At the end of each school year you may be moving from one establishment to another, or from one local authority in Scotland to another. You’ll want to be aware of how your move may change your access to your Glow account and actions you’ll need to take before the move.
The following guides may be helpful in taking the steps needed to ensure you keep access to what you need or everything moves as you wish!
Are you moving to a different local authority after the summer? Did you know you will lose your current Glow account; worksheets, training notes & other resources? Learn how you can handover Teams, blogs & outlook groups to colleagues & prevent loss. #MIEExpert@NAC_Educationpic.twitter.com/mL41xe9Fwj
In the Wakelet collection below, I share the benefits of embedding media directly into OneNote to simplify workflow and bring content to life.
Click on the image below to access the collection
I am an Additional Support Needs teacher at Lanark Grammar School. I am also an MIE Fellow for Scotland, MIE Expert, Master Trainer and MCE (Microsoft Certified Educator). I am also a Flipgrid Student Voice Ambassador and Grid Guide and a Wakelet Ambassador and Community Leader.
I was awarded MIE Expert of the Year for Scotland 2019-20 and I also won a global competition ran by Flipgrid to attend E2 Education Exchange in Sydney, Australia.
OneNote is one part of Microsoft Office 365 suite of digital tools available to all Glow users, which includes Microsoft Teams. If you have a class Team in Microsoft Teams then you will automatically have a OneNote Class Notebook as part of this.
Here’s links to short videos showing you how to get OneNote on your mobile device, whether Android or iOS (iPhone or iPad).
When you are signing into these for the first time on a mobile device then use your Glow email address – this is your Glow username followed by @glow.sch.uk
Every online platform hiccups from time to time: you might get error messages, things don’t update, you can’t upload files, you can’t share what you need to share – and you can probably add to that list!
And, of course, it happens when you are trying to do umpteen different things.
Take a breath….and don’t panic – it really can happen when you are using any online tool, to anybody, anywhere. So don’t rush to change platform or switch tool. There are a few steps to try to see what you can do, and sometimes it’s doing things a slightly different way.
What steps to try if your class is using Microsoft Teams
At times of network pinch and uploading files into the shared files area is causing an issue then try the following:
In the browser in Teams click on the ellipsis (3 dots) at top right and choose “Open in Sharepoint” to show the folders/files for the files area of Teams
If you are using Teams on an Internet browser on a laptop or computer then instead try using the Teams app on a mobile device
Instead of sharing in the Files area of Teams, if there is difficulty uploading, the instead share via conversations/posts in Teams (everyone in the Team will see anything posted here so may not be appropriate for sharing to individuals or for pupils sharing to their teacher)
Use assignment feature to share a task and/or resources to a class (and if using the assignment tool via a browser, but find network issues is giving issue on a computer or laptop, then try instead on mobile device app rather than browser)
Consider creating a quiz/assessment using Microsoft Teams and sharing the link to that either in the conversations/posts in Teams or using the assignments feature to share to the class – this is just a link so isn’t an upload so should share pretty quickly and easily. And, as the teacher, you can set the questions so they self-correct (if multiple choice question type) so that pupils get immediate feedback, and you also get all responses in one easy to access location within Forms. Pupils also get the benefit of Immersive Reader built into Forms which will read aloud questions
Use Outlook Email within Glow (you can find the Glow email address of a Team member by clicking on the ellipsis (three dots) to the right of the team name > Manage Team > click on name to see email address.
If you’re using the online version of OneNote, but finding an issue with content not appearing, then go to either the desktop version for computer/laptop (if you have not already got this installed then Glow users just remember to sign in first time with your Glow email address) which can be used offline with no Internet connection and will sync when there is a renewed connection.
Alternatively, if you have a mobile device (smartphone or tablet), then use the OneNote mobile app – it too will work offline to access content which has already been synced or to create material which will sync when you have a connection. On the mobile app to push a sync to happen click on a page and pull down from the top of a page, or go to the top right and click on “Sync Now”
Click on the link below for a support guide from Microsoft for advice and tips if you ever experience syncing issues with OneNote – and there’s advice here regardless of which device you are using and whether app or browser.
