Tips and tricks for cutting edge educators

Teacher Guides

For some really great resources to help incorporate the latest and greatest technologies into your classroom, check out these new Teacher Guides.

These new guides cover everything from critical thinking, digital storytelling and accessibility, through to movie making, search and product walkthroughs.

There’s multimedia, video and even some fantastic ebooks on each of the topics.

eBooks for educators

Download the eBooks for educators. Packed with great teaching and learning ideas.


The student lead DeforestAction project is ramping up, with the beta launch of the DeforestAction website ( now live.

If you haven’t already got your students on board with this project, the start of 2011 will be a good time.  Schools around the world have young people looking to collaborate on projects to halt the destruction of forests in Indonesia, and to save orangutans.  And – the new points system, designed by students from an Australian primary school mean that everyone who gets involved can earn points. Those with the most points will be invited to be in a documentary and 3D Action movie.

DeforestAction points

Earn points by raising money, spreading the word, being involved and making a difference.

Schools who participated in the pilot of the program in 2010 have reported unprecedented student outcomes, including through the roof data on numeracy and literacy.

To see the new teaser for the 3D movie, visit

I’ll keep you all posted on the project, but please take some time to visit the “For Educator” section at the bottom of  There’s  a lot of great stuff in there for you, with more coming on regularly.

An important part of planning a successful 1-to-1 student laptop program is determining which software is optional, which is preferred and which is a prerequisite for students and staff.

I like to challenge decision makers to be ruthless in this categorisation process and qualify something as a prerequisite only after strong debate and rigorous interrogation of the learning potential or personal productivity value of the software.

Selecting the right software is as important as selecting the right hardware and in many cases schools don’t need to buy extra software to maximise the learning experiences of their students and staff.

Microsoft OneNote is one of those products that always seem to make the prerequisite category in effective 1-to-1 programs, and OneNote 2010 will be more powerful again. Here are ten reasons why I believe this is the case, and why, in my opinion, OneNote is probably the single most valuable learning productivity software available to schools.

  1. It is the ultimate note-taking tool, bridging the book and digital paradigms. Whether you’re taking notes, compiling research for a project, or keeping an electronic folio of digital assets, OneNote has no peer. Notes taken in OneNote can be linked to audio (perfect for recording lectures and synchronising with notes), or linked to related documents (web pages, PowerPoint slides etc).
  2. OneNote provides a shoulder to shoulder experience any where, any time. We know the power of sitting together around a piece of paper, sketching ideas, sharing concepts, mapping thoughts.  But how do we experience this same free flowing sharing when we are too far away to reach the paper.  For example, if we’re on the other side of the world?  With OneNote and Tablet PC, people from all over the world can collaborate on the same piece of ‘digital paper’ as if sitting next to each other at the same desk.
  3. It supports complex teamwork and collaboration, allowing multiple users to create or share documents together in real time from anywhere. The easy to use collaborative features of OneNote are perfect for brain-storming; team projects (where a teacher can see exactly what each individual contributed and when), collaborative research, peer review / evaluation and more. OneNote makes Wikis alone look very old fashioned.
  4. It caters for multiple learning styles and needs. OneNote handles audio files, video files, text, picture and other forms of media, catering to visual, kinaesthetic and auditory learning styles. The pen function supports handwriting (perfect if you have a tablet PC) and even converts handwriting to text. These functions also make OneNote perfect for Maths, Science, graphic design, art or any other task that requires more than a keyboard to input.
  5. New education add-ins available in OneNote 2010, like the Maths Calculator add-in, makes teaching and learning more exciting and powerful. There is a suite of new educational tools and resources. It even includes a whole workbook of educational examples from other teachers, learning ideas and learning productivity ideas.
  6. It can explicitly facilitate higher order thinking processes so learning can occur within a structured thinking framework. For example, many teachers are setting up shared notebooks to reflect Edward Debono’s lateral thinking strategies (the topic of a future blog), creating a usable scaffold for students to operate within.
  7. It is available anytime, anywhere, allowing for a classroom unbound by time and place. Your OneNote files can now be accessed or shared with anywhere from Windows Live (the Cloud), regardless of what computer you are on or even whether you have OneNote installed.
  8. It helps keep you organised, with seamless integration to Outlook and the ability to quickly and efficiently search for notes, resources or ideas. You can even search for notes written by hand.
  9. It complements all other programs and becomes the Ultimate Aggregator with always on tools like the OneNote snipper (screen capture) tool (Windows+S) or the notes tool (Windows+n). Combine these features with the "Print to OneNote" function and OneNote becomes a digital repository for all your work in all your programs.
  10. It takes care of referencing, so you don’t have to spend time compiling a reference list or bibliography – OneNote does it automatically from a variety of sources.
  11. It is fun and engaging. The simplicity of the book metaphor and the power of the features listed above make OneNote a fun and exciting way to increase productivity.

