Hack the Classroom | OneNote and Learning Tools
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Hack the Classroom | OneNote and Learning Tools

– This next speaker is a
teacher who transformed her classroom in just a few short months. Her story blew me out of
the water when I heard it a few months ago, and I knew
we had to bring her here. She’s a fourth grade language arts teacher at Garfield Prep Academy
in the southeast district of Columbia. Before we bring her out on stage though, I thought it would be really good if we could show you a video
of what it’s really like with her fourth grade students in DC. Let’s roll that clip. (calming music) – Hi baby, good morning. It’s our job as teachers to find the ways and the tools for personalized learning. We’re unique and we’re different, so we’re not all going
to learn the same way. Personalized learning in my classroom looks like everyone doing the same task, but in a different way. – Ms. Graves is amazing. – She the best reading
teacher in the whole world. – Ms. Graves is, she’s a great teacher. She’ll go above and beyond figuring out what she can do and how she
can tailor her instruction for even just one kid. – We really do our best
to serve the whole child. I know that teaching is my purpose. It’s why I was put on this earth. – There’s so many different
ways kids can learn. There’s no one right way. – Absolutely, finding
that way for that kid, and then it’s off and
running for them, you know. I love Class Notebook. I’ve often thought where has this been my whole entire teaching life? Now put them together. – Advice. – Good job. This tool is incredible. It helps my children
become more organized. Everyone’s engaged,
everyone feels successful. And that’s certainly what I
want for all of my children. I’m so proud of you. Good job, bud. – The OneNote Class
Notebook helped me because if I don’t know some words I just go to immersive reader and
they can say it for me. – Oh gosh, immersive reader
has helped the comprehension in my classroom. I see better fluency. I see better engagement. And the kids are taking more ownership. People who serve tend to
forget about themselves. But it’s so important that
we take care of ourselves so that we can take care of others. OneNote has given me the
time back that I need for my own balance. And most of all, what I
see are students who feel more confident in their own learning. (upbeat music) (applause and cheers) Good evening, it’s an
incredible honor to be surrounded by educators to share my story. And I want to thank Microsoft Education for the opportunity. My story starts here at the
Garfield Preparatory Academy located in southeast Washington DC, where I have the privilege of serving some of the smartest,
most resilient, amazing and strongest students around. 98% African American, 100%
free and reduced lunch. 13% special education. It started off as a typical
school day last November. Got my kids in ready to settle
down, settle down to learn, then it happened, destruction. The beloved laptop that
I had been in a faithful work relationship for the
last six years crashed. Like any good teacher, I played it cool in front of the class. Didn’t show the panic on my face. But on the inside I was
totally freaking out, thinking what am I going
to do about a laptop? Where am I going to find a new laptop? How am I going to get a new laptop? Where am I going to get it from? I don’t even have time for this kind of inconvenience in my life. On top of all of that,
there were a classroom full of fourth graders ready to be taught right then and there without a computer. So like any good teacher, I just had to go old school on them. Yet I was in denial and without a computer for many weeks. Winter break rolls around. I have a little time to
research and explore my options. I discovered a Microsoft Surface Pro. And then I thought I
think this is the laptop that I’d like to start my
new work relationship with. While waiting for it to arrive, I discovered the Microsoft
Educator community. I was intrigued. What’s this? Professional development
courses that I can select for myself that interests me, that I can take at my own pace, and that’s full of practical information that I could use right then and there? This was different, but I liked it. One course led to another led to another. And then I would discover the course that would, I would discover the course that would revolutionize my classroom and instructional
practice in guided reading and close reading, OneNote Class Notebook, a teacher’s all in one. Yes, give it up for, yes, give it up. (applause) I discovered learning tools, and after realizing how
they could support my kids, I got so hyped. So I decided to dedicate myself
to the paperless process. With resources being so
limited, I had to figure out how I would get devices into the hands of all of my students. So I wrote a grant for DonorsChoose. I got five tablets funded. Went to my principal, explained to him the vision that I had for my classroom and the resources that I had obtained. He said great idea Graves, and I think I’ll supply
the rest of the devices so that you can go one to one. (applause) I was like, yes! And I was full of
gratitude and excitement. That lasted all of one minute because then I realized a
new challenge was at hand. How and when am I going to teach my kids about Office 365, but most importantly, how do you use Class Notebook? I found out that our
district is fortunate enough to have access to a Microsoft
learning consultant. That’s him there. (cheers and applause) Yes yes, this is Zia Hassan. Hey Z! I know he’s watching right now. I reached out to him,
and I explained to him what I wanted to do with my class, and he was more than happy
