Friday, 14 August 2015

iDoceo

2014-15 was the first school year where I've used 'iDoceo' instead of the traditional teacher's planner. It is brilliant and worth every penny of the £7.99 for the app. There are so many benefits to using the app and for me personally, where I got an iPad prior to the school year starting, it just suits the way I now plan and work.
Below are a few screenshots of my use of iDoceo throughout the year. There are still loads of features I've not used and therefore these won't be mentioned below and so this is by no means an exhaustive view of what the app is capable of. For full information on the app, go to their website: http://www.idoceo.net/index.php/en/. I should also say here that I am in no way affiliated with the app and there are probably other similar apps available, but I love this one!

This is the first page of my iPad and as I use the app so much it has a permanent home on my favourites bar along the bottom of my iPad. The app is password protected and you can change this when needed. The app is also extremely easy to back-up and this file is stored either on 'the cloud' or (as I do) in my Dropbox folder as an iDoceo file ready for recovering if/when needed. This, over potentially losing a paper planner and having all your work lost for forever, is a very nice safety blanket to have!



Once I've opened up the app and typed in my passcode my 'classes' screen comes up with each of my classes. At the top of this screen you have the menu of options to choose between - your classes, schedule, planner, day etc. You can also back-up all the data from this screen.

On the left hand of the screen you have the 'reminders' bar, which I use as a quick 'to do list' - easily adding and ticking tasks off as I do them. It is also populated with your students' birthdays (if you add these in to your students details). This is one of my favourite features of the app as the kids are still amazed when you know that their birthday is a couple of days away or, indeed, that day. The little things go a LONG way in teaching and if you can unexpectedly wish a kid happy birthday they are bound to appreciate it and it shows you care! It is certainly worth the time when you initially add in your students' details.
From the 'classes' screen you simply click on each class name and it takes you to that class' page where you can see all the students in that class, their attendance, results, homework, notes, seating plans etc etc (more on these later).

Next along the menu bar at the top of the app is the 'Schedule' option. The 'Schedule' screen is shown below. On this screen you can see your timetable and each of your classes for each period of your timetable. You set your timetable up in the 'Calendar' screen, by adding in each of your classes to your timetable, which is totally 'customisable' based on your school's timetable and length of lessons/breaks, etc. The iDoceo website has plenty of videos you can watch to help you with this process and once you've got the hang of it, it is easy to set up the next time round. I've just set up my classes/timetable for next year and having done it all last year this was relatively straight forward!
You can add daily events from this screen just by tapping underneath the date(s). By clicking on each class/period in the schedule it will open up that class' screen.

After the 'Schedule' menu option you have the 'Planner' option. The 'Planner screen is shown below. This is the screen I use most when planning my lessons. Each class' slot on your timetable is shown and just by clicking in a class' section you are able to add notes and resources (any file/photo you have stored on your iPad/other apps/resources page in the iDoceo app). You can also add a symbol to that class/period, which I use to help me keep track of what I've planned, when I'm on a trip or on cover or when a class is being taught by our ITTs or even if the class has an exam and therefore I won't have that class that period. Events can also be added to each day on this screen in the same way as above.

What I also like about the 'Planner' screen is that you can add notes to periods where you don't have classes (as long as there is a period assigned in your calendar for that time of day). So, for example, if I have a free period (like on Wednesday 17th June below Period 1) all you have to do is tap in that section and it comes up with 'add class'. By leaving the class blank and just typing in the 'location' box 'meeting' or 'adhoc' you can then type notes in here just like you would a class. I did this most recently when I went to #mathsconf4 and added a 'period' for each session I attended so I could keep notes for later use.

This is what the box looks like when you are adding in your notes to a class/period. The little paperclip in the bottom-right corner allows you to add a resource or photo. You can take a photo too to attach to this period, which I did when taking screenshots of the presentations on the day. This works for any meeting or even 'learning walk' you do around the school when you want to take a photo of a display/note, etc for later.

From both the 'Planner' screen and each individual class you can access the 'timeline' for a particular class. This is fantastic and is another of my favourite features as it allows you to see each period for that class. So you only see that class' notes/lessons and can track the progress of the class, what you've covered with them, when you gave homework out, when the next time will be you'll see them, etc. You can even 'bump' lessons to the next available period if, for example, your lesson is cancelled last minute and you want to teach the lesson you had planned in their next lesson - saving you from copying it all over.

Each class screen:

You can set up any tabs you like in each class' screen based on what you need/want to use the app for. Usually I have attendance, homework, examinations and notes. For my GCSE classes I also have individual tabs for mock exams and homework sheets.
This is what the attendance tab looks like for each of my classes. Each day I take the register on my app (yes, as well as SIMs as it doesn't feed into this). I find it easier to track attendance on the app than I do on SIMs and I can clearly show students when they've been present (really useful when they try to wriggle out of doing homework by claiming they weren't present)! I take the register from the attendance app, accessing the seating plan option at the top of the class screen and then adding a column for attendance. I then 'attend all' students and just cross off those that are missing on my seating plan by just looking for the gaps in my room - you can customise your seating plan to the layout in your room so this is really easy - more on this later.

