The Basic Suite is composed of three software tools: word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations. Two of the three tools have been integrally important to my teaching and the learning experienced by my former elementary school age students. Those two being word processing and presentation. Due to the amount of writing and speaking experiences that I provide for my students, word processing and presentation software tools were a staple choice in my classroom across multiple subjects. Below is a summary of the relative advantages of these three tools.
Relative advantage: I created most of the documents for my families and students. My Back-to-School letter and questionnaire were modified slightly every year. All of my lesson plans were archived in Google Drive for easy access. Comprehension worksheets, graphic organizers, and sentence frames that I created for some favorite lessons were useful over and over again thanks to word processing software.
Student Productivity & Collaboration
Relative advantage: When students have access to word processing, it automatically provides some built in modifications such as spell check, and with the internet, the ability to consult a dictionary or thesaurus to help students get to the heart of their ideas instead of laboring over handwriting and limited word choice which can lead to rudimentary sentence formation due to playing it safe when they do not have access to these tools.
As well, the sharing feature in Google Docs is great for peer and teacher editing. I value the revision history tool so that I can provide feedback to the writer and editor.
Research cited in Roblyer (2016), states that students with access to word processing software are engaged in a greater quantity of writing throughout the year as compared to students without access to word processing. I also found this to be true.
“Spreadsheets are programs designed to organize and manipulate numerical data”, (Roblyer, 2016, p.121). Because of my former role as an elementary educator, I did not use spreadsheets ever. This class is my first experience using this software tool. However, in my role as instructional coach now, I am discovering that spreadsheets are a preferred way for some teachers when it comes to organizing information.
Time Saving Tool
When it comes to basic calculations in order to do higher level thinking, then spreadsheets offer a great advantage. Mathematics research states that it is more important for students to know how to approach a problem than to get bogged down in calculations that can be done for them.
Roblyer (2016) states that teachers are more accustomed to processing words rather than numbers and therefore student exposure to spreadsheets has been limited. Due to the recent focus on eliminating negative feelings about math, it seems that exposing students to spreadsheets would be a good thing.
Teacher Organization of Ideas
Relative advantage: Creating presentations forces any learner to prioritize the information that is to be learned or taught. As well, presentations enhance spoken word when created with an emphasis on visuals (Roblyer, 2016).
Student Demonstration of Learning
Relative advantage: The process of creating anything is the highest form of thinking according to Bloom’s Taxonomy. Therefore, I always include a creative option when assignments lend themselves to it. I prefer to grade student presentations over handwritten work. When visuals complement another person’s ideas, it is easier to determine what level of understanding a student achieved. Presentations are also a great option for those with fine motor challenges. For once in their life, they can create something visually appealing and communicate their ideas without worry that they will be judged on their handwriting or lack of drawing skills.
Research cited in Roblyer (2016), states that presentations are effective if the creator has a specific background in visual design principles and related pedagogy. Otherwise, overuse or improper use of certain presentation features can have a negative impact on the viewer.
My teaching and how students learned in my classroom changed significantly because of the basic suite. Once I fine tuned teaching students how to create using these tools then I just needed to introduce how to use an electronic turn in system. Our district promotes the use of Schoology and Google Classroom to manage teaching and learning in new ways.
Roblyer, M. (2016). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (7th ed.). Massachusetts: Pearson.