The Microsoft OneNote Teacher Academy is a learning path comprising four short courses introducing the use of OneNote in teaching for lesson planning, assessment and activities for learning:
- Getting Started with OneNote
- OneNote Class Notebook: A teacher’s all-in-one notebook for students
- OneNote Staff Notebook: Tools for staff collaboration
- Independent learning with math tools in OneNote
These are my notes taken as I followed the learning path, including the reflection questions and my responses.
- Getting started with OneNote
- OneNote Class Notebook: A teacher’s all-in-one notebook for students
- Module 1: Getting started with a OneNote Class Notebook
- Module 2: Setting up a OneNote Class Notebook
- Module 3: Getting the most out of OneNote Class Notebook
- Module 4: Immersive Reader and Researcher
- Module 5: Making Math Happen in OneNote
- Module 6: Accessibility in OneNote
- Module 7: Translation
- The quiz
- Review of progress and next steps
Getting started with OneNote
The course makes use of lock-step interactive videos which step you through mouse clicks to achieve the various functions in OneNote, which at first I thought was patronising, but which actually gets you used to the interface quickly. If you’re following and feel the same thing, stick with it.
Module 1: Getting started with OneNote for Windows 10
So, the introduction tells us that OneNote is a way of “staying organised, quickly capturing ideas, and accessing information across devices”. It’s a digital notebook that seems to rely on Windows 10 - the intro video seems to assume that all participants are using that OS and steps through “how to use Windows”. The OS is different on my MacBook, so the introductory video doesn’t work well at the start, but it gets better once you start using the OneNote app.
What aspects of organizing words does OneNote mimic? - It’s like a real notebook and helps you make little documents or pages of notes.
What are some ways you might organize your sections and pages? - into chapters or topics, maybe. Gather those into project notebooks.
What topics might be an easy place to start a notebook or section? - Course structure, syllabus, one note per week, maybe.
Module 2: Getting to know OneNote for Windows 10
OneNote is organised into pages, which can be organised in sections like the tabs in a FiloFax. It has a built-in full-text search function which I think is a very good thing for students to have - it’s one of the major reasons I turned from Learn to Moodle 3 years ago.
Items like text boxes in the pages of OneNote are drag-and-droppable, a bit like the Apple Pages app, and allow a great deal of flexibility over how the pages look. Each page is like “a digital canvas” that can accept media, images and ink (from a stylus), or embed things like YouTube videos. Items can be hyperlinked.
Audio or video feedback can be inserted into pages on the fly.
User help in the interface is available through the “lightbulb” icon, aka “Tell me”.
What are the benefits of being able to start writing or typing anywhere on the page? - you can be creative with the flow and functionality of your resources and activities.
What are the benefits of being able to insert pictures and media anywhere on the page? - same again, creativity in making logical storyboards for learning.
Module 3: Getting the most out of OneNote for Windows 10
This module exemplified the use of digital ink, (re)organising materials and sharing work in a team using OneNote. A number of workarounds in the interface were also exercised in here, such as when you need to right-click, or use a non-obvious menu to perform aesthetic changes like page colour. There are neat functions built in for tablet users in particular, such as “ink to shape” and “ink to text” that convert your scruffy notes and scribbles into something somebody else can read. The glory of form over function!
Inserting video links will embed the video itself.
One very interesting feature is the researcher tool, which is used for pulling together web sources and their citations. I’m not sure it’s going to lead to good academic writing, but I’ll try it out to see how it works.
How much time do teachers spend looking for files in old email threads? - none at all. Not this one, anyway, I’m better organised than that. I delete almost everything once I’ve detached the information I need.
How does OneNote’s organization save teachers time? - I’m not convinced it does, yet. I think that quick re-organisation of pages and sections is what is being referred to in this question.
What is the benefit to being able to access information from all of your devices? - you can drop your device off a bridge and not lose any information.
Module 4: Digital Ink
This section described the time-linked digital ink feature of OneNote which allows you to step forward and back through the sequence of pen strokes. A teacher can do this in a student’s notes, too, to enable them to replay, video-like, the thinking of the learner as they constructed their responses. A blog post advertises the features in the recent redesign of OneNote and it does look impressive in the use case shown in the promotional video. I particularly liked the attention that has been paid to achieving consistency across different platforms and devices:
OneNote users often use a range of devices. Having a cohesive user experience across all screens makes it simple for users to jump from one device to the next.
This also helps promote consistency of experience in a learning community, enabling a common culture of understanding in collaboration.
When would you encourage students to use the “playback” feature? - when revising previous work, or when looking at teacher feedback.
Would this be beneficial for a teacher looking at a student’s homework assignment? - of course, to uncover misconceptions.
Do you think teachers would use this as they take notes for a class or meeting? - I need to try it first, but it might enable the making of useful video tutorials for revision, or accessibility, or for students who are unable to participate live.
Trying it out
I went to my own instance of OneNote to try this playback feature out but couldn’t find it at all, which was frustrating. Nor could I find things like “ink to text”, the “tell me” lightbulb, or many of the features this course has described. Perhaps the OSX version of OneNote I am using doesn’t know about the consistency across devices this module is talking about. Further reading reveals that although they are superficially similar, there are substantial differences in the feature sets in OneNote, depending on which device you are running it on. This gives the lie to the earlier content, something I am genuinely disappointed to discover, having made a real effort to suppress my visceral, justified and hard-earned distrust of All Things Microsoft.
OneNote links tend to open not in the application but a browser window - yet another version of OneNote that doesn’t have the features described so far in this course. The ecosystem seems to be significantly varied across platforms.
The very last line of module 5:
This course covers features in the OneNote Windows 10 app. To see which features are available in other OneNote versions, visit this site: The differences in OneNote.
The list isn’t complete or accurate, for example, the replay function I was genuinely excited by, isn’t in the list. Spending more time exploring the OneNote interface created more difficulty. I tried to connect to Teams, where I have set up a team for the new cohort and those remaining from previous years, but with little success, and little help when it didn’t work:
Module 5: A content library brimming with rich resources
The last module in this “getting started” course is a collection of videos or examples of content made by other teachers (“OneNote Ninjas”). I couldn’t see how the content library worked at all, nor how it worked in teaching practice. Some clues were deducible from the end of course quiz - it seems to be a read-only resource space for learners.
How might the Content Library be a unique place for students in your class? - in the same way perhaps, as the class cupboard is unique.
What kinds of media might you add to make your Content Library a go-to place for students? - not sure, because I couldn’t get it to work, but I would hope any digital media.
Once your Content Library is complete for one class, would it take much to alter it for next year’s class? - it depends on the class and any changes to the course but in principle, maybe just change all the dates.
A very low bar to leap over. For example…
OneNote can locate any word on any page in any of your notebooks with the ____ function.
- Where is it?
Still useful, though, because the quiz added some details that weren’t in the course content.
OneNote Class Notebook: A teacher’s all-in-one notebook for students
The course uses the same approach as the first, with interactive videos.
Module 1: Getting started with a OneNote Class Notebook
The Class Notebook is intended to help teachers deliver content, work collaboratively and provide private feedback to learners. It is described as being like a physical notebook, filing cabinet and whiteboard in one. This is achieved by providing a private notebook for each student; a content library; a teacher-only area; and a space for collaboration with students or staff.
The teacher can look at any of the student notebooks, and provide private feedback or commentary. The collaboration space allows for peer work and assessment. The content library is only writable by the teacher.
What types of materials would be best housed in the Content Library versus the Collaboration Space? Think of a few ways to organize your Class Notebook and start by creating one section and giving it a try. - Static materials which do not require editing or annotation by students.
