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Posts Tagged ‘#msftedu’

If ever there was a digital tool designed to boost basic literacy that can be used across curriculum areas, is easy to use with multiple applications MS Learning Tools, featuring Immersive Reader and Read Aloud functions, is it!

To truly embed digital technology in our classrooms, we need to find generic tools that can used across curriculum areas that benefit core skills such as literacy and numeracy. Learning Tools offers assistive technology that meets both these goals. It is also a great option for time poor teachers keen to use more digital technology but lacking the time to investigate and trial options.

Learning Tools isn’t new but has recently been updated to make it more user friendly and available across a wider range of MS platforms. Learning Tools (which includes Immersive Reader and Read Aloud) can now be accessed via OneNote (desktop and online), Word (desktop and online), Outlook Office Lens and Windows 10 Creator.

The Immersive Reader function is potentially a game changer with the ability to vastly improve reading comprehension. Selecting Immersive Reader in the ribbon opens the text on a page in a new window and gives the student options to make visual changes for ease of readability as well as breaking down the text via three icons in the top right corner of the page.

Students can change the column width, page colour and text space.  This is great for dyslexic students who find it easier to read with sepia background and comic sans font and great for the teacher who doesn’t have to spend time preparing separate handouts.  The library icon gives students an option to break the text into parts of speech as well as showing the text broken down into syllables – so great for ESOL students.

Writing fluency and accuracy is also catered for via the Read Aloud function. Students could literally have text read aloud – their own writing or text scanned and saved electronically.  Updates mean that students now have a voice selection option through the setting gear icon so thaey can change the speed of the voice narrating the text as well as the gender. This could enable students to “hear” mistakes in their own writing and then correct syntactical and grammatical errors.

Here’s a link that includes a great introductory video of how to use Learning Tools in OneNote (note it makes reference to the dictate function which I have been unable to locate since updating to Office 2016).

And here’s a link to an explanation of updates that occurred late last year which might supersede some of the above but gives another good overview of what’s available.

And some FAQS. Scroll 2/3 down the page to find links showing how to access the different components of Learning Tools in various platforms. It’s a shame that the interface isn’t consistent across platforms but if you delve into View or Review in your task bar, you’ll find these tools!

 

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Quite often in the teaching and learning process, we become focussed on the end result. I’m not a hug fan of assessment that simply “tests” a student’s ability to retain knowledge and thankfully, we are moving away from that towards providing students with more authentic opportunities to apply what they know. Surely, that is the real purpose of C21 learning?

Year 9 and 10 provide great opportunities to step away from “end of unit tests” and review students’ learning in a range of contexts.

While English students still need to know who to write a visual text essay, I’ve added a group based assignment that allows junior students to apply their knowledge of a visual text (film!) at the end of the unit of work. The finished product then becomes a revision resource containing engaging, multi-media material they can apply to essay writing.

It is fascinating to observe how the group dynamics unfold. With some classes, I’m needed more for communication support than technical help! It’s also a great task for developing resilience – one of me, many of you I’m fond of saying! Who else can you ask for help? Have you tried trouble shooting via the online prompts????!!!!

We used PowerPoint online and the Office Mix add in. I allowed the students to work in groups of 3-4 and provided a range of activities to include in their Power Point. These were designed to cater for a range of learning styles. There was an extension activity as well for those requring extra challenges. In 2016, a class of higher ability learners completed this task for Ang Lee’s Life of Pi and last year, a mixed ability class worked together to complete presentations for Shane Acker’s fantastic film, 9.

Students can collaborate on their presentation and work on their slide at home. The steps to creating a collaborative PowerPoint are as follows:

  1. Choose the PowerPoint icon in the Microsoft splash (to access online version)
  2. Get one member to set up a basic presentation adding title pages and a presentation title so everyone is clear who is doing what
  3. Share with other groups members using the share function (make sure to assign edit rights)
  4. To open students either click the link sent to them in an email OR select share with me in their class notebook
  5. They can use the desktop version of PPT if they wish and changes made will still save into the online version

I allowed three class lessons and homework time to complete. Some of the slides required audio recordings so they had to leave the classroom and find a quiet space. Their instructions were to create a presentation that included:

  • Character trait analysis – matching characters to proverbs and explaining why a proverb applied to a character (more able students)
  • Setting analysis – sketch the setting and label key locations (great for visual learners)
  • Film techniques  – label and explain techniques used via a still shot/screen grab (analytical)
  • SEXY para – write a SEXY Para persuading me WHY Year 9 students should watch the film (writers)
  • *extension – explain why the film would fit the requirements of a coming of age film. Draw a Venn Diagram connecting 9 to other coming of age text(s) you have read or watched. Include links to those other texts on the page and an audio recording of your explanation.
  • Include a bibliography acknowledging third party sources

OfficeMix will soon be included as a feature in PowerPoint so it won’t need to be downloaded as an add on. As such the online repository for office mixes is migrating to Office Stream by May 1 this year. If you have a gallery of several mixes online, it would pay to ensure you migrate them over to Stream.

Here are links to three of 9TD’s presentations from last year…

9 An Overview

9 Character, Theme, Technique Analysis

9 An Overview

The film trailer for 9. It works on so many levels – environmental and historical links, philosophical questions re use of technology, rife with symbolism. Can’t recommend it enough for Year 9:

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Who doesn’t love a good infographic? They’re a great way to summarise data in a form that appeals to a range of learners.

While watching a series of tutorials on helping students get more out of Office 2016, I discovered the People Graphs add in. As an English teacher, what stood out was the presenter’s description of the add in as enabling “story telling with data.” Now that, I get!

