Thursday, 1 March 2018

Week of PowerPoint (3) - Professional looking presentations with ease

It’s been around for a while, but it’s a tool that I use all the time, especially when creating a new presentation from scratch. The Design feature in PowerPoint works in the background to match your content to professionally designed layouts, as you are putting your ideas onto a slide. As you start adding content such as pictures and charts, the designer will pop up to the right of the screen and show you different designs, that change as you start adding more. If you don’t see design ideas you may need to turn it on. 

1. To turn on Designer go to the File menu, click Options.
2. In the PowerPoint Options dialog box, click the General tab on the left, then scroll toward the bottom and check the Automatically show me design ideas checkbox.

Once turned on, try adding some content to a page and see what happens.

Here are the type of designs the Design feature suggests from a blank slide with some text and a few images.

If you close the designer at any point you can always open it by selecting Design from the ribbon at the top and then Design Ideas. If you find that the designer can’t suggest anything for your slide it may be that there is too much content, or if you have drawings or videos on the page that it cannot incorporate into a design.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Unexpected changes to schedule easier to manage with digital tools

We recently posted about Snow Days not being what they used to be, and now that the 'Beast from The East' has hit large parts of the country, we are again faced with schools up and down the country closed for the day.
Not to go over old ground, but we again find ourselves using tools such as Google Drive, Drive File Stream, and various video conferencing platforms to be able to access our files and communicate with team members. Whilst face-to-face contact is largely off the agenda, it doesn't necessarily mean that admin and planning are out of reach.

We have recently started using Microsoft Teams for much of our team communication and it is proving rather useful. We will blog more at a later date on the whys and wherefores of Teams itself, but let's just say that today is a day where it has come into its own:

We were due to have a team meeting in person at HQ, but most team members were affected by the snow and unable to travel. A few quick clicks later in Microsoft Teams and we had a new channel set up for remote discussions during today's meeting, Google Drive files shared within the channel and most importantly, a video call set up within Teams itself - and it is remarkably slick. We have always been fans of Appear.In for fast effective video calling but the ability to schedule and house a video conference meeting within a Team channel is excellent. So within minutes, we had access to all of our files, a discussion space, had video conferencing up and running, could still work through our agenda - and most importantly, suffered from no loss of productivity.
An additional bonus with Teams is that you can integrate other apps within your team channel, so our already established Trello board could also be accessed without leaving our Team channel.
The only downside being the 5 minute scrabble to ensure my home office was tidy enough to be seen on a video conference!

It's early days, but I can't help but feel that Teams might just be what we have been looking for without any additional cost.
Look out for a more in-depth review of Microsoft Teams coming soon, or you can take a virtual tour here. Interested in Teams for your team? Get in touch to find out more!

Now where did I put that hot water bottle....

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Week of PowerPoint (2) - Screen Recording

In part 2 of the ‘Week of PowerPoint’ we are going to look at another useful feature that allows you to record your slides, with the option to simultaneously record audio, video and screen annotations. A simple and easy-to-use tool that transforms your presentations into useful videos for your students to watch and study later.

Important Update for Office Mix Users
In previous blog posts we’ve talked about Office Mix, which is a PowerPoint add-in that allows you to record your slides. The ability to install the Office Mix add-in is no longer available, due to the fact that Microsoft decided to integrate it as a built-in feature to PowerPoint - no add-in needed! Instead, all you need to do is turn the Recording Tab on. Click here to see how. Once you can see the Recording tab along the ribbon at the top, you will be able to create a screen recording, export your recordings to a video file format or even export your video directly to Microsoft Stream (DRET TV).

Here are a few ideas of how you can use the Recording tab to transform your presentations to useful resources for classroom use:

  • If you have access to a webcam in your classroom, you can record your lesson and corresponding slides to make a useful recap video. For example, in practical lessons like Design and Technology or Science, you can film the practical activity, having the instructions on the slides alongside it. Simply export the recording as a video and share by uploading the video to Google Drive, Classroom, or DRET TV.

  • Create a one slide presentation and use screen recording to draw out concepts to help students with maths problems or handwriting for example. Loop the slide and play the presentation in Presentation mode. Have the presentation running on a loop whilst they are on task, so they can keep referring to the example on screen.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Week of PowerPoint (1) - The iPad App

PowerPoint: the go-to presentation tool in most classrooms. 

