Thursday, 10 December 2015

OneNote hints and tips

There are some really useful little hints and tips I have picked up on my OneNote journey so far that I thought I would share. To put them in context, I use a Surface Pro3 (Windows 8) for work so it is mainly based on the desktop version on there and I am using Firefox. I have an Android phone, so mobile comments are related to that.

Tags - use tags!! I can't believe I didn't use tags. So much easier to find things and to group all the same thread together.

Pin your task bar to the top - saves many clicks!

Sending an email to OneNote - great for putting all those emails somewhere and then keeping everything together and tagging it!

OneNote for Classroom is my teaching lifesaver. See my inquiry blog about how I have used this in the classroom.

Looking forward to being able to embed video when I finally get OneNote2016

Using quick notes - open then drag to the section you want it in.

Did you know there was a built-in calculator? You can do any simple calculation - for example: 35.9*12.19 = and press the space bar for the answer.

Install a clipper in your browser to send a page, region or article directly to your OneNote. Unfortunately, this doesn't work in Edge yet!! It works best with IE as you can clip a selection, not just an article or page as for Chrome and Firefox.

I love using Office Lens on my phone to send photos straight to OneNote. Very useful in lectures or for documents I want to add without having to scan and attach.

And as a bonus for the Windows users - 12 shortcuts every educator should know....

More to come as I do more....

Thursday, 3 December 2015

MIE Expert first connection call

Wow - what a buzz. An amazing, inspiring hour from awesome presenters and lots of great ideas and motivation.
I thought I would put a few of the links and ideas here for any #MIEexperts - I am a visual learner so really like things written down!!!
 Some things are specific to MIE Experts (I have put these at the bottom) but a lot are useful for everyone. If you are not signed up at the Microsoft Educator site - you should be! Go there now.
There are some amazing opportunities for anyone to have free online Professional Development.

Check out these educasts. They will be on demand if you can't attend at the time.

If you want to be creative and learn how to use technology to disrupt a boring classroom environment by putting learning in the hands of the students then you need to check out the #hacktheclassroom event.

Get involved in the Skypeathon on Dec 3 and Dec 4 - a great way to be connected.
Even those who are on holiday can participate as guest speakers.

I really enjoyed the session with Rafranz Davis (@rafranzdavis) who is an MIE expertwith great ideas about "Building your brand".
Her advice:
  • Your twitter handle should be your name – own it.
  • She suggests getting a domain name of your own – when someone wants to know who you are, who is better to tell them but yourself.
  • Search yourself – important you know what is being said and what is out there.
  • Check out Rafranz's book "The Missing Voices in EdTech:Bringing Diversity into EdTech".
  • Follow people outside education, follow people who are inspiring. Follow professionals in other fields.
  • Share the work of others. When you read a blog post share it and attribute it.
  • Contribute – teachers feel like what they have to say is not good enough. If you have an idea, share it – it will be new to someone. It is valuable because it came from you 
  • Use tweetdeck
  • People she suggests to follow: #MIEexpert of course!!#IStedepln
  • Best platform for starting a blog: Wordpress, Medium is a good platform, has a built in network and can immediately share with twitter. Weebly – students can get free accounts – get a group of people to share codes, you can get credits.
  • Tweet hint – read the tweets of those before you follow them
My personal view is that I like Blogger purely because I started on it when writing a blog for school - but you need a Google account for it. I love using Weebly for websites though and many of my students have found it really easy.

Some notes specific to MIE Experts:
Twitter for Sonja Delafosse
Social Chorus: Minnia Feng
Email her at if you'd like to be featured in Daily Edventures!
Social media 101 sway with info in it that we heard today.

It takes 24hrs to have the Expert badge show up.

New educator community – help to merge partners in learning network with new community
Help button – orange one at bottom will do a work ticket to change emails over etc.

MIE experts should use the #MIEExpert and the #MSFTEdu hashtag

Do local regional face to face meetings with other MIE experts.
March 9 – livestream Budapest conference

Use Teachmeet to empower educators around you. How are you building a community of teachers in your area to make them amazing?

