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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Organize Your Life With OneNote

Are you a person that has stacks of handwritten to-do lists, meeting notes, data analysis, lesson plans, and just paper of any kind? If so, you need to read this post!

I'll be the first to admit that I never used any Microsoft product except the Office Suite until this year. A colleague introduced me to OneNote (a Microsoft product) last year, and I didn't see the value. I already had an Evernote account, so why switch to OneNote?

Earlier this year, though, I went to TCEA with several teachers from my building. One of them is a Microsoft advocate (hi, Scott!) and kept raving about OneNote, so I finally decided to see what all the fuss was about.

I can now say that I've transferred all my Evernote contents to OneNote, and I don't even use Evernote anymore! For me, OneNote is the way to go for organizing files in my personal and professional life.

In a Nutshell
The concept of OneNote is simple: create virtual binders in which you can add virtual dividers and pages for optimal organization.

  • Create as many binders as you want with as many tabs and pages as you want
  • Color-code tabs and pages
  • Use any font on your system (I'm a font snob, so that capability is import to me! Kidding...kind of)
  • Add tags to notes for further organization
  • Create to-do lists that you can actually check off
  • Import or create tables, graphs, charts, pictures, links, screenshots, or spreadsheets so they are visible without having to click and open documents
    • Upload any of the above-mentioned items -- this shows an icon with the item for you to click and open
  • Record audio and video directly within the binder
  • Use free page templates to easily format your pages to look however you'd wish
  • Draw on a page in any color (highlight, too!)
  • Insert shapes
  • Export pages in a variety of formats
  • Password protect sections of any binder
  • Put a binder within a binder
  • Share binders with others -- they can have viewing or editing rights
    • See recent edits in the binder and who made them

How I Use OneNote Professionally
I have one binder all my lesson plans. It looks like this:

I have four tabs -- called "sections" in OneNote -- they're the blue, orange, pink, and purple colors you see in the picture above. Each has several pages inside. So, for instance, the "materials" tab has 26 pages -- one for each letter of the alphabet -- where I keep track of materials I have in the Science Lab and which cabinet they're in. 

After that, I have a separate section group for each of the grade levels I teach + one for PO information. When I click on a section group, it opens to what basically looks like a binder within a binder. So, for instance, this is what my 1st grade binder looks like:

In this way, I think OneNote is even more versatile than a real binder because I can't keep physical binders within physical binders. :) And obviously, you can't really put attachments into physical binders, either. 

In my grade level binders, each section contains every lesson I teach in that unit. I also have a page at the top of each section for the materials I need for that unit -- all consumables are written in green so I can make my Walmart list quickly, and any printable materials are written in red.

A look at the pages I have inside my 1st grade matter section

I also have another binder that's for teaching but doesn't have anything to do with my lesson plans:

Instead of a notepad that I'll promptly lose, I take my iPad to meetings and use the free app to take notes in the "meetings" section of this binder. You'll also notice the "PD" tab, where I take notes at any professional development workshops or conferences I attend.

I love the seemingly endless amount of capabilities OneNote has and how users can customize it to fit their life and needs!

Other Ideas

  1. Student conferencing tool - Create a tab for each student. When you meet with students about, say, their reading, create a new page to document the meeting. Record a student reading and store in his/her OneNote tab so you can more easily track his/her progress. 
  2. Professional development - Organize meeting, conference, or workshop notes
  3. Resources - Do you have a lot of random sheets of paper you have to file away for your class? Attach them all in OneNote so they're easy to preview, find, and store.
  4. Parent contact log  - Use the table option to create a log for parent contacts. You can record text or audio notes about who was contacted, what the meeting was about, the method of contact, etc. 
  5. Student examples  - scan and attach student examples for big projects so you'll have something to show future students.

1 comment:

  1. I have just recently started using OneNote too and love the freedom of typing anywhere on the screen and the ease of inserting pictures. I didn't know I could have section groups or password protect tabs. Thanks for the tips!