If you are finding that the Word document online is not opening at times of network strain then click on the top-right button to edit and choose either to open in desktop or open in a new tab from the document files area in Teams. Or download the Word app (or Microsoft Office Mobile app) on your mobile device and open from there.
For more helpful advice click on the link below for the device platform-specific advice for syncing files:
So what is OneNote Class Notebook inside Microsoft Teams?
OneNote Class Notebook is built into Microsoft Teams. OneNote Class Notebook is like a digital ring-binder with cardboard colour dividers, and within each section you can have as many pages as you like. Each page is a freeform page which can be any size you wish, and become like your classroom whiteboard, where you can add a very wide range of content (including images, audio, video, documents, presentations, embedded Sway presentations, embedded Forms, and you can freehand draw or write just as you would on your classroom whiteboard. It all saves automatically and is accessible on any device so you can move from working on your smartphone on the OneNote app to working in the browser on a laptop (and other devices).
A OneNote Note Class Notebook already comes with the permissions for your pupils to access and collaborate on anything in the collaboration space, so you’ve no setting or permissions to worry about if you wish a group of pupils to work on something together, just create the page and tell them who’s working on it. In addition to these collaboration spaces a OneNote Class Notebook also has a section which the pupils can see, but on which only the teacher can add or edit content – handy for sharing what you might have shared on your classroom whiteboard. This is called the library space. There is also a teacher-only section which can be enabled (so you can create content ahead of time and move into the library when you wish pupils to make use of it. And the OneNote Class Notebook within Microsoft Teams also has individual sections for each pupil – which only you as teacher can see and that individual pupil (other pupils can’t see anyone else’s sections).
And if that wasn’t enough, OneNote Class Notebook built into a Microsoft Teams class also has Immersive Reader Learning Tools built in providing accessibility options for all learners.
If you’re new to using Microsoft OneNote Class Notebook then here’s an in-depth overview introduction by Susan Sey and Jen Mackay to OneNote in Glow. This covers a OneNote Notebook created by an individual, as well as OneNote Class Notebook, and includes a OneNote Class Notebook which is integrated in a Microsoft Teams class. It’s an incredibly versatile digital tool so can be as simple as you wish – you don’t need to use everything just because it’s there. But this overview will give you a flavour of what’s possible so you can decide what will best be useful for your learners.
We're excited to bring you this 'How To' video series on @MicrosoftTeams, if you're using it for remote teaching.
Let's start with building a content centre with Class Notebook.
As with all schools in Scotland, Kyle Academy closed our doors on Friday 20th March with very little warning, and quite literally, no time to prepare. The final week was spent ensuring that those who were still able to attend school, had a note of their Glow login details and knew how to access Microsoft Teams.
For some staff, they had already been using Teams with a handful of classes, but for most, they hadn’t logged into Glow for a very long time! This was going to be a challenge!
As the ‘Digital Champion’ in school, and the only MIE Expert, I knew it was time to step up and offer support to the school community. This has been a huge task, but I feel very proud of where we are now!
One of my first tasks was to establish a Staff Team for Digital Support rather than sending out yet another email. This has proved invaluable as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for colleagues. A place to find out more information, ask for help, highlight problems and share examples of good practice.
Thinking of the wider school community, one of the main tasks early on was to provide additional support to students and parents who were new to Microsoft Teams. To help with this, I put together a couple of guides which were shared by parental email and twitter.
Regular use of Microsoft Teams was already embedded in my own classroom practice and colleagues in the department were supportive. It’s often difficult to deviate from traditional teaching methods in Maths, but it is possible as long as the tasks are both relevant and accessible. Despite working in a department where you are the only one below the age of 50, who says you can’t teach old dogs new tricks? Huge respect for Donna, Sue, Joyce, Karen and Sharon and very proud of what they have achieved this term. Well done!
Setting up Teams
Teams were setup for all our students, but classes working on the same level were added to one Team. This reduced the need for duplicating tasks and lessons. All our Teams were setup with a consistent use of channels. We wanted to make it as easy as possible to navigate, particularly in the junior school where pupils may be a member of 15 subject Teams.