The hour went so quickly - I am just pleased I managed to get some notes and ideas down so I could reflect on them again. I am really looking forward to engaging with everything and everyone.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Using OneNote in the Classroom

My inquiry project for school this year was about using OneNote in the classroom. This is a short summary of what I did and how it worked out. My focus question was:

Does OneNote help students with organisation, note taking and collaboration?
I noticed that students often lose paper, have left notes at home or say they cannot find or access documents. For the School of Apps this year I set up a OneNote classroom notebook and wanted to see if this was a better way for students to be organised and also collaborate together.
I used this as the sole resource document for the class and was trying to have no paper resources where possible. All their resources and their written work was done within the notebook.
I also trialed this in the School of Music, although I was only in there part time.
See my blog on Schools within Schools for how these schools are set up.

My Findings:
I kept a track on how students used the OneNote and what they were using it for as well as putting in resources for them to use.
I surveyed the students from both classes to get feedback on how they found it and what worked well for them over the year. I spoke with students about if they felt it was useful and if they thought it helped with collaboration.

School of Apps:
We used OneNote exclusively as our resource base and also for all collaborative work, and for the students work. From the beginning of the year students were told all their work would be in that one place and that they would use this exclusively. This was for the full 20 hours a week that they were in class.
I found it worked really well in this class. Students were focussed and positive about it and some are now using it for their own personal notes and organisation.


  •              It gave me a central area to store resources for students. This included video, links, audio – anything I wanted to put there.
  •              They had a space to organise work and also to collaborate with each other.
  •              I was able to see work they had done at any time and it wouldn’t get lost.
  •              I could see what they were doing in English and Business Studies as well – giving an overview of all their subjects, not just technology.
  •              Students enjoyed seeing what others were thinking about and what resources they had found and were sharing. They all felt it helped them work productively together.
  •              They said it was easy to keep organised titled pages and easy to find. All of them felt it made a difference in the organisation of their schoolwork.

  •              Sometimes they felt it was frustrating to navigate, but that it got easier as the year went on.
  •              One student felt it needed a better offline version.

School of Music Yr 12 and Yr 13:
My main use for OneNote in Music was for supplying students with links and resources for music theory. Everything I gave them to do was linked into OneNote and all the flash cards and theory sheets were there as well. Answer sheets were loaded on to save on paper and to give them 24hr access.
 I found that OneNote was great in some aspects but not in others within these classes. Some students used it and others didn’t bother. Many just used GoogleDocs and were not motivated to check the theory notes online. Those that used Google Docs said they found it difficult to navigate, while those that just used OneNote said they found it easy and they enjoyed using it. Because I wasn’t using it as frequently with them, and other staff weren’t using it either, I think that they weren’t as used to it as my Apps class were.


  •             It gave me a central area to store resources for students. This included video, links, audio – anything I wanted to put there.
  •             They had a space to organise work and also to collaborate with each other.
  •             I was able to see work they had done at any time and it wouldn’t get lost.
  •             I could see what they were doing in English and History as well – giving an overview of all their subjects, not just Music.

  •       Getting students to write music notation was best done by hand, so resources had to be printed out, although I put most docs online so they could access them if they lost them.
  •       Some of the students used the collaborative area in English but said that students were sometimes making silly comments. This would need to be monitored by staff to enable this to work well.
  •       A couple of students said they lost work which I found interesting as I haven’t had that happen to me, or to students in the Apps class. I’m not sure that students had a full working knowledge of the application.  
  •       I don’t think it will fully work unless other staff use it for all their notes and assignments. If the School of Music is going to go this way, then all staff have to be on board.

Where to from here?
The students who used it frequently and embraced it got a lot from it. It definitely worked in the School of Apps and I will be using the same format for 2016. I will continue to use these with any class I teach and look forward to using it in a different Music class next year to see if it works for all areas of Music, not just theory. I want to use it for reflection of their performances and compositions and also look at other online ways of storing data for students.
I am absolutely certain it helped the Apps students with organisation, note taking and collaboration and believe it could also work in the Music class if more staff were on board.

Using Office365 and OneNote in particular is something I believe we should be using in all classes and with all teachers. Using the student’s school email, using OneDrive to store work, using OneNote for classes and getting students to use all the amazing apps (Video, Sway etc) in Office365 would be great. I am starting this process next week by providing our department with PD in using OneNote so they can all get on board for next year. I am also planning to run PD sessions each week next year to support staff and students.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Most likely to succeed

Tonight was the Christchurch screening of  an amazing documentary about the purpose of school. You can read a bit about the background to this in this article about Ted Dintersmith and his documentary "Most Likely to Succeed". I have been lucky enough to watch this movie today and this is my notes and reflection on it.
"If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow." ~John Dewey
This quote really sums up the movie for me. Change is needed and certainly this was brought home tonight.
It started with talking about how Deep Blue beat Kasparov in chess in 1997 and started the change in what computers can do and what humans can do. There was a very interesting interview with Jeopardy contestant Ken Jennings who came up against the Jeopardy Supercomputer and lost. He talked about how his job of knowing things was one of the first jobs to become obsolete.  A good question was
"What are people going to do when muscle power is not needed anymore?"
The next section was about the history of education and they talked about how education was put into age, ability and subject groups back in 1843. This was related to the Industrial Revolution and then led to the Committee of Ten which was a group of educators who designed the American curriculum back in 1892. This was 120 years ago and very little has changed since. We need to think about what skills we need now - not 120 years ago.

