In order to plan and teach an engaging lesson exploring AI and machine learning at the junior primary level, I would usually seek to draw on the knowledge of an outside expert. However, today I taught one of the most engaging and exciting lessons utilising the tools and lessons contained within code.org, leaving students with a sound understanding of how machine learning can be used to solve real world problems.
With the components of STEM as the central pillars of the lesson, I was keen to find a way that students could understand how technology can help us solve real world problems, within the inquiry context of ocean pollution.
The AI for Oceans resource from Code.org is so much more than coding. Not only does it teach students about machine learning and AI, it also explores the ethical implications of these.
The first activities in the lesson require students to teach their AI bot what is classed as a 'fish' and 'not a fish'. The more data the students give their bot, the more accurate it is. Excitement levels were high as students eagerly watched their machine classify each object, with a few squeals and objections as fish were placed into the trash pile! Back to training they went!
As the lesson progresses students are asked to teach their machine how to classify their fish based on adjectives - happy, awesome, wild etc. This is a great activity to explore perspective as students quickly come to realise that this isn't such as easy task. With half the class labelling one fish 'happy' due to it's smirk and the other class refuting this, it quickly opens the door to deeper conversations!
I highly recommend checking this resource out if you are looking to teach machine learning to your students or are after a resource to support the exploration of ocean pollution.
A common question I get asked by teachers who are starting to delve into the limitless potential of OneNote is, 'How can I make my OneNote pages look pretty?!'
Let's start with a few inbuilt features that can help style your OneNote pages for fun and engaging lessons:
Page Colour - under the 'View' tab, select page colour and choose a colour to bring your page alive. In addition to the colours, you can also choose lined or grid paper to use.
Stickers - under the 'Insert' tab you can select different stickers to add to the page. The stickers that have a pencil icon in the corner are editable. One way to make instructions look interesting, is to add them as text into the sticker.
Images - Another way to make the pages more vibrant is to 'Insert' Pictures from online or your desktop. A good tip to stop images moving around when on the OneNote page is to right-click on the image and select 'Set picture as background'.
Bitmoji - Everyone loves a Bitmoji! A great way to personalise your OneNote pages and make your lessons come alive is to use your Bitmoji as a sticker in OneNote. An easy way to do this is to install the Bitmoji extension on your Chrome Browser and sign in with your Bitmoji account. Once the extension is installed, you will be able to search for Bitmoji and copy and paste the images onto your OneNote page. If you are printing PowerPoints or PDFs to the OneNote page, a good tip is to set the PowerPoint/PDF as a background by right-clicking on the document and choosing 'Set image as background'. You can then place you Bitmoji image on top of the document.
Enjoy making your pages look pretty!
We recommend adding educators to fewer, better organized teams vs. a team for every school initiative to model best practices from the beginning.
- Microsoft Teams for Education
The beginning of the new school year means setting up our online learning spaces for our students to create, collaborate and share. When it comes to creating your Class and Staff teams for 2021, it is important to think about the structure of your online spaces. When using Microsoft Teams, it is generally recommended that you have less Teams and more Channels to organise your content.
Check out this blog post by Microsoft on best practice Teams set up for school leaders. This is a great blog post to help you plan for:
It is important that a device is not only learning ready but it also needs to survive the rough and tumble of the classroom... and the school bag. There are so many considerations when purchasing a new device; operating system, applications, non touch, touch, stylus... the list goes on!
An entry level non touch Windows device allows students to access all of the great features of Windows 10 in addition to running full desktop applications, apps from the Microsoft Store and browser based websites. Educational games such as Minecraft: Education Edition can be downloaded and installed on a Windows 10 device in addition to the inbuilt Windows 10 programs such as Paint 3D, Mixed Reality and the Photos app. These programs provide the tools students need to express their ideas in new and creative ways, giving them access to libraries of 3D models, stickers, effects, and the power to blend their virtual and physical worlds through mixed reality! These devices are great for everyday learning, however, the addition of touchscreen and pen functionality introduces benefits beyond a keyboard and screen.