Here is an example of our S2 Maths Team comprising 4 classes of 33 students each.
General – Where weekly tasks are set alongside important announcements and all assignments. Only staff could post in this channel which prevented instructions getting lost.
Online Classroom – Where the live lessons are delivered for all students in the Team, each Monday.
Ask (Mr Wallace) – For students to collaborate with their own teacher and peers. Teachers would ask students to post a photo of their work if they needed help then provide feedback. We held smaller live tutorial classes in our own channel.
Technical Difficulties – To ask a technical question or report a fault with ICT.
Weekend Challenge – A bit of fun for our S2 students!
We had a similar picture for Higher Maths, with 3 classes added to the Team.
General – Worksheets and core tasks are posted on a Monday and a Tuesday, immediately after each live lesson. We also post assignments on a Wednesday, due for the Friday. All solutions are also provided in a sway in this channel.
Online Classroom – Where the live lessons are delivered for all students in the Team.
Ask (Mr Wallace) – For students to collaborate with their own teacher and peers. Teachers would ask students to post a photo of their work if they needed help then provide feedback. We held smaller live tutorial classes in our own channel.
Extension Tasks – To distinguish between the core tasks and extra material for students who would like to deepen their understanding with more exam level questions.
We received very positive feedback from students early on, advising us that Maths was one of the easiest Teams to navigate. I then continued to liaise with departments to review their own Teams and adapt a similar format for consistency across the school. Where staff adopted this, the results were very positive and students appreciated it.
Setting Weekly Tasks
For most classes, we found that Sway offered an excellent tool to provide easy access to short video clips, worksheets and extracts from textbook resources. Sway does most of the work for you in terms of presentation, you just need to concentrate on collating the content! The Sway was setup with tasks for the week, presented in small manageable chunks. Given the nature of the content, we agreed that we would then share a link to the Team using the option for ‘anyone with a link’ to view. This also allowed us to email the link directly to parents of students who were not engaging in the Team.
Solutions were included for students to self-mark, and there was no requirement to send through evidence of all their working. We felt it would be very time consuming to provide feedback on all tasks but students were always encouraged to get in touch or post a photo should they need help.
From the second week in lockdown, I started to experiment with a variety of video conferencing tools but wholeheartedly supported the use of Teams Meeting despite the lack of incoming video from a student account. For those reading outside Scotland, Glow have currently disabled incoming video from students.
In the department, we all felt that the nature of Maths lends itself much better to live delivery than pre-recorded PowerPoints. This format still provides the opportunity to adapt our lesson, just like what we would do in the classroom. We were able to put students on mute and deliver our lesson by sharing our screen and making use of OneNote and the Microsoft Whiteboard apps. Students always have the opportunity to raise a hand in agreement, or unmute if they wanted to ask a question. In the end, most students preferred to ask their questions in the chat area which we would monitor during the course of the lesson. We all found it was beneficial to have two screens when delivering a lesson. The main screen would allow for digital inking and the second to keep an eye on the hands and chat.
To deliver successful lessons to my Higher class, I found the Class Notebook open in OneNote for Windows 10 just fantastic, especially when paired with my own Microsoft Surface Pro. Luckily my colleagues managed to get their hands on the smaller Surface Go which had coincidentally been bought for the PE department in school, complete with keyboard and pen! The Class Notebook was setup from a template of notes which I’d collated a number of years ago when I first started to teach the course. Each lesson was easy to navigate in the Content Library by topic section, then lesson. Each lesson was numbered in successive order and carefully matched to suit my worksheets which were set as tasks in the Team. Whilst each lesson had already been typed up, digital ink allowed me to add annotation, highlights, sketches and refer to a marking scheme. It really was magical! Whilst I always used the OneNote for Windows 10 app, there was never a problem with sync back to the Class Notebook in Teams.
Here are a couple of screenshots of my lessons in the Class Notebook:
In addition to the Content Library, latterly we started to use each pupils personal area in the Notebook. Ideally we would have liked students to post photos of there work directly into their own Homework section, but without adequate training, I asked them to submit photos of their work as an assignment in Teams.
