The structure of the Interstitial App, or, Observations & Conversations – Part 2

This builds on my earlier post (link here).

After my session at the OAME Conference (link to Presentation), a few folks asked me how I had put this together, so I’m going to give a brief run-down here. You’re always welcome to ask me for more information, of course, if I’ve been too brief.

I used Microsoft PowerApps — it’s a quick-and-dirty way to make an app that uses your existing data and then you can muck around with the data, add more and then store it somewhere else.
What’s nice is that the Apps are universal — they work on the laptop, iPad, iPhone & Android phones. There’s a web app version so they will work on a Chromebook too!

PowerApps are meant for quick development and refinement and for most users and applications in schools it’s free. If you’re not an Office365 school, or if your school blocks you from using PowerApps, you can sign up for your own Office365 just as a faculty member! (link here) It gives you access to the web-versions of Office as well as all the online spaces of Office365 so much more powerful than GoogleDocs/Drive on its own — and you can do your own PowerApps, Classnotebooks, Sites, you name it! (I could go into a long story about how I started this project almost two years ago but lost all my work when IT shut down my access to PowerApps but I’m not going to.) You also have access to the power of Azure and Cortana intelligence — but be careful, there’s a cost there (ask me how I know thi$).
I needed one set of data to start — who was in each course and who taught that course. That is easy to put together — a quick Excel spreadsheet of student names, codes, course code & teachers. I also needed the Course Expectations — I only wanted the General Ones but, since it’s in an Excel spreadsheet, I can edit/add expectations all I want! I also created a smaller Excel for the Learning Skills so that I could track those at the same time (I used to use a Microsoft Form but this ties it together – link to blog post.)
Then I needed someplace to put the data once I collected it. There are a lot of options here … you could leave it as an Excel spreadsheet. I’m just using an Office365 Site List — which I can download as an Excel spreadsheet to work with. This means I never touch the real data; I always work with a copy. I also create a Picture Library to store the pictures in, and put a link to each picture in my Site List. I don’t imagine I’ll use the pictures a lot — they’re just there for backup to reinforce my comments/assessment. 
One caveat to the teachers who use the app — since I don’t do any image compression, they want to be on wifi as it pushes those pictures up to Office365! So all the data is stored in 4 lists, 3 of which are pretty much static (I haven’t dealt with students adding/dropping courses or teachers changing… this is meant to be quick & dirty so that may be a manual edit of your class list in Excel.)

Now off I go to PowerApps … it’s an option when you visit http://www.office.com and log in with your Office365 account … or you can go there direct at the http://powerapps.microsoft.com site. I started from scratch because this started as an experiment in learning PowerApps and got accelerated when a teacher said he wanted the app done yesterday. Remember, there’s always an easier way than what I do 🙂

The PowerApps programs are based on “screens” so I have two screens:
1) a “choose a teacher/course” screen which asks which teacher is using the app and then, from the Excel spreadsheet, the app pulls up the courses for the teacher and they select the one they’re in at that moment.

2) a “create an observation/conversation entry” screen which collects a picture, choose the students, sets the expectation/learning skill, gives a 0-5 rubric number and adds a comment.

The main sequence is RED — Choose the student (1) and the General Expecation (2), assign a value to the observation/conversation (3) since the Ministry Inspector wants us to be able to say if/how it affects their reported grade (0 indicates you’re not giving them a value obviously and then we use a 1-5 rubric at my school) then write a comment (4) in the Rich Text field since we sometime like to add emphasis and click SAVE (5).  This pushes all this data into the List on Office365.  If you want to do a Learning Skill instead of an Expectation, tap the SWAP button (1) and you’ll see the Learning Skills list.

