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The T-Word: Transforming my teaching with technology

This year, much like any other, has been a busy one.  The focus, as ever, has been on what has been going on in the classroom.   New specifications are content rich and require my linguists to manipulate the language in a way that they did not have to previously.  This is especially true at GCSE level.  Much thought and consideration has been given to lesson planning - how can I enable my students to think more independently, to work more collaboratively and generally develop good learning practices.

To assist me in my goal I have harnessed Microsoft's Suite of Tools,   From Teams to One Note, from Forms to Class Notebook.  All the tools have had a great impact on what I have been able to achieve and on what my students have achieved.

You can read about how I have made use of these tools in these previous posts: 1. Substitute your pen for tech 2. 3 Core Principles 3. Learning to teach with Microsoft in Education 4. First Steps with One Note 5. Tags & Templates in One Note
Recent posts

Substitute your pen for tech

You cannot run until you can walk... There are a number of acronyms that get bandied around a great deal when discussing education.  Dr Ruben Puentedura's SAMR model is one that merits discussion.  SAMR stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition and is a useful acronym to consider when implementing technology use in the classroom. Here is a helpful visual that explains each of the initials in relation to technology:

The goal, when using technology in the classroom, is to transform the education process and not simply to enhance it.   The ideal is to move beyond Substitution and Augmentation otherwise what is the point of using technology, what extra will the use of technology bring to a student?  Accessing this ideal of transformative teaching can be a cause of concern for many colleagues who are not comfortable or confident using technology.  Puentedura (2012) suggests that it can take up to three years for an institution to transform teaching by using t…

3 Core Principles to consider when using Tablets & Office 365

Technology must not cloud the pedagogical intent.Having made a start at explaining how I use Microsoft in Education in these three posts here (Learning to teach with Microsoft in Education, First steps with OneNote and Tags & Templates) I want to take a step back and outline my thinking behind using this technology in the first place. I am teaching at a school where a decision has been made to commit to using Microsoft Surface Pro and the suite of Office 365 tools and although this has meant learning about a new set of tools essentially I am in favour of the decision and all its implications.  In fact, use of technology to enhance what pupils are able to learn and achieve in the classroom very much fits in with my intrinsic teaching methods and my ideology.  I have posted on many occasions about technology use.  This post from last June clearly outlines how technology can have an impact on the different stages of teaching.  
As I embark on my second term with my Surface Pro and O…

Tags & Templates in OneNote

Tags and templates are proving very useful to me in my everyday planning.  Perhaps more importantly, getting to grips with these simple tools on a personal level has enabled me to set up, very quickly and efficiently, my Class Notebooks in a more visually engaging way that allows my students to access tasks easily and to see at a glance how they are progressing through their work.

Having set my OneNote Notebook up with my sections and pages as I wanted them (bearing in mind that I can easily change this set up at any point) the next step for me was to start using tags and templates effectively.  
Tags are a great way to organise your work (and your students' work in Class Notebook) and you can personalise tags in any way you see fit.  You can see from the image below how simple it is to insert tags from the Home button and how easy it is personalise them.  
As you can see here, I have created, amongst others, a couple of tags to help me see at a glance what planning and marking …

First steps with OneNote

In all my years of teaching I have always written to-do lists to help me keep organised and have had a lovely black academic diary that I have refilled each year.  However, over time I have relied increasingly on my outlook calendar for important dates and deadlines.  Last April, knowing that as a school we would be implementing Office 365 tools in the classroom in the near future, I saw that One Note would be a good place for me to start learning.  I could cut my teeth on my own Notebook and be ready to introduce Class Notebook in September.

I started using my notebook as a personal organiser in late May and by the end of June I had made my decision to give up my old ways of organising my busy working life.  As time has gone on I have become more adept at using the tool and have organised my Notebook accordingly.

Firstly some OneNote Notebook clarification:

A Notebook has sectionsWithin sections there are pagesPages can have sub-pages. In plain language, imagine that a Notebook is lik…

Learning to teach with Microsoft in Education

Until some point in the summer term of 2017 I was a staunch supporter of Google Classroom.  I have posted a number of times on the topic of using this excellent tool in class and you can read about it here and here. There were many features of Google Classroom that I enjoyed; for example, the ability to collaborate, to provide fast and effective feedback, and to set assignments to name but a few.  This tool enhanced the learning experience for my students and I really enjoyed the opportunity to use it.  Thus, it was tricky to switch tools recently but the Microsoft in Education path along with its suite of applications in Office 365 has furnished me with many similar opportunities as those provided by Google Classroom and Google Drive.

As with all new tools there has been a lot to learn and it has been a steep learning curve. Nonetheless,
 I intend to share my experiences with Office 365 and the variety of tools I have been using since September 2017  over a series of blog posts and …

Does education really need technology?

There may be many with a view on what makes for a good lesson.  Most would not argue with the ideas clearly expounded upon by Hattie and Yates (1) that a good lesson starts with an initial review of knowledge, moves on to a formal presentation, guided practice, initial feedback, independent practice and a follow-up review.  In terms of my own practice this is a model that I follow.  Not via any particular tools because I know that my target audience need variety and must not settle into any type of formulaic process.  Thus, I follow the steps but use different methods. Far be it for me to claim that this effective lesson cannot be achieved without technology.  Having started my teaching career over 20 years ago I know that it is possible to be an effective practitioner and deliver a lesson where progress is made using old-fashioned methods that may well have included some worksheets created on the trusty (rusty?) Banda machine.  Nor am I here to advocate that this process is more effe…