoft Paint is an effective and surprisingly powerful tool for the classroom. There are many more capable graphic editors and drawing programs available. But Paint is free and available as it is found in every Windows Start menu in the Accessories folder. It’s also easy to learn and use, and it has the basic tools needed to draw, color, and edit.

money idiomSee the step-by-step instructions below to get to know the Paint tools. Then try a fun, creative drawing assignment from TechnoBudget. Get elementary or middle school students thinking and drawing. Use Paint to illustrate a money idiom. The literal meaning of the saying is painted in the picture while the real meaning is explained in a text box. Try it out!

Here are some money idioms to get your students started. Pick one and illustrate it!

Made of money Laughing all the way to the bank
Money grows on trees I am broke
That is a money pit Money to burn
Money burns a hole in your pocket A penny pincher
Spend money like water Spend money like it is going out of style
Break the bank A shoestring budget
  1. Open Paint. Paint is included with the Windows operating system. It can be found by typing Paint into the search box on the taskbar, or under Accessories or Windows Accessories in the program listing.
  2. Draw freehand:
    1. Click the Pencil. use paint
    2. Click Size. use paint Choose a line size.
    3. From the Colors group, click the Color 1 box. use paint Pick a color.
    4. colors palette

    5. Click and drag in the drawing area.
  3. Draw with a brush:
    1. Click Brushes in the Shapes palette. use paint Pick a brush option.
    2. Choose a size use paint and a color. use jpaint
    3. Click and drag to draw.
    4. Experiment with the other brush choices.
  4. Draw a straight line:
    1. Click Line in the Shapes palette. line
    2. Click and drag to draw a line. Press the SHIFT key to make it straight.
    3. Drag the end handle to change size or position use paint
    4. Select the line. Press the DELETE key to remove it.
  5. Draw a curvy line:
    1. Click Curve. curve Draw a line on the canvas.
    2. Click on the line and drag to bend it.

    draw a curved line

  6. Draw a polygon:
    1. Click Polygon.use paint
    2. Click and drag to draw a line on the canvas.
      Click at different spots to draw the polygon sides.
      Click again on the start point to draw a filled shape.
    3. To fill the shape with color, click Fill with color. fill with color Pick a color. Click inside the shape.
  7. Draw a shape:
    1. Choose a Shape from the Shapes palette.
    2. use paint

    3. Click Outline outline to pick an outline style and click Fill fill to pick a fill option.
    4. From the Colors group, click the Color 1 box. use paint Pick a color for the outline.
    5. Click the Color 2 box. color 2 Pick a fill color.
    6. Click and drag to draw the shape.
    7. Drag a corner handle two way arrow to change the size.
  8. There are three ways to fix a mistake. Try them:
    Note: Once you have clicked OFF a shape and it is not selected, you cannot make any changes to it.

    1. Click Undo. undo Your last action will be cancelled.
    2. Click Eraser. Click Size use paint and pick an eraser size. Click the Color 2 box. color 2
      Pick white. Click and drag to erase.
    3. Click Select. select Draw a box around the part of your drawing you want to erase. Press DELETE on the keyboard.
  9. Draw a text box:
    1. Click Text paint text . Click and drag to draw a box.
    2. Write the real meaning of the idiom. Select the text and explore the Text Tools Text tab to change the look:
paint font font size bold italic underline use paint
Font Font Size Style Color

use paint

Tips:

  • Drag a corner handle to alter canvas size. two way arrow
  • Magnify an area using Zoom. zoom
  • Copy copy paint and paste paste paintobjects.
  • Undo undo or Redo redo an action.

Money Management and TechnoBudgetThis assignment is an extension activity from the technology project TechnoBudget. Teach personal finance. Middle school students budget for a shopping spree and justify a spending plan using Google Sheets or Excel lessons.

Develop financial literacy and money management skills.

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.