Thursday, 31 December 2015

Useful Microsoft in Education posts this week #33

The Internet is currently full of posts about using Microsoft products effectively in the classroom. Here are a number of them from this past week:

Useful Microsoft in Education posts this week #33
View more lists from SchoolNet

Why not join the Microsoft Educator Community (free) and connect and collaborate around the world and gain easy access to lessons created by educators for educators: 

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Plan to encourage your Grade 10-12 maths students to register for the free Microsoft Math online revision program in 2016

In our increasingly online, digital world, there is one free application Grade 10-12 Maths students cannot do without...Microsoft Math. It is a free, online high school learning support service for Grade 10-12 students in South Africa and globally) that provides:
  • thousands of maths exercises 
  • examples of how to solve them
  • theory and tests
  • instant, interactive feedback

Best is that these are presented in an engaging way and they aree based precisely on the national curriculum of the country concerned. In the case of South Africa this would be the Grade 10-12 CAPS curriculum.  Visit for more details.

Features of Microsoft Math
  • Offers students 24/7 access to interactive maths learning
  • Game-like approach 
  • Offers social support
  • Provides an opportunity for students to collaborate with classmates and friends – or compete with them to see who can reach the top of the rankings. 
  • Helps teachers to improve their own skills and working methods. Teachers gain access to a rich exercise bank to ease class planning. The interactive system provides them clearer understanding of their students’ skills – and a new channel to communicate with and motivate them.
  • Can be undertaken on any digital device
Prepare for 2016
If you are a Grade 10-12 Maths teacher why not consider exploring this great application before returning to school in January? You'll be amazed at what you find! Visit

Join the Microsoft Educator Community
Why not join the Microsoft Educator Community (free) and connect and collaborate around the world and gain easy access to lessons created by educators for educators: 

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Great Google posts this week #38

After looking through all the Google posts that were shared to various subscriptions recently, these are some that have caught my eye so far

Great Google posts this week #38

View more lists from Fiona Beal

Monday, 28 December 2015

What is the right (Learning Management System) LMS for you and why would you use one?

In our modern digitally-orinetated classrooms, the use of a Learning Management System (LMS) classrooms helps the teacher connect the students’ everyday life with an educational system for easier technology integration.   A learning management system (LMS) is a software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting and delivery of electronic educational technology courses or teaching programs. LMSes are made to help educators create and deliver content, monitor student participation and assess student performance. They may include interactive features like discussion forums or video conferencing. They are generally collaborative, web based, user-oriented software applications. Sometimes a LMS is rather referred to a Social Learning Setwork like Edmodo and Obami. 

a) Edmodo

The most popular Learning Management System among teachers, or rather Social Learning System among teachers, it seems, is Edmodo. I use it extensively for global projects because you can do so much collaboration on it and it is free.  The following video shows a basic tutorial in using Edmodo.

One can find a more detailed video from Russel Stannard on using Edmodo entitled '
A Full Introduction To Edmodo' at On our SchoolNet blog there is also a post on Edmodo entitled Introduce your class to Edmodo – a great Learning Management System

b) Obami

"Obami ( is a social learning network that connects everyone within the education space -- from teachers, learners and parents, to trainers and mentors as well as business management, NGO's and government. Along with social media tools -- like blogs, chat, newsfeeds and more - the platform allows for the creating and sharing of educational resources, while providing a powerful assessment while providing a powerful assessmentmodule to improve learner participation and performance. Obami is accessible via both web and mobile and is already being used by hundreds of primary and secondary schools (city, township and rural based) across Southern Africa, as well as Europe and the United States. It is helping more than 30,000 educators, young people and their parents to connect, create, share and learn -- all from within an incredibly secure and easily managed, learning environment. Obami has been recognised as one the most innovative technologies in the world by UNESCO, Netexplo, Deloitte, Air-France and partners. It has also been identified as one of the top 20 start-ups in Africa by Forbes."

