Tag Archive: office

2011
08/04

Category:
Teaching

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Eureka moments

So, there I am pootling up and down the pool, not really concentrating on too much, when… Poof! I suddenly realise how I can at least try and make units about standard office software marginally more interesting. As ever, it's about making the activity real, something which my maths lecturer did his best to drum into me when I was training (thanks, Kev) and I obviously forgot to apply here in secondary… that'll teach me!

The thing of interest was the way in which the idea came to me – while swimming. I've had similar success with ideas that come to me in the shower. This got me reflecting on the blog entry by James Mitchie that I read earlier about finding (and using, I suppose) the places where you are best productive – apparently, I've found mine. It's taken a while, as I've not been regularly swimming for some time but I'm using the summer holidays to try and set up some "good routines" that I can hopefully then carry over into the new school year when things get busier 🙂

Oh, by the bye, my ideas? For the unit on word processing, I'm going to go with applying the techniques to a Project Gutenberg text; for spreadsheets, I'll be re-using a unit I tried last year on Fantasy Football; and for presentations (I'm least sure on this one) I'll try getting the pupils thinking about the various types of social media and appropriate/safe/proper usage.

2011
08/02

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Teaching

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What are your “must-have” office skills?

I’m thinking about next year, strangely. I’ve now been taken on permanently in ICT (yay!) and my new department head is very much a progressive sort. So, I’m starting to think about to plan out the road-map for the year. In particular, I’m wondering what to do with the new year 7 intake. The new Y8s are fine – I had some fun this last year doing animations in Scratch, presentations in Prezi, design in SketchUp as well as some work in Excel, so they’re okay. The new Y9s have at least a half-term already “blocked” for an introductory look at the OCR Nationals (in the form delivered by the local upper school), plus I want to do some work with them using GameMaker (thanks @ZoeRoss19 for the introduction to that one) – I’ll need to be thinking about more there, too.

But it’s the new Y7s that I’m focusing on at the moment; I’d like to deliver some short(-ish) student-led units looking at how to use the major features of office software, properly.

…And yes I do mean office software, not Office software. I’m hoping to get them using not only Microsoft Office (the standard school installation is still Office2003) but Google Documents and possibly even LibreOffice, too, for a wider exposure to the genre than just the norm.

So my point is this… what are your “must-have” office skills? For me, there’s a whole heap of skills that simply don’t get taught (maybe, actually, most people primary teachers included don’t know them) that make using office software bearable. Now I’m sure that units a-plenty have been written on using Microsoft Office, but (a) do they adequately cover the alternatives now available and (b) do they actually teach the right skills?

Word processor: styles, table of contents, mail merge, headers and footers (including page numbering), section breaks as opposed to page breaks
Spreadsheet: cell references (including to other tabs in the same document), standard formulae, validation, naming ranges, web queries, absolute vs relative cell references
Presentation: master sheet, consistent look, minimising words

And then, after all that, there’s what desktop publishing software is for (and why it isn’t the same as word processing) and also thinking about what databases are for and how to use them.

What have I missed? Am I re-inventing the wheel (again) to no good end?