You can add a picture by tapping the picture (1) and then the capture button (2).  That puts the image you captured in the middle of the screen (3) so that if you don’t like what you have you can capture a new one.  No, you can’t do more than one picture right now but it’s not an impossible change.  I thought about adding audio (an easy add) but video is another issue entirely.
That’s it!  The CLEAR button and the X button are used to either re-use the picture/comment for another student (if they’re working on the same problem or involved in the same conversation, say) or reset the entire screen.
Now, the coding goes on each of the objects on each screen.  To give you an idea, here’s the first screen: 
The initial text box, nothing happens!  But when they type in their teacher id and tap OK, then it stores whatever is in the box to the variable for TeacherID, and, at the same time, the Course List gets updated from the Excel spreadsheet of Student/Courses/Teachers to only show those courses from this particular teacher.  When the teacher selects a course from the now-filled dropdown list and taps OK, then the app stores the courseID into the variable for CourseID and also sends them off to the next screen where they fill in the Comment.
Now, yes, this is the easiest screen so I’ll pull apart the next screen in my next blog post.

Observations & Conversations : Part 1 of many?

I kinda run on some basic principles when using IT — it’s gotta be free, increase teacher efficacy (modulo some smal learning curve), reduce time spent, it’s got to digitize content and I have to be able to to work with the data to find meaning.
So every other year we get inspected by the Ministry of Education and her most recent feedback has been that we need a way to record evidence of observations and conversations in our classes — and provide a structure for how they are included in the grades of our students.  Now we have read Growing Success (link to PDF), the guide to assessment & evaluation in our province and we thought we were doing really well with discussions, debates, Harkness, one-on-one conversations, videorecordings, student screencasts, Flipgrids, well, you name it.

But NO.  She wanted evidence of incidental noticings, conversations-in-passing — those ephemeral interactions with students that build up our gut-instincts of what a student knows and doesn’t yet know, and what causes us to pause when we look at a test or report mark that isn’t in line with what we feel about our student.  Well — this is hard to capture because it happens in the moment.  We’re trying to record it after-the-fact, after class, after school but by its definition, it’s in-the-moment.  And there are a lot of them; they happen continuously with every interaction with students.
Here’s what I’ve put together as a result:

It’s an app — a very simple app that

  1. Allows you to take a picture (not required)
  2. Choose a student from the current class
  3. Choose between either the course’s general expectations (standards) or the Learning Skills we also have to report on
  4. Assign a score of 0 (not scored) to 5 (far exceeds expectations) in case you want to use it for evaluation
  5. Write an open entry 
The SAVE saves the content from the screen to an Excel file (the picture goes to a Picture library). 
CLEAR resets the student name and score but not the Picture, Expectation/Learning Skill or comment in case you were working with two or more students on a problem and want to add similar content to another student.
X resets everything.
Now this does nothing more than do what other apps already do, except it gives me direct access to the data in an Excel spreadsheet. Once it’s in Excel I can now work with the data; I can pull it into PowerBI, connect it to my markbook, etc.  
What I can also do is connect it to my student list and ask the spreadsheet my most important question:
Who have I missed?  Who did I not record an observation on?  
It’s very easy to get data, and a lot of data, but it’s really hard to recognize that you’re missing data!  One of my biggest fears is missing something or someone and not valuing their contribution.  It’s one reason why I use Random Seating & Grouping and use a checklist when asking questions in class so everyone talks at least once in each class.
So this is what we’re trying to capture those passing observations & conversations we have with students.  Being on the phone makes it mobile & quick; students are already used to me using the phone for capturing content (see my earlier work with Learning Skills here).  Being in Excel means I can work with data in any way I want and ask questions.  Down the road, I can use things like sentiment analysis — what kind of language do I use to describe students? Is there a bias present? How do I phrase things? Once data is in Excel, you can start to ask the questions — if it’s just in your gut, well, it’s tougher to do.

Visibly Random Grouping in Excel

So I was in the Lounge the other day and one of the teachers mentioned that she heard I used Excel for Visibly Random Grouping and asked me to explain it (previous blog post).  Well, I use Excel just to assign my students to one of five tables – at the tables, they can sit in whatever arrangement they prefer.

 
Well, she wasn’t happy with that so asked if she could have a tool that she could design her seating arrangment (sometimes a U, sometimes groups, sometimes rows/columns) and have the students randomly assigned in that.

