Ozobots, OneNote and Seesaw

Recently, Our Lady of Grace was fortunate enough to borrow a set of 12 Ozobots from the Catholic Education SA Learning Technologies Team.  All Learners throughout the three Villages had the opportunity to use the Ozobots as part of their learning in the Digital Technologies curriculum. I was able to combine several of my favourite Digital Technologies tools – OneNote, Seesaw and robots (Ozobots in this case).


Learners in the 4/5 Village established an understanding of how the Ozobots worked, and then used the visual programming codes to create algorithms and debugged their algorithms to solve problems.  They used their knowledge of measurement to create a ‘race track’ measuring at least 100cm in length and incorporated a number of codes that they felt would help them to win a race against another Ozobot and learner.  This assessment was adapted from the Ozobot website – original lesson plan available here.

I wrote up the lesson for Learners in their OneNotes, and distributed the task out to them. I mashed up sections of the Ozobot lesson with note taking and reflection questions that linked to the Australian Curriculum.

For the labelled diagram component, students took a photo on Seesaw and then used the ‘Label’ tool to label all of the colour codes that they had used.

I’ve added the student OneNote page here. 

The Seesaw activity that we used for the labelling of their racetracks here.

Ideas for the Younger Years

R/1 Village

In the Early Years, the Digital Technology curriculum focuses on exploring and solving problems.  Learners experimented with using the Ozobots, making predictions and solving simple problems.  This included drawing lines for the Ozobot to follow, and when the Ozobot got confused, they went back and solved this problem, for example, by making the line thicker.  They made predictions based on experiences, such as, “The lights went red when the Ozobot went on the red line.  I think the lights will turn green when it goes on the green line.”

2/3 Village

After the initial exploration stage, learners in the 2/3 Village moved on to experimenting with colour codes.  They explored the best way to draw codes in order for the Ozobot to be able to follow and experimented with executing special moves (moonwalk, zigzag and tornado were favourites!)  Learners then made race tracks incorporating some of the special moves codes.  When codes were unsuccessful, learners developed and shared strategies for improving their track fluency.

Throughout the Villages, it was wonderful to hear the rich discussions around the Ozobots, including how they work, why the Ozobot wasn’t doing what they wanted it to, how to solve problems, negotiate access and work collaboratively.  Ozobots are now definitely on our wish-list for purchases for Digital Technologies at Our Lady of Grace!

Collaboration is Key

The collaboration space in class OneNote is often under utilised because educators aren’t sure what to do with it, syncing problems when the internet is slow can result in confusion, and students fear their work will be copied. But, when used creatively, the ‘collaboration’ aspect of the Collaboration Space can be a very powerful tool.

Avoid competitive tasks in this space.

I prefer to use the Collaboration Space as a place where learners build resources together that they can all benefit from, where they share their ideas and support each other’s learning. Last year, we worked together and created a series of resources to support and extend each other in creative writing.

In ‘Instead of Said’ students were given five minutes to find as many different ways that they could to make the boring sentence, “The cat sat on the mat,” said Dad more interesting by using words other than ‘said’. They then copied and pasted their ideas into the Collaboration Space. We then had a bank of words to use instead of ‘said’ when including direct speech in narrative writing.

There are so many better words to use rather than, ‘said’!

Learners had so much fun with this activity, and found the said alternative list so useful that I expanded this idea to other aspects of narrative writing.

Emotional Inferencing

We were looking at inference, and ways of suggesting how a character is feeling without actually naming that emotion. So, students selected an emotion each to write about, and we then copied their work into an emotion bank to benefit all students in narrative writing. This was lots of fun, and useful to boot!

You can see down the left all of the different emotions that students selected – such a great resource for writing projects!

I’ve added the ‘Emotion Inferences’ blank page to my shared Bau Teacher Adventures OneNote.  Find the link here, and please feel free to adapt and use!

Spectacular Settings

This year, I’m also going to include a ‘settings selection’ section in the Collaboration Space.  I’m planning on having students gather a variety of pictures of different scenes, seasons etc, and brainstorm some interesting descriptive words to go with them.

Lots of lists

We also use the Collaboration Space as a central location for groups of students (or even the whole Village).  These lists have included;

  • Class brainstorm on what to pack for school camp
  • Sphero project ideas
  • Fitness/ Brain break bank

Ideas for Sphero projects – it was a long list, and there was a great deal of excitement!

This was from before I discovered Forms! Learners initialled their top preferences for lollies for movie night on school camp.

Peer Editing/ Support/ Assessment

Learners complete a rough draft of an essay or project in their personal Notebook section, and then copy and paste the page into the Collaboration Space, where another student provides constructive feedback/ assists with editing/ does a peer assessment.

The original learner then copies the page back into their personal Notebook, and applies any changes/ constructive criticism that they agree with.

Preventing Syncing Errors

Sync errors are the most frustrating aspect of the Collaboration Space, and can turn excitement to dismay in a matter of moments. I have several methods of avoiding this problem, depending on what type of task we are doing.

  • Inserting tables and assigning each student a separate line.
  • Assigning each group of students a separate page within a Section, so all students can easily find each group’s work, but only a few people are contributing to a page at a time.

Students worked on this in groups of 4. Because the table was colour coded, learners were encouraged to talk to each other about which section they were currently added to in order to avoid syncing errors.

  • Learners do the work in their individual Section, and then copy and paste the page to the Collaboration Space, ensuring that they have their original in a safe place.

So, collaborate, don’t compete, and then sit back and listen to your learners’ conversations as they interact, support and encourage each other!

6 Tips for Assessing in OneNote

  1.   Distribute everything! 

The Distribute and Review functions are easily my favourite Class OneNote tools. With a couple of clicks, I can distribute a page or section out to all of my learners.

Distribution changed my world!

The best part though, is when I want to review or assess their work. I just go into Class  Notebook tools, click on review work and follow the prompts. Then, I have the work of all my students, right there in front of me! This function has dramatically reduced the amount of time that I spend marking.


There are a few tips though;

  • Train your learners to NOT change the title. If they do, OneNote will not recognise that student’s work, and you will have to find it manually. (Not cool people! I remind my learners that they want me in a good mood when I’m assessing, not grouchy because they played with the title.)
  • Distribute EVERYTHING. Even if it is just a title such as “T1 W2 Recount” and a blank page. You never know when you might want to review work.
  • Don’t let learners create their own Sections. Each individual’s section will then be listed, and this is downright irritating when distributing and reviewing work.


  1. Allow alternative assessment methods for learners that need it

When I’m planning assessments, I ask myself what it is that I’m trying to find out. If the answer isn’t about spelling, grammar and punctuation, then I incorporate multimodal assessment features, especially for students with additional needs.

OneNote is great for this, particularly by allowing the insertion of

  • dot points
  • audio responses (read more here).
  • images
  • videos (though sadly, not in Mac at the moment)
  • Youtube will embed directly into OneNote for Mac.

    Audio responses are great for students with dyslexia.

  1. Put questions and answers in tables

This is to make it easy for responses to be clearly written. This makes marking easy, as you don’t have to go searching for student answers amongst the text. More about tables in OneNote can be found in an earlier post here.

No more hunting for answers – I know exactly where to find them!


  1. Keep a copy of the marked rubric in a separate teacher-only location

 Kids will be kids, accidents happen, and I don’t like having to do a job twice. While I mark in the Class OneNote, I also have a second OneNote, containing my assessment data, and I copy and paste the completed rubric with my comments into a page per child.

Two Notebooks open – on the left is my ‘for teacher eyes only’ record, on the right is the Class OneNote.

It takes just a couple of seconds to do, but it provides a back up in case an accident (or “accident”) ever happens. It also means that when I met with parents, I have all the assessment rubrics in the one place.

I used to screenshot the completed rubric and then insert it back in as an image so that students couldn’t change their own grades, but it’s never happened, and I’m diligent about making the copy immediately, so I’ve scrapped the extra work  as being unnecessary.

  1. Include WALT, WILF and rubric in the assessment.

My students learn best when they know what they are learning, why they are learning it, and what I’m looking for when I mark an assessment. With that in mind, I make use of tables and the audio recording tool to enable students to have the best opportunity for success. (read more about differentiation here.)  Whenever I get the chance, I prefer to create the rubric with the learners, so that they understand exactly what they are being assessed on.  This is easy enough to do, and I can distribute the page out to them after we have made the rubric together.

Students refer to these regularly, along with the assessment rubric.

  1. Consider embedding a Form for a self marking component

Marking is one of my least favourite activities as a teacher. When possible, I include a Forms quiz and insert it into OneNote as a part of an overall assessment.  Just create the quiz in Forms, click on’ share’, get the Url and insert into OneNote. OneNote will embed the Form, making it easy for students to find and complete.

An embedded Form is great for a quick assessment.


What I love the most about assessing in OneNote though is simple logistics. I teach in a Village environment, which this year consists of 67 students, three teachers and three support staff. It simply isn’t possible to carry that many books home. Also, it’s very possible for books to go missing, or for another teacher to need them at the same time. With OneNote, I can assess efficiently, from anywhere.

Building Identity – I am Unique

School’s back!  I’m working with Year 4s and 5s again this year, as well as a leadership role in ICT and Digital Tech.  The Year 5s have been my learners for 1-2 years already, and the Year 4s are familiar to me through my ICT role, but haven’t been part of my Village before.

So, there’s a lot of ‘getting to know you’ activities going on.  I’m also incorporating some Health, in the form of Building Identity.  I’m pretty pleased with the outcomes of my first ‘real’ lesson for the year, and thought I’d share it with you.

Our Lady of Grace has been working with Mark Treadwell for the last few years, and we now do a lot of work on helping our learners to understand themselves, their character strengths, how they learn, and the importance of having a growth mindset.

I began the lesson with a favourite picture book of mine – ‘I like myself’ by Karen Beaumont.

Next, the students brainstormed both external and internal characteristics about themselves that they like. Then they worked with hula hoops in small groups to make Venn diagrams comparing and contrasting their characteristics and hobbies with some of their peers.

Hoops make great Venn Diagrams

We discussed their findings with the larger group, and learners took photos of their lists and Venn diagrams, inserted them into their Class OneNotes and reflected on how they are unique.

We celebrated their internal characteristics by creating a Word Cloud, and sharing it with their families on Seesaw.

Over the coming weeks, we’re going to work on goals, attitudes and habits.  I love seeing learner’s confidence grow, and their willingness to tackle challenges and try new things.

I’ve started a OneNote to share lesson plans and ideas with you here.

The activity that I created in Seesaw to go with this lesson is here.



Independence with OneNote

We have a mix of several ongoing projects/ extended learning activities in our Village as well as shorter term activities.  We also, like any class, have learners who finish the shorter activities quickly.  There’s always something to do, but sometimes our learners get confused about what priority they should place on activities, or they just want to have a bit of agency over their learning and choose what they do and when.

So, we came up with the Independence List.  We have tried several designs over the last two years, but this is our current working model.

As you can see, the activities are down the left hand side.  Any that MUST be completed by Friday afternoon of that week are highlighted in green.

Student names run across the top.  You’ll notice that Harrison’s name is green – this means that he has currently completed everything, and he can have free time to work on a project of his choice.  (Most learners have been choosing Hour of Code activities lately).

Independence List Codes

  • Green – activity is complete and checked by an educator.
  • Yellow – student has been working on an activity, but not yet complete.
  • Red – activity has not been begun.
  • M – activity is marked by an educator, and feedback is available (usually in their OneNote page).
  • A – student was absent and does not have to do this activity.

What we love about this current model is that we’ve put it into the Content Library in the Class OneNote.  This means that learners can view the Independence List whenever and wherever they are (including at home with their parents).  But, because we’ve placed it into the Content Library, only educators can edit the list (no sneaky checking off activities that aren’t really up to standard!)

We’ve created a Section called Independence, and we create a new page for every week.  This way, when we get to assessment time, and we need to check boxes in report cards about items such as ‘organisation’, ‘manages time well’ etc, we have instant documented evidence.

We have also built in designated ‘Independence Blocks’ into our weekly planning.  This gives everyone a chance to work on their activities.  I did an informal survey of students a while ago, and they all agreed that Independence is great, and they used their time in a variety of ways.  Here are some of them below.

  • Start at the top, and work on a task until complete before moving onto the next one.
  • Do what I’m feeling the most excited about first, but keep watch on what has to be finished by Friday.
  • Do what I don’t enjoy as much first so I get it over with.
  • Set myself 15 minutes on an activity and then switch to something else so I don’t get bored.
  • Get everything done to what I think is a pass, then go back and try and improve.

Our learners with additional needs thrive off the Independence List.  It is clear, easy to read, and the colour codes are simple to understand.  Planning difficulties can be managed by reminding these learners to focus on the highlighted tasks.

The Independence List in the Content Library of Class OneNote has been a game-changer for us, because we don’t have learners constantly asking us, “What do I do now?”  They can always find out for themselves as it is always available to them!  Also, a simple question from an educator of, “How’s your Independence List looking?” is guaranteed to get a chatty child right back on task!

Link to my OneNote containing an Independence List that you can edit for your own students can be found here. 


Mystery Skype Training Wheels

When I first came across the idea of Mystery Skype, I thought it would be a fun experience.  I didn’t truly appreciate what a fantastic learning experience it would be too!  We did our first two Mystery Skypes during this year’s Skypeathon.  To get started with Skype for the Classroom, you need to be a member of the Microsoft Education Community.

Use the free Mystery Skype OneNote from the website – it’s got great resources, and I could tweak them to my colourful, tabled heart’s content.

A few pointers that we picked up over the last two weeks of getting ready for our first Mystery Skype…

  1. Play class vs teacher to help learners develop questions.
  2. Play small team vs small team to build confidence (we did two-on-two).
  3. Be clear about the different roles, and assign them early – this gave learners a chance to conduct research, print off resources and build team skills (lists of roles are included in the free Mystery Skype OneNote – seriously – download it!)
  4. If possible, arrange to Skype with another class in the same school – to check the equipment.
  5. Just dive in and do it already!

Learners experimenting with how to block out regions in response to answers.

I was so nervous when we connected with another school for the first time!  But, it was amazing.  The buzz in the room was electric, and everyone played their parts beautifully.  The excitement as we got closer to discovering the other school’s location was wonderful.  Everyone was so involved and engaged!

Found you!

I tried out Mystery Skype as part of Skypeathon – a fun, end of year experience for my learners.  But, I will be including it as part of my Geography, Mathematics and English curriculums next year.  We covered;

  • Northern and southern hemispheres
  • Continents
  • States and capitals of Australia
  • Major landforms and landmarks of Australia
  • Oceans of the world
  • Time zones
  • Compass directions
  • Flow charts
  • Problem solving
  • Teamwork
  • ICT skills

Love how my students used flow charts to help them to plan initial questions.

We also learnt lovely snippets of information about the Mystery Locations – such as the Taj Mahal is in India, it doesn’t get very hot in New Zealand, ideas for asking different styles of clues and how to use visual and oral slips from Mystery Skypers to help us on our way.

You should have seen the ‘ooooo’ faces of the kids when our Mystery Skyper from India greeted us with, “Good morning!”  It was 2pm our time!

The list goes on!   There are a whole range of different Skype for the Classroom experiences available, including incursions and meetings with experts.  I’m looking forward to trying them all out in 2018.  My students are already asking me if we can have a class slumber party so we can Skype a country that’s normally asleep when we’re awake.  I can’t wait!


OneNote: Tables, tables, everywhere!

OneNote has transformed the way in which I operate my classroom, but tables have transformed the way in which I use OneNote. Below are my top reasons why you should incorporate more tables into your OneNotes.

  1. Tables are quick and easy to create.

In the OneNote ribbon, click on the ‘Insert’ tab and then select the size table that you need.  More columns and rows can easily be added under the ‘Table’ tab.

You’ll notice that my tables have alternating colours in them – this is to make scanning easier for learners with tracking difficulties – they don’t lose their place when they have clear colours to guide them.

  1. Tables are logical and become familiar to students – which means easy to use.

My learners enjoy consistency and knowing what the expectations are. They like knowing where to find information, and where to put answers. This is especially important for learners with extra needs. More about catering to learners with additional needs can be found in my blog post here. https://educationblog.microsoft.com/2017/09/5-easy-adaptations-learners-extra-needs/

  1. Tables make finding student responses (or lack of them) simple to identify.

I used to have to sift through information to find student responses. I experimented with having students highlight their answers with the highlighting tool or using a different colour font, but they often forgot. Marking was inefficient and painful. Once I switched to using tables with places for answers, I streamlined marking. Also, students can quickly and easily see where they are up to, and find it easy to come back to missed questions later.

