Sunday, 30 April 2017

Decreasing Teacher Admin Workload with Office 365

The school term break in New Zealand is just finished.  I don't call it the school holidays...we all know it isn't a holiday for teachers as they spend it marking, writing feedback, preparing lessons, going to conferences to learn more, and in some cases, still teaching.  By the end of this week or certainly next week, teachers all over the country will be feeling like they are starting to count down to the next term break when they can catch up on all the jobs that are already beginning to build.

Decreasing our workload is really important. REALLY important.  We want amazing teachers to stay in the profession and we want to attract amazing teachers to our profession. 

Marking student work and giving quality feedback is a teacher task that is incredibly important and is an effective way of causing learning.  TKI - Effective Feedback webpage states that feedback is "most effective when given at the time of learning".  This means that amazing teachers prioritise this job amongst all the other jobs they have to do.  AND they prioritise it for each student they teach...in secondary schools, this could be 90-100+ students per teacher.

In the past we have used something like Word to write a feedback template which we photocopy and hand write for each student, stapling it to their papers or gluing it into their books.   Sometimes it is lost by the student and your access to what you wrote is certainly lost to you, the teacher, relying on memory when having further discussions with the student.

Microsoft Forms is an app in the Office 365 suite.  Most people think of setting surveys for their students to seek feedback, but you can also set a Form as a formative or summative test for your students.  Forms automatically analyses the results for you, and you can export the results cleanly to another Microsoft app, Excel.  In Excel you can print off the test for each student, you can re-visit their answers at any time and compare their progress over time. 

Microsoft Forms can also be used to create marking schedules.  You can complete a response for each student, even providing long sections of feedback when you need to.  Again, this can be exported cleanly to Excel and re-visited at any time and you can compare the progress of students over time.

Tips for marking schedules in Forms:
  • Make sure when setting the Form up, you select Multiple Responses so you can enter one response per student
  • Make sure the first question you ask yourself is "Student Name"
The very first time I used Forms for a marking schedule, it only took me 10min to set up and I now have that Form for the same topic next year.  So easy.

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