OneNote has revolutionized the way we work in our school!

Today’s post was written by Kristy Griffin, computing coordinator and a Microsoft Innovative Educator at the Bolsover C of E Junior School.

With the introduction of OneNote to our schools, in less than a year, we have transformed our pedagogy and the way we teach and learn. With this we have become a staff of “OneNote Avengers,” redefining our students’ learning and bringing a whole new approach to the way in which we work and teach in school. Driven by the passion of our executive head teacher, Rowena Herbert, along with heads of school, Paula Lowry and Claire Bailey, we have changed the dynamics of our teaching and totally revamped our school into a 21st-century “OneNote school,” which enhances teaching and learning through the use of Microsoft technologies.

Our journey began when our leadership team introduced the use of OneNote as a way for us to collaborate across our two schools and share our notes from meetings. Quickly we realized the impact and power this tool could have not only from a staff perspective but also for our students. Following on from this we took the plunge to sign up all students and staff to Office 365 and so began our Microsoft expedition, on which we would embark to totally renovate the culture of our schools. The Staff OneNote Notebook took the lead as we began by moving previously bulky files into the OneNote world, allowing instant ease of access anywhere, any place and any time. We invested time within professional development and shared the benefits and ease of moving previously paper-based monitoring into the digital world, cutting staff workload and opening up better opportunities for collaboration and sharing.

We now, as a staff, use OneNote for all of our admin-based needs within school, including staff handbooks, coordinator files, sharing of timetables, data monitoring, intervention tracking and much more.

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As a staff, we quickly saw the benefits of having this simple and easy way to share important information and make the day-to-day environment across two busy schools more effective and conducive to sharing and collaborating. All of our teacher assistants at our school also use OneNote to track the intervention work they do with students and can easily share this information with various class teachers.

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Most recently, staff started using OneNote to share planning across classes and year groups and to organize resources all in one place, accessible by all in the team. With the implementation of these changes there have been challenges; however, by creating a shared vision for all staff, we have invested time and support in ensuring the process of change ran smoothly. One year in and we don’t miss the days of stacks of files and limited means of communication—the power of OneNote is simply amazing!

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Aside from the transformations OneNote has created for the way we work as staff, the most revolutionary and important change has been within the classroom. All teachers have their own OneNote Class Notebooks for their classes, where they can adapt the resources to the individual needs of the class or student. This gives students one-to-one access to their learning resources on their devices, giving them ownership over their own learning. Each student has access to a Content Library, which can be used to access handouts and as a textbook. The Collaboration Space allows students to share and collaborate on a topic and, finally, a named book that allows them to ink or type digitally onto OneNote to complete their work. Now, in both our schools, not a day passes where OneNote doesn’t enhance learning within a lesson and give students instant access to a variety of lesson resources digitally.

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With the introduction of the new Class Notebook add-in, books can now be managed with ease, saving time and allowing pages and sections to be distributed with the click of a button. Not to mention, teachers can more efficiently and quickly review students’ work and give individual feedback allow collaboration and discussion with students. This has made the use of Class Notebook even more effective and easy to use for all our staff. Not to mention, through cross notebook distribution we can easily distribute pages from a shared staff planning book to students’ individual notebooks. With these new tools, it will make our move to using OneNote with younger students in our Nursery and Primary schools even smoother.

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OneNote is making our vision of having “anytime, anywhere and any device” learning for our pupils a reality. It is cutting the workload of our teaching staff, reducing school costs as we move to becoming paperless and engaging our students within their learning. To make this journey a success, we have changed the culture and mindset of our schools. Moreover, the improvements in teaching and learning have made this investment in change even more rewarding. We now have a school of OneNote converts and are excited for what our future holds as we continue to develop and find new ways of utilizing Microsoft tools within our classrooms, including Office Mix, Sway, Skype and Yammer. We call ourselves a “OneNote school” as that is what we aspire to be. We use OneNote every day and the impact it has upon teaching and learning is astounding. We will continue to use OneNote daily across all age groups and know that with the constant support and updates from the Microsoft OneNote team it will continue to provide new opportunities in which our teachers can enhance teaching and learning and transform their pedagogy. I urge you, if you’ve yet to explore OneNote in your school or classroom, then do it now—you will certainly have no regrets and will be amazed at the endless possibilities this will create for your staff and students. Our journey may have begun with OneNote, but the opportunities this opened up for us as a school and for our students will take us much further, and we are excited about what the future may hold.

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—Kristy Griffin