APPy to help

29 Apr

During our MIEE (Microsoft Innovative Expert Educators) induction days in Reading, UK we were asked to peruse the Windows 8 App store for applications we could use in the classroom. You can see a summary of some of the free apps available for education via the Microsoft UK schools blog.

My contribution was the QR code creator, which I use to share my youtube videos when we are carrying out test feedback and review in class. Rather than going through the entire test from the front of the class I create video solutions for each question then the students can scan the QR code that takes them to the specific questions they need to review.

I struggled with this task as many of the tools I use in my current classroom (I am about to move to a Microsoft Partnership school) do not seem to be available in the Windows 8 app store. However, I have been asked to contribute some ideas for apps I would like to see in the store and this is what I have come up with so far:


I have developed a class blog with one of my maths classes which we use it to:

  1. chronicle our lessons in order to help parents understand what we are doing day to day.
  2. help students revise
  3. share our maths journey with the world.

Sharing the journey has been very successful thanks to getting involved in a quadblog. This is where four class blogs from around the world are connected and the students view and comment on each other’s posts. We currently use wordpress to host the blog which does not have the safeguards that edublogs does but allows me to upload pictures to the blog easily during lessons. The advantage of edublogs is that each student can be allocated a login without asking them to use their email and it allows them to blog anywhere, anytime but the posts can only be published by the blog administrator (me).

So, I would love to have a Windows 8 App that allowed me to review and publish the student’s posts, upload pictures and other media and generally monitor the blog from my Windows 8 device, whether it be my pc, laptop or phone.

Myscript Calculator:

This is something I discovered recently for android devices. It is a simple calculator where you can write in the calculation you want to carry out and the app recognises your handwriting and converts to a sum… and calculates it.

So, were this to be available for students with touch screen Windows 8 devices then it would be a valuable tool for helping them understand the order of operations, investigate fraction notation and investigate number skills.

Hopefully some of these and other apps will make their way to Windows 8 app store soon.

Ben Rouse



Flipping my classroom to Office365

3 Apr

As I prepare for my move to Havant Academy I am looking to transfer my day to day learning and teaching edtech (educational technology) tools to a form that can be integrated into Office365, which will be in place for the entire school. So far I have found work-a-rounds in order to integrate effective edtech in my lessons in-spite of the technology available. I will be in a school which has integrated technology so it will be important that I utilise this under one login and embrace the opportunity for the students to all experience effective use of technology.

Some of my current day to day tools:

  • Wikispaces for sharing topics/homework and support resources with students.
  • Google Forms for lesson feedback.

What does Office 365 have to offer?

Wikispaces to Onenote: I have started to play around with onenote, which is a collaborative notebook which can be used quite powerfully in windows 8. Have a look at this video to help you understand some of the ways in can be used in the classroom. At the moment my aim is to have a tab for my lesson information containing a page per class which will work in the same way as my pages on the wikispace to help the students understand the journey we are on with previous and upcoming topics and resources accessible 24/7. If you have a look at teh video link above you will see the amazing onenote search capability in windows 8 that references copied sections

Google forms to Excel survey: I use a google form to collect student feedback after lessons. I have created a survey in excel which will perform the same function as my google one in that it will collect feedback in a spreadsheet that I can review and analyse to improve my lessons based on student feedback. Something that may also work that I have yet to investigate are the polls that can be added to onenote and powerpoint presentations for the students to complete at the start, during or after a lesson in order to improve assessment for learning. I’ll share a post once I have tried this out.

Next Steps

I need to start using these in the classroom and embed the processes with my new students so there is a lot of work ahead. I have found some really fascinating possibilities from watching the Windows in the Classroom videos on the Microsoft Partners in Learning website. Anyone can sign up and start working through the videos if you use windows 8 and office365 at your school or if you want to investigate the possibilities for your school.

As I progress I will share some videos showing how I have used the tools I have mentioned in this and other blog posts.

Further Learning Opportunities: The Flipped Classroom

I have spent some time developing a flipped classroom approach with some of my classes on some topics. The flipped classroom is a teaching strategy where the traditional instruction is moved to homework or outside the classroom, allowing more time in class to be used to develop ideas, apply concepts and support students in a more differentiated way. Videos and online support materials are used provided for the students to develop the basics of a topic or review key information. The students can then be assessed on arrival at the following lesson and directed to more personalised activities based on this. The teacher’s time can be focussed on maintaining rapid and sustained progress by supporting smaller groups. I think using windows 8 and office365 could make this approach more effective and I intend to blog on this once I have investigated the possibilities. In the meantime have a look at the links below to help you understand the flipped classroom better.

Flipped Learning Network

My talk at TeachmeetBrighton last year and accompanying presentation

Flipped Institute

Flipped Classroom Video explanation

Hack Education: Trends of 2012

Collection of resources and ideas for flipping the classroom

Please comment if you have any questions or points you would like to share.

Ben Rouse



Introducing… MEE

25 Mar

What happens when 13 educators get to work directly with Microsoft? I’m finding out…

On Thursday and Friday of last week I attended a Microsoft Partners in Learning (PiL) event with 12 other educators from around the UK as we all began our journey, representing our school, aiming (Jemma will tell me off again for not saying “achieving”) to progress to become Microsoft expert educators (MEE). Read “Geek to M.E.E.K” by @Charbackhurst to find out more…

The purpose of the group is to share and develop the educational potential of Windows 8 and Office 365 through our day to day practice. I was initially cynical as I have spent the last three years bypassing Microsoft in favour of Google, wikispaces and other free technology that have enhanced the learning experience for my classes. The change comes as I move to a new school later this year which has a partnership with Microsoft. Havant Academy is a school, unsurprisingly in… Havant, just outside Portsmouth. Having recently completed a rebuild the school has some exceptional facilities including up to date technology that supports a device per student. My work with Microsoft should help the school get the full potential from these devices for learning in and out of lessons.

My cynicism has changed into intrigue and determination.
I was intrigued to discover that Office 365 can offer a coordinated and secure way to continue the pedagogical technology integration I already utilise. Most importantly Office 365 is free to educators!

I am determined to work with the Microsoft in Education team to make sure Windows 8 offers a full range of apps that benefit educators and students in and out of the classroom.

If like me you try to use a range of technology to enhance the learning in your classroom you may have been reticent to continually ask your students to obtain a new login for edmodo, google, wikispaces, edublogs, wordpress and many others.

Can Office 365 and Windows 8 provide me with the same learning opportunities with a single secure login giving the same opportunities for all the students whether they are taught by me or any other teacher?

Previously I have used google forms embedded into wikispaces to collect information from students about my teaching.
Office 365 contains excel surveys which can be shared with students easily. If you are interested in seeing how then here is a great blog post on excel surveys to help you get started.

Follow my journey to make Microsoft work for me and my new school in improving learning opportunities.

You’ll hear from MEE soon…

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Read about my journey to use windows 8 and office 365 in the classroom

Teaching at Wordpress

An online collection of classroom information and links for learning.

I'm a Director of Learning Technologies and Science Teacher from Melbourne, Australia. This Blog contains evidence-based views, methods, ideas and experiences of Education in The 21st Century.

Numeracy, Quadratics and Trying to teach them (NQT)

Aiming for one more "Ahhh I get it, Miss.." every day.