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Showing posts from August, 2013

Pretend you're a teenager

One of the major aspects of my job (and admittedly, one of my favourites) is finding ways to smooth out wrinkles in our systems.  To find efficiencies.  To save time.  It's mathematical, really ... if I can save 2 minutes off a teacher's day, in a staff of 100 that's 3 hours of time that can be better spent.

We've made a lot of progress during the 2012-2013 but, to use a phrase I hate, we hit a lot of the low-hanging fruit.  The easy things.  We centralized and synchronized the OneNote Binders (okay, that was huge), the Faculty Calendar and the Duty Calendars so that they were done once and everyone could access and modify as necessary. We simplified the way teachers access and use information produced from the school's student information system, removing a tonne of roadblocks. We moved PD online and made it instantaneous.  There have been a multitude of shared databases (and shared OneNotes) that have made information accessible and usable to people who need it.…

Getting Parents into the Mix : OneNote opens the door

Last year's introduction of shared OneNote Binders to our school really provided more fluid communication between teacher and student -- because there was anytime, anywhere, "any media" access to all of the student and teacher notes there is now a continual flow of contents and comments back and forth.  It's really starting to reshape assessment for & as learning.

We had wanted the parents in the mix from the beginning but in order for the parents to see the inking done by the student and teacher, they had to have the OneNote program installed on their system.  Now, many of them likely do (and don't know it) but there is a minority running Macs and other parents want to be able to check on things from their offices where they may not have OneNote.  The 2010 OneNote web app didn't allow for seeing ink so was essentially useless.  Since one of the major leaps forward with tablet pcs is that students and teachers are not limited in the means by which they w…

I'd give my right _A_R_M to assess better

We had a really successful year last year when we rolled out the OneNote Binders ... and now we've responded to some of the feedback as we prepare to provide this year's version.

Students have become accustomed to using the Assignments Section to submit their work; it's the Section that forms their assignment dropbox for the course.  In order to minimize the horizontal space used by the tab's names, we've renamed Assignments as _A with the underscore character to keep it alphabetically at the far left.

We've done the same thing with the former Assessed Section -- it's been renamed _R.  The Assessed (or now, _Returned) section is the read-only space for students and parents to see their marked work -- they can see all the Pages of content that are placed in this section by the teacher but can't edit it.  They can, of course, copy it back out to their sections and make changes and resubmit it to the Assignments section.

And the big change this year is the…

On the internet, personne ne sait que tu es un chien!

I have the incredible good fortune to watch a French teacher work over the next month.  She's taken on the responsibility for a Grade 10 French summer course for students.  The challenge is that she is teaching it online to students here in Canada and overseas, specifically China and Pakistan.  They are all existing students in our school that are trying to get ahead in our French program -- that's important because they are already familiar with the technology commonly used in our school.  While many school leverage the learning management system, the OneNote Binder has given her a way to not only structure her content but closely observe and provide feedback on every student's work from minute to minute.

She is using Lync as her communication medium; this has been our one technological learning curve but both she and the students have been learning fast.  Lync is one of Microsoft's products so it is closely integrated into our email, Sharepoint and network.  It's…

Calendars, the first five of two

As we continue to prepare for the coming academic year (we don't start classes until the week after Labour Day) I've begun to prepare the data for the Faculty.

One of the introductions last year was the "Duty Calendar" -- who does residential duty each night, both faculty and prefects (student leaders).  In the past, it was stored in five different spreadsheets, one for each house and then one for the entire campus (since on weekends, faculty members are assigned to the campus rather than specific houses during the day Saturday & Sunday).  No one from other houses knew who was doing duty in any other house and if swaps were made, folks were never really sure that the change had been made.  Now, although the data starts out on a spreadsheet (I configure a spreadsheet for the House Directors) it is then copy-and-pasted into a Sharepoint Calendar.  3 clicks and 2 key-presses for each spreadsheet and the information is available to all.

To be precise, it is pasted in…