to come out and support. I selected the five students that I knew could learn it quickly and
then teach their peers. Z came out maybe once
or twice every two weeks until all the kids got it. And we rolled the tablets
out five at a times, five at a time, until everyone was, until we were one to one. Now this the point in
my story where I have to address all the school leaders. If you’re a school leader, could
you raise your hand please? Okay, good. Give it up for the school leaders, yes. (applause) But I gotta tell you guys, what I noticed about Principal Branch
is it wasn’t a matter of just throwing technology
into my classroom, he provided the flexibility
in our instructional block, the much needed encouragement
to me and my kids, but most of all, and he
provided the human resources. What do I mean by that? Well there were timeS
when even Principal Branch was in the classroom helping
kids log on to Office, answering questions about Class Notebook, and most of all acting like the IT person in troubleshooting and fixing technology that was not behaving. As a result of their
constant tactical support, patience, and encouragement, some dynamic differentiation
took place in my classroom. If you teach Common Core, you are aware of the challenges that close reading poses for struggling readers. Immersive Reader gives
my students the support that they need by allowing the first read to be independent
without being singled out and coming to my table so
that I could read for them. I’ve noticed how they like to
turn on the syllable function, which breaks down each word in the text. One of my struggling readers told me, I like to use it because
it helps me say the word on my own. This tells me that he’s
practicing his decoding skills. My students use dictation and audio to record their answers
as a way of maximizing their class time. Check out what one of them told me. That’s not the right slide. Sorry. Check out what one of them told me as I was checking through their notebooks and just stumbled on this audio. I didn’t think I’d have enough time to finish typing so I tried
to talk the answer out by recording my answer. I thought it would be
quicker because I knew I had other classwork to finish, that I needed to finish so that I could go outside for recess. (laughter) For my proficient and high flyers, learning tools gives them the opportunity to think beyond the text. Diving deeper into concepts, content, and central messages. And I can’t even express the increase in academic conversation that
you hear in my classroom. When you’re listening to a
fourth grade conversation about the Boston Tea Party and you hear a fourth grader say, where did you get that source information from? I don’t know if I could trust that. On the inside, you’re like, what? (applause and cheers) In addition to learning tools, Class Notebook has given me the capability to share a simple running
record as I instruct in guided reading. While my student is
reading on their device, I annotate the text on mine. And since OneNote allows
us to share the work, we refresh our screens,
have a quick debrief, and my student walks away
from my guided reading table with a visual record of their miscues. Imagine how this has
changed the conversation when a parent asks how
can I help my student, my child at home read better? I provide them with a parent link to their child’s notebook. And remind them that
with Internet connection and a device, they have
everything they need. Using audio has increased
fluency in my classroom. My students record themselves reading, play it back, and listen
to how they sound. This has caused many of them to reflect on their own reading practice. They are given as many opportunities as they need or want to re-record until they sound as smooth as silk. The look of pride on their
faces when they realize they sound better reading,
well that’s priceless. So if I could tell teachers anything, it would be dive in. Take time to explore the
Microsoft Educator community. That’s where I discovered
the ideas and strategies that transformed my classroom. Dive in by reaching out to
those who can support you. Dive in, work with what you have and seek out what you can get. It wasn’t easy, and there were many days when I wanted to throw in the towel. I said the old way is easier. It’s more convenient,
and it still works too. But when you look at that face and realize that the old
way is not the best way for his future, you press forward and you dedicate yourself to the process. (applause and cheers) So my story ends like this. I am a reading teacher, but after all destruction led to a
discovery that ignited a dedication, and as a result,
dynamic differentiation is what learning looks
like in my classroom. Thank you. (applause) – [Woman] Thank you Merlyn. – [Merlyn] You’re welcome. – Thank you so much. Okay, so everyone is so inspired and they all agree that having
a supportive administrator is really, you’re super
lucky for that, right. So for the teachers though that have an administrator that’s
got maybe a much bigger school that they’re worried about or you know have other things
that they’re focusing on, what suggestions do you
have for the teacher who is kind of in on it on their own? Like how could they get
started using OneNote? – Well definitely the
Microsoft Educator community. I mean all week here I’ve
been seeing the words, find your tribe. Find your vibe, find your tribe. And you certainly, I
certainly found my tribe on the Microsoft Educator community. It’s awesome. – Yeah, thank you again Merlyn. One more round of applause for her and her fantastic kids, thank you.

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