Let’s get Digital in 2019

New Year hosts a plethora of personal and professional goals. Some easier than others to commit to. When we look at statistics, 63% of resolutions are broken within the first month. There are varied factors that contribute towards this majority percentage but all is not lost when keeping in mind the end goal.

Here are the top 5 Teacher New Year’s resolutions:

  1. Stay Positive
  2. Revive Classroom routines
  3. Work-life balance
  4. Give more personalised time to Students
  5. Keep on top of marking

Whilst these may strike as everyday practice of most Teachers, how do we ensure we are productive and proficient at keeping on top of them all?

A Cloud-based learning environment has the potential to help tackle the teacher workload, invigorate the curriculum and help with the work-life balance without being to much of a monumental change for a school to adopt new ways of thinking, working and learning.

Be Specific – A vague goal will automatically program failure because you won’t know when you have achieved it.

Specific target – Move all files and folders to an online platform.

In practice and outcome – As a Whole Staff, use your Cloud-based service (Office 365/G-Suite), to collectively move all your important files, folders and stuff into the cloud. It is simple to do, it’s just saving it to a new space that is accessible anywhere, anytime on any device. Once this is complete, all documents and presentations become live. This means that teachers can collaborate on the same planning document at the same time, without being locked out or having multiple versions saved.

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Set Tangible deadlines – When you’re setting a goal, be sure to set a deadline too! It ensures a collective mindset on what it is you are trying to achieve.

Specific target – Record presentations to promote anywhere, anytime learning.

In practice and outcome – Within PowerPoint and Slides, you are now able to record your entire presentation, including any annotations/notes you made during the learning process. Having these saved in a virtual library (back to your online shared folder space) means that students can access the resources they need, if they were to miss a lesson. This virtual library will grow over time and give a transparency to parents about what is being taught in the lesson so it can be used at home before test/exam period for revision. Imagine, an entire years worth of learning, all stored online and at your and the students fingertips.

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Don’t forget the plan! – If you are considering moving to the cloud, it is always best to think first about the goals you want to achieve. A cloud solution needs careful consideration and planning before implementing. Our Cloud Solutions Consultants at LGfL are committed to providing as much help and support to schools who are looking to migrate their school to a cloud-based solution. Email training@lgfl.net for more information on getting started.

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Office 365: Establishing a Vision

As teachers, we all want a world where children grow up to flourish and live healthy, productive and fundamentally happy lives. Making change happen takes a growth mindset and leaders at every level – those who are committed and adept learners.

The Microsoft Education Transformation Framework helps leaders set a direction with four key building blocks to guide leadership and policy development:

  • Vision for change
  • Strategic Planning & Quality Assurance
  • Partnerships & Capacity Building
  • Inclusion & Accessibility

How can we work towards a Cloud-based solution?

Deep and sustainable transformation can only happen with the support of people at every level – Leaders, Teachers, Parents Local Authorities and most importantly, Students! Transformation is not about replacing what works, but to enhance it in a productive and logical process.

What’s transformative leadership and policy all about?

Vision for change

Consider the development of a clear, succinct vision to drive change. By creating a powerful rationale that’s shared by all stakeholders, you can spark the momentum required for long-term impact and adoption. Regular bite-size training and use of the Microsoft Educator Community drives engagement and support for all.

Strategic planning & quality assurance

Think about what it is that your school want to achieve through a cloud-based platform. Start with an effective plan to achieve tangible steps towards that long-term goal. Using Microsoft Teams is a great way to launch engagement with simple collaboration and communication. Giving teachers opportunities to practice and play with the products will provide insight into how they can be embedded purposefully and effectively.

Partnerships & local capacity

Connecting with other teachers, schools and local authorities provides a support network – providing rich insight to how Office 365 can be used effectively on multiple levels. These relationships can help build capacity, whether through digitising administration, tackling the teacher workload and upgrading staff skills.

Inclusion & Accessibility

Making technology more accessible is core to ensuring nobody is left behind. Office 365 is built for all users with its enhance learning tools and immersive reader applications. All of which are built in at no additional cost. Microsoft’s Accessibility site includes guides and examples of how technology can support diverse needs and enhanced outcomes. The immersive Reader and Learning Tools are free with research that reflects improved reading and writing for people of any age or ability.

