Word Processing and Iditarod

As a sixth grade English/language arts teacher, one of my responsibilities is to teach students word processing. By sixth grade, most students are familiar with the mouse, the delete button on the keyboard, and have a general idea of where the letters are on the keyboard. Formatting a document, though, is something they usually aren’t familiar with, and to prepare them for 21st century learning, they need to know how to do this.

This lesson and its skills were written for sixth grade. Each document is about a different aspect of the race—mushers, awards, and the Junior Iditarod race. Included are pdfs of the document to format, how the document should look after formatting, and directions for formatting each document. Skills used are justifying and centering text, capitalization, indenting, single spacing, cutting and pasting, highlighting, deleting, spell check and grammar check, and entering text.

The first day we’re in the computer lab, we work through the musher document together as I assess where the students are with their skill level. Each student has a copy of the directions for formatting that lesson in front of them, and teaching this is aided by projecting the image from one monitor via LCD projector. During the second lesson about race awards, students work slightly more independently, and by the time they get to their third lesson about the Junior Iditarod, they can usually work independently.

A couple of tips—I teach from the back of the computer lab where I can easily see everyone’s monitor and know at a glance how their work is going. At my school, the technology facilitator put these documents on the school’s shared folder for students to access, and we discovered that sometimes Microsoft Word wants so badly to capitalize words that it wouldn’t “hold” what should be wrong so the students can correct it. After a few tries, it held. Other subject areas could teach Excel or Database using Iditarod information, too.

Mushing on,