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5 Ideas to Build Computer Literacy in Middle School

It's no secret that computer literacy is an in-demand skill for recruiters. According to Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF), over 70% of jobs in the US require middle to high-level computer and digital skills. Furthermore, teaching children basic computer skills lays a foundation for them to study advanced skills in college, like programming and web development.

While children have access to digital gadgets like smartphones and tablets, they may not get the necessary exposure to desktops and laptops at home, hence the need to teach them the basics of computer studies at school. 

So how do you impart computer knowledge and skills to your young students? Below are five ideas to build computer literacy in middle school:

1. Parts of a Computer Lessons

The first step in learning how a computer works is identifying its hardware. Children who hear the word computer hardware may fancy a unique program or computer part with special functions. Make them understand that a computer's hardware consists of the superficial parts we see, each performing a particular function.

Some ideas to help students learn parts of a computer include:

  • Label the mouse, keyboard, monitor, trackpad, and other parts.
  • Prepare projected slides to showcase the computer parts and respective functions.
  • Teach the children to turn on and off the computer properly.
  • Demonstrate how to click, double-click, and scroll using the mouse and trackpad.

2. Typing/Keyboarding Lessons

By the end of a keyboarding lesson, children should be able to identify where letters, numbers, and punctuation marks are on the computer keyboard. They should also be conversant with using special keys and arrows to navigate through any text, picture, or video on the monitor display. Additionally, they should recognize the functions of keys like CTRL, Alt, Backspace, Enter, Shift, and Tab.

Here are some ideas to instill keyboarding skills in your middle schoolers:

  • Start typing simple words to develop the student's eye-hand coordination skills.
  • Teach the children to type without looking at the keyboard, focusing on the monitor and the words they are typing.
  • Conduct typing games and tests from approved sites such as Kidztype, TypingClub, and DanceMat Typing.
  • Emphasize how to insert special characters like symbols, tables, figures, and equations into text.

3. Computer Files Management Lessons

A file management lesson creates a foundation for students to build their advanced computer skills and be career-ready. Most companies and organizations store data in files, from Word documents, sheets, and PDF files to audio files. 

First, help your learners differentiate the various file types based on their storage paths and extension. For instance, tell them what it means when a document ends in .docx or .pdf.

The below ideas can make your file management lessons easy for your middle schoolers:

  • Demonstrate on a projected computer screen how to create different types of files.
  • Ask the children to create folders, sub-folders, and more sub-folders.
  • Show the learners how to save, move, copy, and paste files in folders.
  • Identify the different applications that open specific files, then test the learners' understanding.
  • Explain file storage in hard drives, flash disks, and discs.

4. Computer Applications Lessons

Computer applications like Microsoft Office and Google Applications help users write, create audio, or edit documents. When your learners understand the basics of a computer and the keyboard, it's time to proceed to advanced activities on a computer, like creating, formatting, saving, naming, and sharing files.

Here are various ideas to help your learners master the use of computer applications:

  • Practice the basics of Microsoft Word or Google Docs with your students, including creating a new document, formatting actions like bolding, italicizing, and underlining, and saving the file.
  • Assign a Microsoft Word or Google Docs project to your students where they create a document from scratch.
  • Create Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets together, then assign individual tasks for students to practice their skills.
  • Create Microsoft PowerPoint slides with your students and take them through the application's different formatting functions and features.

5. Proper Internet Use Lessons

Your students might be aware of several aspects of the internet, such as social media. However, to use the internet appropriately and safely, they need to understand other aspects such as safety, legal use of resources, cyber-bullying, and decent practices while communicating via the internet. 

Other areas you need to cover include how to look for information on child-friendly sites, set passwords for privacy and why it's important to log off sites.

Written by Steve Ndar
Education World Contributor
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