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OneNote Classroom Notebook Creator and the Flipped Classroom Environment May 14, 2015

Posted by regan222 in Education, Software, Technology.
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onenoteiconAs you may know, I am a huge proponent of the OneNote®Classroom Notebook system created by Microsoft®.  I realize that it was not originally intended for education and that it is primarily a business application, however, it works really well for information presentation as well as storage and evaluation.  Serendipitously it is ALSO a great business application that students will be familiar with when they enter the workforce in a corporate environment.

To teachers who have SharePoint® available it could not be easier to install and use the product.  Classroom creator is available as a free download in the SharePoint App store.  Someone with admin. permission can install it and then it is available for all to use.  It took me, with no previous experience, about 10 minutes to get it up and running on our domain.  Once the app is installed it is incredibly easy to follow the instructions to create notebooks, add students and teachers, and publish your class notebooks to the system.

Students find the application to be intuitive and easy to work with.  They really enjoy the collaboration area that allows their contributions to appear in real time.  I generally open that section of the Notebook on the class smart board during topic discussions.  All entries are labeled with the student’s name so inappropriate comments are never a problem.  Once discussion is complete, I direct the students to the Content Library to begin the day’s assignment.  I can either create a worksheet or lab page individually for each student or I can simply create a page in the Content Library and have the students copy and paste the questions into their personal homework sections.  The sections are completely private and available only to myself and the each student.  They do the work, I grade the work and enter a grade on the homework page that they create.  Once the grade is entered, any further entries onto that page are labeled and time-stamped to prevent students from changing grades or answers.

It is very easy to create content for lessons in OneNote.  Images can be copied and pasted easily into pages.  Video can be embedded or even recorded directly into the page.  Audio can be synchronized to follow along with text and images and other embedded objects can be made searchable with OCR.  There is a very friendly community of users accessible online to provide help, and, as a member of the Office Suite from Microsoft, the control ribbons will be very familiar to most people.  Objects like Flash or other presentation content can be linked and will open in their native players at a click.

There are some features that I wish were available, perhaps in a special educational version of OneNote.  I would like to see OneNote support OLE (Object Linking and Embedding) to allow ActiveX controls or other native support for different formats.  I would like to see VBA support so that Macro creation could be made simple.  I would really like to see a way to lock pages within the student’s notebooks to prevent unauthorized or accidental editing.  These are the only real complaints that I have with an otherwise excellent application.  Microsoft really found a winner here.

How Smart Can A Board Really Be February 4, 2014

Posted by regan222 in Uncategorized.
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Smart boad content creation is the subject today.  Hopefully it will be as useful as yesteday’s offering.  I really feel that this technology will make education much easier if I can just get the kids to use it.

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A Grim Fairytale August 27, 2013

Posted by regan222 in Books, Educational Ranting, General Ranting.
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schoolI read this today while sitting and waiting for the copy machine to finish. I did not write it but I am paraphrasing it. I would give credit but the author was not listed. Like many things, it is something I WISH I had written:

A Grim Fairytale.
Once upon a time there was a king who decided to honor the greatest and most successful of his subjects. He declared a holiday and called all his subjects together for a banquet to celebrate the best of his kingdom. One by one, the wisest and best of his subjects were called up to receive honor and rewards for their service to the kingdom.

The first to be called was a famous doctor. He worked tirelessly to cure one and all of every disease known. He gave his time and efforts to rich and poor alike. Of all the physicians of the kingdom, he was the undisputed chief and yet he was a modest and kind-hearted man. As he walked up the stairs to the throne, clothed in the finest garments, the crowd burst into cheers. The king presented him with great rewards for his service to the kingdom.

The next to be called was a brilliant engineer. He had given his life to building great works to benefit the kingdom. He built vast bridges, tall towers, and mighty buildings and each construction was of the highest quality. He knelt before the king, arrayed in the finest garments money could buy, the picture of success. The king heaped praise upon him for his contributions.

One after another, the best and brightest of each profession was called forth and the king presented each with honors and awards for the skills they possessed and the contributions they had made to the kingdom. Until finally the last name on the list was called.

A modest looking elderly gentleman stepped forward. His clothes were clean but threadbare and worn. His shoulders stooped slightly and he squinted through spectacles as he approached the throne. “There must be some mistake”, said the king. “I wish to honor the most successful of my subjects”. “This fellow does not look like he has contributed much at all.”

The wisest of the king’s councilors stepped to his side and said, “But your majesty, this is the teacher who educated all of these other men.” “He taught the doctor to read.” “He taught the engineer to count.” “He is responsible for making them what they are.” “He taught them knowledge but also gave them wisdom and compassion as well.”

The king came down from his throne, took the old gentleman by the arm and escorted him up and sat him in the king’s chair. “What possible reward can I give you”, said the king. “What would you ask of me after all these years of service?” “As you are responsible for much good in my kingdom, great will be your reward.”

This is a wonderful story but remember…it’s a fairytale. Educators spend a lifetime in a career with little monetary reward and often, little respect or acknowledgement from society. We do what we do because it needs to be done. The work is its own reward. Often educators are capable of making a much more lucrative living in some other field but be glad that they don’t. Think about it for a moment. If no one taught, what would you have learned. If you can read this fairytale, thank a teacher.

And now for something entirely different… May 17, 2012

Posted by regan222 in Books, Educational Ranting, General Ranting, News and politics.
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Sorry loyal readers, I have no words of wisdom tonight,  just a question.   Where do they lose it?  I spent the last few hours video-taping a Kindergarten graduation, 5 and 6-year-old smiling faces walking across a stage like it is the most important thing in the world.   You could tell that each one of them wanted to be exactly where they were.  They were interested and engaged (the goal of every teacher for every student) and yet I know that in just 12 short years, when it is time to do it for real, fully 3/4’s of these bright eager little faces will be completely disinterested and likely even vigorously opposed to education.  Where do they lose it?

What causes a few kids to blossom in the educational system and a good deal more to completely withdraw from it.  I am assuming that the small rural high school I teach at is not so different from the thousands of others that cover the back-roads of America.  Is it this way everywhere.  Too many kids start off eager and interested and end up sullen and resentful of the time that they spend in school and I want to know WHEN it happens.  I have filmed this same graduation now for 3 years and the kids each year aren’t that different.  I have seen 5 classes of seniors graduate and I find that the pattern holds true every year.  If anyone has a suggestion I would like to hear it.  I know we talk about testing and engagement and edu-tainment but honestly I have seen nothing that I consider useful.

The floor is now open.  Anyone have an opinion?  -nite all.