Well I did a few searches online and there were a few apps but many of them cost money (no way, buddy) so during a class coverage where the students had free work time (i.e. I didn’t have to actual teach or ensure they were doing something) I whipped up an Excel macro (well, VBA, but you know what I mean) that would let her design the seating map and then drop the students in randomly.
You are welcome to download the Zip file and use/edit it as you like : link to download
 The process aims to be straightforward (the teacher did say later in the day that it was the best email she had ever received).
0) Open the spreadsheet in Excel and click ENABLE MACROS (otherwise the NEW button won’t work.)
1) Put in your student list

2) Design your map. The only requirement is that you need have a “seat” (cell) numbered 1 through to the number of students in your class, no repeats.  These will get replaced with the randomized students.  The teacher has already created a map of the U shape, the four-table groups and a row/column for testing.  Just copy the Seating sheet and design your classroom!

3) Click the NEW button. It will create a new sheet dated with today’s date with the randomized students shown.  You can project, print or email this sheet.

That’s it.  Let me know if you find this useful.


(from the Excel file, the Instructions sheet)
Random Seating Plan Generator                   
Instructions                   
Any questions?  @sig225 on Twitter or calarmstrong AT onenoteschool.com
                   
Class Lists                   
Fill up the student list with your class list, one per cell in the B column of the ClassList Sheet, up to 50 students.                   
The sheet counts your class list so you don’t need to change the number at the top of the sheet.                   
Seating Maps                   
Use the sheet to design your seat arrangements — it doesn’t matter how it’s designed or how much space you use.                    
You can color code, fill, use fonts, italics, add images, whatever. I use the BORDER to indicate the “seat” for each student but feel free to get creative.                   
The ONLY requirement is that you have each cell that represents a seat be numbered 1 through your # of students (no repeats).                   
If you want a student to always be in a particular seat, do not put them in the class list but instead put their name in the seat you want them in.                   
                   
You can have as many different seating arrangements as you want — but it will only let you have one seating arrangement per day (it overwrites the day).                    
You can delete the daily sheet if you don’t want to save it but don’t delete your Seating maps – they can be re-used (and cut-and-pasted between Classes).                   
When cutting & pasting between classes be sure not to copy the NEW button — just the seats!             
If you want an additional seating map, right-click the SEATING tab and chooose MOVE                   
Then, in the PopUp click on CREATE A COPY and click OK.                   
You can rename the “Seating” sheet to match your needs.                     

Choose your own… PD.

When we return from March Break, we tend to have a teacher-only day of PD and meetings.  The admin had broken the faculty into 3 groups for two sessions and hadn’t planned anything for the third so I suggested I run a tech PD.
Since this would be my swan song as the tech guy I wanted to do something interesting but also to value the time of the teachers. I would have 30-40 teachers at a time, so I knew I couldn’t do a workshop or a “presentation” of tech so I turned to an idea I’ve had before — a Choose Your Own Adventure PD.  Why?  Well, I haven’t had any time to give them PD this year so I had a lot of things to share, I wanted to make sure they found it profitable, and I wanted it to be something different than what they’d done before.  (I’ve talked about Choose Your Own Adventure earlier on this blog here.)

I had a long list of things that were new, new-er or just hadn’t reached universality.  I was a little restricted because IT doesn’t like me sharing things that aren’t approved, so I only did things I had sent out previously or were automatically included in our Office365 subscription (and hadn’t been turned off).  As you can see, I didn’t get to include everything on my list.  As it was, people did say it looked like a lot, but the idea was not to get through everything!

I opened up OneNote and created a new Notebook. I did use my personal Onedrive because the School doesn’t allow us to share outside of our school and I knew I wanted to share it. I kept it to just one Section — although I considered making multiple Sections so I could password-protect some pages to make it a little more break-out like (and to avoid people peeking at what pages to go to if I had made up a stronger narrative).
I also kept a piece of scribble paper next to me so that I could keep track of the CYOA map of the exercise.  (I would have not needed the scribble paper but I was working on my desktop and not my pen-enabled laptop… I wanted the three monitors of space to be more efficient in searching, copying/pasting and image editing).

I wrote the first page and started to scribble down the branching on the CYOA map.

