“OneNote is the core tool we use to underpin all classroom activity, and I see it empowering my students to do more in every lesson.” – Chris Thackray, UK
Director of Technology and eLearning
Wimbledon High School
London, United Kingdom
For MIEE and MIE Trainer Chris Thackray, teaching effectively is all about providing feedback, and that’s what makes OneNote his favorite classroom technology.
“With OneNote, I can really challenge students’ understanding of a topic by evaluating on-the-fly the notes they might be taking, or the collaborative piece of work they are doing,” Thackray explains. “It goes beyond the classroom, and helps my students to adjust or rethink their approach while the feedback is relevant — rather than when the topic has moved on. OneNote is the core tool we use to underpin all classroom activity, and I see it empowering my students to do more in every lesson.”
As his school’s Director of Technology, Thackray is always trying new approaches to engaging students with technology. For the recent Microsoft Hack the Classroom event, his computer science students participated in the Maker Champion Challenge.
“We used the MakeCode website and Microbits to challenge our students to design, code and create a solution to help make the world around them safer during their journey to and from school,” Thackray tells us. “It was so inspiring seeing the amazing creativity shown by these students during the lesson, and not one group finished the session without an impressive solution.”
Like most of his fellow MIEEs, Thackray does a good bit of work with other educators to help them harness technology in the classroom. How does he do it?
“I work hard to find that context or the hook that will allow them to see what they can change in their practice and pedagogy that will enable them to have a greater impact on their students than they would without a technological solution,” he says.
After setting up OneNote Class Notebooks for all senior school students recently, one particular teacher had a genuine “a-ha” moment.
“We set up the Notebooks to give our students agency in their use of technology to support their learning,” Thackray explains. “The teachers could not be the gatekeepers of technology use. After a few weeks, one teacher came to see me saying that her students were encouraging her to share resources with them via OneNote and that, although she wasn’t keen, she was impressed by how vehement her students were about her getting involved.”
Then the teacher clicked through the Notebooks and found all the notes that students had taken in her classes (including photographs of written work and diagrams).
“The look in her eyes at that moment was a picture,” Thackray says. “She suddenly realized her potential as a teacher to work with her students in a way that would have been impossible before. It was a magic moment for me and a reinforcement of everything I believe in.”
Connect with Chris on his Microsoft Educator Community Profile.
About Chris Thackray
- Educational background: Graduated with a degree in Computer Science from Cardiff University.
- Favorite Microsoft product, tool, technology: OneNote and Microsoft Teams
- Website I check every day: Engadget UK
- Favorite childhood memory: Playing football in the street outside my house with my friends.
- Favorite book: The Hobbit
- What is the best advice you have ever received? Do what you love and love what you do!