On the screen below you can see the 'homework' tab for this class. Here I have each separate homework sheet's score linked through from a separate tab for that specific sheet. On this overview sheet I can see the students mark and then a 'Yes/No' column for whether they have handed it in or not. This then makes it really easy to see who you need to follow up with and who, over time, is struggling to complete their homework. I found that these tabs are brilliant for parents' evening when discussing homework as it's all there in front of the parents to see. Now, I know you can do this with your paper planner, but can you click through to see the actual questions/topics they got wrong on that particular homework sheet, tell the parent's their average score for the 5/6 sheets they've completed that half term, etc...I'm guessing not. It makes everything far easier, far more professional as you don't sit there umming and erring when asked questions - everything you need is there as evidence to help you/them.
In each tab you are able to add calculations to columns to find average scores, add up columns for working out total marks over tasks/coursework, etc. Each column can be differently formatted. You can add in your own grades/levels/marks to assign to each column. Each column can have different colours, dates, heading, subheadings (I usually use these for the number of marks the homework was out of, or what day it was collected in, etc). Linking the columns to other tabs is easy, as is copying the columns across classes, saving you time setting up the tabs for all your classes. This is particularly useful when using the same exam/homeworks for the same year group as they'll need the same data and information; set it up for one class and then just copy it all over to the other class(es) in the same year.



This is the examinations tab I have for all my classes where I simply record all the assessments the class completes across the year. This tab works very similarly to the homework tab in the respect of assigning grade types and different types of data to each column. What I also like about these tabs is that using the tool icon (the spanner in the top left of the screen) you can easily move columns around so you can, more clearly, compare test data to target grades. You can hide columns or students too so you can just focus on a certain group of students or just look at some columns of data.
 I mentioned that the columns on my homework tab were linked to other tabs where I had that homework's raw data. I do this too with students' mock exams or end of year exams as it helps me to see which questions were done well/poorly across the whole class. I can also see where each student picked up their marks, look at class averages, etc. I then just link the overall paper score to the 'examinations' tab, knowing I can quickly access the raw paper scores for each question with a few clicks. Each of these tabs can be exported to Excel for further analysis - or there's the 'Summary' sheet for each class, which I am yet to use, but will explore more this year.

Here's the raw marks tab for a homework sheet I gave my Y11s this year. I add a 'notes' section to these pages for tracking those students that fail to hand homework in or, in the case shown, the student does the wrong sheet!
Another of my favourite features is the seating plan page in each class' screen. You can add photos to each student in your class, which then makes it easy to see who you're putting where. Each students' box is able to be moved around the screen and you can have multiple seating plans for each class so you can keep track of where students have sat before or have a different seating plan for each half term/term.
The ease at moving students around on this makes it brilliant for trying out different combinations of students until you're happy with the mix/arrangement. You can even select to have certain information shown on the seating plan like SEN/Pupil Premium, which ensure you keep track of where these students will be sitting. This is also good for quickly exporting and printing out class info for any observations you have throughout the year. Each of the seating plans can be exported as a pdf for then showing on the IWB for the students to locate their picture and find their seat. The students (particularly the girls) do the whole 'oh no, my school photo' thing as they see their faces on the board, but soon get over the shock! The pictures are easily imported from SIMs by taking a screenshot and then using the facial recognition tool in iDoceo to import the photos - again, this is all explained in the iDoceo website videos.

Lastly, as you can see from the above - you can store your own resources in the iDoceo app for quick reference. This, I find quicker than going via all the different apps on my iPad as I just add them all in here (SoWs) and they're all to hand when planning lessons.

So there it is, a whistle stop tour of a few ways in which I have used this wonderful app this year. It has massively changed the way I work - has sped up certain aspects of my work as a teacher and made everything so much more organised. I spend a bit of time at the start of each term adding in all our school's calendar events so I can see ahead of time what is coming up and I'm usually the person in meetings, as a result, that is able to confirm when reports are due or monitoring weeks are coming up, etc.

I will be using the app again this year and highly recommend it to any teacher who is looking to organise their planning this year. I plan on using the app more this year to take pictures of students' work to show parents at parents' evening and to send e-mails of work that has been completed. Each picture taken can be assigned to a student on a particular day via the attendance tab and so it is far better than just taking photos on the iPad and then trying to work out a way of filing them somehow and remembering who's work it was you took the photo of before sending - with the app it does all of the filing/association for you.

I will also be setting up a 'class' for my department so I can track meeting notes and any other data I need to monitor throughout the year like report completion, etc. It will be easy to assign the departmental 'class' to a period for meeting notes, it'll be great at keeping attendance so I know who to go and see to ensure they're up-to-date with what they missed and I can easily export/e-mail meeting notes (and such) to the department when needed.

Download the app here.

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