We have a post about Obami on the SchoolNet blog entitled 'Have you tried Obami - an internationally recognised, award-winning, social learning management system?'

c) Google Classroom

Google Classroom is not a LMS at this point in time but I am sure it will eventually. I use it every day with Grades 3-8 and love it but it can't do many of the keyLMS type things. As Alice Keeler says - Google Classroom is not an LMS but it can be used in conjunction with an LMS. I think that is a good description. 
d) Moodle

Moodle is a learning management system (LMS) used to deliver course content and host online learning activities. This is a one minute quick overview of the Moodle learning platform:

Which is the most popular LMS?
I came across this ranking on the Internet of the 20 most popular learning management systems

Why use a LMS?

  • Teachers are enabled to bridge specific gaps in students learning.
  • The process of evaluation becomes more transparent when a LMS is used.
  • Parents have instant access to their children’s grades and progress.
  • Learning can be made more flexible, more tailored and personalized and more fun. as students watch step-by-step presentations and tutorial videos and even collaborate with other students around the globe 

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Create a simple New Year greeting using Microsoft PowerPoint…

It is very simple to create  a lovely New Year’s greeting to put on Facebook or a blog using Microsoft PowerPoint. It takes next to no time! We have done this for two year’s running now.

What do you need
  • PowerPoint installed on your device or you can use the free PowerPoint online found in OneDrive
  • A free PowerPoint template
  • Some creativity…
Steps to creating an image greeting
1. Search for Free Happy New Year PowerPoint templates using your browser. I came up with a selection from a site called Presentation Magazine which says ‘55,590 Free PowerPoint Templates and Backgrounds’

2. Select on that you like and download it as a PowerPoint template. For example:

You’ll notice that the words on the template are all editable

3. To save your slide as a JPEG so that it can be uploaded to a site of your choice, all you have to do is:
  • Click on your slide
  • Go to File/Save as
  • Choose where you want to save it and select JPEG or PNG

4. Your device will ask you if you want to save every slide or just this slide. Select ‘Current Slide only’.

View and use your final image as you desire. The image shown below will be uploaded to Facebook and Twitter!

Happy New Year to all our SchoolNet friends. We wish you the best year yet in 2016.  

Useful Microsoft in Education posts this week #32

The Internet is currently full of posts about using Microsoft products effectively in the classroom. Here are a number of them from this past week:

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

How to open and view an emailed PDF document on a mobile device

Generally if you are going to send documents to another person via email, the safest and most popular format to use is the PDF format. This is because the PDF format keeps the formatting in the document intact but also because free applications to open PDFs can be easily downloaded from the Internet.

Opening emailed PDFs on Android devices
Android devices can view PDF files easily by downloading Google Drive, a free application,  from the Google Play store, that is, if it is not already installed on your device.

Download the Google Drive app
  1. Touch the Google Play icon on your Android device.  (You will need to be connected to the Internet.)
  2. Find and install the application called Google Drive.
  3. On your phone or tablet home screen, click the Google Drive app icon.
Open a PDF attachment in an email message - Android
Opening a PDF attachment in an email message will involve automatically opening the PDF in a viewer app. Your email app could also rather opt to save it in your Downloads folder – it depends on the email program that you use. I use Gmail so this is what happens on my Android phone:

a) Simply click on the PDF and it opens in the PDF viewer provided by Google Drive
b) One can download it to the device in which it would go to the download section
c) It can be saveed in Google Drive

Open a PDF attachment in an email message - iPad
To open on an iPad with Google Drive app installed it will give me the same options but in a different way.

a) Only the Save in Google Drive icons will show on the PDF.
b) When clicking on the PDF to open it, it will open and the upload button will give a large number of options for where to save the PDF, one of which will be Google Drive.

Other Android Apps that can open PDFs

Other iPad apps that can open PDFs

Monday, 21 December 2015

The yearly Edublogs Awards - a recap. of the 2015 winners

If you are a blogger you'll know about the annual Edublogs Awards. The Edublog Awards started in 2004. They promote and demonstrate the educational value of social media such as the use of blogs and Twitter for educational purposes.  These awards take place in November/December yearly in three stages.
  • First there is the Nominations stage.
  • This is followed by the Voting stage.
  • Finally the winners are announced. 