Take the next step: (Click on the links)

  1. Get Trained on the Microsoft Educator Community
  2. Sign up to a free Office 365 Workshop
  3. Fill in this Form to start building your Education Transformation Framework

GSuite: Reimagine the Writing Process

There are so many great ways to really enhance the writing process when using G Suite for Education. Whether you are brand new to using G Suite, or a Google Classroom ninja, this short blog post will give you some ideas as to how you might help learners with their writing (and even save you time in the process!).

Google Classroom

Google Classroom is a fantastic tool that helps streamline your digital workflow! Instead of making photocopies of worksheets, or getting students to scribble in their books, you can use Google Classroom to generate digital copies of your worksheets (or simply blank documents) for every student in your class. You can then see all the student work (live and in real-time!) in one place and give live formative feedback.

Google Docs

Google Docs is the word processor in Google Drive. It’s the G Suite equivalent of Microsoft Word and because it lives in the cloud, there are some great additional functionalities. Here’s 5 features that should enhance the way you work with your students:

1) Live comments

Select any text and add your comment! Students see these in real time and in context of their work. They can reply to your comment, edit without having to redraft the whole section, and easily track changes and comments over time.

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2) Voice typing

Voice typing is built in to any Google Doc; find it in the ‘Tools’ menu. It’s a great way for students (and teachers) to get what’s in their head into writing. It’s an incredible accessibility tool for SEND learners – take a look at some examples of the formatting that’s possible:

3) Draftback

Every Google Doc has an inbuilt Version History where you can track how a document looked at different points in time – great for evidencing student progress and developing student metacognition. Even better, there is a great free Chrome Extension called Draftback which allows you to play back a document as it was written! This is really useful when supporting students – and even looking for plagiarism!

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4) CheckMark (marking codes)

CheckMark is a great free Chrome Extension that allows you to use marking codes that you may use in your school (‘C’ for capitalisation, ‘sp’ for spelling etc…) in a Google Doc. Once you’ve enabled it, simply double click on a word and a magic box appears above it. Then choose which comment you want, and it will automatically add it as a written comment without you having to type a thing – a real time saver! It even counts how many times you’ve made the same type of feedback!

5) Video feedback

After you’ve given your students’ their feedback, they will need to act on it and (hopefully) improve their work. Sometimes students are able to act on your feedback when you sit down and discuss it with them. Unfortunately this isn’t always possible with a class of 32 students in the contact time you spend with them. A great way around this is to leave your students some video feedback using the extension Screencastify.

We hope that you found some of these suggestions useful! Please leave us a comment if you try one of them out!

Office 365: Reimagining the Writing Process

Finding time for students to imagine, draft, write and revise; quality feedback opportunities; creating effective collaborative environments; providing high-level instruction regarding the technical components of writing – can prove increasingly challenging elements of a Teacher’s role. With data and evidence growing in demand, as teachers, we want a way to effectively tackle the workload and energise the curriculum in new ways.

Microsoft Teams is a digital application that brings conversations, content, and apps together in a seamless and collaborative way. Having all your ‘stuff’ in one safe and secure environment can help tackle the teacher workload and free up invaluable learning time and support for students. Whilst hosting a ‘classroom in the cloud’ may seem like an alien concept, migrating a core area like the writing process in a more manageable way, unlocks proficient ways of working on a document, with live feedback and simple submission being some of the many advantages.

The ability to distribute and share assignments with your students, whilst providing live feedback before they hand it in, naturally revise the skills required in that particular unit of work, maximising their written outcome. Students need time to reflect, be creative and showcase the skills they have been taught and technology comes second nature to them. The writing process and supporting it are an on-going processes that require student and teacher deliverables. By using an application like Microsoft Teams, it takes the familiarity of word processing, feedback and learning to an entirely new level.

As mentioned earlier with the writing process, assessment takes planning, time and consideration. Instead of a single submission date and the rush to finish on time, providing regular live feedback develops the thought process and direction of writing, leading to a greater outcome. By creating this model in a digital way, students are sent notifications with deadlines and check-ins so they are supported every step of the way! Also, you can provide all revision materials and success criteria with built in accessibility tools, so all students get the best chance of succeeding.

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Engaging with Technology

Students will see the assignment every time they visit the Teams site in its designated area. Additionally, within the application, you can create a OneNote Class notebook to share resources from units of work covered, turning it into an online library at their fingertips. The benefit of having your own electronic notebook with you is that its accessible anywhere, on any device, any time.

