OneNote Classbook

September 17, 2016

My school activated Google Apps for Education last year, and it is quite useful. I will write a post about it soon. We also activated Office 365 this year, and I was quite excited about this because of the OneNote Classbook

As I am now the Director of ICT and have asked a group of teachers to experiment with using ICT in their classrooms, I thought I would also experiment with OneNote. So I picked my Year 9 Product Design class as my guinea pigs. I choose them mainly because they are in a rotation, so I only teach them for 7 weeks before getting a new class. Also they will be generating hand drawn ideas as well as photographs of models. 

Setting up the Classbook was easy. I just added the pupils in my class to the notebook. They were then sent an email from ‘sharepoint’ with a link to the Classbook. 

In the lesson I got them all to login to OneNote and gave them a tour of the Classbook. In particular how they copy pages from the content library into their own notebook. 

In the content library I had already created the pages I wanted them to use for the next few weeks. I discovered (after showing them how to copy into their own notebook) that I could distribute a page into the pupil notebooks.

I also populated the main notebook with the teaching resources I was going to use, as well as exemplars of previous pupils’ work.

After our first designing lesson, I asked the pupils to photograph their designs with their smartphone, email the pictures to themselves and upload the pictures to their notebook on a school computer. At the moment they can’t seem login to OneNote on their phone, hence the slightly complicated work around.

Here you can see a pupils work so far. On each page I have written a checklist for the pupils, which they can tick off as they complete it. To mark the work I opened the OneNote Classbook on my iPad Pro and annotated it with the pencil. It was easy, and remarkably fast, to mark all the pupil’s work.

I’ll find out on Monday (as that is when I next teach the class) what the pupils think!



Updates and New Beginnings

September 12, 2016

It’s been a while, in fact it’s been 2 years. A lot has happened in that time and I thought I would give a little update.

I all but stopped using my iPad to teach with in 2014-15, for a variety of reasons. But mainly because I prolapsed a disc in my back and had to have surgery to fix it. It kind of put life on hold for 9 months while I got it sorted out. But my love of technology hasn’t stopped, although it did take a while to get back into the swing of things. I am now using an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil (mainly due to my recent 1 year appointment as Head of ICT) to teach with.

My school started using Google Apps for Education last year, and I have been actively involved in training staff in different ways of using drive, docs and classroom. We also activated office 365 this year and I am starting to experiment with OneNote Classbook.

As my use of technology (in particular Apple products) has grown and changed so much, I thought I would have a go at restarting this blog to document the things I am doing now.  So watch this space……


iTunes U (again)

July 6, 2013

Although it has been in the iTunes U store for a few weeks, I wanted to share my revision course with you. I have mentioned this before (mainly here).

In order to get my iTunes U course into the iTunes U store, it had to become affiliated with my school. So the Head of ICT and I paired up and set about making our school have its own iTunes U presence. It is still early days (and we are hoping that some of the other teachers in my school will also create a course) but at least my revision course is now available to anyone.

Making the course was incredibly easy. However there were a few things I had to have in place to make it happen. You can only make a course in Safari (and not on iOS), so you either need to install Safari on a PC or use a Mac.

It helps to have an idea of what you want to include in your course, but you can always add to it later and it will automatically update in the iTunes U store (and with anyone who has subscribed to it).

It does need some more work, and this is something I am planning to do during the next academic year. But if you want to have a look at my course so far then you can subscribe (in iTunes U) here.


A Useful Little App

June 29, 2013

Please excuse the short post today, it’s the start of the summer holidays and I am very tired (and yet somehow have a very busy weekend).

A link to a design app appeared in my twitter feed this week. It is called Design Tools and is a very simple, yet effective, app.

It basically shows the sizes or values of digital and paper media (with a nice colour converter thrown in). This is quite a useful thing in my subject, especially when I am trying to look up the colour codes for my intranet pages.

It was very useful this week when I was making my business cards to hand out to new tutor parents (as the programme I was using didn’t have any templates).

A handy converter for resizing keynote slides to A4 paper (it’s how I make my handouts).

And the, previously mentioned, colour converter!

Simple, yet quite a useful little app.

Planning Ahead

June 22, 2013

As the end of term is rapidly approaching (we break up on Friday), I am thinking ahead to next academic year. I know my timetable already and one of my classes I will be sharing with a new teacher. This means that I have to make sure that this teacher knows what the class will be doing each lesson. Now normally I have my schemes of work (SOW) and I follow these, adapting to the needs of the individual class. But to make it easier for this teacher I am going to have to produce lesson plans for each of our lessons, especially as he is new to teaching my subject.