I always love looking through the winning blogs as they are great resource blogs to bookmark and refer to throughout the ensuing year. This year I was surprised to notice that they were mostly blogs I hadn't visited before. Ronnie Burt from Edublogs has a post that shows the categories of the competition and announces the five winners in each section. His post can be accessed here. I am adding the winners below for easier reference.

Best Individual Blog
Best New Blog
Best Group Blog
Best Class Blog
Best Student Blo

Best EdTech/Resource Blog
Best Teacher Blog
Best Library Blog
Best Administrator Blog
Most Influential Post
  1. Curmudgucation – Stop “Defending” Music
  2. Connected Principals – 8 Things To Look For in Today’s Classroom
  3. Crawling Out of the Classroom – What Being Gay Has Taught Me About White Privilege
  4. The Adventures of Library Girl – Learning To Read Alone Is Not Enough
  5. User Generated Education – Educators as Lead Learners
Best Tweeter
  1. ZeinaChalich
  2. alicekeeler
  3. oldandrewuk\
  4. dayankee
  5. coolcatteacher
If you currently don't keep a classroom blog why not consider if during 2016? You'll find that it is a rich experience for both you and your students. 

Friday, 18 December 2015

Useful Microsoft in Education posts this week #31

The Internet is currently full of posts about using Microsoft products effectively in the classroom. Here are a number of them from this past week:

Thursday, 17 December 2015

MIEExpert Spotlight for South Africa #1: Warren Sparrow talks about using OneNote, Sway and Office Mix in the classroom

Microsoft and SchoolNet SA recently congratulated the 61 new 2016 South African and Lesotho Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts who have been selected to be part of the Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert programme for 2015-2016. In this series of posts we will be highlighting these MIEExperts. We thought we would start with Warren Sparrow

Warren is the H
ead of Information and Communications Technology at Rondebosch Boys’ Preparatory School. 

Warren in the news!
Warren has recently been in the news about being selected as one of two South African finalists in the Top 50 Finalists of the 2016 Global Teacher Prize. These educators have been shortlisted from thousands of nominations and applications from 148 countries around the world. The Top 50 shortlist has representatives from 29 countries and by highlighting their stories the Varkey Foundation hopes that the public will be able to join in passionate debates about the importance of teachers. The winner will be announced at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai in March 2016. The winner stands to win R15 million rand! SchoolNet and Microsoft wish Warren their best wishes in this competition. You can read more about Warren in this online article from Tech Central Top SA IT teacher in line to win R15m

Warren's involvement in Microsoft programs
Warren has been involved in Microsoft programs since 2010 both as an innovative educator, as well as in the Pathfinder School program. In 2010 he won the ‘Microsoft Innovation in Content’ award at both the South African and Pan African Microsoft in Education Forums and he attended the Global Microsoft in Education Forum held in Cape Town.  Warren also attended the Microsoft Middle East and Africa Forum in Jordan in 2011 as part of the Microsoft School program.  The highlight for Warren, however, was attending the E2 Educator Exchange at the Microsoft Head Office in Redmond in 2015 where he says, “The things I saw and the people I met were awe-inspiring”. Warren was one of four 2015 Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts (MIEEs) selected to attend the E2 Global Educator Exchange in Redmond, Washington this year.  

Warren's key technology
To summarise Warren 's key technology it would include: Office 365,  Skype in the classroom, Office Mix, Yammer, Sway, Bing in the classroom, and One Note. All these are available from the Microsoft Educator Network at 

Office 365
Warren’s favourite application is the Office 365 suite. He finds that there is so much in Office 365 that he can use in day-to-day teaching. Warren’s school uses Office 365 for all the staff and this platform is used to receive e-mails and share files.  The staff has spent a great deal of time in professional development training and this has now come to fruition.  Warren says: “Some of the grades are now sharing their planning across the grades using Office 365 and then each teacher can then add and comment on the file.  As opposed to one person sending an e-mail and then people change the file and send it back, everyone now works on one file all at the same time. All the classes in the same grade would then use that lesson in their classes.”

