Teacher Review for Microsoft OneNote

Do-it-all Digital Notebooks for Collaboration in the Classroom

Rebecca C.
Technology coordinator
Omaha Public Schools
Omaha, United States
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My Subjects English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, English-Language Learning, Health & Wellness
My Rating
Learning Scores
My Students Liked It Yes
My Students Learned Yes
I Would Recommend It Yes
Setup Time More than 15 minutes
Great for Creation
Knowledge gain
Small group
Teacher-led lessons
Whole class
Great with Advanced learners
Special needs
How I Use It
We have multiple teachers using OneNote with students in their 1:1 classrooms in our building. I don't think it is necessary to be a 1:1 environment, but you are limited in what you can do with students during class time if they do not each have access to some type of device. We loved using these digital notebooks to organize class materials! Each subject had a different tab, and each tab was organized by lessons/days. Teachers could upload whatever material they wanted their students to use during class that day- pages from the text book, even links to outside resources. It was super easy for students to follow along during lessons, zoom in if they needed, write on the pages of their "text", or click on links that the teacher had put on a page for them. It is easy to link, embed, take pictures, add notes, videos, etc to any page. It takes a little time when you first create a OneNote notebook for your students- you have to think ahead a little of how you want to organize the materials to create the correct tabs, sections groups, etc. You can always add a section after you create the notebook. Students can add their own as well. OneNote has added some great updates in the last year to assist teachers with grading material quickly, reading text out loud to students, and letting students adjust the words in articles to read (Learning Tools add-on). Make sure to show students the "undo" button right away, as it is easy for them to accidentally delete work from a page! OneNote does make backups and past versions of notebooks, which we have had to resort to a couple times.
My Take
I absolutely LOVE using OneNote notebooks with my students- I don't have to carry home 100 notebooks to complete grading anymore! It's all online! It is also great for my own personal use- all of my lesson plans, conference notes, meeting notes, etc. are all in OneNote notebooks now. No more big binders to carry around! A couple drawbacks- you have to have Microsoft accounts to use OneNote...which isn't convenient at all if you are a Gmail district (or something other than Office 365). It really is up to the teacher to use the tool to it's potential to increase collaboration, critical thinking, creation, etc. It could just become a digital text book, which is useful, but OneNote can do so much more than that. We really ended up using it as a mini Learning Management System-putting bell work, assessments, and assignments in the sections and discussion posts in the collaboration space. The students end up with a cool "digital portfolio" at the end of the year. The classroom teacher can "push out" pages and sections to students, supposedly in real time, but it seems to take longer for us. Many times students would have to keep refreshing and letting the notebook sync for a good 10-15 minutes before a page would appear for them- too long for a typical class period! We started opening up the OneNote notebooks at the beginning of the day to let them start syncing so they were ready for class time.