Supporting teaching and learning in SharePoint and SharePoint Online With Salamander SharePoint

19 March, 2015

Supporting teaching and learning in SharePoint and SharePoint Online With Salamander SharePoint


How does Salamander SharePoint support and improve teaching and learning?

· Increases efficiency for teachers and students

o Creates consistent site structures designed for tagging and finding resources

o Teachers can quickly open student OneNote notebooks for each class

o Pre-creates secure teacher notebooks for each class and subject

o Teachers can quickly assign work for students to complete

· Supports student autonomy and the ability to work almost anywhere

o Students use OneNote to take notes and review them on almost any device

o Students complete work within OneNote

· Encourages project-based learning and peer collaboration

o Students create entire projects within OneNote notebooks and wikis

o Students work together on Office documents, OneNote notebooks wikis, blogs and discussions

· Promotes personalised learning though guided choices and target setting

o Students use their personal OneNote to set targets and track progress

o Students reflect on work as they upload it to their drop box


What does Salamander SharePoint do?

Manage class sites for each class or registration group in the MIS.

· Based on a custom class template which we work with you to design

· Permissions are applied automatically at different levels e.g. student access to a discussion board or a ‘hidden’ document library for staff only

· Secure drop boxes for each student in each class

· Secure OneNote notebooks for each student in each class. Based on custom templates

· Synchronise class timetables into class site calendars

OneNote for note-taking and collaboration

· Students take all their class notes through OneNote

· Notebooks sync up rapidly between multiple devices – take notes in school, tidy them up on the bus home

· Capture videos or sound recordings in real-time – homework doesn’t have to be written

· Students and teachers work together in real-time using shared class notebooks

· Teachers open a student notebook and see changes made a few seconds before.

· Teachers can push new sections into each student notebook

· Cross-curricular e-portfolio for all students – drag and drop your best work once a term

· A great place to record Target Setting

Manage subject and course sites based on the MIS.

· For example, an ‘English’ subject site or course sites called ‘English GCSE’ or ‘English Year 10’.

· Permissions are applied automatically based on who teaches or studies the subject.

· Make content more findable using document tagging e.g. Key Stage, Course, or Topic.

· Create each Office document within SharePoint from a custom template; no need to upload from the desktop or USB sticks.

Manage Blogs for each student

· Create a blog for each student in a central area, for each subject, or for each class.

· Permissions are set separately for posts and comments e.g. only the student can post but anyone in their class or year can read/comment

· Blog post categories can be managed centrally

Custom uses

· Populate a staff/student list with MIS columns such as name and tutor group; for use with forms and workflows

· Populate SharePoint groups with specific groupings from the MIS e.g. House, Tutor Groups, Subject Leaders

· Manage permissions in My Site/OneDrive

· Things no-one has thought of yet

Shadow a Salamander School teacher as she visits one of her class sites

Anita Abell logs into her school portal, where she intends to manage one of her class sites. A class site is a place where a teacher can work with their students, and where students can collaborate with each other. If you would like to see for yourself, contact us at and we’ll provide credentials.

1. Let’s go straight to Anita’s Year 7 Science class site and have a look!


As you can see, the structure looks fairly simple. When we work with you to build the templates for a class site, you can include as many or as few features as you need.


2. Explore the Assignments list using the large link on the purple menu. Several views will be available of the assignments you have set.


If you click on the title of an assignment, you will see more details about it. An assignment cam have multiple attachments and a link to a resource elsewhere e.g. a subject site or an external website.


3. Let’s create a new assignment! Click on Assignments on the Quick Launch on the left, then click on New Announcement.


Fill in the form which appears. Only the Title and the dates are mandatory. The Start Date and Due Date define the start and end points for the Timeline view. To save teachers time we usually default those to today’s date and to two weeks’ time, respectively.


The Assignment Location tells students where they should actually do the work. This will usually be in the Student Dropbox where students can create Microsoft Office documents on most modern devices using Office Online. Another online location for students to store their work is in their student notebook for that class. Please select Student Drop Box for now.

If you have a suitable resource to attach, and/or a hyperlink to include as a resource then please attach those. Finally, save the form. You will see your new assignment appear in the assignments list for this class.


4. Next, let’s have a look at a Student Drop Box. This is one of the places where a student can put the work they are doing in response to an assignment. Click on the Student Drop Box link on the large purple menu.

You will see a folder for each student in Anita’s class. Only the student themselves and any class teachers can see their work.


Alexis Affleck has some work in her folder; click into it to have a look. Notice that Alexis has associated each of her documents with an assignment.


Click on one of Alexis’ documents to open it in Office Online. Feel free to edit/correct Alexis’ document, or to add comments for her to read.


When you want to stop editing the document, just click on the name of the class (Science 7D/Sc) to return to SharePoint. There’s no need to save your document when using Office Online.


5. OneNote is a great place for students to take notes, do classwork or homework, and set targets for themselves. Let’s have a look at how notebooks are used in class sites. Click on Student Notes on the large purple menu.

