Skip to main content

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 also obviously been affected by Microsoft's acquisition of Skype -- the audio is very good and there is a fluidness with with both the teacher and students can screenshare, take control of other screens and also engage in video conferencing.  The latter is important when dealing with language; you want to see the person talking!

Lync also has a built in recorder.  When the teacher starts her daily session, she can click on the record button and a video is made of all the interactions online; who said what, who typed what and what was shared across the computers.  Beyond just the security issue (because that always lies in the background administratively) the pedagogical opportunities are considerable.  Students can go back and review the class; the teacher can reflect on how she dealt with questions, what should and shouldn't have been shown, how the sharing process can be made better.  (It's a great precursor for our video-enabled classroom, where "regular" classroom teaching will go under the same observational process for teacher reflection.)

As I said, I'm very fortunate to be involved -- the teacher is remarkably well prepared.  Her OneNote Binders are constructed in such a way to make it easy for a student that is not physically present to understand how to work through and she has nicely balanced text, images, audio & video.  Her online sessions recognize the need for ever-changing focus to keep participants active and she continually adapts to the students and also the occasional technological challenge that inevitably arises.

Her (and my) only challenge is the issue of authenticity.  How do we know the student is doing the work by themselves, unaided?  Their summative assessments will be written here at the school (which is why the course starts in August and end in the early part of September, once school is back) but all the formative work -- how do we know that we're responding to the student's actual needs, and not the needs of a tutor or, god forbid, Google Translate?  She is using a lot of audio and video on both sides to try to provide some level of authenticity but it's not up to the level we have come to expect in the F2F classroom.

*Yes, I am kicking myself that I did not go through with a research study on this; she's absolutely fascinating to watch.  But the UofT process is just so onerous I'll wait until I'm out from under their Byzantine thumb.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Escape Room / BreakOut in OneNote

[[Part 2 of this article is here: Link]]

So when I was visiting Anna in Edinburgh during March Break, she showed me how she used Password-Protected OneNote sections within the OneNote ClassNotebook to help students check their work -- she set the password to the correct answer, so they knew they had it right when the Section opened up.

I figured I could use this for Math Review, so I set aside a couple of hours (turned out to be 3 hours but a fair chunk of that was solution-time) the other night to put an Exam Review together for my Grade 10 Mathematics course.  I pulled together as many multiple choice questions and short answer questions on the topics as I could Google and tried to balance each Section with a mix of topics and then threw in a couple of pop-culture questions, too.  The students worked on the problems in each section and used the answers as passwords to unlock the next section until they got to the Prize section.
Result?  Near total continual engagement for the 60 min…

Teacher Professional Development and Microsoft OneNote

During the first three weeks of July, I have the amazing opportunity to work at the Park City Mathematics Institute.  It is, without exaggeration, the best professional development opportunity for teachers of mathematics.  Participants spend three weeks thinking deeply about mathematics and mathematics education.

There are three main aspects of PCMI:

learning mathematicsreflection on practice (RoP)becoming a resource to others.I'm part of the team for RoP and in charge of the third aspect, in which participants consider a gap in professional development back at their home districts and work in small groups to help fill that hole by developing a rich PD seminar on that topic.

It is not easy to develop professional development.  Teachers who haven't written PD have to patiently learn how to write (essentially) lesson plans for someone else.

This year, I used Microsoft OneNote to facilitate the process.  We have a central OneNote Notebook through which I lay out the daily schedule…

Desmos, OneNote & Replay

So using Desmos activities are a great way to encourage exploration and discussion in math class -- if you haven't tried them, I encourage it.  They're collected at https://teacher.desmos.com/ 

But ... Desmos doesn't give you quite enough.  It doesn't have a way of capturing the work that the student does within their space, and it doesn't allow for annotation of class contributions as we come together to discuss.  Well, not surprisingly, OneNote comes to the rescue. 
Using the Windows shortcut Windows-Shift-S it is really quick to snag the Desmos screen and pop it into a waiting OneNote page.  From there, we can grab our pen and (using wireless projection) talk about what all the different responses mean and where to go from there.
(An aside : one of the nice features of Desmos activities are the way you can hit PAUSE and it will pause all the screens of the students working.  I always give them a heads up "10 seconds to pause..." and it's refreshing…