Firstly, make sure you’re working with data that can be logically transferred to visual representation. Think data that would work as a bar graph. You’ll also need to have that data saved in an Excel Spreadsheet. In Excel, go to the Insert button then select Store then choose Recommended. From there, find the People Graph add in.

Once installed, you’ll find People Graph option under the Insert button. The add in will instantly create chart in the spreadsheet which you can edit using two icons in the top right of the chart created. The icon on the left allows you to create the chart with your data so you can select the columns you want used, change the title etc while the gear icon allows you to change the layout – colour schemes, icons used etc. Just keep in mind the audience and the type of presentation you’ll be using the infographic in before getting two carried away!

The completed chart is a jpeg so simply save it to your clipboard by right clicking and saving the image generated wherever you want to use it -Word, Sway, Powerpoint or OneNote.

I’ve been surveyed several times by our Economics students and imagine People Charts would be great for them when analysing data collected. The visual nature of the add in would also be ideal for young learners to help them grasp how raw data can be transformed and applied.

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Surveying students about their learning preferences and progress used to be a cumbersome process involving screes of paper and (from me at least), a calculator. But there are tools and apps that make the process much easier – for teachers and students who need to conduct surveys as part of their learning/for course planning/professional development.

  1. Excel Survey Tool – Firstly, log in to your OneDrive account then select the New Excel Survey option. Excel will prompt you through the steps which involve giving your survey a title/subtitle, selecting the response type (you need to tick required to make the question compulsory) and adding new questions. There’s a text box option if you want longer form answers, and if you’re like me and create surveys organically, you can re-order questions by dragging and dropping individual questions. Save in View to preview the survey and edit before sharing. Like other MS tools, there’s a Share option in the top task bar to the right. This creates a URL linking to the survey. You choose where to send the link – it could be in an email or in a class notebook , in a word document or on a website. Just type in the names of the recipients and voila! You can open the results in the Excel spreadsheet and from there create charts.
  2. Microsoft Forms – This app is part of Office 365. My Media Studies students have used it successfully for the past two years as part of planning to create film trailers and short films. Again, you need to log into 365 then select the Office Forms app to get started. We brainstormed questions together on the board based around the requirements of the Achievement Standard we were working from and, to ensure individual students could share their results when they got together in groups of three later. The surveys can be shared like Excel Survey via the Share button. Once you have reached the respond by date (it pays to have a cut off), Forms will collate the data and create charts highlighting key findings. Here’s a link to one of my students blog posts based around their survey results.

Whichever option you choose, both Excel Survey Tools and Microsoft Forms are ideal for helping learners to gather and analyse data. Just remember you can only share with people within your organisation. This worked for us as at Level 2  our brief was to make a film/trailer for our peers. Slightly trickier for level 3 when the brief was to make a short film for the wider Taieri community. Students included staff in that survey.

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To increase the chances of lower ability senior students gaining literacy in English (the five reading and five writing credits that can only be gained via English), we added AS 91105 Use Information Literacy Skills to Form a Developed Conclusion to the course programme. This standard offers lots of practical skills. Although students in this course are not necessarily aiming for further tertiary study, the skills that underpin AS 2.8 students are vital for all students needed in know how to find, evaluate and synthesize information. In other words, it’s a standard designed to create 21st Century learners and thinkers.

Gone are the days when we’d stand glumly at the photocopier of the local library feeding it 20c coins and copying pages of books to take home, review and draft from. The internet has made information gathering much easier but has created new challenges.

With junior students, I promote the need for A.C.C (authenticity, credibility and currency), show them fakes websites and a range of search engines as part of formal writing. For our low ability senior students, I do pretty much the same but add in Boolean searches, databases usage, attribution and cittation.

Microsoft has a couple of tools that can help with both finding and saving information.

1.Researcher – If you have access to the full version of Microsoft Word (make sure you have the full version installed and are running the latest version of Windows), there’s a handy tool in the ribbon at the top to help with research. Simply open the Reference tab, then click Researcher and a side pane will open to the right of the document you’re working on. In the search box, type a keyword and press Enter. From there, a selection of scholarly writing will appear. Students can select the site they need or even part of an article and add it to their document. For AS 2.8, they will need to synthesize the material along with information gathered and use it to answer their focus question. Researcher automatically adds a citation with the content which makes creating a bibliography later easy.

2. Smart Look Up – this feature can help students to clarify their research when collecting information off the internet. If a student has copied a portion of an article into a word document but is struggling to understand the meaning, they simply select a word, go to Review button and select Smart Look Up. This will open an Insight pane to the right of the document they’re working on and provide more information related to the word or phrase including links to related research. (Insights are sourced via a Bing search). Students can drag those links directly into their text and add it to their research. Smart Look Up helps students engage with their research and, make sure they’re getting relevant information.

3. Clipping information – if you use OneNote, you’ll be able to download OneNote Clipper. Simply go to OneNote.com/clipper and add clipper to the favourites bar. To “clip” a page from the internet, click the Clip to OneNote button on the favourites bar and a dialogue box will pop up. The student can decide where to save the information to in OneNote via a drop down. If they’re on a site with lots of clutter, select the Article Only icon and only the text will save. The URL for the source site saves to the bottom of the “clipped” material which again helps with creating a bibliography later on.

I watched tutorials on both these tools via the Microsoft in Education website. It’s a great place for some PD when you have a moment. The tutorials are short, visual and demonstrate how Microsoft tools and apps can be applied across a range of subject areas.

 

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