I created new sections within the collaboration space and content library, and even created a new section group, but cannot immediately tell how access is managed in these groups. Further investigation revealed that you cannot do this in the OneNote app: it can be done by logging in to the Microsoft OneNote website and finding Manage notebooks. I found this difficult because the browser version of my Class Notebook and the OneNote version were different (different groups, and sections not in sync). The browser interface offered connection to the notebook, which it did in the browser, but still gave me no insight into who could see my new group. The lightbulb “Tell me what you want to do” offered a very narrow scope (menu items) or a wider search using Bing (what else, when you’re in a corporate prison?) which isn’t available without acknowledging data permissions. I’m stuck in a hole within an application infrastructure which is utterly getting in the way of what I am trying to do.
Module 2: Setting up a OneNote Class Notebook
It says here, “OneNote Class Notebook can assist teachers in providing:
- Individualized instruction
- Meaningful feedback
- Rich multimedia content”
We’re getting a lot of repetition in the videos now, and more patterns emerging. Setting up a OneNote Class Notebook starts not in the app, but on (yet another different) website: Office 365. This can also be done via the MS Teams app: I set up a class notebook for the new cohort Team OK. The dialog for this task sets out the default access permissions for the Collaboration Space; Content Library; and Student Notebooks.
Once the class notebook is set up in Teams, you can open it in the OneNote app. Deleting a notebook is a completely different matter: it is ridiculously hard to do this and will take you and hour or so of Googling: different procedures are needed according your platform, Office account setup and which way the wind is blowing. I followed this set of instructions to delete the class notebook I had set up, naïvely, in the OneNote app. That didn’t work at all, because the menu selections on the website were different (there is no “Manage and Delete” option in OneNote today). I have no idea how to delete a NoteBook. I think it can be done through the online access to OneDrive, but I can’t tell if I deleted a link, or an actual item, or whether in fact it was just moved somewhere else. That situation gives me no confidence in this software suite at all. The more I learn about it, the more I dislike it. Still, we’re here now, so let’s see this through…
In what ways would OneNote Class Notebook allow you to differentiate your instruction to various students? - by writing different things in their notebooks. By providing different materials for them in the content library.
What is it about Class Notebook that might expedite giving feedback compared to traditional paper assignments? - synchronisation. The student’s notebook is updated as soon as the teacher writes in it.
Module 3: Getting the most out of OneNote Class Notebook
It says here, “OneNote Class Notebook has many features to help teachers:
- Distribute assignments
- Write feedback
- Share with parents - a unique link”
OK, I get it. It’s like Church. Keeping saying the mantras, singing the hymns, re-stating the creed, and eventually we all are saved. The more I am sold to, the less I want to buy. I’m going straight to the reflections before watching the video this time:
What are the advantages to verbal feedback for a student? - it seems personal, and can be nuanced in non-verbal ways through tone and gesture. It can be individual, and can be replayed (if a clip is available, which presumably it is) at different speeds
for comic effect to help understanding.
What are the advantages to verbal feedback for a teacher? - it might be quicker, especially if you do it in one take. There are some very real disadvantages too, in that it can be replayed in contexts you hadn’t intended.
When might teachers use this feature? - I wouldn’t normally, unless I had a vision impaired student who preferred it, but can see why some might be tempted to try it.
I discovered more functionality glitches as I followed the “getting the most…” video. I think these are bugs, rather than poor connectivity between the various interfaces - Teams, the OneNote app, the different websites that manage the spaces, etc. Things just don’t work: it’s clunky and inconsistent in daily usage, resulting in huge time costs for the teacher. For example, in OneNote app, I found “Manage Notebooks” which popped up what looks like a browser container, where I added a teacher only space without errors. This did not add the teacher only space in the Class Notebook in the app, but it was visible in the browser. Browser and app were synching OK, because I could type in one and see the changes with less than a second of latency in the other1.
I like the idea of “distributing” a page (assignment) to all student notebooks at the same time, then being able to review all of their completed edits of their copy of that page (assignment) simply in the interface. I am not sure I can rely on that without testing it first, however, so am not intending to spend any time on this. The collaboration space idea is implemented in a difficult and weird way also: individual groups of students can be allocated to sections within that space but if a deadline passes, the entire collaboration space must be locked rather than the individual section.
I am increasingly coming to the conclusion that BlackBoard Learn might be my best option for Physics PGDE in the coming session. This is a real pity because of Learn’s deficiencies. I wonder if I will go maverick again and launch a Bookdown site as a searchable resource for my students.
Module 4: Immersive Reader and Researcher
This module provides detail on some of the accessibility features built into Class Notebook, including the Immersive Reader, which is a nice idea but again, just does not work reliably. It failed to recognise login credentials when I tried to use it the first time but I was able to get it working once I’d logged in and out a few times of the various interfaces. When it does work, it’s a screen reader - “immersive” meaning that it removes sidebars and ribbons, displaying just the text of the document you’re looking at in a large font, with a moving highlighter that follows the voice.
Researcher is a weak tool that lowers the access bar for students who need help doing basic searches for information. It seems to have been lifted, like other tools in this suite, from the main Office toolset.
Reflection - see above.
Module 5: Making Math Happen in OneNote
This module is not about learning mathematics and is definitely not about “… a virtual math tutor with OneNote”. It is just a video pitch for OneNote using children talking about glitter pens and toys in the OneNote space, and a very brief mention of “ink to math”, which doesn’t seem to exist in the app, but is available in OneNote in the browser. It’s a digital ink converter that recognises mathematical symbols.
Module 6: Accessibility in OneNote
This module is more on accessibility features and functions in OneNote - a button you can click that tells you “everything is OK” in your documents.
Module 7: Translation
Self-explanatory, this one: using the share button on any document within OneNote allows you to export it through Microsoft’s Translator application if you have it installed. I don’t because it isn’t available for OSX, and it doesn’t seem to be available in the browser version of OneNote, either.
Just as challenging as the last one. Earned myself a “Certified Microsoft Innovative Educator” badge for having completed 2 hours of online Microsoft Educator CPD.
Review of progress and next steps
What I have learned in the past few hours (a lot more than the two hours these two courses suggest) is that Microsoft tools are most definitely not the way forward for my hybridised teaching in the autumn. Too much time is required in trouble-shooting problems, bugs, inadequately documented differences between platforms, and design flaws. I want a piece of chalk, not a stick of cheese and some certified training in how to use it on a blackboard.
Your mileage may vary, of course: if you are fully embedded within the Redmond way of things, then good luck to you. This particular teacher is going to be innovative in other ways, and not be burdened by having to work this difficult software. Class Notebook is not going to feature in my teaching.
I completed the rest of the OneNote Teacher Academy learning path (without taking notes, digital or otherwise) and earned my badge.
My transcript is available here.
Later, I got this to work by signing out in the OneNote app, connecting to the University VPN, signing in to the university’s EASE authorisation (in the browser), and then restarting the OneNote app, and signing in (to Office 365) in the app. That is just such a ridiculous waste of time messing around trying to figure out why it doesn’t work, only to have it suddenly behave itself at the point of launching the laptop out the window. For reasons of mental wellbeing, I am heading back to avoiding Microsoft software as far as I possibly can. Life is just too short for this nonsense. ↩
Having spent time thinking about the principles and approaches I will be taking with my teaching in the new semester, now I must move to thinking about the tools that I will be using.
For the past 3 years, I have used a Moodle instance to support and communicate with students in preference to the University’s BlackBoard Learn. The main reason for this (there are several) is that Moodle is user-centric with features like search. Learn doesn’t have that, and is one of those systems that is designed for the designer, not the user.