To help manage our workload and assess student progress, each week we would set one formal assignment which would be reviewed by the teacher. Usually this was a short auto-marking Quiz using Microsoft Forms in the format of multiple choice or short response. Students would receive instant feedback since we had pre-populated a summary message per question which would display after submission. This then meant we only needed to input a more general comment when reviewing responses.
Latterly, we tasked students with completing a few Maths problems and asked them to submit as a File Upload. This was ok, but I wanted to add annotation so I copied their photo submissions into their private section in the Class Notebook and used digital ink to leave feedback. This would have been perfect if students were able to submit their photos directly into their OneNote, but I know this will need further training once we are back in school.
Overall, we have been delighted with the levels of engagement in Maths during lockdown, particularly in senior certificated classes. This is testament to the hard work and support from a committed group of staff, not just in our department, but across the school. By setting clear instructions, short tasks and regular live lessons, we led from the front to establish a new routine with our students. Pupils appreciated this. Ok, we can’t get them all to engage, but that will always be part of the challenge.
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
These are my notes taken as I followed the learning path, including the reflection questions and my responses.
I’d pretty much decided to use OneNote path next year. My Previous problems lead me to depend on AirDrop, Apple Classroom & Apple Notes in my 1-2-1 iPad classroom. Local was certainly more reliable but lockdown made me think again. Nick Hood, @cullaloe‘s extensive post give me third thoughts.
I am Rosslyn Lee and I am the Digital Skills Coordinator for North Ayrshire Education. Part of my job is to support staff and pupils in our schools with all aspects of digital learning and teaching. I became a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert in 2017 as I recognised the value to my professional learning as well as my training role. Completing courses on the MEC is a great way of keeping up to date with O365 developments as well as providing me with opportunities for professional learning, not available elsewhere.
The North Ayrshire Music Service consisting of 23 peripatetic instructors has been and continues to be very successful in delivering music instruction across the authority. North Ayrshire young musicians regularly achieve great success at the Ayrshire Music Festival as soloists and ensembles. There are two authority ensembles who take part in the annual National Concert Band Festival, again achieving success within Scotland as well as at the national finals.
The Music Service has used a phone app for several years to distribute information to pupils and all staff have their own laptop to digitally record pupil achievements. Microsoft Office365 through Glow is the platform that the Music Service utilise. Use has also been made of a staff Sharepoint site for a number of years. This is maintained by the Music Service Admin Officer. However, the current COVID-19 crisis has had a huge impact on the delivery of their service.
As a forward-thinking service, Ronan Watson, the Music Service Manager started to look at how instruction could be delivered remotely. I worked with Ronan to help develop their use of Microsoft Teams, a blog, a Sharepoint site and a You Tube Channel. Two of our instructors recently achieved Certified MIE status as they see the value in this type of professional learning which will help support their work now and in the future.
MUSIC SERVICE BLOG
The blog is public facing and serves to provide information about the Music Service to parents.
The Sharepoint site was set up to give primary pupils access to resources and to allow staff to communicate with them about their tasks. The site contains a document library for each school with folders for each instructor who works with that school. These folders contain uploads of music, links to the Music Service videos on You Tube and soundtracks as well as records of work for pupils in the school.
YOU TUBE CHANNEL
The You Tube Channel was set up as unlisted to allow the instructors to upload videos of themselves demonstrating instrumental techniques to pupils. As neither Stream or video conferencing with pupils is possible using Teams in Glow, a solution was required to provide some visual instruction and it was felt that You Tube was the easiest option to share these videos.
Several months before lockdown, I was asked to look at Vscene, video conferencing software from Ajenta, as a way of delivering Advanced Higher subjects and also to facilitate lessons to Arran High School, our island school who have challenges around staffing as well as access for staff. Indeed, in January this year the ferry service was severely disrupted for most of the month. Vscene seemed to be an ideal solution for us.
Due to COVID-19, I decided to trial Vscene with the Music Service and they are piloting it until the end of June to assess its suitability. It is highly likely that music tuition will continue to be delivered virtually to pupils, whether in school or at home, for some time yet as schools attempt to keep numbers in their buildings to a minimum to comply with social distancing rules.
