Last year, when our district rolled out teacher laptops, one of the first things I did was open every program and play around with it for a few minutes. There were several programs that were not even the least bit interesting to me. One of the programs I had never used before was Microsoft’s OneNote – a part of the Office suite.
Plenty has been said elsewhere about the capabilities and successes of OneNote, so I won’t go into that here. Rather, I wanted to share a couple of ways we have been using OneNote to enhance teaching, professional development, and curriculum development.
The Digital Plan Book
Shared Tech Notebook
Our crew of dedicated teacher technology leaders created a OneNote notebook that employs perhaps the best feature of OneNote: sharing. The notebook is stored on our district server, so we all have access to it and by sharing it, we are able to easily share a wealth of information. We’ve used the notebook to share meeting notes, create resource caches, and even compile lists of frequently asked questions. This has helped us accomplish a lot of different things: we now have a library of answers to the emails we get from staff, we can pool our knowledge on all the resources we have available to us, and we’ve become more organized and effective without requiring countless meetings. We’ve even used the “Live Sharing” feature to take real-time notes on trainings and other meetings.
Perhaps the most ambitious ways we have used OneNote is to create a notebook that will be used to document the English curriculum in our building. After doing a department training on how to use OneNote, I created a department notebook to use for some basic function. But when we began the curriculum documentation process, we thought this provided the perfect platform for collaborating on curriculum development. As a result, are beginning to use the OneNote notebook to create unit plans, brainstorm assessments and activities, and, eventually, create lesson plans for each unit. We used tab sections to break up the grade levels and to separate Honors curriculum from the standard units. Tabs divide up the units and the pages contain all the pertinent information for each unit.
Needless to say, I’m a big fan of OneNote. I think it takes all of the benefits of a notebook (sections and pages, privacy), a wiki (collaboration), and a chat room (quick communication) and rolls them into one neat, easy-to-use package.