It’s a favourite with a lot of teachers, it does everything you need it to and it’s easy to use. Over the last year PowerPoint has undergone quite a few updates, and added in lots of new features to help in the classroom. In case you missed anything, this week I’m going to round up a few of my favourite additions in a blog post series ‘The Week of PowerPoint’. 

I’m going to kick off the series by introducing you to the PowerPoint iPad app. It’s been around a while and most of you will have it installed on your iPads - but do you use it? Granted, it’s difficult to build a whole presentation with text and images on the iPad version, however as a tool to just display presentations you already have, it’s definitely a game changer. 

When presenting a presentation from the iPad app you can use your finger as a pointer to focus on key areas, you can draw with your finger directly on the slides and navigate through your slides whilst standing anywhere in the room. 

Here’s how: 

1. Make sure you have the PowerPoint app installed on your iPad. You will also need to be set-up with AirServer so you can mirror what is on your iPad screen onto the big screen.  

2. Open a presentation you already have in the app. If you save all of your files in Google Drive, the easiest way to do this is by finding the file in the Drive app > open the options menu by clicking the three dots > Open in > Copy to PowerPoint. Once the presentation is open in the PowerPoint app, then save a copy to the iPad. 

3. Put your presentation into Presenter mode by clicking the Play button at the top or selecting Slide Show > From Start

4. To use the Pointer - simply press and hold on the screen to display the pointer and then move it around whilst pressing onscreen

5. To draw on the slide click along the top and select the Pen. You can also change the pen colour and size using the Pen Settings icon

6. To navigate through the slides simply press to the left or right of the screen

Friday, 16 February 2018

Training Updates - constant evolution

So just like floppy discs, VHS and Betamax, USB storage is no more within our Trust. Many people had already moved away from memory sticks; but for some, this term was a major shift in the way they stored information such as lesson plans and teaching resources.
As we have already written about, we didn't take the decision to ban USB storage lightly or without thought. We knew that cloud storage such as Google Drive is a far more efficient and safe way of storing our files, and this is reflected in the fact that large amounts of time have been dedicated this term to training staff on how to use Google Drive and Google Drive File Stream effectively. Staff from Edward Heneage Primary Academy, Havelock Academy, Humberston Academy, Malcolm Arnold Preparatory, Barnes Wallace Academy, Eresby School, Fairfield AcademyCedar Road Primary School and Kings Heath Primary Academy to name but a few have had Google Drive sessions and workshops this half term which have been engaging and impactful.

Staff from Malcolm Arnold Academy, Charnwood College, Bobby Moore Academy and Lodge Park Academy have all benefited from our 'drop-in' clinics, which were Google-centric, but they also covered Windows 10 training and all other aspects of our digital tools. Within these schools, we have also started working with individual departments on how to further embed their technology use.

Our Challenge for eLearning (C4e) training continues at a pace, with both our Grimsby and Northampton cohorts of colleagues halfway through their curriculum. We are excited to announce Spring cohorts will be starting soon with colleagues from across the Trust.

iPad training during one of our C4e (Northampton) sessions  

New Star Classrooms at Kings Heath Primary Academy and Cedar Road Primary School were followed by 'Star Classroom Essentials' and 'iPad Essentials' workshops for staff - designed not only as a "how to use the equipment" session, but also aimed at providing ideas and examples of how to use Star Classroom equipment effectively in the classroom. Staff at Malcolm Arnold Preparatory and Briar Hill Primary School also had Star Classroom Essentials training to further reinforce their existing Star Classroom training.

It is not only staff who have received input from the eLearning Team this term - parents from Ingoldsby Academy recently joined us for a demonstration of our eBook library, which now has over 1200 books for rent.

All in all, a very busy term for training, with plenty more to come in the coming weeks and months. There are exciting additional developments planned too so watch this space!

If you would like to arrange training or team teaching for your school, then please get in touch with the eLearning team. See our life after memory sticks FAQ here
It's not too late to enroll in our Spring C4e courses either - please get in touch if you would like to join or nominate a team member.

Don't forget to follow all our updates on Twitter @star_classroom!