The Basic Suite

Talk to almost anyone who has used a computer and they will have some sort of experience with at least one of the programs that make up the Basic Suite. The Basic Suite consists of software for word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations. This software offers students and educators useful tools for simplifying document creation and presentation needs.

Basic Suite for Students and Educators

When it comes to the Basic Suite in classrooms, there are many more reasons why a student or teacher should use it rather than reasons of why not. “Teachers choose [the Basic Suite] not only because they have qualities that aid classroom instruction and help make classroom time more productive, but also because they give students experience with 21st-century tools that they will see again and again in their workplaces,” (Roblyer, 2016). The truth is that students will see these tools frequently as they enter the workforce. Very few, if any, careers do not include the use of at least one of the Basic Suite software tools. Students must become familiar with these tools to survive in an increasingly digital world.

Students should recognize the many reasons why they should be using the tools in the Basic Suite. Roblyer lists four main benefits of using the software: improved productivity, appearances, accuracy, interaction, and collaboration, (2016). Students can make and organize documents quickly which helps with their motivation to complete assignments. Even second graders see the value of typing a story rather than handwriting. My students would rather I let them start out the writing process by typing a rough draft instead of writing. Many of my students have issues interpreting their own writing, so typing removes handwriting barriers for both the students and the teachers. Software in the Basic Suite generally includes spelling and grammar checking capabilities. This helps students avoid spelling and usage errors they wouldn’t pick up on their own. The tools inside the software help students put out products they can be proud of.

The software in the Basic Suite provides way more benefits that justify significant use in all classrooms.

Basic Suite in 2nd Grade

As a second grade teacher, using the Basic Suite is something that comes with the territory. I use all three regularly for producing materials for my classroom. They offer tools that allow me to be a more successful teacher. I can’t even imagine what my classroom would look like without access to these tools. I use them almost daily and rely on them to enhance my teaching. The advantages of these tools are so significant that it’s no wonder the Basic Suite has become commonplace for anyone with a computing device.

Word processing allows me to make materials for my classroom quickly with the ability to edit at a later time. I tend to follow a similar calendar every year, so it makes sense to have a way to save the documents I make up to be used again next year. After three years in second grade, I’ve built up a small library of resources that I will be able to reuse year to year and alter with a few clicks. It’s nice to have parent notes from the year before and just change the date for use this year. It saves me time and sanity. Formatting tools help me make professional-looking documents that add to my credibility as an educator. Colleagues, administrators, and students’ parents pay attention to the materials you use in your classroom.If a colleague pulls a document that I created off the printer, they will look at it and form opinions about me and my teaching. Professional-looking documents tell others that you care about what you’re doing.

Spreadsheets in my second-grade classroom don’t look like spreadsheets you would find on an accountant’s computer. The most common thing I use spreadsheets for is making documents organized into tables. I like being able to organize things in rows and columns and have everything lined up. Nothing bothers me more than noticing rows that aren’t lined up as they move across columns. I have found programs like Excel useful for creating my weekly homework handouts and spelling test and pretest pages. Tables are a feature of word processors, but the speed and ease of organizing and formatting a table in a spreadsheet beat out any convenience of a word processor. I haven’t found much use for the computations aspect of spreadsheets in my classroom other than for recording my students’ progress in a running program at the school. I’ve set up a spreadsheet to record how many laps students run each day that is paired with a bar graph. The students like watching their bar grow as they get closer to their goal of running 50 miles in the school year. Using a spreadsheet to track this data makes it a lot easier to update graphs and keep students aware of their progress. If I was making these calculations on my own for all 26 students in my class, I would be unlikely to keep up on their progress. Spreadsheets make organizing data so much easier.

Presentation software isn’t something I use as often as word processing or spreadsheets. I generally use it to help students keep organized during independent work time or during reading centers. I make slides that show where each group is supposed to be at each rotation, so students know where to go when the timer goes off without needing my input. Presentation software also makes it easy to display information via projector to the entire class. Without software such as PowerPoint, I would have to navigate to different documents, web pages, and pictures while teaching a lesson. Presentation software makes it so all of the information for a lesson can be put in one place for easy access.

In my work environment, I would not be able to survive without these tools. I rely on them heavily for creating materials for my classroom. If I had to go without the Basic Suite for very long, I don’t know what I would do. I can’t even imagine a world where I had to use a typewriter for or handwrite assignments. The Basic Suite makes it so much easier to be productive in the classroom.

 

Sources:  Roblyer, M. (2016). Integrating educational technology into teaching. 7th ed. Pearson Education.

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5 thoughts on “The Basic Suite

  1. I find a lot of similarities in our use of the Basic Suite from the teacher aspect. I am curious, though, on how your student utilize it? Or do they? As a sixth grade teacher I am always looking for simple, yet meaningful, ways to help my primary grade teachers get their students being the user of the technology.

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    • My students are just breaking into the world of word processing and presentations. Right now, we are using Google Docs to type “Spooky Valentines” stories that the students wrote in their journals. It has helped several students get past the barrier of their own handwriting. They write and can’t tell what their words say. With a word processor, my kiddos can type things and use spell checker to help them get the right words. I thought that my class would have a hard time with this, but they’re pretty savvy. I use a few students as peer leaders and they help the children around them if I can’t make it right away.
      I’m still learning how to integrate these tools into my classroom regularly. But for now, I will get my students familiar with it so when they move on to higher grades, they will at least have been exposed to it.

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  2. Avery, great use of examples from your class to illustrate how you use the basic suite. There were two ideas you shared that were really compelling to me: 1) the idea of tabulating student data for running and sharing it back to students in bar chart form is such a great way to build students’ quantitative literacy skills. They have a stake in the data being produced, plus they should be able to see change week by week since the chart updates the same information. I can see that this experience would help students learn about different ways things can be measured and evaluated. 2) Your use of presentations as a tool for classroom management is such a nice way to reinforce norms/expectations and make sure everyone is on the same page. These visual aids must hep students to stay on task.
    I found your comment about students’ preference for composing using word processing interesting. Do your experiences with word processing connect to any of the issues Roblyer points out about the benefits and drawbacks of writing using the basic suite? Over the long run, I wonder whether how basic suite will affect the way students develop literacy skills in the elementary grades.

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    • My students are just getting started with word processing. I actually made a point to really try it because of this class. I feel like I haven’t given my students enough time using the software to say whether I notice benefits or drawbacks specifically related to Roblyer’s comments. I will however continue paying attention. A drawback I have seen from using a word processor, though, is that it doesn’t make up for students’ reading deficiencies. Students who struggle with letter identification take longer to find the letters on the keyboard. I’ve heard many times, “Who mixed up all the letters?”
      A benefit I’ve seen is the visual cues students get when they misspell words or make grammatical errors. Instead of having to go through every paper myself and tell students which words are spelled wrong–2nd graders still spell a lot phonetically–I can have students do spell check and get the right words before I even read it. This makes my conferences with students go much faster.
      I’ve wondered how elementary students will be affected by software of the basic suite. I guess that only time will tell with that one.

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  3. That’s great that students see the benefit of typing! I’m sure it is also helpful for you when it comes to grading and decoding handwriting 🙂 Like the textbook brought up though, it has definitely affected students’ overall handwriting. My high school students have signatures like 2nd graders so one of our English teachers have them do journal entries by hand. Personally, I know prefer grading digital work than stacks of paper!

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