Each student has a secure OneNote notebook inside each class site. This gives students a consistent place to take notes, which the class teacher can view at any time. Another advantage of OneNote is that content can be synchronised with multiple devices, including laptops, tablets and smart phones.



Open up Alexis’ notebook and explore how she has been taking notes. When you have finished, click on the name of the SharePoint site (Science 7D/Sc) to return to it.



6. The Collaborate library is designed for students to work together in small groups on mini-projects. They can either co-author documents in real-time using Office Online or take it in turns to work on a document. Click on Collaboration on the large purple menu to see how students might work together to create a PowerPoint presentation or a Word document.

In this example, a group of three students has been working together to create a PowerPoint presentation about Photosynthesis. Additional columns allow the students/teacher to record who participated in the work and what each of them did. There is also an option for (other) students to rate a given document out of five stars.



Shadow a student as she explores a class site

A student’s experience of a class site is similar to what we have seen for our teacher, Anita Abell. But whereas Anita is able to see Student Drop Boxes and OneNote notebooks for multiple students, a student such as Alexis can only see their own. The other difference is that a student will have rights to read most content in a class site (e.g. announcements, links, and calendars) but they will generally not be able to contribute to them; the Collaborate library and Discussion Boards are exceptions to this.

In this section, you are invited to log on as Alexis Affleck and explore the student experience.

1. Please log in as Alexis Affleck to the same address as before. You may need to sign out completely and close your browser down to ensure that Anita Abell is fully logged out.

If you would like to see for yourself, contact us at and we’ll provide credentials.

Go to the Student Drop Box and click down into Alexis’ folder.

Click on the New button to bring up a menu offering a choice of Office documents to create. Please choose a Word document the first time round, but feel free to create other types of document afterwards.


Your new document will open in Office Online. Add some content to it then return to SharePoint by clicking on the name of the site (Science 7D/Sc).

The document you just created will be called something like ‘Document’, as Office Online needs a working title. The next step is to edit the properties of your new document and give it a proper name. To do this, click on the ellipsis (…) next to the document and a popup preview menu will appear. Then click on another ellipsis to bring up a context menu and select Edit Properties. You only have to do this a few times before it starts to feel familiar!


Rename the document to something appropriate. Also select an assignment to associate with your work. Then save the form.


2. Got to Student Notes and click on the notebook for Alexis Affleck.

Please feel free to try out OneNote if you haven’t used it before, adding pages and sections to convert Alexis’ notebook into a structure one of your students might use (target setting, etc). If you come up with a design for a standard student notebook for your classes, we can use that as a template for all/some of your class sites.

When you are finished in OneNote, click on the name of the SharePoint site (Science 7D/Sc) to return to it. Or, if you have a device with the OneNote client on it, try opening the notebook in the full client from within Office Online.

If you have a second device available, you could also try logging in as Anita Abell at the same time as Alexis and see how quickly the two copies of the notebook sync up.


Shadow a teacher as she explores a Salamander School subject site

If a class site can be seen as a kind of highly interactive student exercise book, then a subject site might be comparable to a curriculum textbook. Though of course the media and features that we can use in SharePoint are much richer than text and pictures; it can include videos, links to external content and collaborative features such as discussion boards, announcements, surveys, and document co-authoring. In Salamander School, a subject site is predominantly a place where resources and links can be created, stored, found and viewed.


Two things stand out about the use of SharePoint to manage resources compared to file shares:

I. Resources can be created inside the Resources library itself, avoiding the possibility of multiple competing documents being emailed around or stored on network drives.

II. When resources are tagged appropriately, they become easier to find. Navigation based on views and search, driven by metadata (tags), can be more efficient than drilling down through multiple levels of folders.


1. Go to the Science subject site below and log in as Anita Abell.

Click on Resources on the large purple menu. Use the New button to bring up a menu of Office documents to create. Please choose the Word Resource template to begin with.


Because this is a subject site, we are using a custom document template with metadata tagging built in. Consequently, SharePoint will open this document in the full Word client rather than in Office Online, in order to benefit from the metadata.

Once Microsoft Word opens, you will see that it has a header area asking you to tag the document. These tags will be passed through to SharePoint for use in views and search. Crucially, any metadata saved with a document in this way will always stay with that document; even if it is moved, downloaded, or emailed. Please fill in the metadata fields with appropriate values for your school. In this example, the metadata fields are mostly free-text entry (apart from Key Stage, which is a choice). But you could potentially set these fields up to use a term store in order to make tagging quicker (i.e. using autocomplete) and more consistent (e.g. it might guide teachers to enter ‘Mathematics’ rather than ‘Maths’).


Finally, you need to save the document with an appropriate name. Using Save As, click on the current folder. Basically, we need to change the filename but not its location.


Give the new document a filename and save it. You can close or minimise Word now. To view your new document in SharePoint refresh the page in your browser.



Try out the different views in the Resources library (e.g. By Topic, By Key Stage, etc). Practice expanding and collapsing branches to see how easy it would be to find tagged content compared to untagged content in folders.

Richard Willis

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