High Tech High is the High School that is the main feature of this documentary. It is a Charter School in San Diego and has a project based curriculum where students are responsible for their learning. There are no bells, classes are not in subjects, teachers are on one year contracts and they can teach what they want - they teach to their passions. The students start with a Socratic Seminar and they have to organise the seating themselves. They struggle with this at first and I love the comment from the staff member:
 "I can micromanage you through this or you can do it on your own"
All projects are planned around a public exhibition at the end, so all students know what they are aiming for. Four words used for the process are observation, reflection, documentation and exhibition. They are looking to  grow students who are resourceful, resilient and have a learning growth mindset. They need to produce creative ideas and try things. The students fail and learn from failures.

One of the strong themes was that education is about retention of skills, not just knowledge. The soft skills were mentioned often and confidence, perseverance and a good work ethic were listed as important skills. One question that came up around these soft skills was:
 "How can you go through High School and never  have been asked to make a decision?"
Discussion was had about the measure of success. If the measure is about passing the SAT then they ask why we teach subjects such as Art and Inquiry. If we are just teaching to tests then we should drill students. When a group of students were asked if they would rather learn knowledge or ace tests, they asked to ace the tests so they could get to College. I understand this as that is the mindset they have. We need to change that mindset and get them and parents to realise that knowledge is worth more. An interesting study was done where a group of students were tested on the same test 3 months after they sat their SAT and the average grade went from a B+ to an F! Not one student actually had a command of the test. They take it in just to memorise it but it doesn't stay. This test preparation is purely a factual recall test and tells employers nothing about work ethics, resilience, learning and working with others. A Google representative talked about the skills they look for, not necessarily taking the smartest people. They want highly creative, curious empathetic people who can give and take feedback.

The students took a lot of pride in their presentations at the end of the project cycle. They had satisfaction in making something that wasn't there before. This means they felt that they mattered and that they added value to things. One student didn't finish in time but learnt from his mistakes and still managed to eventually finish - in the summer break!

The end talked about educating our students for jobs that haven't been invented yet. About giving teachers greater autonomy and giving students a sense of purpose. I loved the analogy that teaching was more like gardening than engineering. We need to nurture and grow the students and if they find something that energises them, we can't keep them down.

After the movie we had some time to reflect and I felt good about what we had been doing in the School of Music and the School of Apps (see earlier blog). My only thoughts at this time were about how we could extend this school wide and how this also transfers into University.

The discussion afterwards from a group of panellists was also inspiring. John Ascroft, Coralanne Child, Kaila Colbin, Dick Edmundson, Janelle Riki-Waaka and Riki Welsh gave some good answers to questions and certainly gave us more to think about. Some of the main points I got from this were:

  • 47-81% of jobs are under threat from technology in the next 20 years
  • John Ascroft from Jade said that they were hiring 85-90% on soft skills rather than on capability
  • The more we compartmentalise, the harder it is to get equality
  • Content needs to be relevant to the student's lives - need a sense of belonging
  • We need to teach decision making skills
  • There is a strong relationship between the Socratic seminar and wananga -  the Maori way of working together
  • Creativity is not born from spoon feeding
  • If you were born today you will likely live to 2100. That's like being born in 1915 to 2000
  • Need to shift from the 'power over' to the 'power with' model
  • There is a disconnect between what is happening in society with what is happening in education
  • We need to redefine success with individual programmes
  • Teachers will be facilitators - the word teacher may not be the right one anymore
  • Problem solving skills would increase resilience against mental health issues

Where to?
The Education Review Act is happening - make a submission and tell them the things that are stopping us from doing a great job.
Let students show their learning in whatever way they want as a first step.
For me - it's about taking what I already do to the next step.

In the words of Riki Welsh:
Reshaping Education is scary. Don't get too scared Christchurch.