Moodle has increasingly become more costly to sustain because of a series of ongoing bugs, most recently following the upgrade to 3.9, search has stopped working. Now, I’m a busy person and don’t have time to debug this right now, so I have decided that I need to use a more stable system of tools.
One of the single most important aspects of learning is the community you learn with. Former students have continued to access their Moodle course for a long time after the PGDE ends. I don’t want to abandon them, or break that community, so I have set up a Slack workspace for former PGDE Physics students, including those more senior who did not have the Moodle experience. So far, they have responded well to the idea. I will be using Slack to connect to the new cohort, outside of the official channels which they cannot join until they matriculate in September. This will give them a head start on building community.
There are a lot of people using Microsoft tools, and the university is no exception: we make increasingly consistent use of Sharepoint, Office365, OneDrive, OneNote, and the ever-present PowerPoint. Now, whilst there is a very good argument not to be suckered into the global brand domination of Microsoft, you can’t say that Bill Gates has kept all the money for himself, so there is a reason to go with the flow. The other, closer to home, reason is the perceived equity of the student cohort. Our students hate difference in experience, perceiving it to be somehow uneven or even discriminatory. It isn’t, and never has been. It’s good pedagogy to try to meet the particular needs of your learners, so teachers will always try to adapt and innovate to make things better for their own, very special, learners. That’s why I have operated a Moodle site outside of the mainstream experience for my Physics cohorts in the past 3 years.
I’m going to try to use the MS tools because the university has spent a lot of money providing them. Because it’s what the rest of the team are doing, and I might be able to offer support to my colleagues as we move forward into hybridised teaching together. Because the time cost of operating a maverick set is unnecessary, when I have the cost of conforming to bear also.
I need to skill up. So, I’m going to pick up an MIE, starting with the OneNote Teacher Academy course. I’m starting here because it’s where I need to begin in shifting content from the old VLE into something newer: not Learn, because it’s not fit for that particular purpose, but OneNote. Here we go.
I have learned a lot of digital skills since becoming a MIEExpert in 2016, however I had not had the opportunity to explore Microsoft Teams fully with a class. When we found out that pupils would be learning from home I refreshed my memory of Teams by using the courses on the Microsoft Educator Community. I then took some time to explore using Teams and thought about how I could make it suit the needs of my pupils in a way that was organised and manageable for me.
I have taken an asynchronous approach to teaching and learning since many families have limited access to devices. Every day I post a class information document in the General channel; this includes the date and a visual timetable, using the same visuals that we have in the classroom. In the class information document I post links to the relevant curricular area channels that the children need to access for their learning for the day.
Use of Channels
I have found that having a separate channel for each curricular area has helped to keep classwork well organised, benefiting both myself and the pupils. When I post daily work I make an announcement in the relevant curricular area channel with the date and attach the relevant documents. This means that pupils can easily look back in the channel if they have missed any work on a certain day.
Initially pupils were having difficulty with accessing PowerPoints so I have switched to uploading PDFs. This has helped the class to easily access the work on the different devices that they use.
The pupils do not have permission to comment or post in the curricular area channels as I felt like their comments would result in the work I was posting getting lost. I still wanted them to have somewhere to socialise with each other and so set up “things to do when you are bored” and “random chat” channels. The pupils can all post and comment on these channels and it has given then a way to share fun ideas with their peers. The pupils can also post in the “questions about work” channel if they need some support. I have found that having this channel ensures that I do not miss any questions from pupils.
When in school my class use Seesaw to share their learning with their parents/carers. As the pupils and families are familiar with this I decided to carry on using this while schools are closed. Pupils have a home learning code which allows them to post their work directly to me. I can then mark their work and store it in their online journals for each curricular area. Some pupils have opted to post their work to me on Teams and do so using the “submit your work here please” channel. I then transfer their work to Seesaw. Due to the class being used to using Seesaw I have not explored using the assignments feature on Teams, however this is something I would like to use in the future.
Every Wednesday we have a class call on Teams. During this time pupils have time to chat to one another and then we do a class quiz using either Kahoot or Quizziz. When using Kahoot I share my screen in the Teams call so that pupils can see the questions and answer them on their device. If we use Quizziz I share my screen so that the pupils can see the live leader board during the game. The class have really enjoyed these calls as it gives them time to hear the voices of their peers and take part in an activity in a similar way to what we would do in school. It has been lovely to hear their voices and laughter during the calls. I feel like this has helped to maintain positive relationships with the class and helps the pupils to connect with one another during this difficult time.
I have found that organising my class Team in the ways described in this post have helped to keep the Team accessible and organised for everyone accessing it. After a few initial technical issues in the first week the online classroom has been running smoothly and successfully. If you would like to see examples of the work the class have been producing I have been uploading some of their work on Twitter.
Emma Hedges. Victoria Primary School, Falkirk.
This is a post to show teachers how to add feedback in Microsoft Forms and to show where pupils will receive and see that feedback.
Create a Microsoft Forms Quiz
Add questions, in each multiple choice question there is an option to add feedback to students choosing particular answers. This is seen after a pupil submits the quiz.
For short answers there is an option to put in the correct answer for automatic marking. For long answers there is not automatic marking response or feedback.
Now create the assignment with the forms quiz. Choose quiz in the create assignments option.
Select the Forms Quiz you made earlier.
Add instructions, set which students, dates etc. Then click assign or schedule if setting at a later date.
Assignment post appears in general channel and can be opened by clicking view assignments or can be accessed from the assignments tab.
Pupil clicks on attached Form Quiz.
Pupil completes Forms quiz
Clicks on submit. After clicking on submit the Thanks screen appears and there is an option to view results.
The view results screen indicates points awarded and can indicate feedback for question responses “message for respondents selecting this answer” if the teacher added them into the form.
Correct answers for short answer questions are shown. If the pupil answer differs this will be marked incorrect, it may be an acceptable alternative.
For long responses there is no feedback or mark at this stage.
If the pupil goes to the Grades tab in that Team they see that they have handed in this work.
Now the pupil waits for the teacher to put in their comments and feedback and return the work.
Teacher adds feedback
In the assignments tab, teacher can see pupil has handed in work. To open the Forms quiz, they can click on handed in or Open in Forms.
In the Grades tab, teacher can see that work has been handed in as they see a score. They can then click on the three dots …
If using from Grades, click Open Student Work to enter feedback and correct marks.
Don’t click return work or you will not have sent in any comments or checked their work and will not be able to add later.
When Microsoft Forms is open you can leave overall feedback by clicking the box to the right of the band that includes the pupil name. This is the feedback that goes to the pupil assignment summary view.
You can click on the other questions and accept answers if they were correct and not marked correctly for short answers changing the points awarded. You can leave feedback by clicking on the feedback option for each question.
Here is a view of some feedback for the overall section at the top and question 1.
For short answer questions we can correct the automatic marking if the pupil response was correct but not exactly the same as the correct answer. If pupils are still to hand in you can go back to the Form and add other correct responses. You need to go to Forms then Groups then choose the Team Form you have set. You can then click it open and edit the correct answer option for this question.
Longer questions are not automatically marked so you need to read the response and allocate marks accordingly. You can leave additional feedback under these questions.
Now you need to Post Scores for pupil to see the feedback you enter. If you do not Post Scores the pupil will not see any of the comments.
A confirmation message comes up when Post Scores is selected.
The teacher view in the Grades tab now shows returned.
