On Wednesday the 28th of April 2018, the Scottish Government issued its first ever RED weather warning leaving many authorities across the country with no option but to close their schools. Now, I am certain many primary aged children were filled with joy, I know my own children were! In contrast many secondary school teachers dreaded the break as assignments, SQA pickups, and deadlines are fast approaching.
Teacher’s time with their students is very precious particularly when assignments and portfolio deadlines are fast approaching. With final year exams just around the corner nobody can really afford the luxury of a snow day. So, what is one to do when Mother-Nature throws a curve ball and you cannot make it to school?
We can certainly use technology to keep the classroom open even when the school is closed. Regardless of the weather, Microsoft have several Office 365 tools, such as OneNote which can be used to support learning and teaching beyond the walls of the classroom. Even when students cannot attend the school – learning can take place in their living room.
Microsoft Teams has brought all these amazing tech tools together and can act as the cornerstone for collaboration and productivity. I have been using Teams with several of my classes since October last year. I am now beginning to see an increase in the engagement from students as they begin to experience the benefits of greater collaboration. Students simply download the Teams app on their smart phone or device and login.
I instruct students to switch on notifications and updates, so they remain up to date with what is going on within our Team. This is massive bonus for me because I don’t have a fixed classroom or teaching area, and this allows me to keep the students up to date with deadlines, homework tasks and forward planning. I can effortlessly update on our channel or conversation thread when required, particularly when there is a change to our timetabled classroom periods.
On Wednesday, the first of three snow days, I started by posting an update to students that the school would be closed because of the severe weather and that they should be using the time off school to catch up on any work that was missed which was already accessible through Teams. I was also able to upload new classroom content, in the form of a PowerPoint, in our channel along with questions that would support students with up and coming assignments. I was available to answer further questions and review work set for other classes via Teams.
Teams has many benefits, supporting varied pace of learning, flipping learning and ensuring that deep learning takes place in the classroom where greater support can be offered. If students miss lessons or assignments, catch-up is made easier as students can visit content and conversations of missed lessons.
Teams is a game changer and a great technological tool that will support learners as they make the transition into further education or the modern work place. This is because the growth and use of technology in the modern work place demands greater collaboration and productivity if it is to be successful.
About the author
#MIEExpert and MIE Trainer Allan Thompson a PE Teacher at St Mungo’s High School. Alan is a dedicated and passionate educator using Microsoft technologies effectively to enhance the outcomes for all his students and save himself and colleagues time.