Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Microsoft in My Teaching

At StAC I count myself very lucky to have the technology, infrastructure and guidance available to try new tools to enhance the learning programs and assist with day to day teaching.

We use Microsoft Office 365 to support our teaching and learning programs. As an English teacher, I use a range of tools and have been experimenting with new tools. At the end of the year it is natural to reflect on what has been and look forward to the next year.

Class OneNote
This is the backbone of all my classes. This year I have used the the Class OneNote for the different classes I teach. However, I have 2 classes that run on the same program so for ease of planning and and not creating work I have 1 Class OneNote with all the students in it. This has been useful as sometimes something will pop up in 1 class and not the other yet it is all recorded, yet all students benefit. This has happened a few times when work on the whiteboard has been captured using the camera on my Surface and then embedded in the OneNote. 

The Class OneNote has been great with marking as the Microsoft Surface is lighter than a pile of books and easier than using annotation in Word! It has taken me a little bit of time to get used to the Pen but now I find this invaluable for marking. It is a lot easier to annotate English essays  writing with a pen. I then place the marking schedule alongside the student work. I like how it is all displayed on one page. 

At the end of the year I had students create a tab labeled 'portfolio' and they could move into this the work they were particularly proud of.

The collaboration section of the Class OneNote was very handy. Students discovered before me that they could password protect their sections and I would recommend that if students do this they share the password with the teacher.

We use Moodle as our LMS and I put a link to the Class OneNote here for ease of use. I will continue with the Class OneNote. I am also interested in the Teacher OneNote I can see the advantage in using this as HOD for keeping track of appraisal and so forth.

This is a great online presentation tool that wont leave you dizzy; it is also easy to use!  I have used this for presentations for teachers and have found it simples and effective in sharing the information. It is also stored up in the cloud and easy to locate. Much like other presentation tools you can search for other presentations of interest. These are also easy to embed into blogs.

Office Mix
This is a magic tool that I plan on using more in 2016. It gives you the capability to video and/or voice record over Powerpoint. Giving an effective way to flip the classroom. I have used it for essay writing. Taking students through a step  by step guide on writing an NCEA L1 essay. It is a bit daunting to hear your voice back but I will get over this. In 2016 I plan on putting together information on internal assessments using Office Mix so that students can revisit the instructions in their own time.

 Survey function in One Drive for student feedback through out the year. At the beginning of the year I sent out a survey to all Year 12 & 13 students about the external exams. This information was delivered to students in a visually friendly format and I was able to export it to an excel format for analysis.

I have highlighted 4 tools that I have find particularly useful. I was really happy and pleased to be made a Microsoft Innovative Educator for 2015/16 and I look forward to learning and sharing more.

This is a good video on how St Andrews College is using Microsoft tools and devices. I am pleased to have a small part in this video: 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Ulearn 15 - A brief reflection

Today is the final day of Ulearn15 and it has been an exciting and thought provoking few days. I think choosing from one strand and focusing on leadership meant I got to see leadership through a variety of lenses. 

A brief reflection on 2 workshops

I already had a good understanding of Leadership v Management and one is not better than the other. This was reiterated today in Mark Osborne's workshop on 'Leading Change Effectively'  when he said " It is important to look across your team, you need excellent managers and excellent leaders." 

A brief definition:

What are we doing that we don’t want to lose, what worked well -do again, capturing and using institutional knowledge. Planning, budgeting, organising, procedures… Management is about today

LEADERSHIP  = CHANGE. Leadership produces change: establishing direction, aligning people, people, vision development - Leadership is about tomorrow

It was helpful to understand the difference between first order and second order change. As it is often the negative reaction that comes from the discomfort of second order change.  "Second order change - adaptive change, is difficult because it is about the distribution of loss - "what people resist is not change per se, but loss". Once Mark explained this idea of loss in second order change it was logical to  next  look at how to support people through change. It is the "daily job of leadership is building relational trust" this will assist and support people through change.

This aligned very nicely to a workshop yesterday that Westley Field ran on 'Leading change and contemporary learning'. Westley, in his introduction discussed the need to put student well-being at the centre of student learning. If their well-being is out then they cannot focus on learning. This is the same for teachers - look after the well-being of teachers and then they can concentrate on teaching. 

He spent time discussing the importance of having a clear vision: Vision = the lens through which everything is measured - it is not about a brilliant leader it is about the whole school on board and leading together.

There were 2 key things for me that came out of Westley's workshop. This was being able to identify needs through the Stakeholders Analysis Chart and then being able to identify the needs of staff to have targeted PD and support when going through change.

The combination of both these workshops has given me a deeper understanding of how to support others going through change and how to be supportive when implementing change.

This is just a brief reflection on 2 workshops and I plan to write a more detailed post on all workshops soon.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Getting ready for Ulearn15

This afternoon I fly up to Auckland for Ulearn15. Always a great conference with brilliant keynotes and exciting, thought provoking workshops. It is also a chance to meet up with other educators from around NZ face 2 face. Always find it funny when I know someones twitter handle better than their name!