The option I wanted to make sure I included was an opt-out. I really respect our faculty — they’re bright, talented and curious, but they aren’t always invested in what I’m invested in, and that’s okay. So I wanted them to feel free to explore any tech avenue that interested them, not just those that I had lined up.  They were welcome to do whatever they wanted tech-oriented so long as they reflected & shared what they learned in a Teams message later.  As it turned out, none of them did that!  They all did something in the CYOA.

Then I broke it up into 3 (later 4) options and started to add pages from there.  There was no overall pattern, although I did make a path for “Accessibility Tools” and one for “PowerPoint Tools”.  The first door let to MyAnalytics, which is the newest and most (potentially controversial) tool added to our Office365. I did throw in a couple of (literally) dead-ends where the teacher ran into a “sorry, you were killed” just to maintain the CYOA atmosphere.
I added the pages and did the internal linking (so easy — just right-click and Get Link to Page & then paste it in as the link).  I used a lot of pre-made videos from YouTube to provide them with assistance (thankfully, YouTube lets you start an embedded video at a particular time).  I kept the videos to under five minutes so that the teachers wouldn’t feel oppressed. I also created tasks for some of the more complicated tools, so they’d have something concrete to try.
While I built the Notebook, I named all the pages with helpful names for me but then, just before I did the PD, I replaced all the names with random Emojis and then randomly sorted the Pages so that they weren’t in any kind of “room” order.  I really wanted to reinforce the CYOA metaphor.  And it was funny because one teacher asked the room “How do I get back to Zoom?” and the other teacher shouted back “You have to go through Morph!”.
After we were done the three sessions, I went back in to the OneNote and labelled all the pages with the content so that the teachers could use the OneNote as a PD resource without having to engage with the CYOA. 

The last five minutes of the session I did make a reminder that throughout the Notebook I had dropped signs (with links) that they should share and reflect on what they learned on our Faculty Teams discussion, and it was good to see at least half of them took the time to do that.  It’s helpful to know what they felt was important and that they appreciated the different format. 
You are more than welcome to flip through the Notebook here : http://bit.ly/cyoamar25 or you can download it here as a OneNote package: http://bit.ly/cyoamar25download
 Obviously, some of the content is specific to my School (the Teams links, for one) but you’re welcome to repurpose this as needed.

Things that intrigued me throughout this PD:

  • Nobody spent the entire time on their own thing. The first session (of three) was the most socially chatty, but then, they’d been away for a two week holiday. The other two were far more serious. Sure, there were folks answering some emails or doing some “off-task” reading but my continual surveying of the room made it clear that this was far more efficient than me leading a workshop from the front.
  • There was a good bit of prep time.  For an hour of PD, I spent about eight hours putting this all together.  It would have been longer because I would have preferred to make my own videos but I found enough that were sufficiently focused on the tasks I wanted them to practice. Much of it was futzing and finding the right content. I built it over March Break so I likely spent more time than actually necessary.
  • Paint3D is tough! Folks are okay with 2D drawing but 3D has a steep initial learning curve. Once they jump it (about 30 minutes) they’re fine, but don’t underestimate the challenge to start. What was funny was that the artist below did a nice job on the front of the fish and then I said “Did you paint the back?” and she said “Oh, right! It’s 3D” and she figured out how to pan around to the other side. Then, when you hit the “mixed reality” button and they see their design floating in space ahead of them, it’s a wow moment.
  • Microsoft ToDo was crazy successful – the most popular “I’ve been waiting for something like this” response.  It’s nice that it’s strongly integrated into the rest of Office365 and is “smart”.
  • They liked the freedom to do what they want; the format was a success.  I wouldn’t do it all the time, but this seemed well placed.
  • Microsoft Whiteboard was also very popular — for one, because it’s so collaborative that they liked playing with others. It’s got a beautiful, simple interface, too.   
  • My time, both in planning beforehand and during the session, was well spent.  During the session, I just walked around and answered questions, or made a note of something to research.
  • I knew it was successful when I had to tell them to leave (because the other group was at the door or it was lunch time). 
  • The biggest challenge — IT had blocked every external app, but they had done it after I had registered for all of them (we use to have more freedom) so it was a rude surprise when we realized that folks who hadn’t signed up were blocked.   Hopefully, they’ll unblock things so that teachers can use the Microsoft tools we used to have access to.
  • The Universe decides…

    For a number of years now, instead of a fixed (or no) seating plan for my classroom, I’ve been using visibly random grouping (PDF).  I have an Excel spreadsheet (link) that takes my class list and randomly assigns them to a 4-seater table (2 tables that seat two students). I project it at the beginning of class as they walk in.  And I use 5 plastic covered letters to randomly place the groups inside the space.