In the assignment tab the pupil moves from the To mark list to the Marked list. Clicking on the toggle feedback option shows the summary feedback you entered in the Forms quiz and you see the total marks.
Pupil view to get feedback
Grades view in Team shows assignment has been returned to pupil and a points score.
To see the detailed information the pupil click assignment and goes to the completed assignments.
Or they can click on the view assignment post in the general channel.
Pupils see this, the points and the feedback added. This feedback area can be blank if none was added by the teacher.
The feedback added here is from the overall feedback section (see teacher view).
Pupil clicks back on the attached Forms quiz.
Feedback is shown (if teacher has added more).
Here are some annotations of the feedback and where it comes from.
A video showing the process above, how teachers can provide feedback in Microsoft Forms.
A video showing how to view pupil feedback in Microsoft Forms.
As a Scottish (Maths) Teacher, I have access to Glow Scotland. Within Glow, teachers have access to Microsoft tools such as Teams, OneNote, Forms and Sway. In this blog post, I will introduce you to each of these, link to examples of each and get you started on using these tools in your own practice.
I have presented a workshop on this at the Scottish Mathematical Council’s Conference (9th March 2019), and will be talking about it at the first Tay Collab Maths Conference on 23rd March 2019. If you’re attending this, you will get a decent head start by reading this blog, as the blog summarises my talk.
Let’s get started with OneNote.
OneNote is excellent.
If you’re not using it yet, you really should be.
OneNote allows you to store and share absolutely any type of digital content.
Notebook – This is the full OneNote – it contains all of the sections and pages.
Section – A section is the first level down within a Notebook. This particular Notebook you are looking at has two sections. The one you are in just now is called “Microsoft Tools on Glow”. The other one is called “Other Section”, and contains only one page, which has not yet been used.
Page – The level you are at right now, where I am typing this text and where you are reading this text is called a Page. Pages can be extended in all directions, indefinitely.
Every Notebook can have as many Sections as you like and every section can have as many Pages as you like. There’s no limit other than, I guess, the amount of storage you have in OneDrive, which is where the Notebook is saved.
Creating a new OneNote Notebook
Sign into Glow, open OneDrive and Click on New – this lets you create a new OneNote Notebook in the folder you are currently in on your OneDrive.
This will create a brand new OneNote Notebook, ready to be populated with whatever you want to populate it with.
Sharing your OneNote Notebook
To share this Notebook with you, I clicked on the three dots next to the Notebook’s name and clicked Share:
This box appeared:
And I clicked on the wee arrow next to “Only the people you specify who have this link can edit”
And clicked on “Anyone with this link”
Then, when you hit apply you can copy the link to the OneNote
That’s not easy to jot down, or remember, so I used bit.ly to create a shortened link.
The shortened link is bit.ly/MAllanSMC2019
If you want to create a OneNote Notebook and share it with a whole class, it’s probably going to be easier to use Teams…
Microsoft Teams will change the way you work.
If you’re familiar with Edmodo, Schoology, Show My Homework etc, you’ll find Teams easy to use. Even if you’re not, you’ll find Teams easy to use, because it’s really easy to use!
Watch this short video for an intro to Teams: https://support.office.com/en-us/article/video-welcome-to-microsoft-teams-b98d533f-118e-4bae-bf44-3df2470c2b12
To create a Team (and this can be staff only or Teacher and pupils) your best option is to Download Teams (it’s free). https://products.office.com/en-us/microsoft-teams/group-chat-software
If you work in a Scottish School, chances are Teams is already on your work computer.
Once you open up Teams, sign in using your Glow username and password.
This is what it looks like when I sign in:
You can see I am a member of 3 Teams (GHS Maths, Team MIEExpert Scotland and Bertha Park High – PT Team)
To create a new Team, you click on the button near the bottom left that says “Join or Create a Team” You’ll then see this:
If you want to create a Team, then it’s obvious which button to click. If you have been invited to Join a Team (and have been given a code) then that’s obvious too.
When you choose “Create Team” you’ll see this:
Choose whichever option you need. I’m going to create a Class. Give your class a Name and description (if you like).
You can then add students and other teachers to your Team:
Once the Team has been made, you can do a few things with it. Best to play around with these options and see what happens when you press the different buttons. Most of it is pretty obvious.
Clicking on “Manage Team” and then hitting “Settings” shows this page:
You can then create a Team Code by clicking “Generate Code”
Feel free to join my class (you know how to do that if you read the bit above)
At the top of the Team, when you are in “General” you can set up the Class Notebook. This is the OneNote Notebook for your Team.
When you click on “Set up a OneNote Class Notebook” you will be walked through the process. You can customise the Notebook so that it has all the sections you want it to have.
There’s a video here that will show you (pretty slowly) how this works: Teachers – Get Started with OneNote Class Notebook Creator
My OneNote Class Notebook has been created, ready for using with the class.
I have one pupil in the class (Isaac Newton) but if I had more, they would be listed below. I find it a lot easier to work with the OneNote Notebook in the full desktop version of OneNote, so I click on “Open in OneNote” at the top of the screen.
The types of content you might put into the OneNote is entirely up to you. I have an Example OneNote Notebook that you can take a look at here: bit.ly/MathsOneNoteTeachers
Using OneNote as a Planner
I have blogged about using OneNote as a planner. I no longer use a physical planner, instead choosing to use OneNote. You can find out how to set up your own Planner OneNote here: https://mrallanmaths.wordpress.com/2018/12/03/using-onenote-as-a-planner-a-few-years-on/
Immersive Reader (also known as Microsoft Learning Tools) allows pupils with additional support needs to access text in a fully supported way. The support is customisable, and the best way to learn about it is to give it a go.
You click on “View” in the toolbar then select “Immersive Reader”
This is available in OneNote, Word, PowerPoint and so on.
Sway lets you create interactive newsletters, and much more.
Here’s how to get started.
Log into Glow and open up OneDrive. You then want to click on the 9 dots at the top left of the screen:
And select Sway:
You can then choose to start a New Blank Sway:
To begin with, the Sway looks pretty boring, but you need to put some content in and choose a design:
I’ve given it a title and written a little bit of text and added a picture:
Now I’m going to choose a Design.
Click on Design in the top left corner then Styles in the top right corner:
Pick a design you like:
Then click “Play” in the top right:
You can view the Sway here: Sway
Here are some more examples of Sways that you can take a look at:
Glenrothes High School Pupil Equity Fund Update: https://sway.office.com/t4Xy1SIHNRV94wmn?ref=Link
Bertha Park High School Winter Update: https://sway.office.com/dOuvWTYJz8KIOsED?ref=Link&loc=play
N5/Higher Maths Revision: bit.ly/MathsRevisionN5H (This one is worth sharing with pupils)
Ever used Survey Monkey? Well there’s a better version of that available from Microsoft and it’s called Forms.
You can use Forms to get feedback from pupils/parents/staff for any number of things.
You can also use it to build Quizzes that can serve as assessments.
To access Forms, you click on the 9 dots at the top left in OneDrive:
“New Form” lets you make a survey. “New Quiz” works in pretty much the same way, but you also can assign points to each question and select correct answers.
The best thing to do if you want to learn more about using Forms it to use this link here: https://education.microsoft.com/courses-and-resources/courses/forms
Sharing with people outside Glow or Pupils/Staff who don’t know Usernames/Passwords
Ideally, the solution to this is to get staff and pupils to just remember their passwords. However, I have found it useful to be able to share links that work without signing in.
I use bit.ly to create shortened web links. If you sign up for a free account your can customise the links. Paying for a subscription allows you to edit and delete links once you’ve made them – I haven’t bothered to do this.
