ICT in Ed / OneNote

5 Ways Teachers Can Use OneNote

There’s a lot to learn about OneNote. And like many things, the more you learn about it, the more likely (and able) you are to embrace it as a useful teaching and learning tool. Described as a digital 3-ring binder, or the Swiss Army Knife of note-taking, OneNote has any features designed with education in mind.

  1. Distribute content to students
  2. Present engaging content
  3. Manage group work and collaboration
  4. View evidence of learning
  5. Give students feedback


1. Distribute Content To Students

OneNote is a digital notebook that can be organised (ie. set up) and used (ie. content distributed) in a way that makes sense to you and your teaching. How you set it up, and use it, is really up to you. If you’re working in a team (ie. department), consistency can be super helpful for your students.

Examples of how the CONTENT LIBRARY can be set up:

  • SECTIONS based on time (Week 1, Week 2, Week 3 etc) and PAGES based on lesson number (ie. Lesson 1, Lesson 2, Lesson 3)
  • SECTIONS based on chapters (Chapter 1, Chapter 2. Chapter 3 etc) and PAGES based on tasks (ie. Task 1, Task 2, Task 3)
  • SECTIONS based on courses (Biology, Physics, Chemistry etc) and PAGES based on lessons topics (ie. Structure of a cell, Cellular respiration, Cell division etc)

Examples of how CONTENT can be DISTRIBUTED:

  • Distribute all content from the content library, to all students. So each student has access to all content in their own Class Notebook. This approach requires a lot of mass page distribution which can cause frustrations with syncing, but, does ensure all students have access to all content.
  • Keep all the content in the content library for students to access at all times, and only distribute worksheets, lesson activities or assessment tasks as required to students. This approach can decrease the amount of page distribution required by the teacher, but, relies on students accessing content themselves from the library.
  • Keep all the content in the content library for students to access at all times, and ask students to create their own portfolio to keep classwork. This approach gives students much more autonomy in the notebook design and use, but, if teachers want to view/mark student work it can become a little difficult to manage (ie. because each student is setting up a slightly different notebook there’s not one neat place to review all student work). 

Tip: You can also create student groups to distribute content to small groups within your classroom, as opposed to distributing content to entire class list (ie. differentiated learning tasks)

2. Present Engaging Content 

OneNote allows you to use a variety of mediums such as text, images, audio, video and digital ink, to present information to students. But even better, it allows you to edit or add additional notes, annotations or information, in real time, during lessons.

  • Highlight key words as you read a poem
  • Show your workings whilst solving a math’s equations
  • Address frequently asked questions (ie. stop the class to highlight/circle key content and add notes to explain this in a different way)
  • Add an image of ‘finished product’ made in class
  • Record audio of yourself explaining how to correctly pronounce a commonly mispronounced phrase in Italian.

3. Manage Group Work And Collaboration 

OneNotes collaboration space means more than one person can view and edit a document at the same time. A fantastic opportunity for sharing work examples, brainstorming, researching and/or group work! Four quick examples of how you might use the collaboration space:
  • Research: Each student inputs the website of their local parish into a pre-existing table.
  • Brainstorm: Each student adds 10 ‘ideas’ into a pre-existing brainstorm page.
  • Group task: Create a task sheet that small groups can work through together. Students can allocate names to each task. Students can offer suggestions or feedback on other student answers/contributions.
  • Share: Each student submits an answer or example of their ‘final product’ (ie. video link, photo or audio clip)

4. View Evidence Of Learning

OneNote gives teachers the opportunity to view student work as often as they desire – without asking students to actually hand-in anything. So at any point in time you can open a students Notebook and view:

  • Their answers to a particular question/task
  • How many questions they answered in a lesson
  • Their entire notebook/portfolio and how it is progressing (ie. Are they falling behind or moving at a good pace? Are their notes organised or messy?)
  • Areas of concern (ie. Ask your students to highlight areas of concern in a specific colour so you can quickly view this)

5. Give Students Feedback

There are many different ways to leave feedback on student work with OneNote. Check out this previous article for TOOLS and TECHNIQUES for giving students feedback in OneNote for more ideas!

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