OneNote Staff Notebook

staff dev word cloud Recently, I created my first OneNote Staff Notebook. I’ve been a personaluser of OneNote for years, but this tool allows the facilitator to create a master notebook with pre-determined sections for users as a powerful collaboration tool. Once I learned about the Staff Notebook, I decided to use it as a tool to deliver our technology professional development for the upcoming school year. After creating the notebook, I was able to add each staff member and a co-owner of the notebook (my lovely media specialist!) and share via a link in OneDrive.  You can practice using OneNote Staff Notebooks with this interactive guide.

I selected a few teachers to pilot the notebook first so that we could get a sense of the interaction on both the facilitator’s side and the user side. I was impressed, to say the least. My initial concern was how to know which teachers had actually completed the task.   I found that I was able to go in and use the History feature to see the edits to any pages within the notebook. This is especially handy when you have created and are managing notebooks for over 50 people. Viewing the History allowed me to go directly to the pages that had been edited within recent days. I was also able to view edits by author, so I would know exactly who had completed their task and who had not. Brilliant!

Providing feedback was a breeze. I clicked on the page, provided audio feedback, and able to redirect them to other portions of the task that had not yet been completed. Now that the pilot group has tried it out, I will be sharing it with the entire staff next week to complete our PD session on, fittingly, OneNote!

Excited to see how this turns out. Do you use OneNote with your staff? What has been your experience?

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iPad – How to Make It Read the Text To You

iPad – How to Make It Read the Text To You

This is a wonderful post from iGameMom on how to use one of the assistive technology features on the iPhone/iPad.  I used it last night with my daughter while she read one of her Fancy Nancy books on my iPad so it would pronounce the words that gave her trouble, and so that she could hear certain sentences read fluently for her.  You can buy books that will read aloud to your child but if they are like my daughter, they would rather try it for themselves first.   Great for reluctant or struggling readers and FREE with your device!

Happy Teaching!

OneNote for Learning Support

In a previous post, I mentioned the use of OneNote as a tool for helping students manage classwork.   Since that time, I have been able to work with several teachers in implementing the use of OneNote with their students.  One of these classes is a self-contained class for students with learning disabilities.  This teacher is responsible for the case management and instruction of all self-contained students in grades 6-12 (yes, you read that correctly!).  Needless to say, this presents a major challenge for her when it comes to providing quality instruction for all of her students.  We met to discuss ways that she could leverage the technology she has in her room to assist her with managing all that she is responsible for on a daily basis, and she selected OneNote as one of the options. Her use of this tool far exceeded my expectations.  Below is her first-hand account of that experience, as well as a few words from one of her students.  Happy Teaching!

“In teaching students with various needs, disabilities, and accommodations, I strive to find a way to keep their interest in class. Each year, administration pushes the use of technology in classes, but I am not the typical technology person.

I have always utilized classroom notebooks, but it has gotten increasingly difficult to keep up with the lessons, assignments, and other materials for the multiple grade levels and subject areas I teach. I have students that find organization to be a difficult task; students that think “writing” is hard because of physical/occupational therapy deficits…there was just one problem after the next.

When introduced to OneNote, I thought it would be great to have my students complete some activities on it. They enjoyed being on the computer. They were excited to type and even draw things instead of writing. Soon, this once in a while thing turned into using it daily, for every subject. I am able to add information (notes, grades, comments) in real time, while students are actively working on the page! Their work is in one place. Instructions are easy to get to. I am even able to embed links directly on their pages to cut down on extra internet surfing. When I want to add a new subject area, it’s as simple as clicking “new”.

My students are able to access it easily and they enjoy the feel of working independently while still having one on one assistance. I see what they are doing from my desk, sitting next to them, or even in another classroom in the building. OneNote is an awesome and easy way to use technology in the classroom!” – Learning Support Teacher and Case Manager

“I like this because you can go back and see what you did. U can look (at what) the teacher put on there.” – Student

One of Those Days…

Image     Today I did (another)  one of those things that makes me question my abilities as a Tech Specialist.  Typically, it’s small stuff, like mentioning an item in an email and then forgetting to attach the item, or drawing a total blank when asked how to fix a problem that occurs on a daily basis and that I’ve fixed at least a hundred times.