Learning More / Getting Help
You will find lots of free courses available here: https://education.microsoft.com/
Log in using your Glow username and password and you can build up a profile and collect points and badges once you have completed the courses. It’s the best way to learn about the Microsoft tools available on Glow apart from this Blog post!
OneNote intro: https://education.microsoft.com/Getting-Started-with-OneNote
I hope you found this useful.
If you have any questions that you think I might be able to answer, do get in touch on Twitter or in the comments below.
Do your learners create graphs in your classroom? Perhaps after they undertake a survey, such as a traffic survey, favourite food, eye colour, or something related to an area of study in the curriculum? There’s a whole range of digital tools available to help create graphs and charts (have a look at this blogpost “Fun or fear? Spreadsheets for Problem Solving in the Primary Classroom – fun over fear!” for a host of ideas and links to digital tools for using spreadsheets in the classroom).
Microsoft Excel is one of the most well-known and widely used digital tools for creating spreadsheets, which can easily be used to create graphs and charts. Microsoft Excel Online is available to all Glow users in Scottish schools as part of Microsoft Office 365. Excel Online is available anytime, anywhere with online access so can be accessed at home or at school (it can also tie neatly into the desktop version and mobile apps for smartphones and tablets, so that information created on one device in one location, is accessible for editing and updating on another device elsewhere).
Excel Online can be used to create spreadsheets from the beginning (or you can upload an existing Excel spreadsheet from your computer to make it available to edit online thereafter). You can keep it private to you in your own OneDrive (the online cloud storage with massive capacity available to every Glow user in Scottish schools). Or you can, at any time, choose to make a Excel Online spreadsheet visible to other users of your choice – and you can choose whether to allow them to just be able to read it without being able to make changes, or you can give other users the access rights to be able to jointly edit the spreadsheet with you. If your class is using Microsoft Teams then a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet can be created in the shared files so that all members of the class can automatically collaborate without the need to find and add specific usernames.
Here’s how to create a table and bar chart for a class traffic survey in Microsoft Excel Online
Have a look at the Sway presentation here for a step-by-step guide for learners to create an Excel spreadsheet in Excel Online in their OneDrive in Microsoft office 365 via Glow and to share this with other Glow users to be able to jointly edit the same spreadsheet. This has steps outline for creating a table, into which the results of a class traffic survey can be entered. From this there are steps shown to guide as to how to create a bar chart, to sort the information in the table, to share with other users and for them to add comments so that questions can be asked about the information.
Want to know more about using Microsoft Excel Online?
Microsoft Excel – there is a wide range of resources online using Microsoft Excel as the tool to put spreadsheets in a context suitable for use by pupils in a primary classroom. Some links have been provided below. Some of these provide tutorials in the use of Excel while others provide the ready-made files along with classroom teaching notes. Excel Online is available for free to schools using Microsoft Office 365 (all schools in Scotland using Glow can access Microsoft Excel Online as part of Office 365. It’s available in OneDrive or as part of Microsoft Teams for classes so you can either create spreadsheets individually or collectively so that multiple learners can collaborate on the same Excel Online spreadsheet at the same time on different devices from anywhere).
The Beginner’s Guide to Microsoft Excel Online – a handy guide by Matthew Guay describing with screenshot illustrations how to undertake a variety of tasks in Microsoft Excel Online, from starting a new spreadsheet file, looking at options in the menu ribbons, applying functions, adding charts and tables, using the survey tool, sharing and collaborating with others, using comments and more.
Pivot Tables in Microsoft Excel Online– while pivot tables are not a function of spreadsheets which beginners may likely use, it may be handy to know that Microsoft Excel Online has this feature and that this link provides a guide to how to use them in the online version of Microsoft Excel
Users of Glow can access Microsoft Excel Online from within Glow by clicking on the OneDrive tile on the Glow Launchpad (from where Excel Online can be accessed from the 9-square waffle), or via Microsoft Teams Files tab (for Excel Online spreadsheets shared with the rest of the class Team) or directly from the Microsoft Excel Online login https://office.live.com/start/Excel.aspx entering the Glow email address – which is usually something along the lines of the form email@example.com which will then take you to the usual Glow login page.
Co-edit a Microsoft Excel Online spreadsheet – here a link to show the steps to collaborating on a Microsoft Excel Online spreadsheet with multiple users.
Excel Online within Office 365 tutorial – shared by Edinburgh University, with descriptions which apply also to Glow users
I have probably missed some really important ideas, or badly explained some of the ones I have chosen to mention. Sorry if your favourite thing isn’t included here – I’ve probably missed something very important. Happy to receive useful feedback on what I have written here – you can get in touch on Twitter (@mrallanmaths) or leave a comment below.
It’s inservice day next week, and I was asked if I could do a session on Cognitive Load Theory – 30 minutes. I’ve presented about CLT a lot in the past and 30 minutes isn’t very long, so I thought I’d talk about a collection of ideas that I think are important for teachers to think about that can maximise pupil learning.
Huge thanks to the teachers who got in touch on Twitter with ideas for this workshop (see replies to this tweet). The trick will be to make the workshop fit into 30 minutes!
The title isn’t overly catchy, but it’s what I set out to achieve with the workshop. Here’s what I have included.
Learning Intentions and Success Criteria
These are important, but not the focus of this workshop. I’ll be talking about some results from cognitive science and research that suggest there are other important things we can focus our attention on that have the potential to maximise pupil learning.
I’ll also be talking about some of the things we probably should do less of or stop doing altogether.
This workshop will have been successful if teachers leave and have a conversation with each other about any element of the workshop.
We often run focus groups and ask pupils how their learning experience can be improved. Here are some of the common suggestions pupils give…
- Fun lessons – we ought not to prioritise fun over learning. Learning doesn’t need to be fun. It’s fine if it is fun, but it is more important that there is something meaningful to be learned.
- Posters/PowerPoints/Presentations/Animations – this often means pupils get better at bubble writing, PowerPoint or using animation software. Memory is the residue of thought, and if you are thinking about how to put together a stop animation as a way to demonstrate your learning about some scientific principle, let’s not kid ourselves that you’re learning about science – the learning outcome ought to be “how to use stop animation software” as this is probably what will be learned during this time.
- Make the learning relevant to pupil interests – their focus becomes about their interests. Including a contextualised question about baseball instead of football can minimise off task discussions about football (pupils in Scotland tend to be far more into football than baseball).
- Project based learning (and Interdisciplinary Learning)– this is fine if they have learned all of the content and are working on project skills. Not fair for novices to try to learn through projects but this is definitely good for experts (expertise reversal effect).
- Discovery based learning (or problem based learning) – what about equity? – those who learned about it at home (or elsewhere) can already do it. Pupils like the idea of figuring things out for themselves. This should be used with care, since misconceptions can grow easily and can be shared by pupils working in groups with minimal guidance.
- Games based learning – there’s perhaps some merit to this, but when the attention is on the games, how much working memory is able to focus on creating deep and durable long term memories? I have seen some good looking lessons where pupils have designed a board game to play that requires them to answer knowledge based questions to progress in the game. I think the playing of the game is good, but I don’t think it makes much sense to spend any length of class time letting pupils design these games, (including drawing the pictures/logos/game boards that are required for the game).
- Choice of task/method/format etc – pupils will always choose the path of least resistance – they will opt for the easy task. Why give them the choice? Just so they can have choice? Do we really trust pupils to make the best choice for their learning? We know the tasks and we know the pupils. We (experts) can look at a set of questions and decide if they are easy or if they are hard, but pupils (novices) cannot.
