View Full Version : Ideas for a computer literacy class for middle school students?

06-30-2011, 12:11 AM
Hi, I am going to volunteer in a community center (YMCA) by teaching a computer literacy class for middle school students or young children.

However, I'm suppose to design a curriculum or rather plan out the lessons. The class will take place once a week in July and maybe August so 4-5 classes.

The Wikipedia article on computer literacy has a good general definition on the topic, but my question is, what would be acceptable to teach to young students, and what kind of activities would make it a fun experience? (EDIT: activities like educational video games or making simple Java programs that are buggy to teach students what computer bugs are)


06-30-2011, 12:39 AM
I recall doing an internet scavenger hunt around that age.(not sure exactly when). We were given a list of things to find a picture of. Examples may be the worlds largest snow man or the Eiffel tower at night. The main point is to get them comfortable with doing a web search. If you want to add difficulty to the internet scavenger hunt ask questions like "How tall is the Eiffel tower?". This activity may be outdated due to kids today being introduced to the internet at a younger age and more frequently. It is really your best judgement on whether or not such activity is of value to the group of kids you are given.

If the students are more advanced, I'd suggest Lightbot or Lightbot 2.0. They are both online flash games that involve thinking like a programmer to get the robot to do what you want. I've taken basic programming though and must admit the more advanced levels stump me.

It might help if you clue us in on the expected background of your students. Is this intended to be a remedial class for kids that struggle with technology? or is it intended to allow "advanced" students get ahead? Which group you cater to will greatly influence what you teach.


07-10-2011, 12:14 AM
My school actually taught a required computer class in middle school mostly centered around the use of office products. As much as I didn't like the class at the time, it has really proved to be invaluable in things as simple as writing papers, making presentations, budgeting work, analysis of lab data, etc. If you don't have much time, perhaps introduce them to Excel. I still find new functions in it to make my lab work easier every day, and if the kids see the power of such a program, they may no longer disregard it as "boring". Even the more advanced functions of word (center/right align tabs, columns, leaders...) are useful topics.

Other than that, I second a web scavenger hunt, especially for something not so obvious. Good searching skills are becoming increasingly important as the amount of information on the web increases exponentially. Actually, one of the most important skills I see is distinguishing credible sources on the web. Perhaps spend some time on just general web safety (not clicking on unknown advertising links, determining shady sites, checking for ssl/https on payment websites, how much information to give away on the web, etc.). Maybe even have them google themselves and let them see how much of themselves is *already* on the web (and then of course discuss a safe level of information to put out there).

As far as teaching programing/java... I find that kind of a mixed bag. These days, even a very very literate user does not have to touch the actual code of a program. And as much as I love programming stuff myself, I almost always find it easier to find someone who has already solved the problem and shared the program on the web.

Anyways.... that's a really cool opportunity. Most importantly, be sure to make the curriculum fun and have fun with it yourself!