One Note
He speaks equally highly of One Note. “I love the fact that SWAY is now integrated into Office 365, but if I had to think of one product in the Office 365 suite that is the most impressive, it would have to be OneNote.  The ability to create your own content, as well as share content with others so easily is amazing.  Of course the new OneNote for class creator and staff creator has now opened up a whole new level of development and opportunities for the teachers and students as well as for management within the school environment.

Office Mix
This is a video made by Warren showing how to use Office Mix. Office Mix is a free add-in for PowerPoint 2013. It is a powerful tool that makes authoring and sharing of online lessons or presentations simple. It allows you to make them interactive with quizzes and labs. It allows you to export lessons as MP4 videos.

Get involved in the Microsoft MIEE program in 2016
If you are a teacher who likes to be innovative in the classroom, think about entering Microsoft's Innovative Teacher MIEE program in 2016 when applications reopen. You can learn more about the program at this link:  You never know where it will take you...

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Have you visited the new Microsoft Educator Community (MEC) recently?

Microsoft says, “Education can change the world. At Microsoft, we believe that education is the single most important investment in the future of individuals, communities, nations, and the world - that it is vital to sustainable social and economic success. It is also a fundamental human right. But the reality is that education globally faces a crisis; a crisis of resources, time, and support.”

To this effect Microsoft is continually bringing new ideas to teachers in a myriad of ways. One of the main ways is via the recently launched Microsoft Educator Community. This replaces the former Microsoft Educator Network and prior to that the Partners in Learning Network; and it promises a fresh design, improved functionality, and more interactive content.  

Have you visited this Microsoft Educator Community (MEC) at all? You'll find it at The Microsoft Educator Community is one of the world’s largest educator social networks with over 4 million members including educators and school leaders in over 119 countries. Why not join up and take a good look around...

This is a really great space for educators and Microsoft has done a good job in creating a “one-stop-shop”. This means that everything a teacher needs to be innovative in the classroom can be found on this network – profiles of other Microsoft Innovative Teachers from around the world, Office 365, OneNote, Sway, Office Mix, Skype, Teaching with Technology, lesson plans, etc. All of these applications have assessments with badges.

Take a look at this Office Mix introductory video that will introduce you to the new Microsoft Educator Community.

Anthony Salcito’s blog “Daily Edventures’ tells us more about this network. (Anthony is the Vice president of Education for Microsoft Corporation 's Worldwide Public Sector).

On his blog, Anthony Salcito says, "The Microsoft Educator Community is a community for you, by you, and further amplifies the great work that is being done every day by teachers and schools around the world. With this idea in mind, we invite you to try out this global online community of resources and discover how collaboration and idea sharing can better education worldwide." Visit the blog at to read more about this great offering from Microsoft, the Microsoft Educator Community.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Useful Microsoft in Education posts this week #30

The Internet is currently full of posts about using Microsoft products effectively in the classroom. Here are a number of them from this past week:

Friday, 11 December 2015

Get access to quality learning content 24/7 with Microsoft Math

The 2015 school year has ended but make a note to get your Grade 10-12s in 2016 registered with the free Microsoft Math program available at Your students can access this application after hours – all the material is CAPS compliant and can be accessed from a smart phone, tablet or laptop/desktop.

Microsoft Math makes the learning experience personal, engaging and exciting. Students can do math exercises, read theory, learn from examples, and take tests.

Microsoft Math adds a social dimension to education, making it possible to collaborate and compete with other students. Teachers can use Microsoft Math to motivate, monitor, and track learning and skill levels, giving more specific and individual feedback to students. It's a great tool for enriching the learning experience, engaging students even after school hours and outside classrooms.

Microsoft Math is also available as a Windows Phone application, which makes the service content accessible offline allowing students to continue practicing even without internet connection!

Great Google posts this week #37

After looking through all the Google posts that were shared to various subscriptions recently, these are some that have caught my eye so far

Great Google posts this week #37
View more lists from Fiona Beal

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Avatars #3: Make a MeeWee on Weeworld

Submitted by Fiona Beal
This is the third in a series of posts on using avatars in the classroom. My students use avatars for various purposes such as uploading a profile picture to their Edmodo profile, Google classroom profile, Gmail profile, blog profile etc. In this series of posts we will look at these various avatar creation applications in more details. Previous posts can be accessed by clicking on the avatars tag on the blog here Today we look at Weeworld.

Getting started with Weeworld
Weeworld can be accessed at Young students enjoy using this type of avatar-making applications.

When students open Weeworld they’ll see a lot of adverts on the page. This is a good opportunity to teach Grade 1s and 2s about the dangers of advertising and clicking on anything that sparkles and moves.   They will need to click on the big, green play button.


They are taken to a scene with a figure that needs to be dressed and created. I always tell the students to create someone who looks like them!


As they work through all the options a dressed figure starts to emerge.  You’ll notice that there is a Save button at the bottom.


I let them stop at the point where their avatar is created and we take a clear screengrab of their avatar.  Note that if one clicks on the Save button it takes the students through a registration process. If kids are under 13, they need a parent's permission to register.  As it is unlikely that we’ll never use the application again I don’t go this step.


Examples of Grade 1 WeeMees
Caden3 sam3  hannah3
YouTube tutorial on how to use Weeworld
This YouTube tutorial will take you through how to use Wee world.

Uses in the classroom
  • The main way that we use it in the younger classrooms is for teaching basic ICT skills.
  • The students like to talk about their creations and what they are wearing so this application is useful for oral purposes.
  • One could get them to make up an oral story about the little Weemee they have created and share it with the class.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Vidcode & Girl Scouts of Greater New York have teamed up this Computer Science Education Week. Read about it…

Omashani, our SchoolNet Intel visionary says she met this Vidcode team whilst in San Francisco at the Intel Visionary Program recently. She reports that they are amazing and are keen to help girls code scripts for video. We thought we’d write about some of their recent contributions to Computer Science Education Week…
Computer Science Education Week started yesterday! It takes place this December 7th to the 13th. It's a week to build and learn with code - anyone can do it. It's a time for schools, teachers, and communities to set aside a small amount of time devoted to exposing students to a greater realm of CS opportunities.

For this year's Computer Science Education Week Vidcode & Girl Scouts of Greater New York have teamed up and they’ve built a special Tech Jam and Hour of Code in partnership with the Girl Scouts of Greater New York. Their partnership is centered around a shared commitment to give teen girls leadership and STEM opportunities.

Read more about the partnership, Tech Jam and Hour of Code on their blog.

They're reaching out to US and YOU to ask us to spread the word. Do you know a teenager who's interested in coding but doesn't know where to start? Or a teacher looking for a fun and engaging Computer Science Education Week activity for their classroom? Just give them the link -

They've also put together social media posts for you to share and spread the word with your community! Use any of the messages below on Twitter, Facebook, or anywhere you share.
Vidcode and Girl Scouts of Greater NY are pleased to present a Tech Jam designed with teen girls in mind! #CSEdweek

A Tech Jam is a coding event in a box!  Try coding your videos during #CSEdWeek!  Get started here:

Create your own video greeting card with CODE!  The #GSGNY #vidcode Tech Jam is here!

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Avatars #2 Lego Mini-Mizer

Submitted by Fiona Beal
This is the second in a series of posts on using avatars in the classroom. My students use avatars for various purposes such as uploading a profile picture to their Edmodo profile, Google classroom profile, Gmail profile, blog profile etc. In this series of posts we will look at these various avatar creation applications in more details.  The previous post can be found using the label found at 

Grade 1 students enjoy using today'd avatar known as The Reasonably Clever Mini-Miser. It can be found at This site does not require login or registration which is perfect for younger students. It requires building up a lego figure to what you’d like it to be.