Touch screen Windows devices with full keyboard and active stylus allow students to learn in a way that best suits them. They can notetake, sketch, draw and annotate as they adjust their device from tablet to tent to laptop mode. A touchscreen, 360 laptop offers students the ability to interact with their device in a comfortable and natural manner. Resting their hand on screen, they can write as they would on paper, however, they are afforded the added benefits of instant sharing, collaboration, audio recording and more. Students in my classroom loved how easy and natural it was to work with a touch screen especially when default applications such as OneNote and Paint 3D allow them to express their creativity with digital inking. Research has shown that when using a pen, students produce more diagrams, symbols and numbers leading to an increase in their academic performance.
With so many considerations, it can feel overwhelming. Whether you are choosing a device for your school environment or choosing which device is right for your child as a BYOD option, I'm here to help! Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions and we can find the best solution for your needs - firstname.lastname@example.org
Recording your lessons using Microsoft Teams
Recording meetings in Teams is a great way to create video content for your students to review. You can do this by either creating a Teams meeting through your calendar or alternatively you can use the Meet Now option in the Team channel (note that students will be able to join the live meeting as it will appear in the Posts stream).
See the below tutorial to learn how you can record your lessons using Microsoft Teams meetings:
Screen Recordings using PowerPoint
Creating a screen recorded lesson using PowerPoint is a simple way to quickly capture and share content with your students.
Sharing your lessons using Microsoft Stream
To learn how you can create and share video lessons and recordings with your students using Microsoft Stream, check out this fantastic post by the Using Technology Better team -
The great thing about Microsoft Teams is that it brings all of your frequently used apps and tools together in one central space. Simply ‘Add a tab’ to your classroom team and select Stream. Enter the link to your class channel and now all of your video content is readily available for your students viewing.
During this period of remote learning, the Presenter Coach is one way students can continue to work on their presentation skills in a supported environment.
The PowerPoint Online feature empowers students to access instant, personalised feedback on their presentation skills, providing on screen guidance in relation to pacing, fluency and use of language. Real time feedback prompts the reader as they go through each slide and once finished, they are provided with a 'Rehearsal Report' that summarises their feedback into one easy to read report. An incredible tool for students to independently revise and develop their presentation skills.
Currently this feature is only available in PowerPoint Online and can be accessed following the below steps:
1. Login to Office 365 here
2. Open a PowerPoint presentation
3. Click on the 'Slideshow' tab in the top ribbon
4. Click 'Rehearse with coach'. This will open your presentation in a full screen window. Make sure you allow access to your microphone if prompted to do so
5. In the bottom right corner select 'Start rehearsing' from the pop up box and choose whether you want to view real time feedback
6. If you have selected real time feedback, you'll notice that the pop up will provide feedback as you progress through your slides. This includes feedback on pace and fillers such as 'um' and 'ah'
7. Once completed you will receive a detailed Rehearsal Report with feedback and recommendations. Note your feedback or 'Rehearse Again' to improve on your presentation skills.
The current global environment has forced us to rethink how we deliver curriculum content to our students through remote learning environments. During times such as this, online, collaborative environments are key in ensuring teachers and students stay connected.
Microsoft Teams provides a collaborative hub, bringing together all of the necessary features needed for remote learning - virtual meeting spaces, chat, shared files, shared Class OneNote, assignments and a range of interactive apps such as Flipgrid.
The features and functionality of Microsoft Teams is vast so identifying what is 'essential' is a good place to start when transitioning to an online teaching and learning space. My three essentials within Teams are:
There are two ways to meet in Microsoft Teams - scheduling a meeting event in your calendar or using the Meet Now option in the 'Posts' workspace. View my short tutorial below to see how you can get started...
The 'Post' or 'Conversation' space in Teams is a great space for teachers and students to interact. See how to get the best out of this space below...
Assigning and marking work is easy with Assignments. View my quick tutorial on how to get started with assignments below:
Looking for further support with Microsoft Teams in education?
