Dear Microsoft, 22/04/2015
O365 has helped us to collaborate with other pupils around the class and has played a big part in our school work. In particular, it has made a distinctive difference to us doing homework, and lets us do things that we could not do in our green homework books such as checking our spelling, working as a group, selecting fancy fonts, and up levelling our ideas. It also helps us to keep some work private that only the teachers and individual pupils can see.
Where as before if we put our green book in our bag and it got wet by our water bottle spilling, there was no way of ever getting it back! However with O365, if something accidentally gets deleted you can easily get it back by clicking the right version to restore.
It is a simple site to log onto at home, at work or anywhere. And if you have forgotten to do your homework you can simply log on in school time and you will finish your work easily. Uploading pictures, copying and pasting and doing our homework is much easier now. All we’re trying to say is thank you so much Microsoft. You have helped us make a dent in the universe.
Since introducing O365 in Year 5, we have begun to use it as a way to complete homework and make links between school-home learning. We have found that it provides an opportunity for children to consolidate what they have explored during the school day and extend their knowledge further.
From a teacher’s perspective, setting and monitoring homework was a task in its self. The expectation for key skills at Simon de Senlis is that weekly Literacy and Numeracy work is set and collected in the following week. Whilst most of my children completed this, I found a greater uptake when tasks were set on blogs. Often children would forget their books, lose them or not receive the sheets due to illness.
Since working on the cloud, Year 5 are more enthusiastic about completing their homework and it has eliminated many of the previous problems listed above. Class OneNote provides children with their own section to complete tasks and take ownership of their own learning, with it almost being a virtual version of their previous key skills books. Each week, I type up the task on the collaboration page which everyone can access. They then simply copy it into their own section and complete the task. Often, I will go onto 0365 before the deadline each week and share some WAGOLL’s (What A Good One Looks Like) to provide inspiration to those who have yet to complete it.
It has also made the marking of the homework much more manageable and has meant that I am not taking 60 books home each week but instead can mark from the comfort of my own home by logging onto 0365 and provide meaningful 1:1 feedback.
For those children who do not have access to the internet at home, Tuesday lunchtimes are available to them to attend and complete the home work on one of the 60 Surfaces we have in the Year 5/6 area.
There was great excitement down the Year 5/6 corridor yesterday afternoon for a Celebration Assembly that was different to any other one we had know before. Due to the drama studio being out of use, it meant that there was limited space in the hall for all children, staff and parents to fit in. Instead, both year groups attended the assembly in Mandela classroom – watching all of the events live via Skype. It also saw the teachers run down to the hall in relay to announce their star of the weeks before running back up again!
The last week at Simon de Senlis has been very busy for all staff and prior commitments have meant that it has been difficult to squeeze in a Year 5 planning meeting. The recent decision to plan on OneNote, has meant that I could collaborate with my partner teacher and share ideas for the Literacy unit the following week. We each assigned ourselves a colour and contributed to the working document as and when we could (which would be changed to black as soon as we had read/ discussed/ agreed on the content.)
This has been a particularly useful tool for us and avoids us having multiple versions of a planning document every time it is updated and sent across. Sharing the link with Senior Management and Phase leaders has meant that planning can be easily tracked and monitored without it being sent on a weekly basis. It also allows for lessons to be updated and changed in real time to respond to the outcomes of the lesson.
This afternoon Year 5 visited the pod which has been transformed into a beach for our When A Knight Won his Spur (Part 2) unit. The Windows 8 devices were used to capture different angles and crop the images to focus on particular details. Once we had returned to the classroom, we uploaded our photographs onto the Einstein OneNote. Over the next couple of weeks we will be watercolouring parts of these images to produce our final art outcome for the Simon de Senlis art gallery.
- Name: NPAT (Northampton Primary Academy Trust)
- Schools: Abington Vale, Headlands, Ecton Brook, Lings, Weston Favell and Simon de Senlis
- Fact and Figures: Est. 2012, approx 2400 children on roll, 120 teaching staff.
- Vision – NPAT is driven by a vision of innovation, high aspiration and achievement, and a commitment to sport and the arts. This approach is encapsulated in the motto: ‘Extraordinary Children Doing Extraordinary Things.’ The Partnership is built on the principle of synergy; that a collaboration of vibrant and successful schools ensures that we can achieve collectively what a single school couldn’t achieve alone. NPAT improves our schools using collaboration and innovation through partnership working that brings together children, parents, teachers and school leaders.
- One way of linking it all together? Yammer!