How to get started
How it works is that you use arrow buttons to scroll through the different options to customize the lego figure. There is a good selection of body parts and colours to choose from as you go along. There is also a selection of backgrounds for the final image to give it context.  Once the figure is created one would need to do a printscreen to save the image  


The Grade 1s loved using this application when we worked with it during a lesson.  They chatted away as they worked telling each other stories about their lego figures.

ayanda hannah
sam rebekkah

A YouTube tutorial on how to use the application
 This tutorial will show you how to use this application step by step.

Educational use
  • This is a good vocabulary building exercise on the body.
  • It is also good for matching words with objects. 
  • The students can make up an oral story about the figure they have created.

Monday, 7 December 2015

The 2015 Microsoft Global Skypeathon is over but what an achievement!

Yes, the Microsoft Global Skypeathon is over but what an achievement! In the last couple of weeks Microsoft has been advertising this great event on all its social media platforms. The planned date was the 3rd and 4th December. The goal was that Microsoft's Global Skype-a-Thon would attempt to travel a million virtual miles during the two day event! It seemed an ambitious goal. However the final result was 3 million miles over the two days! That’s 120 times around the world in 2 days! If you go to the hashtag #skypeathon you’ll see many excited classes commenting on their skyping sessions as part of the Skypeathon.


Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft described the event as providing countless learning opportunities.


Here in South Africa Brescia House School in Johannesburg added 16, 000 kilometres to the event!


It seems that classes who participated will be receiving or have already received certificates from Microsoft for participating in this amazing and exciting event. This one below is displayed on a video from Morocco.


Here is a video from Anthony Salcito, Vice-President of Microsoft summing up the event and thanking the hundreds of global participators.
Skype has emerged as one of the most exciting and dynamic classroom innovations in years. With Skype in the Classroom, teachers have a whole new world of possibilities to offer their students. The 2015 Skypeathon may be over, but you can use Skype in the classroom to keep the fun and learning going! 

Friday, 4 December 2015

Useful Microsoft in Education posts this week #29

The Internet is currently full of posts about using Microsoft products effectively in the classroom. Here are a number of them from this past week:

Avatars #1: BuiLD YouR WiLD SeLF

Submitted by Fiona Beal
Every year I get my Grade 1- Grade 8 classes  ICT classes to create avatars to use for various purposes for example to upload to their Edmodo profile, Google classroom profiles, Gmail profiles, blog profiles etc. In this series of posts we will look at these various avatar creation applications in more details.  We’ll start off with the free avatar-building BuiLD YouR WiLD SeLF found at No registration or login is required.


How to use BuiLD YouR WiLD SeLF
The way it works is you start with a human creature and then start adding animal parts. The program was created by the New York Zoos and Aquarium and a link to the New York Zoos and Aquariums can be found on the website pages.. It is a very easy site to use. No registration or logins are required. To get started  enter a name, choose boy or girl, and add various body parts. One just follows the prompts and makes choices from the various options continually. You can view the names of the animals as you mouse over each part of the options offered.


Paragraphs describing the body parts of the animals chosen are informative and a species name is also generated for your creation.

When you're finished, click "Print your wild self", and then save that screen with a screen shot to save your work in your computer. Other sharing options include sending your creation to a friend by email, add as a desktop background or printing your wild self.

A tutorial from YouTube

Examples from the classroom
I have used this application in Grades 1,2 and 3. It has always been well-received. There’s something about a ‘wild self’that appeals to students.

BEN hannah-lyn2
mikey2 savanah

Uses in the classroom
1. You could get your learners to write an adventure they had in their new wild body.
.2. They could create a wild self and use the information displayed at the end to understand why features they have chosen are necessary for their survival. They can write a paragraph about this.
3. Learners could write a report or create a multimedia presentation of their own various features and how the life of their created wild self is changed because of these features.
4. Learners could write a poem or story about a day in the life of the wild self created, using the new creature as a writing prompt.
Younger students especially really enjoy this application. Why not try it out sometime!