    Now, my classroom has one fixed projector and the rest of the room is either whiteboard or window — both vertical surfaces are used to write on, and the tables have been explicitly purchased so that the surfaces are write-able. So while we do a lot of work seated they will also go to the whiteboards individually or in pairs (the table seating decide the pairs).
    While the pedagogical reasons for using visibly random grouping are laid out in the attached article above, I bring it up because of what happened the other day.  Someone else had used my room for a discussion and had left the classroom tables all in a U.  So I shrugged and thought I’d try something different… as the kids walked in, and said “just sit wherever you’d like in the U”.  Now, I have three classes of Grade 10 students in a row and in each class, they sat down in a gender split, boys on one side, girls on the other and within that split, the second language students sat on the outside of the U.  As we began class, I pointed out to the students the manner in which they were sitting (leaving out the 2nd language issue) and why it was that I let the universe decide the way they would sit.
    We once had an exchange student speak to the faculty and she recommended a seating plan because of the 2nd language issue — if you don’t structure a way to incorporate an outsider, it makes it difficult for them to work their way into the group.  Continually mixing them up and bringing different people together helps break down barriers.
    Are there other problems that arise?  Oh yes … the universe can decide to put all the energetic boys together on a Friday afternoon. Or they can put all the quiet students together and very little ever surfaces as they all work on the problems independently in spite of my structures & cajoling.  But in the long run (as random things in the universe tends to) the benefits outweigh these minor problems.

    Do I ever cheat? No. I always let the random feature of Excel decide.  That said, I have had conditions imposed outside the classroom (“Johnny is not allowed to sit next to Timmy”) so I will sometimes press F9 (“recalculate spreadsheet”) until those external conditions are met.  And if students need to sit close to the projector, I just shuffle the letters on the tables once the spreadsheet is projected.
    Do the kids like it?  That answer tends to run 50/50.  The students used to great social power tend to hate it; they’re used to sitting in a seat that controls the space and highlights their perceived status.  The kids who like to hide also hate it, because most of the time they lose their hiding spot. And in the end, I like it because it highlights equity… it’s not me imposing a structure.  And it encourages them to work with other people, if only for a short while.

    This is a Test… this is only a test…

    This post wouldn’t have been possible without Eric in our IT Dept — he fixed a network setting that prevented us from using TakeATest last year… so a huge shout-out to him (he’s likely relieved because I’ve been pestering him for the past couple of years!)
    Built into Windows10 (right from its initial release!) is the option to TakeATest — a way to lock down the device to a single web address.  It shuts them out from any program or content on their device and restricts them to whatever webpage you direct them to — the only way to exit is to CTRL-ALT-DELETE back to the login screen.  They can’t do screen captures, can’t open up other pages, print, etc.
    In most cases, this has been used to lock down the device and have the student take a Microsoft Forms based assessment (how? click here) — the student clicks on the link to the Form and they answer the questions, typically multiple choice, short answer, sorting (all automatically graded) and long answer (not automatically graded abut the teacher can go in and assess).  It’s a slick little system that our teachers have used and found pretty easy.   You get a nice little visual on the results of each of the questions and an Excel spreadsheet to bring into your assessment collection.