A few of the staff also use Teams to communicate with pupils. Here pupils can find files of music they require as well as upload their own practise audio files.
One of the instructors, Fiona Ramsay, has created three Teams for her clusters and communicates with her pupils by posting announcements regularly. None of her pupils had ever used Teams before lockdown and it has taken time to persuade some of them to engage, however she is making progress and they are now posting questions as well as uploading their work.
Fiona also makes up Microsoft Form quizzes for the pupils and has a channel to support pupils using Teams. The ‘Ask Mrs Ramsay’ channel avoids the general channel from becoming cluttered.
Feeling that pupils were becoming more comfortable with Teams, Fiona recently started to use OneNote. Pupils sections include their Practise Diary where they can upload their audio files and receive feedback privately.
Remotely delivering a practical subject like music has its challenges. However, the North Ayrshire Music Service has risen to these challenges and is striving to maintain its delivery of music lessons to pupils to as high a standard as possible. These methods will never permanently replace face to face tuition but serve to deliver music instruction to our pupils in the best way possible, given the current circumstances.
Hello, I am a Computing Science teacher at Falkirk High school, this post is about my experience of moving to remote learning and my journey through it until the summer break. I have been an MIEExpert for 3 years and gained MIE Trainer status during this period of remote learning.
Before moving to remote learning Microsoft Teams was used by a small number of teachers across our school. I lead the schools eLearning staff working group and had been providing training to these colleagues on using the main features of Glow (Teams, OneNote Notebook, Forms, Sway, O365 and Immersive Reader) that we thought would be most useful in our setting. We had planned to roll this training out across the entire school this year with eLearning staff and our pupil Digital Leaders supporting and leading the way. This did happen, just not how we had planned.
In the two weeks prior to starting remote learning I provided training sessions to staff on the basics of using Glow and Teams so that all staff had a grounding on it and could use this whilst working from home. I also synced all Glow pupil groups within our school to enable staff to quickly create the teaching groups and teams they needed. All Staff rose to the challenge and engaged with digital learning tools in a way that I have never seen before in my 20 year teaching career. I remember one of the last things I said to my Head Teacher was that “My silver lining out of all of this will be the staff engagement with Digital Tools and Technology for learning.” My view has slightly changed on that front – I’ll explain later.
I have been using class OneNote Notebook for a number of years and then Teams when it launched in Glow with most of my classes. I had used O365, Immersive Reader, Forms and Sway before but not extensively. Additionally, some of the tools I’m using now I had never heard of before remote learning.
When setting up my Teams I wanted to make things as easy as possible for pupils to locate work and navigate their virtual learning space. With this in mind, the first assignment I set all of my pupils was a ThingLink on Navigating our Team. This gave them pictures of their Team with links to explain each part so that they could gain an understanding of how our virtual classroom was laid out and would operate. ThingLink was a digital tool that I had not heard of prior to remote learning but is one I will definitely continue to use. I had great feedback both from pupils and staff on it and great engagement from both when using it with them.
All of my Teams have been set up the same way. I have added different channels to hopefully indicate what each one is being used for rather than all communications being in the one General channel. It can otherwise quickly become clogged up making it difficult to locate work, etc. I also set my General channel for staff only commenting as this is where I post Assignments and Announcements to. This should mean that it is easy for pupils to see the weekly work and important announcements.
I am using Assignments to issue weekly work to all pupils. This means that each child gets their own editable document (Word, notebook page, spreadsheet, PowerPoint, etc.) that they can work on, complete and submit for marking and individual feedback. Pupils can clearly see what assignments they have outstanding and completed. Using the Grades tab they can also see their progress and scores for all submitted tasks. All of my Teams have a OneNote Class Notebook which gives each child a space to work.
My organisation and layout of my notebooks has developed through remote learning. I now have clear Success Criteria, Tasks and Exit Passes to help the children see exactly what they need to do for each lesson and for me to gain feedback about how they felt about that lesson.
