This past school year was my district's first full year of using Office 365. With access to Forms, Power Bi, and my class set of iPads, I was able to mess around with getting different sets of data from my students and seeing what I could do with it to help their learning and my teaching. I wrote a guest blog post for Microsoft's education blog on my experience, which you can read here.
I recently had a surgical procedure done, and so now I have to take it easy during my recovery time. Not easy with two boys by the way, my natural stubbornness has been fighting the idea of picking them up as well as other regular activities. Anyways, it does give me time to lie down and get work done on my Surface. When I'm in this "mode" I'm usually keyboard-less, using just the Surface Pen and my fingers. This morning I decided to work on a task for my multimedia class; creating a method for my students to peer assess their recent graphic design work.
This is my iPad class, so I strive to keep everything digital with the least amount of steps possible for my students. Their work (a redesign of a local HS flyer) was created in the MS Word app, lives in their school OneDrive folder, and is shared with me. I decided to use the top 5 submissions for this activity. This allows the student's work to be recognized, but also keeps the activity from becoming burdensome. Still though, I had to figure out how to make this happen with the tools I have, so where do I start? OneNote :-)
OneNote is where my thoughts go, especially for designing and creating new stuff. I quickly grabbed a example pic of student work using the Ink Workspace tools; I opened up a student's file from the web (shared with me through OneDrive), double clicked my Surface Pen to bring up the Screen Sketch, did a quick crop, and copy/pasted into OneNote. After that came the brainstorming. I knew I wanted my students to be able to:
I've done stuff like this before, so I had a general idea of how to do this, but some parts were different. My students' work was a Word doc file, so I had to figure out how to display them to the students. Rather than use an online Excel Form I would use Office Forms in its place for the peer assessment. The peer assessment form would have to be reusable too, since students were assessing multiple pieces of student work.
There is of course multiple ways to achieve this using all sorts of apps and services readily available. My point for writing this blog post is because it was so simple and fast for me to put it all together using my Surface and Office 365. Usually there is some frustration involved when I'm putting an #edtech idea together. This app doesn't work, or this format isn't recognized, etc. I didn't experience any roadblocks today. Everything just worked, and rather quickly too. Here is what I did.
That's it! A couple grammar tweaks here and there, but that was it. Again, I could have accomplished this using other tools for sure, but this method was way faster and had fewer steps. Fewer points and clicks if you know what I mean. SPOILER: I didn't use a mouse or keyboard for any of this. I used touch and pen input, and the Surface's built in handwriting recognition for all text input.
I was hesitant at first putting this assessment activity together. I figured it would take a few hours, would require a mouse and keyboard, would involve multiple steps, and I wouldn't be able to accomplish it laying down in my bed. I was wrong. My Surface + Office 365 + Ink Workspace allowed me to put this together quickly with zero issues. And I did it comfortably ?
Check it out. This is a public version of the activity. Everything is located in one space. The Sway will be distributed to the students via their OneNote Class Notebook. My students can view it in OneNote, or view the Sway in the iPad's browser.
Power BI is becoming more and more a part of my workflow. When I plan activities for my students and develop new routines, collecting relevant data is always considered. Especially since I can easily turn that data into great looking visuals for interpretation and getting insights.
Power BI is included in your Office 365 school license, but it doesn't automatically show up in the waffle of apps. After you login, it will :-)
Play around with it, and you'll start to see just how valuable a tool it is. I've used it to analyze my student's performance scores, reading comprehension scores, and recently their instrument checkout frequency.
Can't wait to show my students this one, and see my 8th grader's reaction >:-)
I use an Office Form to track my students' instrument checkouts (I'll write about how I was able to capture it in the future), and it's now a daily routine in my classroom. This is one of the best parts though. Sharing my reports with my students for their own personal reflection on their learning.
People have been requesting an Office Mix on how I use Power BI, so I made one. It covers the basics for now, and more Mixes will be created in the future to go over other tips and tricks.
Also, gotta say that creating this Mix on my Surface was a piece of cake. #OnceYouGoPen...
This post was created in Sway. You can view it full screen here
I enjoy opportunities to be creative. I have my whole life. I grew up with Legos, I did art (thanks Mom!), still do music, worked backstage at my high school theatre department designing and building sets, and just being creative all around. Of course the tolls of growing up diminished those opportunities due to the new time-consuming responsibilities of being a working adult and family man. However now they're back, except they've adapted to my daily life with the help of a personal interest (technology) and passion (teaching, aka my job).
I've been able to get my creative juices up and running again while being a part of Microsoft's Innovative Educator Expert program. The MIE expert program has been praised for many reasons, such as it's incredible PLN community, the monthly skype meetings, and the events we attend. However, for me, what I love about the MIE program is the challenge and opportunity for creativity it presents to me: "Here are a bunch of tools and resources, now what can I do with them?" For me, being an educator and techy person already, this is more "fun" for me than being "work". Here’s why.
The daily grind of my job isn't boring, it's fun! Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying my students are boring, or that teaching them is boring. I enjoy teaching, and every day is a new day with my students. What the MIE program does for me is it taps into the creative aspect of TPACK (the intersection of technology, pedagogy, and content). It has created opportunities for me to imagine and find out "what if I did this?" and "how could I do that?" in my classroom. It has given me a new mindset and a new perspective to how I approach many aspects of my professional life. So how can this happen?
For the past four years, Microsoft has introduced new tools, resources, and mediums that can be integrated into the classroom. The cool part is how there is a cohesive harmony created when they're all working together.
With all of this available, now the question is "how do I make it work for me in the music classroom?" That's the fun part. Being in the MIE program has motivated me to get access to all of these tools and resources, and let my imagination take over. With all this available for me (thank you #SurfaceExpert program!), I get to figure out what the possibilities are for integrating all of it into my classroom instruction so my students receive a better music education. This is the fun creative part of being an MIE expert. I get to figure out "With all of this, what can I do with it?"
Over the course of my MIE experience I've been able to improve my pedagogy by incorporating ELA writing and math into my instruction, create a better instructional environment for my students, create all sorts of resources, create new classroom routines that work better for my students and me, improve and create new classroom content and activities, and the list goes on. At the same time, all of this has never felt like "work" to me because I'm doing something I already enjoy; using my imagination to innovate and create.
Finding out the affordances of technology isn't just limited to the classroom part of my job. I've been able to use the same Microsoft Devices + Win10 + Software combo to improve the "business" aspect of being a teacher. The paperwork, the meetings, the observations, the collaboration, the trainings, and the trainings of others.
So this is what I enjoy the most about being an MIE, and the imaginative part is reinforced by all the interactions with the other members of the group. Getting to hear and see what everyone else is doing only fuels my fire for innovating and creating.
For all you creatives out there in the classroom that are looking for ways to turn the "daily grind" into a fresh new experience for you and your students, head over to aka.ms/mie and fill out the application. You'll be amazed at how being a part of the MIE program can transform and foster your perspective on the benefits of educational technology.