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!


Challenge Based Learning

January 25, 2014

This week I spent a lovely day at the Apple Education Summit in London. Whilst there were many things in the event that I felt I already know, there were several things that certainly made me think.

Delegates were allocated 2 workshops with demonstrations of how Apple technology is being used in schools. These demonstrations were given by pupils and teachers. I was fortunate to allocated a session with Bohunt School. After an introduction from the teacher, the pupils took us through a science lesson. This wasn’t a normal ‘chalk and talk’ lesson, instead it was based on a ‘challenge based learning‘ approach.

I had heard of challenge based learning before, but wasn’t really sure how it would work. Or more importantly how it could work in my subject.

Although I am still at the start of my investigation into challenge based learning, the basics are as follows:

  • You set an overarching challenge to the pupils (in the session it was that a disease had spread through Scunthorpe, but people were dying before the medication could cure them, we had to find a way to double the rate of reaction).
  • You give the pupils some guided learning (for example how to use equipment to measure the rate of reaction and how to run an experiment)
  • You then let the pupils devise their own way of solving the challenge (for example devising experiments with different catalysts to see if they can reduce the rate of reaction).
  • You give the pupils some guidance in how to document their work (using a range of tools, ie written work, video, ‘explain everything‘ etc.)

What I liked about this approach is that it uses children’s creativity and desire to find out things (or learn!). The pupils I spoke to at Bohunt told me that they really enjoyed this approach and they felt that they learnt much more than they did when they learnt science principles in the traditional way.

I am still reading and researching more about this methods of teaching, particularly how I can implement it in Resistant Materials. I have found some iTunesU courses that I am working my way through:

If you are already using CBL then I would love to hear about it.

An App to Avoid

October 26, 2013

It is not often I review something negatively. However in my recent browse of the App Store for new teacher apps, I came across another grade book app which has annoyed me so much in testing it that I feel I should notify you about it so you can avoid it.

As you may know, I collect a lot of planning and grade book apps (especially when they are on sale or have free 'lite' test versions).

So when I came across 'Lazy Teacher' (which had a free lite version) I thought I would see what it was like – even though I found the name slightly offensive.

When I opened the app to experiment with setting up some test classes, I was surprised to find that it was almost identical to Teacher Kit, an app I use all the time.

This is the first time I have come across a grade book app that is practically identical to another. If this was a piece of homework I was marking then I would be speaking to the pupils involved about plagiarism!

By now another (very irritating) thing had been happening. Every time I tapped on something; to start a new class, add a pupil to the class, change a setting; a pop up would appear.

I am assuming that this doesn't happen in the real app, but it doesn't make me want to spend money on this as it was extremely annoying.

After trying out 'Lazy Teacher' for a bit I concluded that 'Teacher Kit' was much better (and offered the app for free, with an in-app purchase if you wanted the reporting tools).


Edmodo UK Group

September 28, 2013

Firstly apologies for a very short post. I have been horribly ill this week with a delightful head cold that has decided to take my voice. It is not fun trying to teach when you can barely speak – fortunately my pupils have been lovely about it.

This week on Edmodo Mr Ashton started up a UK Edmodo group as somewhere UK teachers can discuss ideas (mainly because a lot of the ideas being discussed on Edmodo are very American and tend to revolve around the 'common core' which we don't use).

So if you are on Edmodo and would like to join the group then the group code is t2mesx.

I have also set up a training group called (appropriately) 'Test Zone'. Not only do you get a badge for joining an Edmodo training group (although not if you're the one running it) but I thought it would be a good place to try out some of the features of Edmodo before unleashing them on pupils. If you would be interested in joining then please tweet me.

So now I will go and take more Lemsip and crawl back into bed…….


Edmodo – Marking Work

September 14, 2013

Now that my pupils are on Edmodo, I have had the first round of preps handed in through it. Almost all of my pupils successfully 'turned in' their prep via Edmodo (some got a bit confused and emailed it to me instead). I thought you might like to see how the marking process works. In order to protect my pupils I have blurred out their names and avatars.

In the notification centre at the top of the screen, I can see how many assignments have been turned in for me to mark. I can click on this link and will take me to the list of assignments, but I prefer to do it by class.

In the assignment I can see who has turned in their work (they are blue). When I click on each pupil I can preview their work (by clicking on the annotate button – shown with the red arrow) or download their work. Then I give it a mark (I did mine out of 10), rate it with a smiley face (which I find very annoying) and include a comment if I wish. The mark I allocate is automatically added to my grade book.

In the grade book as well as seeing all the grades I've given, I can also award badges. These appear on the pupils profile page and it's really easy to create custom made ones.

Here you can see that Harry has received a badge for an excellent mood board. You can also see that pupils can set up limited things on their profile. They can choose a favourite quote, add in how they like to learn and a career goal.