    But I’m a math teacher and, in case you haven’t noticed, if my students can’t use (digital) ink in their learning, then they’re not learning properly.  Using paper-based assessments and exams is still necessary because we haven’t had a strong way of assessing using the appropriate environment. So if I want to assess them, I need to be able to use ink.  The challenge is that TakeATest requires only one web-link for the whole class, but each student would need their own private space to work in.  Fortunately, the OneNote web app– and some creativity–to the rescue. 
    I created a OneNote in my school OneDrive with a Section for Instructions.  Then I created a Section for each of my students.  Then, I went in and permissioned it so that only that student could edit their section. That process is a little clicky right now and you’ll notice I’m waving my hand a bit on how to do it until I get it easier — but given a little bit of work, it can be streamlined or even automated (click here to create a test OneNote for your class kinda thing).
    I put a copy of the assessment in the Instructions section and they have to right-click COPY and then go to their section and PASTE it in.  (They were a little annoyed that I couldn’t just use the Distribute function to put it right into their space but this OneNote is not a ClassNotebook.) 

    So now, I just use the SHARE option and use that link to give to the students — with a little TakeATest magic.
    Before you give the link to the student, either by email, posting it in their OneNote or Teams, etc, you add
    ms-edu-secureassessment: 
    to the beginning and
    !enforceLockdown
    to the end of the URL.
    If you don’t want to do that yourself, you can visit Microsoft’s “Make a TakeATest” page here: https://education.microsoft.com/courses-and-resources/windows-10-create-a-take-a-test-link — it pushes the correct link into your clipboard for pasting into OneNote (or wherever).
    So the students click the link and they get a warning pop-up that this app will make changes to their device (this set them off a bit even though I had warned them this would happen).  Then, they have to use their Windows login to get to the actual assessment.  It opens full screen with a reminder at the top of the screen that they need to use CTRL-ALT-DEL to exit.

    OneNote Online has progressed far enough that the inking is quite good – it gives students the freedom to write the same math that they’ve learned rather than reverting to a keyboard/equation editor, which gets in the way of their understanding.

    The student had deleted the ellipse, so drew his own.

    When they’re all done, I go back to the OneNote and remove their permissions, give them feedback and drag their page into their OneNote ClassNotebook.  Like I said earlier, it’s a little fiddly right now, but like ClassNotebook, that’ll improve over time. 
    I think it is critically important to assess students in the most active & open environment possible – and that means allowing them to use digital ink in the same way as they’ve learned.  If we force them to use keyboards, or only assess them using limited survey tools, we’re missing out on a large part of their understanding.

    Post It Notes go universal

    Microsoft recently began rolling out an update to their Post-It Note software, which they call StickyNotes – now at version 3.  You can get it in the Microsoft Store here.  For the sake of clarity, I’ll continue to refer to them as Post-It Notes — they’re like Kleenex.
    What’s nice now is that the Notes now sync between devices that are tied to the same Microsoft/Office365 account.  So my school laptop, my home desktop and my phone can now access all the same notes all the time. (I did use my personal Microsoft Account rather than my O365 account because I use them for personal reminders and not just academic ones.)
    The application is as simple and colourful as you’d expect.  You click the + sign to get a new note.

    You’ll briefly see a little check mark as the note gets synced to the cloud.  There are some basic formatting (bold, italic, underline, list … and strike-out for when you get things done!).  And you can change the colour of the note by clicking on the 3-Dot menu and changing the colour:

    It’s nice that the colour gets synced across devices, too, so I can colour-code my notes.
    The dark grey colour is nice because… since this is Microsoft… you can use #digitalink on your Notes! Scribble mathematical formulas, sketch out your world-domination plans, sketch-note your meetings.

    And the Notes are ‘smart’ — when you type a date-based reminder, it recognizes the language and suggests making a reminder.  When you type a phone number, it sets you up ready to Skype-call (though not Teams call yet!).  And when you type an address, it Bing-maps it! One of the characteristics of the new Microsoft is how ‘smart’ individual elements of your work becomes.

    When you close a Note, it does go into your Notes collection, so you won’t lose anything if you feel your desktop is getting too crowded. When you’re finally done with a Note, you can delete it and then it’s gone.

    And, also because it’s Microsoft, it reads your #digitalink when you are searching … even if your pensmanship is as awful as mine!

    What I really look forward to is this tying more closely into other Office365 apps.  I think it’s definitely coming, because when you go to the web-app version of your Notes, the address is http://onenote.com/stickynotes  … so shades of things to come! To be honest, I was looking in OneNote for the StickyNotes notebook!