Windows 10 has opened up new opportunities for creative and immersive learning through Paint 3D, Mixed Reality and the Photos App. Import models into Paint 3D and bring your imagination to life with inking, stickers and shapes. With a click of a button you can take your 3D model and place it into your surroundings through Mixed Reality. Drop, rotate and even scoop it up using your hand to position it perfectly in your environment then take a photo or record yourself explaining what you have created in the form of a video.
This has so many exciting applications for classroom learning as students can bring their ideas to life through the power of Windows 10.
If I had envisioned what AI in the classroom would look like five years ago, I would've imagined students wearing futuristic headsets whilst exploring holographic scenes. Whilst this isn't wrong, with technology such as the HoloLens and VR/AR featuring in classrooms worldwide, what I'm most surprised by is the transformative impact AI is having from within the tools we know and love... Word, PowerPoint and OneNote. Augmented and Virtual Reality is opening avenues that were once impossible to explore from within the classroom walls however I believe that the AI embedded into the Office 365 suite of productivity tools is truly transforming teaching and learning in the classroom by empowering every learner.
Let's take a closer look at some of these tools and how they empower every learner in the classroom.
The Immersive Reader
The Immersive Reader empowers every learner to access written text by not just reading the text aloud, but allowing students to change the font size, type, page colour, highlight nouns, verbs and adjectives as well as selecting line focus, providing a picture dictionary and allowing students to translate the text into over 60 languages! What is most powerful about this tool is that students are able to adjust the learning to best suit their needs. You can find the Immersive Reader built into Word, OneNote, Edge Browser... the list goes on! You can now even find it in Minecraft: Education Edition and Forms! Learn more about this incredible tool here.
Presenter Coach in PowerPoint Online
The Presenter Coach in PowerPoint empowers students to access instant, personalised feedback on their presentation skills. The Presenter Coach provides students with on screen guidance about their pacing, fluency and use of language, detecting when they are reading from their slides and suggesting they summarise the key points. Once students have finished their rehearsal they are provided with a 'Rehearsal Report' that summarises their feedback into one easy to read report. An incredible tool for students to independently revise and develop their presentation skills.
Math in OneNote
The Math feature in OneNote provides students with step by step scaffolded instructions on how to solve math equations. What's amazing is that this isn't limited to a bank of pre-created questions generated by the app, it takes the student's hand written or typed mathematical equations and provides not only the solution but solution steps to support the student in finding the answer. Another example of how AI is naturally integrated into a tool we all know and love, fundamentally transforming the way students engage in learning. No longer reliant on the teacher, students are empowered to work through their mathematical learning with an instant and personalised support system.
Editor in Word
The 'Review' tab in Word can often get overlooked, however, contained within it are some powerful features to check the overall effectiveness and accessibility of our documents. The 'Check Document' button pulls up the Editor panel and this not only checks for spelling errors but provides feedback on grammar and conciseness. This is a fantastic tool for students to use to review their written work as it provides spelling suggestions (which can also be read-aloud) as well as reviewing the documents 'conciseness' and suggesting alternative statements to make the written text more impactful.
In addition to the 'Check Document' button, the 'Accessibility Checker' is a quick way to ensure the content we create is accessible for all. The checker will pick up on missing alternative text for images and even detect when font colours may be difficult to read due to the contrast.
This list is only the beginning of the incredible AI powered technology that sits within Microsoft's suite of tools and I hope to cover other tools such as PowerPoint captions, Microsoft Translator and Seeing AI in a future post.
I hope this post has brought to light some of the ways teaching and learning can benefit from AI, creating personalised, differentiated learning that empowers our learners to show greater agency.
Minecraft: Education Edition is an incredible digital tool for every classroom with applications across the curriculum and inbuilt tools for teaching coding and computational thinking.
As teachers, it can be hard to find the time to fully understand the potential of the game. I have created a series of short videos to introduce you to the key features of the game and how you can get started with each.