I am an experienced GIS user, who'd like to take advantage of ESRI Schools program and School software bundles. But, I've never set up a middle school GIS program. What references/resources should I use, as I start figuring out how to implement this program.
Hi Donald, I second Derek's reply above. There are also a lot of resources available for you to bring into the classroom. Learn ArcGIS and Teach with GIS have many scenario-based tutorials at different levels. GeoInquiries are hands-on map-based lessons for the classroom.
If you are in the United States you can join the GeoMentors Program to help you get started with the school and teachers. Anyone can access their educational resources page. Similar programs exist in other countries, for example the GIS Ambassador Program in Canada.
Don, see if there might be an interested teacher at the school. Start with your son's teachers (ask him), but you may or may not succeed there. First try other teachers focused on science and social studies, but you might find a good ally in other subjects, or among teachers who do everything. If you're still striking out, check with the school's library/media/computer educators, who tend to know most of the teachers, and who might be amenable.
Helping them means first forming a relationship. It's easy for a GIS professional to overwhelm the time available for a teacher. Focus on what they might be doing, some way you can help them do what they want to accomplish. See guidance at http://www.geomentors.net. If they are interested in exploring, see these resources:
* http://esriurl.com/gettingstartedforeducators, and focus on items 1-9 in sequence.
* http://k12.maps.arcgis.com, and go first to "04. Video Bonanza," and try a few of the GIS intro videos.