I have been teaching programming to my new S4 class. We started this when we “Moved On Learning”. At our school we code in Python and normally use our desktop PCs or Laptops in the lab, however, not all of my pupils have these devices at home. Some are using a tablet or their phone to complete work. Some have opted to download Python onto a device while others are using PythonAnywhere which is all done online. The actual Python coding is identical in both environments but the platforms themselves are quite different, therefore, I have have been recording myself doing the tutorial tasks in both platforms and embedding these into a Sway each week. The pupils then watch the tutorial for the platform they are using.
I was delighted when pupils were attaching their programs to their assignments when it showed me the code in the assignment window. I did not expect to see the code within the Teams assignment. This meant that I could view their code, mentally run through it to check that it would work but it also made discussing their code easier. Because I could see the code line numbers it made our discussions easier because I could state the line number in which they needed to revise. There were occasions where it was necessary to “show” pupils what I meant as communicating via keyboard was not always easy and I have started using Trinket for this type of thing. I can create Python code in Trinket and share it via a link with pupils to edit and experiment with which has helped them to see the differences between their code and mine. Trinket is another digital tool that I was unaware of prior to remote learning but will definitely continue to use.
I have also been using Forms to create surveys and quizzes. Sometimes I have set these as the weekly work tasks on their own but also embedded these into Sways and OneNote Notebook pages depending on the task. This has allowed me to combine a variety of resources (theory, pictures, video and quiz) enabling all of the elements of that task to be in the same document making it easier for pupils to complete the work set for them.
I have had positive feedback from pupils when issuing praise stickers for completing work, being kind or helpful to others in the team and have received praise from pupils myself. Which I must admit nearly made me cry. It was really nice to get this from pupils as it let me know that everything I had been doing was working, helping and appreciated.
Other Digital Tools that I have been using to support teaching and learning during this time are Wakelet, Flipgrid and Canva. I had been using Wakelet this year with my Higher Computing class. We had been adding online resources to it as we came across them building up a bank of revision materials as the course progressed. During remote learning I have been using it as a central point for storing staff training “How To” videos that I have produced. I have added the Wakelet as a tab in our whole staff team so that everyone can access it easily. As part of the staff CPD Training that I offered I created a Wakelet on making a virtual emoji classroom and shared it with staff to help them to create their own virtual classrooms. I have used Flipgrid to record ‘shorts’ (videos of less than 10 minutes) and shared these with pupils in my Teams. These short videos have normally been instructions on how to do something or a welcome to our team message from me. I have not used this app with pupils recording their own videos but this is something that I would like to be able to use in the future. I stumbled upon Canva during an online CPD session that I was taking part in during remote working. Canva is a design app that allows you to quickly design and create great looking publications either working from templates or from your imagination. I have used it to create certificates of appreciation for my pupil Digital Leaders, pupils submitting work, infographics, a twitter header image and various Teams announcement banners. All of your creations can be animated, downloaded as pdf, image or video and shared with a link directly into my Teams, etc.
My other roll during remote working has been training and supporting staff within my school with Glow, Teams, using Assignments, O365, ThingLink, Forms, Sway, Voice Overs in PowerPoint and OneNote Notebook. This has been great fun and very rewarding with staff sharing their successes and creations with me. Again reinforcing my original ‘silver lining’ from lockdown. However, I did say earlier that my view of that has slightly changed and it has – I’ve been so impressed by our pupils; taking part, sharing, asking questions and trying things out, however, in equal measure also by their parents and folks at home, supporting them (and me). I have received some lovely messages from them which has been greatly appreciated.
I have also achieved MIE Trainer status during remote learning. I had completed my own training for this way back in 2018 but had never tracked the training and support I had been providing to staff until now. Something else from remote learning that I will continue to do.
My silver lining now – the way in which pupils, parents and teachers have collectively engaged with Digital Tools and Technology for learning.
The transition to remote, and now blended learning, has been incredibly challenging for students and educators alike but it has especially difficult for those with additional support needs. Many have co-occurring difficulties and rely heavily on a variety of support mechanisms in the classroom. So the key question is how do you maintain this level of support when the classroom the student and educator are in is no longer the same four walls? How do you create the inclusive classroom when the physical classroom is no longer there?
