This week’s guest blogger is Jason Majors, Internet Marketing Academy Instructor at Escambia High School in Pensacola, Florida, USA. Jason shares with us how IT Academy tools enhance learning for students at all levels, allowing his students to achieve a 75% certification rate the first year with IT Academy.
The Microsoft IT Academy has been a great asset to Escambia High School both for me, as a teacher, and for my students. As any teacher will say, the job of teaching is more difficult than ever before and constantly changing. Teachers are faced with challenges such as differentiating instruction for students of various levels in one class, making sure students are learning higher-level thinking skills, and of course, engaging the student in the classroom and keeping them interested in the lesson. Being a part of the Microsoft IT Academy has made overcoming these challenges easier for me.
In a time when resources are scarce in education, I have everything I need for a productive class with a computer, internet connection and access to the IT Academy. I am able to prepare the activities for my class time by using the lesson plans that are provided on IT Academy site and I am able to use the e-learning as part of my instruction in class. After I have taught the students the skills I want them to know, the IT Academy provides premade, hands-on activities to reinforce what the students have learned along with additional resources through the E-library. The plethora of resources also helps to differentiate class.
My average class size is 25-30 students for 50 minutes and their computer skills vary. I have students who need more one-on-one time and others who are able to work independently while I am more of a facilitator in their learning process. The IT Academy has given me the tools to make class productive for all of the students. I am not constrained to one book or activity that keeps my class moving at the pace of the slowest group, which loses the more advanced students. I can let more advanced students go through e-learning on their own or work through the projects that have been designed while I am working with the students who need more assistance. This way, all of the students are engaged in the lesson and stay interested in the class.
The students in my classes expect to earn their MOS certification, and from the first day of class, we start talking about what the certification is and how it will benefit them in today’s economy. This encourages my students to take ownership in their learning and motivates them to want to learn. Once they learn how to use the IT Academy, they are able to use all of the resources to help them succeed in earning their certification, whether they are working in the classroom or at home.
This is the first year of Escambia High School partnering with the Microsoft IT Academy, and we have had great success with certifications. Seventy-five percent of my students pass the certification for Word or PowerPoint on their first attempt, and for the few who don’t, they pass on the second. I have enjoyed watching the students earn their certifications this year and being able to celebrate their achievement with them. The best thing is we have more certifications to earn before summer break!
Read other posts from the Teacher's Perspective series: