What’s “Old” is “New” again with Office Lens and Teams Assignments

With more than 10 years experience in the classroom as a social studies teacher, I have collected a tremendous amount of resources, but they were all analog in a digital world. For years, they became part of my class as supplements to the textbook. But I’m not the same teacher I was 10 years ago, and my classroom was going through a digital transformation. Four years ago, I enrolled in graduate school to attain a Masters in educational technology (MAEdTech) to gain a better understanding of the new paradigm shift in education and what I can do to build a 21st century classroom. As my thirst for professional growth continued, I reenrolled to attain a second Masters in educational leadership (MAEdL). During my coursework, I conducted action research and studies based on best practices in the classroom. This is where I found instructional design methods, such as SAMR (substitution, augmentation, modification, redefinition) and R2D2 (read, reflect, display, do), to assist my transition to a digital classroom. The next major transformation came when I learned more about concepts like UbD ( Understanding by Design) and UDL (Universal Design for Learning), these helped me understand and develop student centered lessons and build a learner centered environment. Post graduation, other books I read that helped my transformation were written by great educators and educational leaders. Amazing inspiration can be found in TLAP, LeadLAP, DitchBook, LastingLearning, KidsDeserveIt, and BeTheWildCard, to name a few. Through the use of MicrosoftEDU and other digital tools, I was able to maximize classroom time and empower students through active learning techniques. I had the most amazing year in my professional career last year. It was the point in which all of my learning, risks, unlearning and relearning, and methods developed an excellent learning experience for each student who entered. Learning was focused on each student, feedback was timely and efficient, student voice and choice was maximized, and one size fits all learning disappeared. Collection, curation, and distribution of materials was done in a manner that was efficient, and finally really easy.

This school year, even more changed. I moved out of the classroom and into the position of technology integration specialist. In my new position, I assist teachers with the integration of digital tools and resources. I am taking my pedagogy best practices from my MAEdTech and blending it with andragogy practices from my MAEdL. I am very fortunate to work in a district that has an amazing vision and mission for technology integration blended with an great support team, the Delta Team. (Want to know More about Delta Team, read this article written by Dr. Cascone, “Technological Confusion or Infusion: An Effective and Sustainable Procedural Framework for Digital Learning”. http://njpsa.org/documents/pdf/Viewpoints/2018/Cascone.pdf). I am also working along side an amazing partner, Scott Titmas, aka @SDTitmas. He has created an awesome local resource for our district at https://flipgrid.com/512bc0. Follow the hashtag, #EdTechOB, to see our district journey.

Now that we are back to school and I’m in this new position, I wanted to make sure that I assist teachers to match their needs and meet the goals of the district. We are a Microsoft EDU district and focus on the use of MS Teams and OneNote. Teachers are looking for a starting point to go digital, as well as a way to bring their supplemental materials back to life. This week I showed them the marriage of Teams Assignments and Office Lens. Each response to it was, “Oh! It’s that simple!”. Office Lens takes a picture of any resource, converts it to fit needs, and puts a copy right into your OneDrive for you. When you click Teams assignments, you add it as a resource along with your assignment. Distribute to individual students, a group, the whole class, or all of your classes with ease. It’s puts the assignment right into the conversation space and onto the assignments calendar view, and done. Building assignments takes no time and the turn in and review process is only a click away. After adding a showing on learning tools and accessibility, the response was “WOW!” every time. This is just the beginning of my new journey as a tech specialist, and i am excited to wake up every day and grow along with everyone


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