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Teachers Save Time Organizing Lessons and Grading Assignments with OneNote, the Free App for Digital Notebooks

Teachers Save Time Organizing Lessons and Grading Assignments with OneNote, the Free App for Digital Notebooks

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Guest blog by Kelly Green

You dedicate your lives to helping children, in what is undoubtedly one of the most difficult and important professions a person can choose -- teacher. Thank you to every teacher worldwide!

As many of you begin a new academic year, I want to introduce you to a fantastic free app from Microsoft called OneNote that supports collaboration, planning, organization, and saving time. Every teacher endeavors to save time in a very hectic job. The OneNote app is part of Office, Office Online, and recently released, OneNote for Mac just may be the ticket you have been looking for to save time.

With Microsoft OneNote, you can create digital notebooks that support academic standards and education outcomes across disciplines, collaborate with colleagues on special projects, and organize lessons, units of study and resources all in one location. Teachers can access their student's OneNote notebooks to grade assignments using digital inking or share feedback on essays using the record voice feature. Students may use OneNote across content areas and grade levels, and use OneNote to compile and organize unstructured information, research, and content. OneNote supports research, collaboration, information management, communication, note taking, journaling, reflective writing, and academic requirements.

A Few Notes about OneNote

Something for everyone

OneNote is an idea processor, a notebook, an information organizer - some even call it an "add-on pack for your brain". Many people find OneNote indispensable after they start using it, and we hope you do too!

OneNote can help if you need to:

  • Ensure you don't lose any information that you think is important.
  • Organize scraps of information that don't fit well into e-mail, calendar, or formal documents.
  • Gather and refer back to notes from meetings or lectures.
  • Collect research from the Web or other sources and annotate it for yourself or others.
  • Keep track of what you need to do next and not miss anything.
  • Work closely with other people on a project sharing notes and files.

OneNote will complement your activities in Microsoft Office Outlook®, Word, and other programs in the Microsoft Office program through several integration features. As an example you can send important email messages straight to OneNote and place them within the project or section you are working on.

Capture ideas and gather information

You can quickly capture meeting notes, brainstorming notes, ideas and thoughts, audio from discussions, video from interviews, diagrams, and other pieces of information using the keyboard, pen or recording capabilities in OneNote.

You can also gather clippings from the Web, e-mail, miscellaneous materials for projects, customers, and classes, files, pictures, and other purposes using convenient integration with your Web browser and the Office system.

Keep things organized

With OneNote, all this information stays in one place. It is easy to organize it, or pile it together (if that's your preference), and then search and find it again - search is so powerful in the product you can even search words found in pictures and audio or video recordings! Since OneNote uses the familiar concept of notebooks divided into sections with pages, you can get going right away.

Be prepared

Having all this information at your fingertips will keep you always prepared: for the next meeting, for writing a final document or e-mail message, for doing a task, for talking to a customer, for going on a trip, and other events. You can flag items in your notebooks as Important or To Do and then quickly gather summaries of information you have flagged this way. OneNote is fully customizable so you can adapt it to your work style.

A team effort

You can also work with your whole group- in a shared notebook that everybody can edit at the same time and view even while not connected to the network. OneNote seamlessly merges the changes each time anyone updates the notebook. A shared notebook is a great way to see what information the team has gathered, what files and notes are available as sources, even what action items remain for the team to work on.

A Few Features in OneNote

Familiar Office Ribbon interface

Like all Office products, you can access the most often used tools through the Ribbons at the top. The Home Tab is mainly where you work with text. In OneNote, you can click anywhere on a page
and start typing.

OneNote ribbon


Within OneNote, is the Translation feature. Simply highlight text, select translate and the language to translate into and Voila! The right column is replaced with the translation.

OneNote translation example

Password Tool

The last tool on this ribbon I want to show you is the Password tool. This is great when you are building a notebook that your students access to get content. Maybe you are working on building a lesson, but you don't want your students to see it yet. You can create the section and then password protect it until you are ready for them to see it. Important reminder! Remember your password as there is no recovery tool!

OneNote Toolkit for Teachers

To help teachers get started using OneNote today, we've created the OneNote Toolkit for Teachers . In this toolkit, you'll find information on

  • Getting started using OneNote

  • Creating Lesson Plans using OneNote

  • Inserting Existing Teaching Materials into your OneNote Notebook

  • Creating Shared Notebooks

  • And much more!

OneNote Materials for Trainers

For teacher trainers, we've created four resources to support your delivery of an in person professional learning experience.

Trainer's Guide - this guide is used by the trainer providing step-by-step instructions on how to deliver The Ultimate Collaboration Tool: An Introduction to OneNote teacher academy. The guide includes topics covering basic features and functions of OneNote, using OneNote as a personal organizational tool, using OneNote in the classroom, and Using Notebooks for Student and Teacher Collaboration.

Trainer's PowerPoint Deck - this deck supports the trainer as they guide teachers through the training.

Agenda - the agenda provides a description and details of the professional learning offering, as well as a listing of the sessions covered in the training. All four resources may be downloaded here.

Participant's Handout -- see below for download - this handout, created as a OneNote notebook, used by participants for following along during the session and note-taking is a great takeaway reference that includes tips, tricks and shortcuts for using OneNote.

You can find these training resources on Microsoft's Trainer Portal under Product Training,

Look for more articles on the benefits of these resources to support teaching and learning and please provide comments on the value of these resources to support teaching and learning.

Guest blogger Kelly GreenKelly Green is a senior manager supporting the US education team at Microsoft. She is responsible for the development of the US Innovative Teachers programing. Programs include the Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE), MIE train the trainer, MIE master trainer, and the MIE Fellowship. Kelly has nearly 30 years of experience in education as a teacher in Kentucky, special assistant at the US Department of Education and director of policy and state partnerships for the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (NCTAF). Ms. Green holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Kentucky and a Master's degree in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Attachment: The Ultimate Collaboration Tool_OneNote_Trainer Guide_Final.pdf
  • Great info! Just wanted to let you know there is a typo in the following sentence in the OneNote for Trainers section: The guide is includes topics covering basic features and functions of OneNote, using OneNote as a personal organizational tool, using OneNote in the classroom, and Using Notebooks for Student and Teacher Collaboration.

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