Melissa Giddins

Exploring technology and literacy in education.

OneNote – A Practical Tip

We started using OneNote with our Year 9 English classes in 2009 and continued with the process as they moved into Year 10 in 2010. Our Year 9 students that have just received their laptops have now also begun the process of using OneNote as their English book. (Please see my previous post for how we set up the OneNote notebooks as templates for the entire cohorts.) This has been going swimmingly, and apart from spelling tests and in-class writing tasks, we have rarely used their exercise book since.

This led us to a unique challenge though. We collect student books once per term to check on their work, mark work and give feedback as to progress, etc.  How do we do this now their books are in OneNote? Thinking I was clever, I worked out how to save their notebook as a single file package and we had students save their notebooks and submit it this way.  BIG MISTAKE. When you open a single file package, OneNote automatically saves it as part of your library of notebooks on your hard drive. Now let’s do some maths: 4 classes of 30 students = 120, multiply that by 4 terms and there are 480 notebooks now on your hard drive with it being difficult to tell which is the latest submission. A minor nightmare to be sure.

The good news is that there is a solution! Do NOT have them save their notebooks as a single file package.  Instead, from the File menu, have them choose Publish as a PDF. Within this option they can choose to save the current page, section or whole notebook.  They can send the PDF to their teacher via whatever the preferred method is: email, Edmodo, Moodle, etc.

This has worked wonderfully! Not only does a PDF compress the information so that it doesn’t take up as much room on your hard drive, it also opens as a PDF and not as a OneNote notebook.  This is also useful for teachers that do not have OneNote at home – marking is still possible as they can open the PDF.  Also, for those of us that have Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro Extended, you can then add sticky notes to the submitted work and make comments, prior to sending it back to the students.

A practical tip within this process: get students to make the file name their full name and the date submitted e.g. John Smith 110610. This way you can easily see which is the latest version and to whom it belongs.

June 13, 2010 Posted by | Digital Education Revolution (DER), OneNote | , , | 2 Comments

OneNote 2007

I presented today at a Head Teacher conference about OneNote use across all subjects. Realising that I had not yet blogged about this information, I thought I would start a series of blog posts on utilising OneNote in the classroom. Obviously, as an English teacher, my examples will be English based, however the information about OneNote is relevant to all subject areas.

The first thing to say is what we did that worked. We introduced OneNote as the students’ daily notebook, replacing their exercise books (though students still had exercise books available to them). We created templates for each subject area, so that students in any class were working in a similar environment to the other classes in that subject. This assisted students that moved between classes, but was more supportive to teachers that were just starting out with integrating technology.

Each faculty brainstormed what would be the appropriate sections and pages that would be on the template. We then created a sample template to show the students, and created a Word document with instructions and pictures for the students to set it up.  While we could have simply provided the OneNote template to the students, students learned more about how to use OneNote by setting it up for themselves and it was a really fast process. If we were the first subject to set it up, the process took longer, but if another faculty had already set up a OneNote template then students knew the process and only needed to know the names of the sections we required. Ten minutes and it’s done.

This has been incredibly successful and all our teachers now use the laptops with students in the classroom on a regular basis. Mission successful!

Some recommendations for creating templates for a subject:

  1. The teachers that will be teaching the subject to classes of students with laptops should get together and brainstorm different uses for OneNote in the classroom – BEFORE trying to create a template.
  2. Now that you have some ideas about how OneNote might be utilised in the classroom, it is easier to think about what sections and pages you will have set up. So step 2 is to plan the sections and pages.
  3. Create a model template and have it projected up in the classroom when students are creating their templates. Fast workers will create what they can see on the screen and then help the people around them.
  4. Encourage students to help each other. You can’t be everywhere at once and you want to set good precedents for students helping each other and learning from each other.  
  5. We made the students title the Notebook: “English Year 9” (or Year 10 etc) because next year we don’t want them to get confused with which English notebook is the relevant one. This worked very well going into Year 10 this year.

Our sections in the English template:

  •  There are four sections and two section groups on the main page:
    1. Homework – and we used the Simple To Do List template for the pages in this section
    2. Glossary
    3. Journal
    4. Wide Reading
  • The two section groups are English Topics and Spelling.
  • Within English Topics are sections labelled with the names of all our units of work. Within Spelling are only two sections: Personal Spelling and Weekly Spelling.

Not all classes use all the sections all the time, but overall this has been spectacularly effective.

Next blog post in this series will be hints and tips on OneNote 2007 use.

June 1, 2010 Posted by | OneNote | , , | 4 Comments