I took my first “Intel – Teach to the Future” class back in 2001 from Glen Westbroek. First of all, Glen is a fantastic teacher and made the class easy to understand for everyone. He was engaging and made the class fun to come to.
During class the teachers learned how to use Microsoft Office products (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Publisher). This was the first time I had used these products in my class. I teach computers, so I did have office products, but mostly used WordPerfect and I even tried OpenOffice for awhile. However, nothing compared as well as Microsoft’s products. Not only was I excited to start using these products for my teaching, but to also show students how to use them as well.
I purchased a license of Microsoft Office for my lab and started adding PowerPoint and Word into my lesson plans easily. I had used Publisher before and was excited to have it on my computers so my students could use it for many creative uses. Students were more engaged in my class as they created PowerPoints about the topics we were studying in class. I was also able to start teaching my student how to use Excel to keep track of data we used in class.
A few years later the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) created a class called Computer Technology that became a requirement for students to pass in order to get a diploma. One of the requirements for the class was to learn how to use a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation program. This fit exactly into what I had learned in the Teach to the Future class. Now, however, I had a specific curriculum that I could help my students to learn. As I started teaching this class, I was really excited to not only use the skills I had learned in Teach to the Future, but to help my students to learn those same skills.
A little while after this I was introduced to a company called Certiport. They were a local company in Utah that helped administer the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) exams. They had created three exams that would assess the knowledge of the user on computer basics including Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. These tests were called the “Internet and Computing Core Certification” or IC3. I took all three tests one day during a conference and passed them. I soon realized that these would be good for my students to take. The USOE also decided that these tests would be a way for students to test-out of the Computer Technology class or that it could be taken as the final exam for the class.
Over the years I have had students pass these exams and receive free college credit for doing so. A few years ago Certiport held their first annual “IC3 World Cup” where business and schools could compete against each other to see how many students could pass the exams and do other computer-based trainings to help pass the exams. My team at Orem Junior High took first place in the Academic Division of the competition. We were also pretty close to beating the Corporate Division winner, which was CompUSA. The next year our team took second place just behind a college in the competition. This year many of my students have already passed two out of the three exams in the first six weeks of the semester. The first was the exam that assesses knowledge of Microsoft Office.
I attribute a lot of our success to the fact that I was given the opportunity to learn Microsoft Office in the Teach to the Future class. The skills learned in that class have truly helped me “Teach to the Future” in that these Office skills are the ones that are needed for today’s workers.