Microsoft OneNote 2010 is like a really good movie. Once you’ve seen it, you can’t help rave about it.

But unlike a good movie, the more time you spend with OneNote, the more exciting it becomes.

The new beta of Microsoft Math is even more powerful than ever. And, soon it will be available for download at no charge as part of the Microsoft Live suite of educational products.

This product includes a fully functional scientific/graphing calculator with complex 3D graph modelling.  It has an equation solver, and of course, if you have a pen based tablet PC, includes hand writing recognition and support.

If you’d like to be among the first in the world to trial this program, email us at to request access.  We’ll get back to you with instructions on how to get your own beta copy. 

As the launch of SHOUT draws closer, you’re probably starting to get a taste for just how big this program is.

Without giving too much away, here’s an opportunity for your kids to be in a 3D Major Motion Picture based on the Shout initiative.

This coming Sunday (19th) at 2pm we are doing a photo shoot for our next project, an ACTION Movie 3D – see below. 

It is open to anyone aged 14 – 20 who might like to come along.

They will be on the movie’s poster and possibly on the web. Virgo Productions are providing refreshements, and it will be fun!!

There is also be a special surprise bonus for anyone who comes along. 

The web address for more information –

It’s also on Facebook.

Each year, Australia’s most Innovative Teachers are recognized through the Microsoft Innovative Teacher Awards.

This is the most prestigious teaching award globally, with teachers from over 112 countries entering.

So, who are the winners?  And what are they doing that is so innovative? 

Here is a brief introduction and outline of Australia’s most innovative teachers:

Athena Hain-Saunders
Newton Moore Senior High School, Western Australia

Athena is giving students the opportunity to work with scientists, collect meaningful data and conduct real, relevant ongoing research that builds useful databases. She
has developed a number of programs that give students the chance to get out of their chairs and gain some hands-on experience with ‘real life’ scientific research, using industry standard technology like digital SLR cameras, ‘nova touch pad’ recorders, digital microscopes and Microsoft software. In Astronomy, for example, Athena’s students are using Microsoft WorldWide Telescope as a vehicle to explore the relationship between Earth and the Universe.


Brad Coey-Braddon
Hermit Park State School, Queensland

Based on the recent discovery that educational success is directly linked to the level of differentiation in learning activities, Brad has developed an innovative way to provide differentiation while learning to read. In Brad’s class, his Year 3 students could be doing anything from participating in activities via an interactive whiteboard to lying on the carpet with a netbook loaded with digital text, creating new endings to stories using Microsoft® PhotoStory or improving their spelling using Microsoft Excel® Self-Guided Spelling. Students are even using Web 2.0 technologies like World, PhotoFunia and Tuxpi to create visual stimulus for writing projects. “I have moved from a ‘one size fits all’ model of teaching, to a differentiated, student-centred and data-driven model that creates success for all students,” he says.