The Class Notebook allows you to share all content related to the course in one place. Anything you can print to a printer you can send to OneNote. Therefore, you can quickly post an existing Word document to OneNote detailing the writing assignment as well as the criteria you will use to assess the student’s final outcome. Add in criteria, word banks and other useful resources that will aide a student in the writing process. Additionally, you can send all or a part of your instructions in the content library to every student with the distribute content feature in the Class Notebook add-in. For more on OneNote Class Notebook, click here.

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Top 3 Tips for engaging students with the writing process: 

Dictation:

One tool that crosses over both genres is the Dictation feature found in Learning Tools for OneNote. With the dictation tool, students simply speak and OneNote does the typing. Dictation is not only a great way to combat the desperate stare at a blank, white page, but it is also a perfect accessibility feature for students with written expression disorder, dyslexia, dysgraphia, or other learning differences.

Ideation, Informative and Persuasive Writing:

Once a student has used the dictate function to summarize what they are learning about pollution, they can move their work to Word 2016 and use the Researcher function to gather more resources for the assignment.

 

Frictionless Collaboration:

If a writing project requires collaboration, Real Time Collaboration in Word is a wonderful tool for students. Finding time outside of class to work on a writing assignment can be challenging, but thanks to Word Online through Office 365 students will not have any problems finding time. One student can work on it right after school, and another can complete his part at 9 p.m. after football practice. Because the document is on Office 365, students can access the document anytime, anywhere with their phone, tablet, or computer – even offline.

 

Interested to find out more about the writing process? Click here and complete the CPD Course now to earn the badge and points on the Microsoft Educator Community! 

Why go Cloud?

Cloud Computing has been one of the biggest buzzwords over the last few years but surprisingly, it’s likely that we have all been using it for more than 10 years now! Gmail, Office 365, Facebook and Skype are all examples of cloud solutions that we have probably experienced. We may not think about these products in this way but the simple cloud principle behind them gives us easier access to our everyday like school email account, documents and student information. An added benefit to this cloud-based scenario is it is availability on any device, anywhere, at any time which is great for teachers who work in different ways!

Productivity in the cloud is ever-evolving and the latest innovations are making everyday applications that we use in the classroom even more mobile and collaborative. With the combination of training, support and LGfL TV, moving to the cloud can effectively tackle the teacher workload and manage simple tasks like setting assignments for students. It would also allow teachers to work collaboratively, more seamlessly.

As an example, let’s take a Medium term plan. We have all experienced trying to open a document at the same time our partner teacher does during a planning session. Multiple versions get saved onto the staff drive and USB pens, copy and pasting issues…it becomes difficult to work with and plan effectively this way! By using a cloud-based platform, teachers are able to work on a document collaboratively, in real-time! The document is automatically saved to a shared folder and it gives teachers back so much more time to focus on other tasks. This makes using a cloud-based solution as easy as keeping up with your personal life on Facebook.

Moving to the cloud can often feel daunting and knowing where to start, an even greater challenge. LGfL can provide training, best practice and technical support to help you migrate to the cloud seamlessly. Our dedicated Learning Resources Consultant’s not only support you with getting the most out of your cloud platform, but assist on curriculum mapping and building a digital transformation framework to develop your schools cloud journey.

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How can the Cloud transform your School?

Flexibility – From a Teaching and Learning perspective, using cloud-based software means you are able to finish that report on the bus into work, provide live feedback to students in class and bring their latest progress data into the school hall for parent consultations. The anywhere, anytime approach really provides teachers with their classroom at their fingertips.

Security – Rest assured that your data in the cloud is much more secure than what’s hosted on a tower under your desk or in your server room. With certain applications within your cloud platform, as a Teacher, you are able to control what the students are able to access to make their experience safe and secure.

Capacity – Even now, schools spend a lot of budget on resourcing and managing infrastructure which may be out of date. With cloud computing, that’s no longer an issue. Now, you can focus on how the solution provides a shift in productivity, collaboration and progressive technologies.

Cost – Using a cloud technology can reduce maintenance fees. No more servers, software, and update fees. Many of the hidden costs typically associated with software implementation, customization, hardware, maintenance, and training are rolled into a transparent subscription fee. LGfL provide training, absolutely free and can be customised to the need of schools, on an individual basis.

It’s open –The Internet and your cloud platform will allow you to connect services to each other with seamless integration. This means that you can centralise your information and access it from anywhere in the world, on any computer or mobile device, at any time.

For more information on using a cloud-based platform and training, click here.