How Office 365 apps are empowering pupil voice

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By Daniel Kerr

As an innovative school, we use the Office 365 package from Microsoft to deliver a unique virtual learning environment (VLE) for our pupils. Within Office 365 is an application known as SharePoint. A SharePoint site contains a central storage area and collaboration tools for documents, information and resources. This has allowed me to set up a series of web pages that act as course sites for each year group that studies Computing, including for GCSE and BTEC qualifications.

Within SharePoint team sites there are a collection of installable apps that you can attach to a particular web page. When I was developing the Computing site for pupils, I knew that I wanted to make it as interactive and dynamic as possible. I did not want the site to be a static set of pages as it needed to be a platform to engage the pupils I was teaching. This is where Office 365 apps have shaped the development of the site. The apps themselves are predominantly used in a business setting to facilitate online communication among employees. I have taken these apps and customised them for a classroom context.

The apps I have implemented are all centred on tracking and monitoring pupil progress within lessons. They are a valuable tool for me as they collect timely responses and feedback from pupils which can then inform future lesson planning or immediate intervention which needs to take place within a current lesson.

The main purpose of these Office 365 apps is to provide efficient ways to demonstrate progress that pupils are making within a lesson and to assess their learning against the learning objectives that are shared from the outset. The way each app works is when a pupil clicks on the required icon, the app launches in a new window onscreen. Within the new window, AfL questions are framed to encourage pupil feedback to be collected.

As you can see from the above screenshots, the apps that I have designed are questioning pupils on the new concepts that they are learning and how confident they are with the presented lesson content. In both the Exit Ticket and Confidence Line apps, pupils are asked open-ended questions to review where they are going within their learning journey.

Pupils are advised to reflect on the learning that has taken place by posting online what they now know or can do. They can additionally inform me whether they need any further help or support with a certain topic through an electronic message. This is empowering their pupil voice. The apps are embedded within the routine of lessons and pupils now regularly ask me whether it is time to complete the exit ticket or post a rating on the confidence line.

From a teaching perspective, it is very useful to see the range of responses when all of the pupils are posting their messages as you can see in real time whether they have grasped the learning outcomes that you have pitched to them. A lesson plan can be adjusted instantly depending on the pupil feedback I am being given and whether I need to revisit a concept again with the whole class or a small group of pupils. The ability for pupils to communicate their progress electronically additionally allows my less confident pupils to ensure their comments are voiced.