Explorations Overview


MS Explorations | MS Academics | Middle School | The American School in Japan

Teacher: Derrel Fincher

Course Goals

Before reading further, please read the Student Learning Outcomes as the course is intended to help students exemplify the Student Learning Outcomes and the focus of the course is on each student's learning.

Explorations I  Explorations I focuses on helping students understand and learn how to learn current technology available in the middle school. As such, in addition to direct instruction, the students are expected to learn how to find answers to their questions in the help files, use other students as resources, and assist other students. Students will create a digital portfolio to showcase their understanding of technology, and this portfolio will be assessed for their eligibility for a waiver from the ASIJ high school technology requirement. Specific topics will cover word processing, desktop publishing, web publishing, presentations, spreadsheets, digital imaging, and basic network operations. However, in order to demonstrate their ability to learn about various technologies on their own, students will have time to explore and use the other software and hardware available and incorporate the results in their portfolio. When possible, students are expected to fulfill the requirements of the course by completing assignments in other classes using their skills.

Explorations II and III  Students will have the opportunity to explore various multimedia technologies, including digital audio and video, web site development, Macromedia Flash, programming, and digital image creation and manipulation. Students are not limited to these and are encourage to propose projects. In the past, this has been as varied as building a PC (the students purchased the hardware and software) and exploring Java. Students will explore their topics of interest by proposing and creating meaningful projects. Students in Explorations II will propose and complete several projects over the semester while students in Explorations III, who have already found their area of interest, will focus on one or two main projects. Explorations III students are also responsible for preparing a short tutorial on their main topic then leading the class through it. Explorations II and III students are also expected to provide assistance to others. One key component for the projects is that the student must develop their project with an audience in mind.

Tri-Class Reflections

Students will be expected to write a short reflection of what they have learned at the end of every third class at a minimum. These Tri-Class Reflections will be a journal of their progress and provide part of the evidence of their accomplishments at the end of the quarter.

Collaborative Website

Students are expected to share their work and discoveries on the collaborative Web site for the course. The Web site is password-protected.


Students will be expected to use those resources, as well as this web site, program manuals, help files, Internet sites, peer helpers, and others. Students are expected to work with others in the class and provide help to others.


Students will be responsible for self-assessing their growth and learning, and documenting their progress. At the end of each quarter, students will write a self-assessment where they propose a grade and support their proposal with evidence. In addition, they will have a peer assessment done of their project and their progress in the project. I will review the peer assessment, self-assessment, evaluate their evidence and evaluate the peer assessments they have written in order to assign the grade. The focus will be on how the student pursued and created opportunities to expand their understanding and knowledge. We will develop rubrics as a class.

Procedures and Policies

Students are responsible for their own learning and progress but they must also make effective use of the class time that is scheduled. I will provide assistance and demonstrate various techniques. Students may either follow along in the presentation or work on their projects. However, each presentation is only given once; students who need assistance later are expected to seek help from others before asking the teacher.

Specific Expectations of Accountability

Students are expected to follow the the acceptable use policy they signed when entering the Middle School and behave ethically at all times. Specific issues include not knowingly infringing on others' intellectual property or using their knowledge of computers or programming to disrupt the work of others. Students will treat others in the class with respect.

Derrel Fincher


0422-34-5300 ext. 422/651


042-362-4314 (before 9 p.m.)



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Last maintained 01/25/2004


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Original Content 2001-2004 by Derrel Fincher. Other rights reserved by individual authors