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Write anywhere

As folks know, I'm a big fan of #digitalink -- as a math teacher, as an aspiring creative person, I always want to scribble. I write on everything at home, and always have.  The back of envelopes (when people use to send them), post-it notes, boxes... I scribble everywhere.  I also doodle a lot when I'm bored. Lots of geometric figures, fractals and attempts at people.
But it's also math -- math is drawing, sketching, inking the patterns & graphs we ask them to provide the algebra for.  And algebra! Lord, the notations.
That's why, when we were rebuilding our classrooms and someone asked me my opinion, I asked specifically for desks that would allow whiteboard markers.  And it's been great!  My students aren't encumbered by the limits of paper or the laptop's screen and they don't have to go up to the board to collaborate.  They use the desk-top and a whiteboard marker.  In this digital age, they then use the Office Lens app on their phones to push…
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Web Content into OneNote

Getting content into OneNote is incredibly easy ... since every page acts like a clipboard, just drag&drop or use the INSERT ribbon.
You can use the smartphone app OfficeLens (which takes pictures of "real" content, cleans it up, and pushes it right into OneNote) or you can use the WebClipper -- a browser add-in for Edge, Chrome & Firefox on Win/Mac devices which captures any webpage, cleans it up, and pushes it right into OneNote. Both are amazing tools ... but there's more than one way to skin a cat! 
If you're using Edge browser, there's an even more powerful alternative built-in -- the "Make a Web Note" button (pink emphasis added). 

Now, I know there are folks in the crowd smirking at the thought of Edge browser.  Well, I use both Chrome & Edge simultaneously -- because while Chrome is a good general-use browser, Edge offers some great opportunities for productivity & creativity, including the WebNote.  And, Chrome is a huge memory …

Using OneNote to create a Choose your own Adventure book

[I did have 3 hours of Parent Teacher Conferences tonight, but I wanted to make sure I got my November daily post in!]
I spent way too much time as a kid reading through the Choose Your Own Adventure books. Like these folks (link) I would map out the different paths to see what possibilities existed in the text. If you haven't ever read one, the format is pretty simple (well, to the reader).  You start at Page 1 and read a few paragraphs that are on the page, describing your situation. In "The Cave of Time" you're out hiking in the woods and come across a cave that you decide to explore.
 After turning to the next page (as instructed) you are then required to make a choice, which will require you to jump to a much further page in the book (say, 18 or 27 as in the example below).

From there you keep reading one page at a time, with the bottom of the page asking you to make a choice (or sending you to another page without choice).  As you can see from the narrative stru…

Who are you?

In preparation for my next blog post (I'm blogging once-a-day in November!) we should talk about who you are.  In today's cloud-based services, you need an identity.  It's typically based on your email or your phone number. 
One option is your Microsoft Identity. Most folks already have a Google, Facebook or Twitter identity... and this is the same idea.  Having a personal Microsoft Account does not mean you have to get another email or really do anything except register to get your Microsoft "space" and allows you to use cloud-based services like Word, PowerPoint, Excel & OneNote.
If you don't already have a Microsoft Account, attach it to one of your existing emails.  If you're okay with it, I would recommend creating a new email through this process (even with the same name @ outlook.com) but I've also just attached it to my gmail account.
Do NOT use your School email.  It will work and you could do it, but then you can't tell just by looki…

Stop Ditching Homework

I know it's trendy for folks to proselytize "Ditching Homework" - it's a catchy phrase, great memories of your own homework are likely hard to find and you won't get invited to speak at conferences or sell books if you're encouraging folks to do the something they're already doing.
Now, I'm only speaking of high school -- to elementary teachers, I would suggest you follow Hattie's advice that 5 effective minutes is as good as 1-2 hours and to avoid "projects"(Link).  But people arbitrarily throw out statements that have little basis in research, or produce straw arguments to avoid the "homework as an effective learning device".
So my suggestion is not that it will teach responsibility (one blogger insists there is no research indicating this, but of course, there is, but I don't care either way -- it's not my goal) or will prepare them for post-secondary studies (who says they're going to post-secondary?).
Instead, …

Making Microsoft Forms Quizzes with Math (Free, Easier and Quicker)

So Twitter serves up a lot of great tips, tricks, techniques and shortcuts for busy teachers. Choosing to follow the right folks helps prevent a lot of the nonsense.
Eric Curts (Twitter) provided one to help Math teachers with quick formative assessments : Making Google Forms Quizzes with Math (Free, Easy, and Quick).
It's just as free, quicker and easier with Microsoft Forms ... and remember that Microsoft is free to all schools, teachers & students.

So Eric wanted to make this problem below into a self-marking Quiz.  He had to use a separate app to create the math, change it into an image and then paste the URL to get the Math into Google Forms.  With Microsoft Forms, it's all included -- reduces the workload considerably!
Visit https://forms.office.com and click on Getting Started and log in with your School Microsoft Account.
Don't have a School Microsoft Account?  Again, it's free for schools, teachers & students - visit https://products.office.com/en-us/s…

Why students OneNote

So my good friend and colleague Anjuli Ahooja and I were fortunate enough to host a student panel on learning technologies at the STAO (Science Teachers Association of Ontario) and teachers in the audience asked the following questions.  I tried to keep to actual student quotes.

"I use Google Classroom... What is the advantage of using OneNote ClassNotebook?"
"I've used both ... this [OneNote] is more seamless""Google is so dependent a lot on internet connection, because they're internet based software and systems they have limited functionality in terms of the things you can be creative with... we're able to do more things" [OneNote works without need for continuous wifi]""Because you have so many resources at your fingertips, you're able to use them all in one common space... I feel a lot more engaged and I'm a lot more easily able to integrate aspects into one common note instead of having multiple [files]""Becaus…