     [So as part of NaNoWriMo , I’m dedicating time to blog each day in November]

    Snip&Sketch

    So the October 2018 Windows 10 Update has provided a new snipping tool … now, it surprises me that this would be the thing I’m most happy about, but it is! Making things we do very often each day as easy as possible has immediate payoffs in the classroom, so this is a huge leap forward. If your IT Department hasn’t yet given you the Update, you can update yourself by downloading it from here.
    Here’s what makes the new Snip & Sketch so slick….
    Press WINDOWS-SHIFT-S
    The screen goes grey and along the top you have the option to rectangular, freefom or full-screen clip.  I typically use rectangular to grab student content from OneNote or the web.

    Once you’ve finished the selection, up pops a success note in the Notification area of your screen.

    Click on that notification and up pops the Snip&Sketch App (which you can pin to your Taskbar or Start if you want).

    In the app, you can use #digitalink to draw and highlight content — although I hope they just bring in the OneNote pens too.  You can change the colour and width of the pens so there’s a great deal of flexibility here.
    And then you can either just put it in the Clipboard (which has also been vastly improved), send it to OneNote or to any of your email contacts as an attachment or push it to another photo-editing app.  You can also just save it. D’uh.  
     And, of course, this being Windows10, you get an on-screen ruler that you can spin and move around and your pen will draw perfectly straight lines. 

    Making your own font

    Slid in amongst all the announcements for Ignite, Microsoft’s big conference in September, as a tool that I thought was quite cool.  Not original, since similar things have existed elsewhere & when, but a nice option nevertheless.
    Microsoft’s Font Maker allows you to create your own font using digital ink.  You get all 26 characters, numbers and punctuation (for English languages) on which you draw your font for each character. (For me, it’s the first 128 printable characters out of the ASCII table!)

     Using your #digitalink pen, you draw out what you want each character to look like. I just quickly wrote out the alphabet as you can see below:

    You don’t have to do it all at once and you can keep working on your Font as you go; it saves as a JSON Project File which means you can send these between collaborators.

    Once you have your font done, you can adjust the spacing between characters & words to make it look good (it uses a scene from Hamlet — I’m curious why…)

    Then when you click CREATE, you get to save your font as a TrueTypeFont (which means it’s available for use on Windows or Mac). 

    Now my first thought was to hand this off to the Art Department and have them use it to actually create useful and beautiful fonts. 
    And then there’s Elementary Teachers … surely this would be useful for little ones learning their letters?  Putting those dashed characters so that they can copy the letters and get used to making the Bs and Qs.  Having the whole font means they can practice on ANY words.
    But for me, I thought that it would be useful for substitution ciphers; I remember creating them as a kid.

    You could then use them for a discussion of Cryptography … or for creating BreakOuts. One thing I know is that when you have an easy and quick tool to make digital content, teachers find cool ways to use it! 

    Other folks, doing stuff in OneNote

    When I’m working in OneNote on the night before classes, I always find it interesting to see who else is there working.  The Windows10 version of OneNote (and OneNote Online) both include a People Presence option to show you who else is working in the same Notebook/ClassNotebook.

    When you click on the name of the page, you jump there — so you can work together.
    While I was doing screenshots, you can see how another student has entered the ClassNotebook, and the first student has moved from one page to another as they do their homework.

    And then, when I flipped over into our Faculty OneNote, I had one teacher looking at how to send emails to parents for one of her extracurricular programs (in our Tech Help section), while one was working on our Student Leadership Conference and the other two working on incoming pages.

    While there is an aspect to this of “surveillance”, it’s meant to energize collaboration.  
    In the ClassNotebook, it keeps me aware of when and how students work if I happen to be watching. It’s particularly interesting when I’m working late at night and I see students active in my ClassNotebook — in typical hypocritical fashion, I encourage them to work earlier and get some sleep.
    I look forward to this user-behavior data to be available for discovery, since it’s something that the OfficeGraph (link likely not helpful) & MyAnalytics (link likely very helpful and informative) would be able to include.  Knowing (well, kinda) how long a student worked on a OneNote page, and what path they took as they build their content, is something I don’t know now and may provide additional information about the student, how they learn, and what they understand.