More on Minimally Guided Learning:http://www.cogtech.usc.edu/publications/kirschner_Sweller_Clark.pdf
These are some suggestions of things that are better:
- Working just beyond their capabilities – you get better because you are challenged. The best performers in any field set themselves goals that are just beyond what they are comfortable with.
- Feeling successful early in a lesson – success leads to motivation. This doesn’t mean we make the work too easy. We need to get the level of challenge right when it comes to learning the new stuff, otherwise it isn’t worth learning. A good starting point is where pupils have already felt some success. Intrinsic motivation can even come from seeing the success somebody else has had with a task.
- Attending to their work – pupils need to give their attention to the task they are working on – we can bring this about through carefully planned and consistent routines and by minimising cognitive load – more on this later.
- Explicit instruction of new ideas – Pupils cannot figure out novel content on their own – we need to guide them fully in the initial stages of learning.
- Purposeful practice of new material – this does not mean pages and pages of questions – even just 4 or 5 questions have been shown to be effective – see graph below.
- Teacher directed 80% of the time – that’s why schools were built – explicit teaching of new ideas to a large group of novices. This explicit instruction doesn’t need to be chalk and talk the whole time. Expert teachers use a mixture of exposition, explanation, analogies, questioning, guided practice and so on to fully develop a new concept in the minds of their pupils, using their wealth of pedagogical subject knowledge to maximise the chances that pupils will be thinking about the things they need to be thinking about.
- Inquiry learning 20% of the time – We need to build in time for pupils to conjecture, behave mathematically, behave like scientists, reason using known facts, analyse etc. This can only happen with a foundation of knowledge. You can’t think critically if you have nothing to think about. We want our pupils to be able to tackle unfamiliar problems using what they have learned – this might be the ultimate goal of education. We need to provide opportunities for this.
Overlearning versus Distributed Practice
In an experiment by Rohrer and Taylor, Hi Massers were given 9 practice questions to complete and then tested on this in Week 1.
Lo Massers were given 3 practice questions to complete and then tested on this in Week 1.
After 4 weeks they were given another test on the same material.
Lo Massers are only very slightly worse off in the assessment in week 4, to the point where I think this is negligible.
The main takeaway from this (for me) is that overlearning isn’t impactful.
The authors go on to show that distributed practice (5 questions one week, 5 questions the next week) is more effective than 10 questions in one week.
Distributed practice is better than overlearning.
Further reading on this: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/5720/cbea1d4dc2d3da3b2ee176ee9d3ef377f294.pdf
80%/20% split of direct instruction and inquiry-based learning
This is very often referred to as the “sweet spot”. Further reading on this can be found here: https://tomneedhamteach.wordpress.com/2019/01/29/the-application-of-theory-8-propositions-that-underpin-our-approach/
Problem Solving and Arbitrary/Necessary Knowledge
What makes something a problem?
Teachers can structure the learning so that pupils can use their awareness and what is arbitrary to figure out that which is necessary.
I recently listened to Stuart Welsh (@maths180) talk about this at the La Salle Education PT Maths Conference in January and I really like the way this language makes it clear to teachers how we can get pupils to think, and what we should get them to think about. I think there are applications for this in all subjects.
Knowledge that is arbitrary can’t be worked out by a student unless they are simply told it, for example the name of a particular quadrilateral or the sum of the angles in a full turn. Knowledge that is necessary can be worked out by the student as long as they are thinking, and have access to the arbitrary knowledge. An example of necessary knowledge (again from maths!) could be that once pupils know how to draw the graph of a derived function, deducing the derivatives of the sine and cosine functions can come from their awareness of what is happening with the gradient of the functions.
All of this concerns ensuring that pupils have the necessary knowledge to tackle problems that are unfamiliar. Generic thinking skills are useless in the absence of knowledge – more on this later.
You can read more on arbitrary and necessary knowledge at: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/dspace-jspui/bitstream/2134/18847/3/hewitt1.pdf
Exit passes are crap*
*Wrong answers are more useful than right answers.
Exit passes used badly only measure performance. You cannot tell if a pupil has learned something in a lesson. Exit passes can be used well – just don’t expect them to tell you that your class have learned what you just taught them. They were just shown how to do it 5 minutes ago – of course they can still do it now.
Exit passes can be used as distributed practice, where perhaps the exit pass question can be about something that was taught 4 weeks ago.
There is a difference between learning and performance
Learning happens over time – performance is when I see a pupil get a question right today, after just having taught him that thing today.
Pupils get into a false sense of security if they get a page of questions right during a lesson. They think “I’ve learned this” and don’t feel then need to re-visit it. We need to train them about this and encourage distributed practice.
Learning is a change in long term memory
If nothing has been changed in Long Term Memory, nothing has been learned. We cannot measure learning easily. We can only measure performance. The sad reality is that by the time pupils get their exam results in August they will have forgotten lots of the stuff they got right in the exam. Long term memory hasn’t been changed if pupils cram for exams – this explains why many Higher Maths pupils get a strong pass at N5 but consistently make mistakes in higher questions when relying on content from N5.
Getting pupils to recall facts and knowledge (and even complete skills) from memory is a way to strengthen long term memories.
You can think of the retriever dog (stolen this from Stuart Welsh as well!). You ask yourself a question and the retriever goes away through your mind looking for the answer. He passes by relevant, related information, becoming more familiar with the path every time. The more times he retrieves the easier it becomes. Eventually he knows exactly where the information is.*
*(The brain doesn’t actually work like this, but it’s a nice wee analogy to use with pupils).
Retrieval practice can come in many forms. A few are:
- interleaving of previous skills within new skills – either by having to use previous knowledge to answer a question on the new topic or just by including a question on a previous topic among questions on a new topic.
- distributed practice – rather than having all of the practice of a new skill within the lesson where it was introduced, split the questions up across a week or more. See the Rohrer and Taylor article (linked above) for more on this.
- low stakes quizzes – Neil Tilston (@MrTilston) spoke about these at the Scottish Maths Conference (and Angus Maths and #MathsConf12 Dunfermline). Low stakes quizzes are extremely effective, when planned carefully, and can offer opportunities for pupils to take advantage of the retrieval effect. Here’s Neil’s presentations slides on low stakes assessments in maths (you can do this in any subject): https://sway.office.com/obhJhSOzOLEBZKBI?ref=Link
- regular homework, that is planned meticulously so that topics re-appear after a few weeks. Keep the skills from dropping away.
- … and many other ways are possible – teachers are always coming up with new methods for everything.
Worth noting that retrieval beats re-exposure, so it is better to have pupils think of something from memory rather than re-read it from a textbook. This is one of the reasons I don’t put formulas or exact value triangles and the like on my classroom walls.
More information on Retrieval Practice here:http://www.learningscientists.org/retrieval-practice/
Success leads to Motivation
This works. If you can build the lesson in such a way that pupils get stuff right early on, they have a better chance of pushing on and working hard on new stuff. This makes sense if you think about how you would feel if you started off a 50 minute lesson by getting the first few questions wrong straight away. This is a balancing act, though. Don’t make it too easy just so that they get it right. You need to know the pupils in the class and what they are capable of.
It’s definitely not the case that pupils need to be motivated first so that they can be successful – you show me a kid who is intrinsically motivated to solve simultaneous equations. I get my N5 class fully on board with this by letting them see that they can do it easily. For more on this (maths specific) see: https://tothereal.wordpress.com/2017/08/12/my-best-planning-part-1/ from Kris Boulton (@Kris_Boulton).
Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic Learners
We might have a preference for one of these, but try learning the key features of a corrie by having somebody read about it to you (Geography example – you’re welcome). A diagram (visual) will help with this. Or try telling the difference between the sounds a trumpet and French horn make (if you’ve never heard them before) by looking at pictures of them (visual). Unfortunately, I still hear people talking about V/A/K, and have recently seen a study guide telling pupils to complete an online questionnaire to tell them if they are a V/A/K learner, then give advice such as “you are a visual learner so you should turn your notes into diagrams and look at the diagrams” or “as an auditory learner you will find it easier to learn by reading your notes aloud, since hearing your notes will help you learn better”. Unfortunately, there are no studies that have shown any of this to be effective. The idea is clung onto by teachers and pupils because they themselves might have a preference. There is no evidence that shows there are benefits for pupils (of any learning preference) by tailoring lessons to particular styles.
We CAN boost learning if we provide a diagram (visual) and talk about the diagram (auditory) and this works for all learners, regardless of their learning preference. If you want to learn more about this, here’s Greg Ashman talking briefly about dual coding: https://gregashman.wordpress.com/2017/07/16/we-need-to-talk-about-dual-coding/
More information on why VAK is wrong here: http://www.danielwillingham.com/learning-styles-faq.html
The Pyramid of Myth
This is nonsense. The numbers are too nice for this to be real, and in fact it’s not based on any scientific method. One guy liked the idea of these numbers and shared it. Then it got turned into a pyramid. Teachers love a pyramid, so it took on quickly. This was shared with me during my PGDE year, but luckily I only remembered 5% of what they said about it
The idea that you learn better when you explain a concept to somebody else seems to make sense, but how did you come to learn what you are teaching someone else? If you learned it by reading about it (10%) you can only pass on 90% of what you learned, so that’s 9%, right?
More on this here: https://theeffortfuleducator.com/2017/11/29/the-pyramid-of-myth/
Thinking Skills rely on Knowledge
You cannot think if you have nothing to think about. If you do not have the required knowledge, any amount of thinking skills will be useless.
Work out the answer to this:
You have little chance doing this if you don’t know what it means, no matter how hard you think, or what thinking skills you have.
The answer is 3, in case you were wondering or want to check if you are right.
Try this one (from a History past paper):
The rest of the workshop will focus on Cognitive Load Theory (if there is time, which there probably won’t be).
The Worked Example Effect
Presenting novices with fully worked examples (modelled by the teacher: I do, We do, You do). This helps focus novices on the key features of what a correct answer looks like and how to structure their response. These can be enhanced further by considering fading the steps in a sequence of questions so that all steps are given in the first question, all but the last step in the second, all but the last two steps in the third (and so on) until pupils eventually have to complete a full question on their own.
Reading out slides – we really mustn’t do this. I give an example of this in the presentation, but basically, pupils cannot read a slide and listen to you talking about the slide and think about the content all at the same time. It’s too much. Put a picture on the slide and talk to the class – that’s fine. We can process auditory and visual information at the same time, but we cannot read (which uses the auditory part of your working memory) and listen to someone speak (also auditory) at the same time. It’s too much. I will try to model this throughout the workshop.
The Split Attention Effect
This occurs when pupils need to look at two different sources of information to make sense of the whole thing. This can be avoided by integrating the two sources. Example below:
We can minimise distractions by considering the classroom environment carefully. See examples on the slides or in the blog post linked below.
Here’s a blog post I wrote about Cognitive Load Theory which goes into much more detail: https://mrallanmaths.wordpress.com/2018/05/07/cognitive-load-theory/
What I really hope will happen as a result of reading this post and/or attending the workshop is that teachers reflect on how the things that make their practice routine could be changed to be more impactful.
I have been using OneNote as my planner since October 2015. This has made me more organised and has made it easier for me to plan lessons. In this post, I will give some examples of my planning process through using OneNote and walk you through the steps to follow so that you can get started using OneNote for your planning too.
First of all, you need to set up a OneNote Notebook.
Log into Glow and go to OneDrive. Click “New” and select “OneNote Notebook”. Give it a sensible name such as “2018-19 Mr Allan Planner” or even just “2018-19 Mr Allan”. Eventually you will end up with several planner OneNotes over time.
Once the Notebook is created you need to add some sections to the OneNote Notebook.
Your Notebook will load with one section called “New Section” and will be ready for you to get creative. Here are some of the Sections that my 2018-19 Planner OneNote contains, and some examples of how I use each one:
- Planner (obviously) – more on this section later.
- Starters – this section allows me to save my Powerpoints for starter questions for each class.
- Homework – this section is used for saving homework tasks and a record of homework completion
- Class Names – I have 6 Sections (one for each class) which contains information about the pupils in each class – ASN info, attainment info, Reports, Course plan to be followed for each class, seating plans, etc. You can probably think of lots of uses for these sections
- CLPL + Stuff – this section contains my CPD record for the year, including links to blogs/articles/websites that I would like to get round to reading(!) and can also include reflections. I also save any resources or notes taken during CPD courses. This bank of information on my CPD for the year (and over years if I look back through my other planners) makes it very easy to complete my PRD and to complete my Learning Log. I also use this section to keep note of passwords (in a coded way, obviously) and usernames for all of the different online platforms that we need to use.
- Equity In Numeracy – This section is used for saving my resources and evidence of progress in relation to my role as Principal Teacher Equity in Numeracy. It’s really helpful keeping everything in one place.
- EMIF 2018 – This section contains all the resources for Enterprising Mathematics in Fife 2018.
- Reading Group – I run a Professional Reading and Reflection Group in my school. This section allows me to keep track of the different chapters that I think should be included in future weeks, reflections on the reading and notes about our discussion. I also keep a note of the names of staff who reply to my monthly email saying they want to attend.
You might come up with other uses for OneNote – that’s what it’s all about.
Now that you have the sections you think you will need (and you can always add more as the year goes on) you need to build up the planner pages.
I copied an ordinary teacher’s planner to build the template of my planner pages. The basic page looks like this:
The squares next to the period numbers are tick boxes. Once I have planned that lesson I click on the box and that means I don’t need to worry about that lesson until I come to teach it.
I have a different template for the other days of the week, and include the class names. I keep the heading as “Mon ” or “Tues ” etc. Then, once I have a whole week with the class names in the right places, I copy the template for the whole week (5 pages) and paste it below the templates.
Then, I manually (it doesn’t take long!) type in the dates. So “Mon ” becomes “Mon 4th June” and so on. Spending a bit of time repeating these steps until the whole year has been built up doesn’t take too long. So far, I have not found a way to make this automatically happen. If anybody can, please share. Note that it is important to put the class names in first, before copying the pages (as this saves you having to type the class names in every day).
Having the whole year in the planner section at the beginning of the year means that if somebody suggests a meeting at the end of the day on the 29th of January, I can quickly check my planner and add it to the page. I guess I should be using the Outlook calendar better – something I will address in the future.
The Lesson Planned column is used for a quick description of the lesson. I have seen myself just type a few words (e.g. “Area of Triangle”) but have also used this cell to include examples of questions I want to ask, screenshots of resources I might use, web links to resources online, ideas for starter questions, reminders to follow up with pupils about behaviour or homework and so on. I also use this column to remind myself of the things I need to do during my non-contact periods, such as keeping myself organised for meetings or reminding myself that I really should make a start to my reports.
