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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Summer Activities

So, it has been awhile since I have written on my blog here. Let's see if I can get caught up while I have a minute to breath. This last summer I worked with a group of Subject Matter Experts (SME's) on the new standards for the Office 2010 exams. It was a lot of fun and extremely educational. We went through all of the features of PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access. I worked with a group last January doing the same thing with Word and Excel. After spending several days working on the objectives we narrowed down the main tasks everyone that passes these exams should know. Then another group of SME's went through these objectives and rated the ones that thy should be on the exam. Then several of us went through and made questions for the exams. Several hundred people took the Beta exams and then several of us met together to determine the passing score for the exams. It was a busy summer, but very enlightening. -- Posted From My iPod Touch

Monday, June 14, 2010

Office 2010 Exams

Last January and these last two weeks I participated in a workshop to develop the Objective Definitions of the new Office 2010 exams with Certiport. All together I have spent ten days with great people hashing over what topics should be tested for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. I had a great time and learned quite a bit about each of the programs. I am totally excited to use Office 2010 and look forward to using it with my students as well. However, I probably won't be using it with my students until the 2011-12 school year. My district mostly doesn't like to implement zero software. That means any new software that doesn't have any updates. For instance, they don't like to have 1.0 or 2.0 or 10.0 software. They prefer to have 1.3 or 2.9 or 10.4 versions. Plus, since I prepare my students to take the IC3 exams, I don't want to use Office 2010 until Certiport updates these exams to use Windows 7 and Office 2010. I'm guessing this will probably happen in 2011 sometime.

However, I know that this next year I will need start preparing my practice exams and trainings for Windows 7 and Office 2010 so that I will be prepared to teach them when they come out. Of course I have to finish the Vista and Office 2007 version of my trainings before this next year. This should keep me busy for awhile.

Thoughts of the Last Year

So, it obviously has been quite some time since I have written on my blog here. School has ended and now I am "relaxing" duirng my summer vacation. A few updates:

  • All but one of my students from last semester (13 out of the 14) pass all three of the IC3 exams (that's roughly 93%)
  • I actually have about 25 students registered for my 9th-grade class each semester next year. Hopefully I will be able to increase that as the years go on.
I had a great time this last year with my students learning these essential skills they need for the 21st century. I would say the greates thing that happened this last year was being able to purchase the unlimited IC3 exams for a year. It totally changed the way that I taught. I went from trying to teach abstractly to teaching more concretely. Now, I'm sure a LOT of people out there would say that this is backwards, but it really helped out. By the end of the first quarter of the second semsester most of my students were IC3 certifed. I then could move on to more abstract teaching. Students were learning more about how computer worked and were working on projects in PowerPoint. It was very successful and there was a lot of learning going on both by my students and myself.

All in all, it was a great year. I'm looking forward to this next year and can't wait to have even more students become IC3 certified.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

More Students Passing!

I am totally excited! In the past couple of days I have had four more students pass the Key Applications part of the IC3 Exams! Our hard work is finally paying off.

Three of the students were from my last semester's class and one of my students from this semester also passed the exam after only studying PowerPoint.

I had three students taking the tests today that found out the hard way that you have to click on "Answer Complete" before clicking the "Next Question" button. One student recieved a zero out of 1000 points because of this. This student came back after school and took the exam again and got a much better score.

One of the CTE directors also came and talked with me about being the Certiport Testing Center for the South-end of our district. It will be great. We worked out a system where students could take the Practice Tests before they come down to my school to take the exams. That way if they don't know the material, they don't have to waste their money to take the exams to find out they don't know it.

Since the Practice Tests are online, they can easily cheat on them if they took them at home. However, cheating won't help them to pass the real exam.

I am also trying to figure out what type of score a student needs to have in order to pass the real exam. It used to be that students needed to get a 900 out of 1000 on the Practice Tests three times in order to be ready for the real exam. Now I don't know where that score will be now that Certiport has lowered their passing scores on the exams. I will definately keep you posted. However, if you know of anyone who has this knowledge, please send them my way so we can collaborate. Thanks! -- Posted From My iPod Touch

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Dropbox

So, I've been wondering where I have been for the past year-and-a-half. I recently found the program Dropbox from dropbox.com. This is one of the best programs that I have found. It basically creates a folder on your computer where you can store files and then share them with other users of Dropbox.

I created a folder and shared it with my collaboration group this last Monday. They were all pretty excited about it as well. I had created some keyboarding tests for my students in ExamView and some ExamView tests that I use in eInstruction's CPS software (for clickers). They were pretty excited to see that once I saved a file in my folder, it was copied to their folder immediately. We arranged for some other files to be added by the other teachers in our collaboration group. It is a pretty good piece of software.

One thing I really like about the software is that it actually copies the files to your computer. It doesn't just link the folder to an internet website. If our network goes down at our school I will still have access to the files. One of the members of our group has really gone wild with the files were are using. She has started fixing some of my errors on the questions and has come up with the idea to have review questions after every lesson in MicroType. Diane, you rock!

We are having our evaluation this year of our collaboration group and we will be showcasing Dropbox as one of our tools we have started using for our group. Also, this next Friday we will be having our professional development day with the teachers at our school. Glen Westbroek and I will be presenting on ExamView, but we also have discussed about showing teachers in our school how Dropbox works. I think this is a great tool to help collaboration.

If you are a computer teacher or keyboarding teacher and want to join our collaboration group, you can e-mail me, we would love to have more people in our group.

First IC3 Certifications This Year

Wahoo!!!!! I had two of my students from last semester come in and pass the last exams to become IC3 certified! I am totally stoked about this (if you couldn't tell). I also had a few students pass some of the other IC3 exams on their way to become certified.

I attribute this to the new Global Standard 3 (GS3) that Certiport has created. The questions seem better and the passing score has been lowered. I noticed the lower score for the Key Applications exam when I had my new semester of students take the real exam as a Pre-Test. I had three students pass it without any instructions. When the first student passed it (AV--these are the initials of the student so I don't give out information about a minor) I looked at the test results and it said the student had passed it. The student recieved an 800, which was good enough to also pass the previous version of the test (750 was the previous passing score). Then I looked at the required score to pass the exam. It was down to 680. I was shocked. Then the other two students (JM and KT) then also passed the exam. I was very impressed with all three students, although I wasn't really shocked. I've had these students before and they are pretty smart.

So, I decided to contact Certiport to find out what the passing scores are now. I was basically told that passing rate can change depending on how many questions are available in the testing pool, but it is roughly at about 70% give or take 5%. So, my interpretation would be about 650-750 depending on the amount of questions in the testing pool. This is awesome news! I believe that more students will be able to pass the exams with this standard. Not that the exams have now been made so that anyone can pass it. Students will still need more training, but I think it iwll be easier.

I've gone into the other two exams and found that their passing scores at this time are 710 for the Computer Technology and 660 for the Living Online exam. Of course from what I understand those scores might change here and there.

So, I am having my students from the first semester come in once a week during our Flex time so I can help them until they can pass the exams. One student had passed the Key Applications and Computing Fundamentals exams for the 2007 standard. This student (KD) took the Living Online exam for the GS3 and passed it. Then, another student (BS) took and passed the Computing Fundamentals exam. This student had passed the Key Applications exam for the 2007 standard. This student then came in after school and passed the Living Online exam.

I also had a great experience with my current 9th-graders that I blogged about on my class blog. I can't wait until Monday to see how much my students have learned. Stay tuned!