This latest extract from Education Technology is written by Natalie Burgess, Microsoft Teacher Ambassador, who discusses the best way to grow as a teacher by jumping in and taking the first step. Natalie’s current role is to train teachers across Scotland and the North of England to use technology in their classrooms. Natalie was previously a Primary School teacher for 6 years in Kirklandneuk Primary School, Renfrew.
Earlier this year, Natalie ran a webinar all about her Digital Leaders Programme and edtech in the classroom, which is available on demand: Digital Leaders in the Primary School.
Education Technology - Step out of your comfort zone, by Natalie Burgess
As a Primary 3 teacher for a number of years, I was excited and ready to change up my teaching and utilise Office 365 successfully in my classroom, within the Scottish GLOW platform. However, at the beginning some doubts filled my head- Are the pupils too young? Will they be able to use the technology without my support all the time? Do I know enough to use this technology successfully? However, with everything new comes challenges and self-doubt and the best way to grow as a teacher is to step out of your comfort zone.
What I realised was I had to jump in, take the first step and try these great tools with my pupils. Before I knew it, we were collaborating within the classroom, with other classes in the school and even beyond the classroom, all at the click of a button! I used the Microsoft Educator Community to learn some new skills and to get some great ideas. From there I trained up my Digital Leaders on all the tech so they could help me support the other staff members. This was such an important step for me to disseminate my learning and enthusiasm across my school.
After using Office 365 in my classroom consistently, I realised how incredible it was for several reasons. The pupils could collaborate on projects together in the classroom using apps like OneNote, Sway and PowerPoint. One of my first projects involved PowerPoint. I wanted to start with something simple, see how it worked and develop my teaching and learning from there. I created one PowerPoint and using the ‘share’ functionality available on Office 365, I shared this one document with all my pupils. I prepared a slide for each pupil so that they knew where they were to create their piece of work. I shared the success criteria with the pupils and asked them to present their personal research on the Vikings Topic.
With a willingness to grow, learn and make mistakes, anything is possible!
This was amazing because the pupils could work on this at home, in school and anywhere they had access to internet. Some of my pupils even used their parent’s mobile phones to continue their work at home! There was no need now to push homework as the kids were keen to access their work at home and share their successes with their parents. As a teacher, I loved that I could access this easily at home without taking 30 jotters home and could also leave valuable feedback for my pupils that they would see instantly. The children also enjoyed peer assessing each other’s work using the Comments functionality in PowerPoint.
During the National Digital Learning Week things got even more exciting! From 2nd to 6th March, I was involved in a project with schools across Scotland. We all worked together to co-create a story using Word Online on Office 365, again using the Share functionality. This was such a powerful project that taught the pupils how to work together, collaborate, use their thinking skills and have fun! Award winning Scottish authors, Theresa Breslin and Cathy MacPhail kindly agreed to write the opening chapters for each of the stories which the children absolutely loved.
These types of projects would be impossible without the power of Office 365. Having these simple enhancements like ‘Share’, ‘Comments’ and the ability to access work from any device made my lessons so much more engaging and meaningful. Suddenly we could create an audience right away by sharing our work with others via Yammer, Twitter and the Share button. The skills my pupils learned throughout all these projects were incredible and I highly recommend every teacher to have a go, try it and see the engagement happen in your classroom no matter what skill level you feel you are with technology. With a willingness to grow, learn and make mistakes, anything is possible!
Office 365 is available to students and teachers at no cost through their academic institution. Visit Office in Education to check eligibility and to download onto multiple devices.