Saturday, November 19, 2016

Upgrading from the Outdated "Traditional" Notebook

An example of an "organized" backpack in middle school.
Image Credit: Ms. Beth Hughes
Every day when the final bell rings, I walk down the hallway to see tons of paper on the floor near the lockers. Students either don't realize they dropped things or just don't care enough at the time. When they do come to class, papers are crumpled at the bottom of their backpacks or missing. Even when I give papers with holes punched, students often forget that the holes make it easy to insert the papers into a notebook.

I think a digital notebook is a great way to help students stay organized. The article discusses using Blogger and making these digital notes public. I actually prefer a highly powerful but very underutilized software. Microsoft OneNote. Never heard of OneNote? It's understandable because it's not as widely used as the other Office Suite softwares but it's there. Think of it as the younger sibling of an over-achieving person. You don't pay attention to it but once you see it in the shadows you'll see it is amazing on its own. Another option is Evernote, but I like OneNote's new classroom features. If you've never seen OneNote, search your computer. I can almost guarantee you have it because it's part of the Office Suite.

I use OneNote in class instead of Smartboard software. Every class has their own notebook and I keep it organized for students. Each day I create a new page and give it a heading that is the objective. Unlike a tradition whiteboard, I never erase, I just scroll down. I can type, handwrite, and insert features. I love the insert feature because students can add images, videos, sounds, or print directly from websites and other files. When my students are working out of the textbook, I can insert the PDF of the page, then call students up to the board to answer the questions.

It's great because students have access via the cloud to the notebook from any computer. This is helpful for when students are absent or forgot their notebooks at school. Parents also like this because they can see exactly what students are doing in school. For language learners, this is helpful because I can also insert audio clips of the class period to payback. They can also easily translate the notes if needed because it's already on the computer. Another benefit is that if I insert video demos, students can rewatch the lesson to catch something they missed the first time.

A sampling of what my weekend might look like.
Image Source: Flickr
The feature I love most but don't actually use (yet)? Class Notebook. My students don't have Microsoft accounts so I can't use these feature in the classroom but it's amazing. Once we have access to this feature, students will each have their own personal notebook that complements the class notebook. Students with devices can use their notebook instead of a traditional notebook. If I assign practice problems in math, each student would get a copy to write directly on. As the teacher, I can see each student's notebook and leave them feedback directly in the book. Much easier than collecting and carrying 50+ notebooks home over a weekend.


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