This fall, my school moved from away from the iPad to the Microsoft Surface as our 1:1 device. I have spent the semester getting used to the new devices and operating systems on campus. I have to say that my absolute favorite thing about this change has been the class notebooks that I have set up using Microsoft OneNote. I used OneNote a number of years ago to keep my lesson plans organized as well as to annotate texts for my students. But, this year, Microsoft released an add-in to the program that has some really great features for schools. In a nutshell, as the teacher, I can create a notebook in OneNote for each of my students to download. This notebook as three different areas:
- the collaboration space – all students can contribute to any page located in this section of the notebook.
- the content library – this section is for handouts that students don’t need to personalize or complete in any way.
- a student specific section – each student has an individual section that only he/she and the teacher can access. This area is where students can do homework assignments, worksheets, and take course notes.
The add-in allows the teacher to virtually distribute materials to students with the click of a button. Here are some of the ways that I’ve been using each section of the class notebook. I have used the collaboration space for peer editing of assignments and signing-up for presentation times and topics. The content library has been the place that I use to introduce a new topic. I do my board work on a new page within this section each day and give the page a useful title. Then, when students want to go back and review, they know exactly where to go to find what we’ve done. For my AP class, I prepare pages with the day’s Latin text and annotate in real time for my students. These annotations live in the content library for students to refer to as needed. The student specific section is where my students take any notes and do assignments. As the teacher, from my own computer, I am able to check out what students are doing in this section. If I’ve been working with John on his note-taking, I can simply click on John’s notebook and see how he’s doing and give some encouragement or feedback. Each day, my class starts with a “Do-Now” activity. At the start of the week, I quickly populate the students’ notebooks with the “Do-Now” activities for the week, each on a separate page. When class starts, the students know to find the activity for today and get going. After about 5 minutes of working, I ask the students who’s feeling confident in their work and, from my computer, pull up and display that particular student’s work to review with the class. I love OneNote class notebooks because they are paperless, quick to set up, easy to keep organized, and really flexible. I’m looking forward to finding more ways to use them next semester. Check out this site for more information: https://www.onenote.com/classnotebook