The Resource column is possibly the most useful one. OneNote is able to store any type of file in a drag and drop way. You can save a Powerpoint (or ANY file type) like this:
Using OneNote on a PC, if I open the Powerpoint from OneNote and make some changes to the file, then click save, it automatically saves the new version to the OneNote. This means I can plan at home and switch on my PC at work and my lesson is waiting there for me. This works for any type of file – if you have it saved to OneNote and open it then edit it then click on save it will update automatically. And it will be available on all of your devices. Really clever. (Note that this automatic saving feature doesn’t work in OneNote on a Mac. My way around this is to have a folder on my Desktop called “Move to OneNote” where I save the Powerpoint from OneNote, edit it, save it back to the Desktop then copy it back to OneNote. I really should use my Microsoft Surface more!
If you go to bit.ly/MathsOneNoteTeachers you will find, among other things, a template for a week that can easily be edited.
Happy to try to answer questions, or to support people getting started using OneNote. Feel free to get in touch, or to share how you are using OneNote to help you keep yourself organised. Get in touch on Twitter or in the comments.
A week and a bit on from #mathsconf16, here are some thoughts that have been buzzing around in my head. I’ve tried to keep my thoughts separated into the different sessions, but there is a bit of overlap – particularly between Session 1 and Session 2.
Keynote – Craig Barton – Reflect/Expect/Check
The main thing I took away from this was to be sure to include the awkward question types from as early as possible. The first time pupils see an equation with one of the sides equal to zero shouldn’t be at National 5. They should be solving x+3=0 and 0=5-x from as early on as possible. That way these types of questions don’t seem like tricky questions. Because, really, they aren’t.
Making pupils slow down their thinking and reflect on what the answer might be to the next question in a carefully chosen sequence of questions and then check what the answer is can create a cognitive shock. Sets of well written questions can be found at Craig’s website variationtheory.com and one of the examples Craig used was Solving Linear Equations: https://variationtheory.com/2018/03/26/equations-one-step-adding-and-subtracting/ I’ve been using the resources from variationtheory.com to plan some of my lessons for next term, and they are of excellent quality. Looking forward to seeing how it goes with my classes.
Session 1 – Gary Lamb – Maths, Maths and More Maths
Gary’s provocative statement was along the lines of “Every child should be able to get a pass at N5 maths by the end of S6”. I fully agree, but the reality in my school is that this does not happen. Perhaps because we haven’t got S1-S3 right yet. We have lots of work to do on our journey towards a mastery curriculum, and this is one of the areas I am focussing on this year. Progress with this has been slow, possibly because there is so much to do and because we are trying to adapt what we already do to fit a mastery approach. I think we need to do more learning about the principles of curriculum design for a mastery model and start a new BGE course from scratch rather than trying to make what we already have fit. What I think is missing is the rigorous formative assessment cycle that Chris McGrane talked about in Session 2. See below.
Another thing Gary said was that “low ability pupils should be able to answer 5 questions quickly as long as they are the right 5 questions”. This struck a chord with me, and has made me think about whether I have the ability level right for my S2 and S3 classes. Perhaps behaviour comes into it too. Also, the idea that 5 questions answered correctly is plenty – additional questions are redundant. I really like this idea, and it has made me realise that this is one way I can get time in my lessons for retrieval practice and behaving mathematically. I also liked the way Gary talked about starter questions. Maybe we don’t need them. Maybe we should use homework for testing pre-requisites and collect this in on a Monday, review it on the Monday night and teach Tuesday’s lessons knowing what we know from this valuable piece of diagnostic assessment. I really like this idea, but can see the increased demand on teacher workload. Perhaps just a short 4 questions diagnostic assessment would suffice – similar to Neil Tilston’s Low Stakes Assessments (see https://sway.office.com/obhJhSOzOLEBZKBI)
Session 2 – Chris McGrane – Smashing The Bell Curve
The 6 most dangerous words in education – “They seemed to get it OK”. How do you know when you have taught something? How do you know that learning has taken place? We need to be as rigorous as possible. Mastery is a rigorous formative assessment cycle. I really liked Chris’ passion for getting rid of the fluff from the BGE in S1-S3. They don’t need to be doing line symmetry and rotational symmetry. “Fair enough, it’s nice to do and the beauty of mathematics and all that but the reality is that they are failing N5 maths in S5. We just don’t have time for this stuff.” This is a brave statement to make, but it makes a lot of sense to me. We need to be filling our boots with equations, substitution, expressions, integers, fractions, co-ordinates and basic area (this list was taken from Chris’ 2017 slides) as these topics are relied heavily on in N5 maths in order to give them the best chance of making new learning at N5 stick. These third level topics are the foundation of future learning. We often try to build on shaky foundations – you can build a house on sand, but it’s not going to last very long.
A task is not a rich task unless it is used richly. Brilliant, and, for those who think about the types of tasks we get pupils to do, this is probably quite an obvious point.
Both Gary and Chris talked about “teaching between the desks”, and I liked how Chris mentioned that this can be a way to give correctives bespoke to each pupil. The feedback we give pupils during a lesson has the potential to be extremely powerful because we are able to induce cognitive conflict by providing the right feedback at the right time.
A final thought from this session was when Chris said that we can reduce the need for perseverance by improving the quality of instruction. This ties together nicely with what Gary said about low ability pupils being able to answer 5 questions quickly. If they have the right questions to do after appropriately chosen examples and instruction then the need for perseverance will reduce. There is obviously a very thin line between making it too easy and making it too difficult, and I guess we learn to make better decisions about the work we set by using formative and summative assessment information. Again, “mastery is a rigorous formative assessment cycle.”
Session 3 – Kris Boulton – How To Solve Linear Equations 100% Guaranteed
I wasn’t sold on this, and was a little disappointed. Maybe I need to re-visit it when Kris blogs about it. Maybe I built it up too much because of the Simultaneous Equations lessons that Kris blogged about previously and talked about on the Mr Barton Maths Podcast. I have used Kris’ method for teaching Simultaneous Equations and found it to be extremely effective. I can see what Kris was trying to do with this session, and liked the idea of overtisation and then covertisation.
I’m not sure if I agree with the need for this level of detail when introducing solving equations, especially when pupils want to just tell you the solution when the equations are simple. A huge focus of the session seemed to be about language, and I’m all for that. I think pupils can pick up the language when the balancing method is taught explicitly the way I normally would. Perhaps the atomisation of the topic doesn’t need to happen when pupils start algebra in S1. Maybe they should be taught about identities, equations, conditional equations and so on whilst learning to work with numbers and algebra from an earlier stage, and perhaps this was what Kris intended. I did like the idea of showing how to “break” an equation and how to “repair” an equation.
I’m also not sure how easy it will be to get all of maths education using the identity symbol rather than the equality symbol when working with an identity. It would be nice, though.
Session 4 – Michael Allan – Cognitive Load Theory
I’ve seen this guy before. It was excellent.
There is enough time in secondary school for pupils to begin S1 with a very low ability in mathematics and then end S6 passing N5. I believe this to be true. I think one of the ways to achieve this is to improve the quality of teaching in all lessons. Sounds simple enough.
My current job title is Principal Teacher – Equity in Numeracy and there’s part of my current approach to delivering equity in numeracy that I don’t think is very effective. Something we did last year and something we would like to do again this year is to focus on targeted groups of pupils and put interventions in place such as targeted study sessions. What I think will make a more important difference is improving the quality of teaching in all lessons.
The La Salle Education Maths Conferences are excellent. Definitely up there with the best subject specific CPD I’ve been to in my teaching career to date. I’d like to get to one of the conferences down south, since they seem a lot bigger and busier. The buzz in the room at the beginning of #mathsconf is very exciting – perhaps it is up to Scottish Maths Teachers to make the next Scottish mathsconf even bigger. I’m looking forward to it.