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: Content to Creation

Teachers everywhere are working tirelessly to design lessons and activities that reflect 21st century learning skills that promote greater conceptual understanding and outcomes. Whilst understanding how to teach effectively with technology can be challenging, there are many simple to use tools out there, that help develop learning outcomes and enhance the teaching and learning process. Energising the Curriculum is vital, if students are to acquire new knowledge and retain it, so providing them with the right tools, imperative.

Historically, PowerPoint has proved a useful tool for students to produce presentations, showcasing their knowledge and understanding of a concept taught. However, we may well have witnessed their heavy focus around making fonts technicolour, motion paths whizz across the slide and transitions captivating for the audience. Of course, the creative aspect is important for capturing audience attention, it is the content that we want greater focus on.

Introducing Microsoft Sway, the digital storytelling app, designed to put together presentations quickly with built in presentational features, where content is the focus. Start a Sway presentation from scratch or type in a theme/keyword, focussing primarily on the content, allowing the app to make it captivating for it’s audience. It is just like having a corkboard, where you add your content onto and the application puts it together for you. Just like having a virtual assistant, allowing you to focus more on content and less on those presentation features. Not only is it simple to use, but great for collaboration too! Up to 10 students can work on a single Sway at any time, promoting teamwork and providing every student with a voice during the learning process.

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.21st century educators are behind the driving force of using Sway in the classroom to spark creativity in students. The days of writing lengthy essays are long over with this powerful content presentation application. Sway delivers attractive features and brings ideas to life in minutes. A teacher can use Sway interactively to add text, links, picture, video and audio to share content.

Engaging students with technology is core to narrowing the achievement gap in children’s education. Sway is incredible for building fast presentations to any kind of audience and sharing it as an online tool for educators to use as part of their lesson, CPD session or even school newsletters. Here are the top 5 tips to engage students to #SwayEveryday

Here’s a quick tutorial video to help get you started:

Top 3 Tips for using Sway in the Classroom:

  1. Inside and Out Collaboration: Empower the students to share responsibilities of creating their Sway and encourage them to work both in and out of the classroom. This is crucial for anytime, anywhere learning.
  2. Create stories: Digital literacy plays an important role in language development for students, especially Key Stage One. Students have a thirst for reading stories. Educators have the ability to create an interactive story book by embedding text pictures and audio. Sway benefits from text book navigation, giving the reader a fun experience of reading their favourite stories.
  3. New ways to News: Creating a school newsletter using Sway has never been easier and once you have decided on a template, you’ll only need to amend the content each week. Embed picture, videos and text and  transform communication in your school instantly. Parents can easily access the Sway through their devices at home, requiring only a link sent directly to them.

 

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!