Thankfully, Microsoft’s Learning Tools are available to all educators and staff with M365 levelling the playing field and ensuring that every student can share their voice and become successful learners. The best aspect of all is that the tools are completely integrated into Microsoft tools such as Microsoft Teams, OneNote and Flipgrid. No extensions or additional cumbersome steps to install an add-in are required to access the tools. The tools are there by default and that is key for creating any inclusive classroom: accessibility by default.
When I am creating my classroom, inclusion is always the first aspect I consider. It is so important to ensure that we intentionally include otherwise we are always destined to unintentionally exclude. I am now going take you into the strategies I employ to develop the inclusive classroom and I have broken it down into four key areas: reading, writing, maths and communication.
Microsoft’s Immersive Reader has completely transformed my classroom and, I am not exaggerating when I say that it has been life-changing for many of the students I work with.
I had used various Text to Speech software applications in the past with limited success. They did the job but were clunky and often prone to crash. Worst of all they were just another thing to worry about. As soon as I pressed the Immersive Reader logo on OneNote for the first time I was hooked (I always feel like a little bit of sparkle dust should appear when I click). I could n’t quite believe the options available to my students. Page colours could be instantaneously changed (no more need for coloured overlays; the students kept losing them anyway), line focus meant that my students could remove distractions and focus on one, three or five lines at time (no more reading rulers; again they just lost them). Picture dictionary available to show an image of a word to support comprehension, using Boardmaker symbols that I had used for years without the need to print out, cut out, laminate, lose them and repeat again and again.
Last time I checked, Immersive Reader can translate text into 63 different languages and that list continues to grow and grow. I have now interested Immersive Reader to every student I work with for the past three years since I discovered it (and every colleague too).
With the transition to remote learning, many students are now getting bombarded with so much more text to read than ever before. Every assignment can be full of text instructions, PDF and Word attachments also full of text, links to websites again with screeds of text and so on. It’s not surprising that many students are not engaging with online activities.
By introducing Immersive Reader to all my students (and colleagues) in school prior to lockdown, I’ve also empowered them to develop the skills needed to access any form of text. Microsoft Teams is the hub we use to communicate and share and Immersive Reader is there in every line of text for anyone to access with just 2 clicks (click three dots and click Immersive Reader). Immersive Reader is not just exclusive to Microsoft tools but can be found across a whole host of third party applications such as Wakelet, ThingLink and Buncee.
Going back to my earlier point about bombarding students with a whole host of materials, Wakelet is a fantastic app to consider using to mitigate this. All of your resources can be housed in one Wakelet collection, with a clear sequence for students to follow and can be shared in one single URL or QR code. Best of all, Immersive Reader is integrated and accessed at the click of a button (the Immersive Reader logo in this case).
If you have never seen it in action before, prepare to be blown away here:
What about if the text is on paper you ask? Fret not, because combining the magic of OneNote and Office Lens, you could be using the power Immersive Reader within 90 seconds. Don’t believe me, check it out below for yourself.
Also integrated into almost all Microsoft tools (apart from Microsoft Teams which I will come to in a minute) is Dictate. I have tried various computer dictation programs over the years but they required both a studio quality microphone and a heck of amount of patience to train it to actually recognise a coherent sentence. Dictate is already there, integrated into OneNote and works on any Windows, Mac or Chromebook device, and it is incredibly accurate . It can even understand my Glaswegian accent! The only downside is that Microsoft Teams does not have Dictate built in (seems strange to me that the instant messaging app does not have the ability to instantly message). You can get around it by taking advantage of the device’s in-built dictation tool (Window Key + H for Windows devices if you are wondering).
Students can now access support for reading and writing at any time, in any place, with any device and, more importantly, without asking. This has now become even more important because of Covid-19, as in many cases, there is often no one there to ask. By introducing and training students to make the most of these integrated tools, we have inadvertently equipped for a situation that we could never have predicted.