I was recently introduced to Yammer during a trip to Microsoft HQ, London back in December 2014 and is something which I am increasingly seeing the benefit of having within the professional workplace. There are many times when I look at my email and have 10+ replies to one message, resulting in many threads which is often time consuming to locate the information that I actually need. I am also restricted to contacting people that I only have email address’ for. Yammer solves this problem and allows much easier form of communication between organisations, and in our case, schools.
In January all of the schools came together to form the very first NPAT conferencce. It provided opportunities to meet with teachers who were doing similar things within their classrooms. Not only did it give me an opportunity to hear all of the brilliant teaching and learning that was taking place, but I could also ask for advice and suggested activities for upcoming units of work. Whilst this was a productive day, it was what happened after which made the experience more valuable. Joining groups on Yammer with people that I had met at the conference meant that I had immediate contact with them and allowed me to follow up anything that had been discussed and not let it be forgotten. The power and potential that this has within our Academy Trust is more than I can actually describe in words. Without Yammer, it would be almost impossible for the number of staff within NPAT to be able to collaborate as effectively with colleagues and we would probably have to resort back to email (so 2008!)
Not only has this provided useful within the Academy, but also within our individual school. I am now able to communicate much easier with groups of people within Simon de Senlis and share ideas on one platform. Joining different Year groups and faculties means that I am able to engage in discussions that I would not normally have been involved in, offer suggestions and ask for advice from my experienced and knowledgeable colleagues. (It also gives me a chance to be nosey at what other people are doing within my own school, along with others we are linked with, and even magpie some ideas for my own classroom)
“If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.” George Bernard Shaw
We recently had our second NPAT gathering and took the opportunity to share the outcomes on Yammer. Take a look at the gallery below to see examples of the magic that took place during the evening and the weeks which have followed……..
At Simon de Senlis, we have been using drama to develop the sentences within our writing. For this we have introduced ‘Sentence Strolling’ across the school which allows children to analyse their sentences and build in opportunities for in depth discussions.
At first we modelled this process as a whole class allowing children to take the lead, whilst at the same time, guiding them through higher order teacher questions. Children were offered the chance to discuss things they noticed about the sentence and justify their reasoning with detailed explanations. Does the sentence have to have a full stop at the end? Why not? What other form of punctuation could we have? (!) How does this change the effect of the sentence for the reader? Does it change the way that we read it out to the audience? Does it emphasise any words? Why? Which word do you think is the most powerful word choice? Why? Which could be improved? Can you give me an example of a synonym? The list is endless. What it shows is that children do have an understanding of the choices they make and the effect that their writing can have on the reader by simply changing the order of their clauses or changing a piece of punctuation. It also lends to the fact that writing is a working document and that even if it is black and white on a page, it is not the end. That there are still endless opportunities to explore and develop their own ideas whilst showing them the importance of editing and up levelling.
Once the children had grown in confidence with the process, we moved onto individual examples. Children went into their books and located a sentence which they felt could be improved. Working with a partner (and many post it notes) they guided each other through the process until they were happy with the final outcome.
The following lesson I decided to use a similar approach with the Windows 8 for my Literacy starter. Children organised themselves into groups of three and numbered themselves. I then revealed the instructions on the class OneNote. Together we devised criteria to which we could up level our sentences by and allocated them to each person in the group. These involved a change of punctuation, word choices and clause order. The rest of the starter was time for children to uplevel their sentence according to the instructions and document the ‘journey’ that it had gone through. It was not about deleting it and starting again, but showing how one element each time could enhance writing. Because we have 60 devices at SdS, it meant that all three members of the group could work on the same page, at the same time but on different devices. This provided particularly powerful and allowed children to work collaboratively on a single piece of work, using all of their expertise and knowledge combined.
Recently in Year 5, we have been looking at ways to consolidate written methods for the four operations. At times, it can become a challenge to think of new and exciting ways to present opportunities for the children to apply and rehearse their skills of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Enter QR codes! For those of you who haven’t come across them, these are digital images which, when scanned with a Windows 8 devices, will display a piece of text, a link or an image.
After introducing the children to the concept they were sent around school to scan the QR codes and reveal differentiated word problems. My maths group answered questions linked to one/ two step word problems and used the methods taught previously in the week. They worked collaboratively as a group and communicated effectively, drawing on the advice of their peers. It offered a new dynamic to the lesson and provided a kinaesthetic approach to a skill which can become quite dry. Having the Windows 8 devices meant that children could easily move around the school and scan codes in various different locations.
As an extension, some of the children even created their own. This provided an opportunity for them to become creative and design a problem for a purpose. In the plenary, these were then shared with the rest of the class for them to solve, thus shifting the ownership on to the children to extend their own learning.