Home Microsoft Tips and Tricks Five OneNote Hacks for Your Classroom

Five OneNote Hacks for Your Classroom

by Miguel Guhlin
OneNote hacks

If you are using OneNote with your students, you’re probably already aware of how powerful it is. But just like any program, there may be some special features that you don’t know about or haven’t started using. In this blog entry, I’ll share some of the most common ways you can manage OneNote in Class Notebook.

1- Digitize Your Content

As an educator, you probably have pages of projects, activities, resources, and worksheets. When my wife invited me into her second grade classroom for back to school prep, I was astonished at the sheer volume of resources. “Have you thought about digitizing these?” I asked as I clutched an overstuffed manila folder in my hand, waving at even more crammed folders. The question of digitizing content always comes up at OneNote workshops. The best answer is to use a copier/scanner solution. You can drop several binders of content, scan it to PDF, and you are ready to go. FedEx/Kinkos have these awesome scanners at their locations if you don’t have one at school.

Why not carve out $20-$30 to scan your most precious resources? After all, you never know when the ceiling is going to drip a torrent onto your papers. “Wait, then how will I pick out that one page (page 52) of a 200-page PDF when I need it?” The easy answer is to use one of the PDF tools I discuss in my blog entry Top Five PDF Annotation Tools. These tools make it easy to extract one page or several from a large document. It’s so easy, you could show a third grader how to do it for you.

If you want to be more selective of what you digitize, or scan as you go, then take advantage of other Microsoft tools, such as Office Lens  (read Tip #3) or OneDrive (read Tip #4). When should you use one or the other?

Get Google Slides version | Powerpoint version of this infographic template

While either tool can make your work easier, Office Lens can make navigating text easier for your students with the built-in Immersive Reader.

2- Organize Your OneNote Master Notebook

Now that you have your paper digitized, what’s your next step? Organizing all your materials, units, lesson plans, and resources in one place. OneNote can make this difficult process easy. OneNote features sections and sub-sections. I like to organize my OneNote materials following an outline model. For example, consider the following:

  • Notebook TopicMathematics
  • Sections Group – This is an overarching idea or concept (e.g. Algebra I). Section Groups work as containers for sections.
    • Section – This is the actual section where you will add pages of content. If Algebra I is the overarching concept, then this might be Introduction to Algebra I.
    • Pages – Places resources, information, and lesson plans relevant to the Section topic in individual pages.
  • Example – In this example, we have tons of resources to keep track of. So our Section Group starts
    • Section Group Title: Algebra I
      1. Section #1 Title: An introduction to Algebra I
        • Pages:
          • Learning Not Performing
          • Making Sense
          • Conjectures, Creativity, and Uncertainty
          • The Beauty of Mistakes
      2. Section #2 Title: Modeling with Functions
        • Pages:
          • Rate of Change
          • Graphs
          • Functions

As you can see, a well-designed outline (I swiped, er, adapted this one from New Visions) can save you work. You can begin to move your content (e.g. digitized documents) into the appropriate section.

3- Curate Content For Placement in Your OneNote Master Notebook

Content curation is the process that you use to select, sift, save, and share content. Many educators use tools like Pinterest, Pocket, Evernote, Diigo, Flipboard, LiveBinder, or Wakelet for this. The drawback with using these tools to store content is simple. If you are in an Office 365 school district, you’ll have to figure out a way to copy that content into your OneNote notebook. Instead of relying on all these other content curation tools, just use OneNote.

In this screenshot, you can see OneNote WebClipper’s main options. With it, you can save to a notebook (e.g. TCEA Connect v4) to a section (e.g. Resource Roundup)

The OneNote Web Clipper will help you clip content (with website source for citation) straight into the notebook and section of your choice. It’s an extension for your Chrome or Firefox web browser. It makes dropping content into OneNote easy-peasy. However, the OneNote Web Clipper is not the only way to get content into your OneNote document. You can also use OneNote’s built-in INSERT menu, as shown below:

For those who are comfortable using social media, you could take advantage of IFTTT.com to automate saving of content into your OneNote notebook. Learn more about how to curate content in this way.

4- Manage OneNote Class Notebook

OneNote Class Notebook includes web-based management tools you can use. You can create, modify, and manage Class Notebooks via this link. After you log in with your Office 365 work/school account, you will see a screen like the one below.

If you click the “Manage notebooks” button, you will be able to select your Class Notebook. Here’s what that looks like:

From the options available, you are able to lock/unlock (off/on) your Class Notebook’s Collaboration Space. Need to share links to the Class Notebook with parents/guardians? You will have the option to select an individual student or generate links for all students. These links provide parents/guardians with access to their student’s individual notebook.

5- Manage OneNote Class Notebook in Microsoft Teams

Just announced in August 2018, teachers using Teams have the ability to access the management component of OneNote from within Teams. Here’s the text of the announcement:

To help save teachers more time when using OneNote Class and Staff Notebooks inside Microsoft Teams, we’re releasing a few key updates. Teachers will enjoy the new and improved Class and Staff Notebook settings directly inside Microsoft Teams – just select “Manage Notebooks” in the tab menu. Plus, we’ve improved the Class Notebook toolbar and added a new Staff Notebook toolbar, specifically for staff teams. In addition, page distribution is now fully supported in the Teams desktop app!
Read more

Using OneNote Class Notebook as a part of Microsoft Teams has other benefits. Be sure to explore Microsoft Teams.

Five OneNote Hacks for Your Classroom

There you go, five OneNote hacks for your classroom. What are some OneNote hacks that you have used or developed to make your work easier?

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