"Today’s classrooms need to prepare students to become citizens of the information age. Students must think critically, analyze and synthesize information to solve technical, social, economic, political, and scientific problems, and work productively in groups" (Mills & Roblyer, 2002). This paper will summarize two articles that discuss technology productivity tools and apply the information to a teaching situation. The two tools are word processing and Excel spreadsheet.
In Word Processing and its Effect on the Writing Process, Katie Herrick sets out to demonstrate how "word processing affect[s] the writing process and the overall quality of writing of third through sixth grade students" ( Herrick, 1997). Katie Herrick claims that "students who used a word processor were more effective at editing their work" (1997). Furthermore, "word processing motivated students and encouraged them to share their writings with [their] peers" (1997). Katie Herrick "researched nine articles". The fact that students could edit without pen and paper made them "more independent [and] more confident in their ability to change their original stories" (1997). Other information that was revealed from a study done in New Zealand, was that students "enjoy[ed] writing" and that "in order for students writing to improve, teachers need to instruct students in writing at the same time they are using a word processor" (1997). For enhanced learning Katie Herrick suggests giving students "new and unique audiences who could respond to their work… by allow[ing] students to publish" (1997) their work on the Internet.
The second article, An Interactive Higher-Order Thinking Tool by Scott A. Sinex, discusses Excel spreadsheet.
Electronic spreadsheets are computerized ledger sheets organized in rows and columns that automatically perform calculations or other operations on numeric or text data. With electronic spreadsheets teachers can prepare classroom instructional materials or perform calculations they would otherwise do manually. Teachers can integrate spreadsheets into classroom instruction through demonstrations of concepts, creation of student worksheet products, support for problem-solving and decision-making, storing and analyzing data, and projections and simulations. (Mills & Roblyer, 2002)
Scott A. Sinex claims that "Excel … has the ability to produce an interactive graph" (Sinex, 2004). The article gives a link to a tutorial in Excel. It also explains how "to prevent students from 'fouling up' the spreadsheets [by] turning on the protecting feature" (2004). The article provides step-by-step guidelines on "using interactive Excel spreadsheets in three disciplines" (2004). The three disciplines are mathematics, chemistry and economics. The article provides useful information for classroom use. Excel has many features like the ability to adjust the scroll bar and spinner "which can be linked to a cell, allow values to be changed by clicking and, on the scroll bar, dragging, [and] the comment box [which provides] a great way to add hints or short explanations of calculations or data" (2004).
In conclusion, the author of this paper has learned that both word processing and Excel spreadsheet can be implemented effectively in the classroom. The author finds that English as a second language students enjoy working with word processing. It gives them a tool for editing and revising their writings. Many students make spelling mistakes in English. Looking up words in a bi-lingual dictionary is time consuming and sometimes difficult to do. The spell check of a word processor allows them to choose from a number of options. However, "a preskill must be taught before teaching the actual strategy" (Ashton, n.d). Excel spreadsheet "has the ability to add more interactivity" (Sinex, 2004). The author's ESL students do mini research projects in teams of four. Graphs can be used to enhance the work. Excel is the perfect tool to use for graphs. By learning to use productivity tools such as word and spreadsheet, students feel that "they [are]use[ing] skills [from] the real world" (Hafer, 1999).
Ashton, T. (n.d). Making technology work in the inclusive classroom: A spell checking strategy for students with learning disabilities. Learning disabilities online. Retrieved March 2, 2004, from http://www.ldonline.org/ld_indepth/technology/ashton_spellcheck.html
Hafer. (1999, Fall). Making the connection: Desktop publishing, professional writing, and pro bono publico. Technical Communication Quarterly. 8 (4), 406-418.
Herrick, K. (1997, June 1). Word processing and its effect on the writing process
T&L Magazine. Retrieved February 27, 2004, from http://www.techlearning.com/db_area/archives/WCE/archives/herrick.htm
Mills, S.C., & Roblyer, M. D. (2002). Technology Tools for Teachers: A Microsoft Office Tutorial. Retrieved March 3, 2004, from http://www.parsons.lsi.ku.edu:16080/t3/ and http://www.techlearning.com/db_area/archives/TL/2002/01/office.html
Sinex, S. A. (2004, January 1). An interactive higher-order thinking tool. Tech-Learning magazine. Retrieved February 26, 2004, from http://www.techlearning.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=17000130