Guest Post: Excel-lent! A Smart(ie) Take On OneNote & Excel In Maths

This post was originally written by Ms Briony Marks, a teacher in our Preparatory School, on her teaching blog that you can read here. I liked the post so much, and her natural integration of technology into a Year 6 Maths lesson, that I gained permission to reblog it here – enjoy.

The setup of the class OneNote & the W.A.L.T. for the lesson.

The setup of the class OneNote & the W.A.L.T. for the lesson.

Now that the school year is well and truly underway a few of my summer pipeline plans are taking form inside my classroom which is exciting, and it feels like a long wait is over!

As a member of the eLearning professional learning group in the Preparatory School I have been trying to integrate the useful and purposeful use of computers and the Internet into my lessons and I am endeavouring to document my reflections as I go along to feed back to the rest of the group.

Last week I set up a class OneNote to use with my Year 6 and Year 7 Maths groups using the Class NoteBook Creator App (I think I’ll do a blog on this once they are underway and being used in the longer term – I’ll share how I’m using it and how effective it is in a class without their own devices). We finally got started using it in our maths lessons this week and I was really pleasantly surprised with the results.

Student graphs showing analysis of their Smartie investigations (note the feedback comments from Ms Marks to the right of the graphs)

With my Year 6 class we were undertaking the age-old Smartie statistical investigation. I decided, like many teachers, to use this opportunity to introduce the class to Microsoft Excel. My aims were to show students how to use AutoSum; to see if they could understand the benefit of this function and the advantage over using a calculator and to make simple graphs. Next week we will be adding the results of other groups to take a Mean and use a comparative graph feature to support our analysis of the results.

There were plenty of resources on the Internet ( had a plethora!); wonderfully detailed PowerPoints or Word documents with screen shots and arrows showing the students a step by step method. I chose my favourites and adapted them slightly (one needed modernising to the Excel 2013 we run on our school netbooks and other details such as where to save and open the Spreadsheet were made more suitable for the school systems).


Example of OneNote NoteBook with the Excel instructions printed into it

What I chose to do next was not particularly intentional but it worked fantastically. I copied the Powerpoint into our Content Library on our class OneNote. Once those students who were savvy were online they took themselves through what was essentially a step by step tutorial, with minimal assistance, and self-taught how to use Excel.

This allowed me the opportunity to work with a smaller group of students who were not so familiar with OneNote or Excel.

Children assist each other before I can get a look in!

Children assist each other before I can get a look in!

The children were able to help each other and often a question was asked and before I could get to the child to assist, another member of the class had jumped up to show them where to find the answers on OneNote or how to do it.

I can’t wait for the next lesson and to see how they deal with the next set of skills.


Using Stats App GameChanger To Improve Performance


Summary stats for the Beach Bash tournament

Summary stats for the Beach Bash tournament

I am currently with the St Andrew’s College Senior Boys Basketball team in the USA, playing in the Corona Del Mar High School annual Beach Bash tournament. It has been a big learning curve for the team coming up against some very high quality teams from around Orange County. Although we have not played them, the tournament includes the #12 ranked high school basketball team in the USA, Mater Dei (who interestingly also use GameChanger to record stats).

As part of my role with the team, I have been taking statistics during each game on an iPad, recording important information such as:

  • Shot attempts (both made and missed)
  • Rebounding (offensive and defensive)
  • Assists and turnovers
  • Blocks
  • Individual and team fouls.

I’ve used a number of different apps over the last two years to record this information but have settled on GameChanger has it provides a really good overview during the game revealing three critical stats:

  • Points off turnovers (very valuable in this tournament as the defensive pressure from the American teams has been significantly higher than what the boys are used to)
  • Second chance points (when the opposition scores after getting an offensive rebound)
  • Shooting zones for both teams – identifying where/how the opposition are getting their points (close shots “in the paint” or outside three pointers for example).

This is the overview for the last game we played against Sage Hill:

White is St Andrew's College and Green is Sage Hill

White is St Andrew’s College and Green is Sage Hill

Aside from the first quarter, this ended up being a very close game, with the difference really coming down to the very high percentage Sage Hill managed to shoot the three pointer.

Shot zone for Ben, our starting centre.

Shot zone for Ben, our starting centre. As you’d expect for a centre, most of the shots are close to the hoop.

One of the other great benefits of this app is that parents and supporters who are not at the game can follow along live online or via an iOS app with the GameStream feature, and also get game and season statistics for each player. From a coaching perspective, it is invaluable to be able to show each player where their shots were made/missed, allowing them to reflect on what were high percentage shots to keep taking, versus lower percentage shots to try and eliminate. Two other useful features are the shot chart for the game and the Game Flow (similar to the “worm” in a cricket run chase). Below are the Game Flow and Shot Chart for the last game against Sage Hill:

A unique feature of this app is the “Recap Story” automatically written after the game is completed based on the statistical data recorded. On Thursday the St Andrew’s team beat local team Westminister and this is the write up generated by GameChanger:

  • St Andrew’s College Beats Westminster
  • St Andrew’s College were victorious against Westminster 56-51 on Friday with the help of Tullen McGuinness, who scored 16 points. On a three-pointer from Will Hollings, St Andrew’s College locked down their lead in the third quarter. St Andrew’s College pulled ahead early with a 19-point second quarter on the strength of an 11-3 run, eventually claiming a 27-23 lead by halftime. McGuinness led the charge for St Andrew’s College’s offense, scoring 16 points, with nine points during the fourth period. He also contributed five rebounds and one steal. Jayden Chan (9 points) and Hollings (6) each sunk multiple three-pointers. Also contributing for St Andrew’s College were Ben Cushing (8 points, 8 rebounds, 1 block),Amosa Faitua-Nanai (6 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal), Theo Van Hout (6 points, 2 rebounds, 1 block), Jono Trail (2 points, 2 rebounds) and Sam Cockram (2 points, 1 rebound). St Andrew’s College finished the game with 35 rebounds (eight offensive/27 defensive), three blocks and seven steals.

These Recap Stories are written via technology by Narrative Science and present a succinct summary of the game. My only request would be that these recaps also reflected some of the performance of the opposition, rather than being so obviously focused on the team recording the stats.

Whilst the GameChanger app is not perfect (it is missing some useful stats such as +/- and EFF), it is very intuitive to use and provides the best “in game” reporting at a glance making it very valuable. The GameStream feature, streaming in realtime the scoring of the game, is a great feature as well.

This blog post is a little different from the usual eLearning stories that I write about, however I find it really interesting that technology like this is now available at a high school level, whereas it was previously only accessible at a College or Professional levels. It reinforces that technology is helping learning across all spectrums, both in the classroom, as well as the sports environment.