Word processing is the most commonly used type of ICT tool in the primary classroom today. Besides being mainly used for the drafting and redrafting of student work, there are many more uses such as writing-frames.
Students develop into digital content creators by producing digital artefacts that can be shared, uploaded or printed. As technology innovators, they apply new skills to digital artefacts that are beyond the task description and this helps word processing develop digital fluency as they continue to do so throughout their school career (Howell, 2012).
For you it provides ample opportunity to capitalise on the use of ICT in the classroom by supporting it implementing key ICT teaching strategies that will not only enhance literacy development, but be transparent in its integration and develop student ICT capability.
So how do you know what level of capability the students should be at?
The next two sections highlights for you the level of capability expected from as a teacher in word processing and that of primary students at the end of primary school.
Teacher Knowledge, Skills and Understanding
It is more important for you to be knowledgeable about one program that your students will use than it is to have an acquaintance with a large number. This won’t hamper their development in ICT capability as it is better for them to work with a small number versatile programs and to progressively develop their skills and confidence in these through carefully structured ICT activities. Being familiar with a program will help you to identify when students may encounter a problem and enable you to plan for strategies to overcome them. Also, it will allow you to identify when students are ready to move onto a new feature or to use the software for a more demanding task (Kennewell et al, 2000).
Being familiar with a program should take you beyond just knowing how to use the program for a variety of tasks. ICT capability for a teacher is the same as it is for a student – it is about developing an understanding and judgement about how to use those ICT techniques appropriately. Therefore, it is important that you reflect on the “processes it helps the user to carry out and the ICT techniques with which particular effects can be achieved” (Kennewell et al., 2000, p. 97). Consider then how you will introduce the program to the students along with what ideas need to be clear before they start.
As a teacher, you are expected to know the following word processing techniques:
- Creating, opening, saving, closing, deleting and printing documents;
- Selecting font, font size, colour, style (italic, bold), line spacing and justifications;
- Inserting, deleting, selecting, cutting, copying, pasting and undoing;
- Utilizing help;
- Inserting bullet points, tables, clip art, borders, shading and columns;
- Altering page orientation (landscape, portrait), background colour, page size and margins;
- Altering defaults;
- Forcing page breaks;
- Utilising tabs and indents;
- Utilising spelling and grammar checkers (including how to switch on and off), thesaurus, print preview, highlighter and talking facilities (including how to switch on an off) and find and replace;
- Connecting alternative input devices (overlay keyboards, touch screens);
- Constructing and utilising on-screen word banks;
- Inserting page numbers;
- Inserting text, graphics, tables and documents from other applications;
- Inserting symbols, headers and footers;
- Creating macros and templates;
- Utilising dynamic links between documents;
- Customising the word processor;
- Merging documents;
- Formatting graphics;
- Protecting documents.
What is expected of students at the end of Primary School?
By the end of primary school, students are expected to know the following word processing skills:
- Changing font, font size, bold, italics, highlight and font colour;
- Justifying, changing spacing, indenting;
- Setting up bullets and numbers, re-starting numbered lists;
- Inserting and modifying a table;
- Inserting a blank page and understanding whit this is used (not just hitting Enter multiple time);
- Inserting a picture - embedding it tightly with text, understanding how to re-size and re-position it;
- Inserting graphics, tables, smart art, symbols;
- Inserting hyperlinks, setting how the link page opens;
- Understanding how to set up a header, footer and page numbers;
- Setting margins, knowing which the standard setting is, changing page orientation, and setting up columns;
- Using templates.
For students in Year 6, they may or may not have started to select and utilize the full range of features as appropriate to their requirements independently in addition to using online screen help and other problem solving strategies (Allen et al., 2012).
It's almost the end of the school year and you are in sight of the finish. The above notes should not only ensure that you are up to speed with your own ICT capability, but particularly, if you teach Year 6 that they are ready to leave primary school with the expected level of ICT capability.
Support the teaching of these word processing techniques today and ensure you have completed your 20 hours of PD for the year as required.
Completing this course will contribute to 4 hours of NESA registered PD addressing 2.6.2 and 3.4.2 of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers towards maintaining Proficient teacher accreditation in NSW and Victoria.