So I have been investigating lesson planning apps and thinking about how to make it easy to share these. None of my current mark book apps have easy lesson planning, so I needed a separate app.

After trawling through the App Store, I came along Teacher Plan Lite (there is also a paid for option with more functionality). It was one of the few apps that wasn’t USA centric (i.e. involving ‘common core’ which we don’t use in the UK).
The app is very simple to use, it provides a series of boxes that are partly filled in (although I tended to delete the current info). You fill out the boxes you need (they turn from grey to white after you fill them out, showing that they have been activated).

When you have finished writing your lesson plan you have a variety of export options.

But I was most interested in the calendar option, especially as in the calendar fields I had the option to invite someone to the event (perfect for sharing with my new teacher).

You can’t save the lesson plan you create, only export it, but the current lesson plan remains active until you overwrite the top field.

I also wanted to look at calendar apps, especially since my main calendar app has lots of events synced to it making it very cluttered. I tried out 2 different apps.

The first was Planner Plus, this was a free trial app with the option to pay £5.99 to get the full version (as it likes to remind you).

I quite liked the layout, similar to a paper planner. You have the option of day, month or year views. You can also choose which calendars you would like to view (and as I have 7 this was quite useful!).

The other app I tried was Week Agenda Ultimate, I really liked this app. The layout is very simple and clean. You can flip between the weeks (jumping ahead or back months or years by 2 or 3 finger swipes, it explains in the App Store notes). Once again I could choose which calandars I wanted to show.

With both apps, when I tapped on the event you could easily see the lesson plan contained within the notes.

I would still like to be able to colour code my classes, but I think that would involve yet another app which seems excessive!


June 1, 2013

For most schools this week has been half term. However in my school it’s exams week. So no lessons, just end of year exams for the Year 9s and 10s. This means that when I’m not invigilating I get to spend some time sorting things out.

One of the big things on my list for this year is to revamp the displays in our classrooms. Some of the things in there are from 1995! Although I have just realised that this must be an annual thing for me, because this time last year I posted about using QR codes in my new corridor display.

We have lots of notice boards, most of them are high up, or awkward shapes. Due to the nature of my subject, I don’t have much in the way of displayable pupil paperwork and photos of finished products don’t go very far. So I am trying to make some posters with interesting information for the pupils.

The first area I am tackling is the laser cutter room. My pupils love using the laser cutter and they frequently book a session to use it during lunch, in fact it is our busiest machine. So I thought I would start with a flowchart explaining how to check you have permission to use it.

I am using an app called Grafio, which is a nice easy way to make posters. There is also a ‘lite’ version,so you can try it out before paying for the main app.

Here is my laser cutter flowchart so far:

It’s made using the shapes provided within Grafio.

I was impressed with how easy it was to use, all the tools you need pop up when you tap on them. I think with a bit more time (I only spent about 15mins on the flowchart) I could make something more impressive.

Some Organisation

May 4, 2013

My Year 11s are about to go on study leave, which means 3 things. First, I've prepared them as much as I can, provided them with resources (both in paper form and on the intranet), its now up to them to revise in which ever way they prefer. Second, invigilation season is soon going to be here (I find invigilating incredibly tedious, but it needs to be done). Third, I don't have scheduled lessons with my year 11s any more (which gives me some 'free' time), so I can start planning for next year.

Because my subject is very project based (after all, the best to learn how a mortise and tenon joint works is to make one), I spend most of my summer term (and start of the holidays) perfecting the projects I want to run the following year.

This involves lots of planning, making one (to see if it is pupil friendly), costing the materials used, writing schemes of work and making all the resources to go with the project. Each year I try and update at least one year group project. Last year it was my Year 9 project, in which we make an MP3 speaker. That is now working well, so it can stay the same for next year.

This was my example project from last year

So this year it is the turn of my Year 10s. We spend most of Year 10 doing mini making projects, as most of them have not really used the machines in the workshop. So I want to introduce a mainly metal working project.

I am currently in the planning stage, scribbling down various ideas on whatever is to hand. On my iPad I have quite a few notebook apps (I download them when they are free, I really should have a purge at some point).


My favourite one is Penultimate. This notebook is really good, partly becuase it works really well with my stylus (the Adonit Jot Pro) and also because it syncs with Evernote.

These are my current scribblings in Penultimate.

I am not a dedicated Evernote user, I don't sync every single note I make to it. But in this case it is useful, I can note down my ideas, and because it syncs to Evernote I can then show other people on my iPhone or their desktop computer via the Evernote website. Very useful when you want to get people's comments on the current thinking.


I've started making the first prototype of next years project, I'll let you know how it goes!


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