Matthew Purcell
Canberra Grammar School, Australian Capital Territory

Matthew is the first to admit, “the core concepts of software design can be a confusing and bland subject.” That’s why he’s transforming this intangible coursework into real-life learning experiences by letting his students take control. By challenging his students to develop their own software engineering project using Microsoft Visual Basic 2008 .NET Express Edition – with room to experiment and a collaborative framework for support – Matthew has found his students will really push the limits of their knowledge, and question how complex tasks can be achieved with smart programming. “We put a lot of onus on the student. We give the freedom to explore ICT and develop higher order thinking skills, which they’ll need if they want to be a software designer,” says Matthew. The results are stunning, with one student topping the state in the Higher School Certificate Software Design and Development Course.

Daniel Seymour
Heathfield High School, South Australia

“I have always been reluctant to use computer games to engage students in fear of it appearing to be a lazy pedagogical approach that relies on the technology to
maintain student interest, but Kodu has utterly changed my view,” says Daniel, who has developed a popular Microsoft Kodu™ course for Year 8 and Year 9 students. The course uses open-ended design briefs with peer- and self-assessment, and promotes a culture of collaboration, creative brainstorming and peer coaching

Mark Smithies
Devonport High School, Tasmania

“ICT is full of pattern recognition,” says Mark, who has developed a Games Toolkit that enables students to create their own games using commonly available
software applications, like Microsoft PowerPoint®. What he means is that a culture of experimentation can activate new ways of thinking in students, giving them the
courage to explore wild ideas and make “failure” so much fun that they enjoy learning by mistakes. “We are teaching the students to recognise these patterns and discover things for themselves. It’s a great learning curve that enables them to learn how to make decisions for themselves,” he says.

Penny Whiley
Centralian Senior College, Northern Territory

When you’re the only Philosophy teacher in the Territory, you need a classroom that can span over 2000 kilometres. To do this, Penny has developed an innovative virtual community for her students, which her colleagues have nicknamed ‘the TARDIS’. The TARDIS is a kind of digital whiteboard, from which Penny can inspire students with creative and humorous uses of Microsoft PowerPoint®, PhotoStory, Excel®, Word™, videos made using MovieMaker, MSN® Messenger chats and much more. “It’s like cooking eggs,” says Penny. “There are so many ways to teach the same thing, yet it should look and taste so different. Sometimes I wake up at night thinking of new recipes!”

Kylie Taig
Carey Baptist Grammar School, Victoria

In a world where techno-literate students challenge educators to accommodate for their learning needs in imaginative ways, Kylie’s eNotebooks are providing an ideal
platform to present attractive, entertaining and informative units of work. Kylie uses Microsoft OneNote® to create the eNotebooks, which can be filled with modern
learning tools like podcasts, videos, animations, screen clippings, text and hyperlinks. “Boring printed worksheets are a thing of the past,” says Kylie, adding that eNotebooks give her students more meaningful resources, authentic experiences and exciting interactive opportunities. “They also provide an alternative to heavy textbooks and save teachers time at the photocopier!”

Cathie Howe
Cromer Public School, New South Wales

Cathie Howe has spent the past three years pioneering the Game Design Project, which aims to equip teachers with the knowledge, tools and courage to let their
students experiment with game design software. Her project has attracted interest and support from Macquarie ICT, the NSWDET and 20 other primary schools and high schools – not to mention lots of enthusiasm from the students themselves. “Game design was fun and exciting,” said Harry, one of Cathie’s students. “The best bit was not being told what to do and how to do it. We got to be ourselves.” Cathie agrees. “Good games engage students. They challenge them and help with developing problem solving skills. This is something that teachers want their students to learn.”

Canvas for OneNote

So, like a growing number of people, you’re hooked on OneNote, right?
Well, here’s a way to quickly view all your workbooks and pages in a single view. It’s similar in a lot of ways to PPTPlex, but for OneNote.

Canvas for OneNote allows you to navigate and edit notebooks in a new way by providing a high-level canvas-view of all your content. The prototype lets you zoom and pan around; view and organize content in new ways; add new pages right where you want them; and even locate pages in a timeline view.

Canvas for OneNote demo

Want to give it a try? Download Canvas for OneNote here.