This year when booking breakouts I have gone with the 'Leadership' strand. In the past, I have taken a bit of a pick n mix approach to breakouts wanting to get a broad spread of ideas and information. This year I wanted to go further into one particular aspect and see what emerges. I'm also helping with the Knowledge Building workshop Darren Sudlow is leading- which should be exciting.

I'm also looking forward to the Twitter Dinner tomorrow which Justine @digitallearnin has organised.

Will keep the blog updated as the week goes on.

Remember to follow the Conference  twitter hashtag #ulearn15

Friday, May 29, 2015

Creative Writing with a Difference

This is a Sway I have created which has the information on a Creative Writing unit I did with my Year 10s. It included a range of technology to enhance the unit of work. Students spent 5 weeks of class time and their holiday time working on this unit. My aim was to give the students as much control as possible within the unit of work.

I had clear goals as far as what was being assessed  and the objectives of the writing unit. However, I  wanted to create an integrated unit of work that touched on all strands of the English Curriculum. It was also important that the technology used supported the unit of work and did not have a 'bells and whistles' ring to it. 

Another goal was to have students working together collaboratively throughout the 5 weeks. This was achieved through a variety of means including but not limited to:

  • Peer assessment
  • Sharing of ideas
  • Helping students with their writing and the technology
  • Students providing next steps in another students piece of work

A professional goal of mine this year is to have student reflect more deeply on their work and learning. I have incorporated more useful reflection over the course of the unit and I have included a comprehensive reflection at the end of the unit for students to work through.

Overall, I have been really pleased with what the students have achieved.

Thanks to Tom Adams our Elearning Integrator for all his help and support with this.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Using Google Earth for Setting in a Text

I thought I would try using Google Earth in my English class. I have a capable Year 10 English class and we have been studying the Karate Kid (remake) for our film study. Instead of doing the usual setting activities I asked students to do the following:

Using Google Earth plot the important settings in the film and explain why they are important.

Students then worked in groups of no more than 3. They found different ways to record the voice-over for the Google Earth tour of the settings. Students used the 'Collaboration' space in OneNote to do the group work. Some students going as far to password protect their collaboration space. 

Students had 1.5 periods and 1 home work evening to do this task. I was lucky enough to have support from Tom Adams (StAC Elearning Integrator) in getting this set up. It seem to work best with students creating the tour in Google Earth then using a tool like Officemix to create the audio on top of the video. Students then could upload into Youtube for ease of viewing.

Take a look:

Here is a link to a blog post written by Sam McNeill for the StAC blog on this activity which is a more in-depth read.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Microsoft tools

As more and more teachers are using Microsoft tools for their teaching and learning I thought I would post some links to some sites I find useful for my teaching practice.

On a side note if you are not on Twitter you should - the best, free professional development tool.




NZ Education Blog - Microsoft in the NZ education sector
Microsoft in Education
Office Mix
Lesson plans on a range of subjects :I am going to adapt this 'Literary' lesson plan for my students
Teacher resources 


Microsoft in Education is a channel worth subscribing to.

Here is a video worth a watch put up by 'Microsoft in Education' with Sir Ken Robinson talking about about the role tools play in creativity and how this can transform education:

As you can see there are a heap of Microsoft resources out there and probably more than just these.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Teacher Cast

Through @Microsoft_EDU I came across a brilliant team called TeacherCast. My previous post is about a video they created on OneNote. I have now just had a walk through their website and have come across a wealth of information on all sorts of categories. There is a youtube channel, livebinder gallery, blog and the list goes on. 

A video worth watching is on 'Curation tools for the classroom' - however it is worth speeding through the first 10 minutes of chat and introductions.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Back to School...Almost

As a teacher in New Zealand our summer holidays are still happening but as every teacher across the world knows at some point before school goes back, work needs to be done.

Today was the date I had decided to start thinking about the new school year. I have had a lovely break, enjoyed the sun, time with family and the holiday period. But today was the day when I thought I would ease myself back into a new school year full of new possibilities.

So, for the first time all summer I hop on to Twitter; my favorite place to start. The latest tweet was from Microsoft.

Armed with my coffee and toast I clicked the link and I get a video on YouTube on OneNote. Whilst I knew most of what they were discussing it was still a very helpful refresher and a way to to get the cogs in my brain working again. What was good was seeing what other subject teachers are up to and how I can use OneNote more efficiently (about half way through the video). I was particularly interested in how to incorporate my lesson plans into my content without it seeming cumbersome.

I recommend following @Microsoft_EDU on Twitter as a place to start.
I also recommend Microsoft NZ  on Twitter @MSNZEducation
Checkout the Microsoft OneNote Teacher Podcast
Checkout Teachercast  and on Twitter: @JeffTeacherCast @TeacherCast