But today’s blunder took the cake.  While making modifications to a list I created for teachers on our portal using Sharepoint 2010 – my favorite program (read I HATE this program!!!),  – I forgot that the Alert feature was enabled.  So, as I worked with a colleague to modify the existing list, I inadvertently sent out emails to all those receiving the alerts for every single item on the list – a whopping 170+ emails!  I probably wouldn’t have even noticed this until tomorrow since I wasn’t really checking emails today, except when I picked up my iPhone, I had 170 new messages!  Imagine my chagrin when, after muttering not so nice words about the culprit of these emails, I realized it was me!  I hastily sent out an apology email to all my coworkers – again, nice work Tech Specialist!  Many of them bounced back because the recipient’s mailboxes were full.

Oops!

Happy Teaching!

Using Technology as a Tool to Manage Your Classroom

 The end of a semester is the perfect time to reflect on classroom routines and procedures.  My husband, a retired military officer, would call this an AAR – after action review.  This time of reflection and evaluation can serve as a great way to refocus our efforts and re-energize us for the coming term.

As a classroom teacher, I made a regular practice of assessing  the routines and procedures I put in place for my students.  Sometimes they worked; sometimes they didn’t.  One constant, however, was that no matter what grade level  I  was teaching that year or what state we were stationed in at the time, I could guarantee that those kids would eat me alive if I didn’t have certain things in place!

Now that I am a technology specialist, I like to think about how I can integrate the technology we use everyday into making those procedures and routines more manageable for both the teachers and their students.  Here are 5 suggestions on how to infuse technology into your everyday routines.

  1. Use a PowerPoint slide to introduce the lesson.  I always started each of my classes with an introduction to the lesson – the essential question, standards to be covered, a take away message, and the activity for that lesson.  However, this can get confusing when you teach 4 different grade levels in one room and are trying to post all of this on one dry erase board. (Yes, I actually did that!)  I found that it was helpful for me to create a slide for each grade level and/or subject, something that I could project on demand without erasing everything else from the board.  It also came in handy when I had a substitute, because all they had to do was display the appropriate slide for my students in my absence.  Easy peezy!
  2. Use a PowerPoint timer slide for transitions.  One of the most difficult things for me when I taught elementary was transitions – from the room to the hall, from the hall to the restroom, even from one activity to the next.  I learned later that the need for a transition procedure still existed, even in the upper grades.  Microsoft.com has tons of free countdown timer slides in increments from 1 to 15 minutes that you can insert right into your presentation.  You can even make your own countdown slides.  Visit http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/help/does-your-presentation-need-a-break-HA001188063.aspx to learn more.
  3. Use iTunes or Pandora to set the tone of your classroom.  They say music soothes the savage beast.  I don’t know about that, but I do know that it works wonders on a bunch of rowdy kids entering your classroom!  Pandora allows you to create radio stations based on music genre – classical, rock, pop – you choose.  Or, purchase a serene track from iTunes.  Select a quiet, tranquil song (instrumental works well)  and let it play through your computer’s speaker.  Or, if the firewall at your school blocks these, just  insert the green audio cord from the back of your PC into the headphone jack of your cell phone or mobile device as the students enter the room.  Turn off your lights to enhance the effect.  You would be amazed at the results, regardless of the age level!
  4. Put the technology in the students’ hands.  An engaged student is a focused student.  Allowing the students to “drive” during your lesson can help channel
    their energies in a more positive direction.  I typically select the one student that “sets off” the rest of the class and train them to do some of the tech tasks in my room.  Since this kid commands attention, the rest of the class will follow suit.  This also frees me up to circulate around the room and use proximity control to minimize a lot of the other off-task behaviors.

Try a few of these, or share some of your own, and let me know how they work for you.

Happy Teaching!