My online class has been using Teams and OneNote for all the work we have been doing for most of this year. Now, I wasn’t a big fan of either of these when I first used them a while ago so I wasn’t looking forward to using them with my grade 7/8 class online. However, my view has completely changed over the past few months with all the changes that have taken place in the two.
Having all your own work organized online can be a huge task. I’ve tried a number of different apps and platforms to try to get myself organized. I was a dedicated Evernote user up until a few months ago when the changes they were making to the platform made it more and more difficult to find things. I’ve now switched my own work to Notion which I have found adapts to my needs a lot better.
But what about trying to organize a class of middle school students?
I have to admit, I was skeptical of Teams when I first began but quickly began to see the many positives that it has. One of the biggest positives, besides the team chat, the individual chats and the ability to organize different teams with different subteams is the fact that I can integrate a number of other apps right into the Teams environment. This makes using these so much easier for students and helps them to find things all in one space. Because I use Nearpod for organizing lessons and linking various activities to what we are exploring, I can do this right from Teams. AND, I can either use the FlipGrid integration in Nearpod OR in Teams, whichever better suits what we are doing. This is just one example of the way we are using Teams to try to organize all the different things we are doing in class.
Added to this is our use of OneNote. Again, I wasn’t very fond of OneNote the first few times I used it. But as we began the year, I could see that it was going to be important to have a space where not only could students share their work but a space for all of us to share work and share our ideas and I could give students feedback. And, I could see what they were working on. Here is where OneNote has become a very powerful tool to use with students. Not only can I add written notes using my stylus on my iPad or computer but I can add audio notes, videos, images and provide real time one-on-one support for students. This, I believe, has been the most powerful part of our online learning. Through the use of OneNote, students and I have been able to share ideas, notes, comments, questions, feedback and images. It’s made students more independent as they are able to not only share with me but by using the collaboration space, they have been able to share materials and ideas beyond just what we can share in class. And they have done this beyond the school day.
More To Learn
We have done a great deal with the sharing and organization this year but I know there is much more that we can do in this regard. Because I know that such apps like Trello can be integrated into Teams, helping students to work together and share materials using the benefits of Trello is something I am going to be exploring. The great thing is, by introducing different tools as we need them, students are much more comfortable with what they are being asked to do and much more willing to share what they are doing.
Although online learning is very different, having tools to support student learning and organize the different things we are doing has made it a much better experience and helped students to develop relationships with each other and with me which has been very important as we have had to navigate learning together. The great part, is that with these tools, we indeed can do the learning together.
Until tomorrow, remember, every day is a PD day.