Adding an extra column, inserting checkboxes and naming the column ‘Complete’ or ‘Finished’ takes just a few seconds, but gives learners a whole lot of satisfaction as they complete sections.  To read about more uses for checkboxes, read here. https://blogs.office.com/en-us/2017/06/05/the-humble-checkbox/?eu=true

  1. Tables break items into manageable chunks.

Some of the learners in my Village have planning difficulties. This means that they can struggle to break a large task or assignment into smaller, more manageable chunks (or parts for you non-Aussies). When I break tasks down for students regularly, they are eventually able to do this for themselves. Learners also feel less overwhelmed, and are more likely to be able to start their work, rather then just sitting and staring blankly at an empty screen.

  1. Tables prevent sync errors in the collaboration space.

The collaboration space is one of the best features of OneNote, but syncing errors did my head in initially. Students get very excited when they see other learners sharing their ideas in real time, but this can quickly turn to dismay when multiple pages begin to appear. I solved this problem with… You guessed it! Tables!

Assigning each learner or group of learners to a row or a box means that everyone can collaborate at the same time, but students don’t try and write in the same space, which creates sync errors. Not to mention, it makes everything look so much more organised and easy to read!

Here’s a recent piece of work created by one of my learners.  Look at how she’s colour coded her table to match her graph.  It makes my heart sing!


So there you have it! Quick, simple, saves time, and logical. Tables should be the best friend of every OneNote Educator!


Fakebooking it

History is one of my favourite subjects – it always has been ever since a high school teacher made trenches out of tables in class and pretended to machine gun us with his metre ruler to demonstrate trench warfare in WWI.

But, by the end of the Semester, my learners and I were getting a bit drained.  According to the Australian Curriculum for Year 5, we still needed to look at a significant person who helped to shape an Australian colony.  Colony influencers if you will.  This sparked an idea.  Who would my learners consider as influencers?  Most of them were people that had a heavy social media presence. Then, I found a wonderful free educational tool called Fakebook.

So here’s what we did.  I gave them a list of ‘colony influencers’ and then they conducted research, which could then be turned into posts as though their influencer was living in modern times.  It’s a pretty cool website to use.  Posts are written, and then you can make their ‘friends’ comment.  Pictures, links and videos can all be inserted.

The friends list and hobby list can also be updated.  It has a neat search feature which finds photos linked to the name of the person that you enter, which is usually pretty accurate – it can be changed as necessary though.

Fakebook, being a teaching tool even came with an assessment rubric, which I tweaked to suit the project.  My learners and I had a lot of fun with this tool, as while they were learning history, and working on timelines, they also got to show off their senses of humour. (Such as Lord Sydney throwing a party when Sydney got named after him, as announced by Governor Arthur Philip on his Fakebook account!

Two of the complete Fakebook posts made by my learners can be found here.

Caroline Chisholm and Governor Arthur Phillip.

We were also able to have quite a few thought provoking discussions about social media, cyber safety, and keeping safe online.

A couple of tips:

  • Make sure that learners write their posts and comments somewhere else first, such as in OneNote or on Word.  Then they can copy and paste them directly.  Fakebook won’t save a page until five posts have been created, so this was the best way to ensure that work in progress wasn’t lost.
  • A unique URL is created for each Fakebook page.  Learners need to copy and paste this somewhere safe to make sure that they can return to the page again, and more importantly – so it can be assessed!
  • The page will be password protected so that only authorised people can edit the page.  Again, make sure this password is put somewhere safe!

I’ll definitely use Fakebook again in the future.  It was fun, different, and had my learners re-enthused about doing research and turning facts into something that related more to their own lives.  I wonder if there is a fake Twitter or Instagram out there?


Living Kaurna and Warriparinga Wetlands Excursion

This week, we took our 4/5 Village to the Warriparinga Wetlands for a Living Kaurna tour and workshop.  Here’s the website info Living Kaurna Cultural Centre.  For those of you not local to the Adelaide region, the Kaurna people are the traditional Indigenous owners of the Adelaide plains.

We organised the tour as part of our work that we’re doing this term on Pope Francis’ Laudato Si – On Care of our Common Home.

We integrated this learning with the history and culture of the Kaurna people, poetry and photography.  It was absolutely brilliant!  The weather was a bit drizzly, but nobody melted and it wasn’t cold.  Our tour guide was brilliant – his passion and knowledge of his culture was contagious, and even some of our more reluctant learners were enthralled.  

As well as the guided tour, we had a booklet of activities for the students to do, and we took along iPad minis for photography purposes.  My favourite activity by far (aside from the actualtour) was the colour-chip photography.  Learners worked in pairs to find natural items that matched their colour chips as closely as possible, and then photographed them together.  The next day, they uploaded their photos into their OneNotes, and then used the colour-chip names as inspiration in their poetry.

A great day out, and we can recommend it to anyone in the Southern Adelaide region.


Getting My Art On

There are many things that I can do well, and a few that I even excel at.  But, art isn’t one of them. I enjoy art. I like looking at art in galleries, and I even have a few pieces that we’ve bought over the years that bring me joy whenever I see them.  But to create art?  That’s a whole different ball game!

Of course, I do teach art, since I’m a generalist primary teacher.  I really enjoy teaching art.  I’ve been blessed to travel to some very famous art galleries across Europe, and I’m enthusiastic about artists such as Picasso, Da Vinci, Monet, Van Gogh, Dali and Warhol.

But, this time, I was way out of my comfort zone.

You see, it was Spring Fair time at Our Lady of Grace School, and all of the Villages had been asked to create a piece of artwork to be sold at the Fair.  We were asked to create an individual artwork per student, and a collaborative piece per year level.  On canvas.  Yes, that’s right, ON CANVAS!  I have never, never, painted on canvas, or taught anyone to paint on canvas.  Help!  I devoted an entire Saturday to searching the internet.  Thank goodness for YouTube, and thank goodness for my new art hero, The Art Sherpa.  I was instantly mesmerised by her hair and hats, and her simple, but beautiful paintings.  This, I could do!  This, a classroom full of 9-11 year olds could do too.  Since we have several sets of siblings in the Village, we had the Year 4s do the dandelions, and the Year 5s do the Lilacs (I chose flowers since it was the SPRING Fair.  You see what I did there?)


It was harder to find something collaborative.  I got some great ideas for the future, but since I was restricted to a canvas for this year, I had to make it work.  Eventually, I came across a couple of artworks by the same artist that looked like it had potential.  (Seriously, how did teachers survive before Pinterest and YouTube?)  Here’s the original…


And here are our versions.  I’m happy to say, that they both sold at auction on the day!

  Of course, it felt as though we did nothing but art in the lead up to the Spring Fair, much to the delight of the learners.  But, I got the last laugh, as I managed to get an art assessment, reflection and procedure writing out of them!  Since the collaborative pieces didn’t come with instructions – we were simply going off a picture, we had lots of great discussion about how to build the artwork up in layers (we learned all about layers by doing the individual artwork).  Here’s a sample of one of the Year 4’s efforts. (Just in case you want to have a go at painting it in the future!)

  1. Turn your canvas landscape and get out all of your paint tools and your canvas.
  2.  Paint the bottom third of your canvas red.
  3. Paint a third of the canvas yellow above the red you just painted and make sure you blend the two colours together to get an orange colour.
  4. Now paint the last third of your canvas green and also blend it with the yellow like you did before.
  5. Now let the coat of paint you just painted dry for 1-2 hours.
  6. Now get a black permanent marker and outline a tree that takes up almost the whole canvas. (Just draw on the thin branches on to your tree.)
  7. Now get out your black paint and paint in-between the black outline of the tree to make a fully black tree.
  8. Now you’ll need to let your tree dry for 1-2 hours before you can continue.
  9. Once your painting has dried you can paint on a two coloured swirl that looks like the swirls in the image above, also you can do this in any colour of your choice. (Keep doing this until nearly your whole canvas is full.)

Happy painting!