Many students have real anxiety about undertaking maths work and I can’t say I blame them – maths was never my strong point. Even drawing a straight line with a ruler I can find challenging. The digital inking tools in OneNote are a complete gamechanger in this regard. You can use the digital ruler to get a perfect straight line (even tells you the exact angle!). The page can turned into a maths jotter by the square grid option and the individual squares can be made as large as like. For someone like me with writing difficulties such as dysgraphia, this makes such difference (when I was at school, I could never fit the numbers in the boxes in the maths notebooks the teachers gave me!)
Even if you can’t access the digital inking tools, OneNote can solve typed equations for you, break down the steps and you can also create Forms quizzes of the back of one equation for your students to practice with. The questions have, of course, Immersive Reader ready to leap into action.
Establishing and maintaining communication can be the most challenging aspect of creating a remote inclusive classroom. A number of local authorities have initially prevented live teaching to take place and even fort those that have allowed it, educators are prevented from seeing their students in Microsoft Teams as the camera is disabled for them. That’s before you consider the fact that many students will not have the opportunity to connect live for a whole host of reasons. For this reason, and a whole host of other reasons, I have turned to the video discussion tool, Flipgrid for asynchronous communication.
Flipgrid is an incredible app that I love for two simple reasons:
1. It is inclusive and accessible to all!
2. You can use it for absolutely anything – “If you can think it, you can Flipgrid it!”
I will use a whole other blog to share with you with how Flipgrid is the perfect tool to amplify voice asynchronously in the remote classroom. Let’s just say, that Flipgrid allows both educators and students to share their voice in the way most suitable to them. Both teachers and pupils can use the camera to share their video asynchronously by recording short videos (up to 10 minutes) but if they (or you for that matter) don’t want to appear in the camera, they don’t have to. They can use videos of objects, photos, sketches on the whiteboard/blackboard canvas, emojis over their face, text…the list could go on and on.
I have been specifically using Flipgrid in two ways during lockdown: to create short videos to explain the instructions in the assignment and creating short videos to share spelling rules and show how to decode words and blend sounds. This they can’t get from a PDF worksheet!
Anytime I want to record a video for my students (whether it is a Face to camera video or a screen recording), I immediately jump onto Flipgrid. Accessibility is definitely there by definitely there by as not only is Immersive Reader integrated for use with any text, Flipgrid will automatically generate captions which you can also edit (so important when you are sharing videos and you have a thick Scottish accent like myself!).
Developing communication skills during remote learning does not just mean having face to face interaction with their teacher but the opportunity to connect with their peers as well. Microsoft Teams provides the perfect platform for this. I have specifically created a team for my Tutor group for this purpose, the opportunity for students to chat and connect with their friends in a safe space. I even throw in a fun Kahoot Quiz every Friday and there is great chat on the team before and after (even the classroom assistants get involved). It can get quite competitive!
Building self-esteem in all students is important but especially those with additional support needs such as Autism Spectrum Condition. Finding ways to do this during such difficult times can be tricky but one thing I have found that the students have responded to is the use of Praise stickers in Microsoft Teams. When students have completed work to a high standard, I always ensure I pick out a praise sticker, whether it be the awesome one or the achiever one or the courage one, and share it with my students. I’ve had some lovely messages from parents who have been so appreciative of me doing this.
I would just like to end by saying that this does not mean every one of my students have engaged with remote learning and achieving their full potential. Several have not shown any sign of accessing the materials at all. I have just had to accept that there are many factors that ae out with my control e.g. access to devices, connectivity, support from home, motivation etc. What I have tried to ensure is that I fully consider everything that is within my control to ensure that my materials and lessons are inclusive and accessible to all. After all, if we don’t strive to intentionally include we are always destined to unintentionally exclude!
I am an Additional Support Needs teacher at Lanark Grammar School. I am also an MIE Expert, Master Trainer and MCE (Microsoft Certified Educator). I am also a Flipgrid Student Voice Ambassador and Grid Guide and a Wakelet Ambassador. I was awarded MIE Expert of the Year for Scotland 2019-20 and I also won a global competition ran by Flipgrid to attend E2 Education Exchange in Sydney, Australia.