Edmodo gives you a series of badges you can award, but it's quick and easy to start building up a bank of custom badges specific to the way you mark.

Something else I quite liked was being able to see how many pupils had turned in their assignments on the assignment itself.

Plus all your assignments appear in your Edmodo planner (pupils will find it appears in their planner as well, which is useful if they have more than one teacher using Edmodo).

I thought that my older pupils would find the badges 'childish', but they got quite excited when I awarded the first batch. Some asked me (quite indignantly) why they hadn't been given a badge, I explained that they are given for going above and beyond the work set. So it will be interesting to see if what happens when the next set of prep is 'turned in'!


Setting up Edmodo

September 7, 2013

This week I have been meeting my new classes (and saying hello to some of the classes that I have kept on). With my new yr 9 and yr 10 classes I have decided to trial Edmodo as a means of setting and collecting homework.

I’ve been hearing a lot about Edmodo in my Twitter feed, but I’d never seen it in use, so I wasn’t really sure how it would work. All the screen shots are from the iPad app. However the app doesn’t yet have the same functionality as the website.

First of all I set up my teacher profile, you can do this by clicking on the ‘I’m a Teacher’ on the sign up screen.

Your pupils can see your profile page, and the other teachers you are connected to (my yr 9’s were very curious about these other teachers.)

You can then set up your classes. Each class has a group code which your pupils use to join your class.

During my first lesson with each class I explained what Edmodo was, showed them how to join, and reminded them that the shared wall in our class space on Edmodo was an extension of our classroom – not somewhere to post inane comments to each other.

At the end of our first lesson I set homework through Edmodo (in my school it is called prep). I made sure to show the pupils how to submit their prep through Edmodo, and most of my pupils have successfully done this (some didn’t quite understand the process, so I may have to go through it again).

When the pupils see this assignment post it has a button labeled ‘turn in’. When they click on this they can upload their prep (and rate it with a smiley face?!). I can then mark it through Edmodo, but more on that (possibly) next week.

I can keep track of the preps I have set, and how many have submitted it through the progress page. You can see here that there are 2 preps under my GCSE RM group. This is because I have 2 small groups within the class, as I have separate sets. By having smaller groups it enables me to set prep to the individual set, while still being able to post to the whole group.

Last of all, you can upload things to your Edmodo library. These files can be included as part of the prep set, so next week there will be a worksheet for my yr 9’s to complete as part of their prep.

It is still early days, but so far I am quite liking Edmodo. Although next week I have to help one of my pupils log in again as he has forgotten his username and password! (Fortunately I can see everyone’s username and reset passwords).

I will keep you updated with how this Edmodo experiment goes.

A Day of Fun CPD (part 2)

July 27, 2013

Last week I started telling you about my day of CPD courtesy of Teach Design. This week I am going to tell you about the last 2 sessions of the day.

The James Dyson Foundation has a resource box that it loans out to schools. I had read about it on their website, but wasn’t sure how I could use it in my lessons. So I was very pleased that we got to experience part of the box during the CPD day. All of us got to disassemble a Dyson Vacuum Cleaner head, and Steve our session leader showed us the sorts of things he would do with pupils while this was going on. It was fascinating seeing all the different types of plastics used in the product.

Here you can see my vacuum cleaner head disassembled. But it was really easy to put it back together again!

After having seen how this tool could be used in the classroom, I am definitely going to be booking one for my school.

The last session of the day was all about circular economy. This was not something I knew much about, and even though I have a slightly better understanding now I am going to have to learn a lot more about it. You can read all about it on the Ellen MacArthur Foundation website. But in a nutshell it is all about the importance of designing products and systems in which all the materials can be reused at the end of the products life, thereby creating a closed loop of material usage. The key impact on my teaching that this will have is to get my pupils to design products that can be easily disassembled (one way of doing this is to ban glue – a scary prospect!).

Something you can do with pupils is get them to disassemble broken products to see if they have been designed with a circular economy in mind. So this is what we got to do!

We paired up and collected a product, I got a DAB radio. We then had to see how far we could disassemble it (we were provided with a range of tools).

My partner and I originally thought that this would be quite easy to take apart, but we were quickly proved wrong! After trying to cut away the leather exterior we found a solid MDF structure that could not be opened. We tried accessing the inside through the speakers, but once again were foiled by soild MDF. Only by fluke did we discover that the back panel could be removed (but it was very difficult)

By now all the other teams had finished disassembling their products, however we refused to be beaten and proceeded to unscrew the unit (you can see we finally got inside in the last picture above!).

It was lots of fun, and something I am eager to try with my GCSE pupils. I need to go and hunt out some broken products!

It was an amazing day and has made me think a lot about what I am teaching my pupils. I am hoping to introduce lots of the concepts from the day into my GCSE curriculum.

%d bloggers like this: