How OneNote Class Notebook supports digital modeling books

Today’s post was written by Nikkie Laing, associate principal at the Opaheke School in New Zealand.

Digital modeling books are a way of recording and sharing our everyday and ongoing learning. They are featured in many New Zealand primary school classrooms. These collaborative resources are used to record our ideas and our collective thinking. They help make learning more visible and illustrate what success will look like. With modeling books firmly embedded in our pedagogical practice, OneNote Class Notebooks gave us the opportunity to create even more efficient and effective digital modeling books.

Traditional modeling books

Modeling books are a shared resource where students and teachers construct learning together. They are an important record of the work that gets done in classrooms. Traditionally, modeling books are kept in scrapbook form and stored in boxes for students and teachers to access as needed.

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In our classrooms, we have modeling books for recording each group’s learning in reading, writing and math. Each teaching session begins with us referring back to our previous lesson so we can consider where we were and which concepts we thought we needed to work on next. Our learning intention is recorded, and together we co-construct success criteria.

Modeling books also help to keep our conversations focused on the topic and stops us from wandering too far from the intended learning. Having our learning intention front and center means we refer back regularly throughout a lesson and ask: “Are we there yet?” “Are we getting there?” “What do we need to do now?”

As a teacher, I also find them a valuable record of where we last stopped and what needs to be tackled next. Each lesson typically ends with a discussion about the learning. Often, students indicate how well they understand and which criteria needs further attention—a great start for planning subsequent lessons, but also an important source of evidence of an individual student’s progress over time.

Why OneNote makes modeling books even better!

Modeling books serve many purposes. They allow us to record our discussions and ideas visually. We use these to solve problems together and to share our thinking as we develop conceptual understanding. The powerful combination of a OneNote Class Notebook and digital ink allows us to collaborate and share much more easily than ever before. Now, we can record our ideas at the same time, ensuring more time for discussion and analysis of these ideas.

OneNote Class Notebooks help promote a sense of shared responsibility for learning by encouraging all to participate. Using the functionality of the collaboration space means we can record all of the group’s ideas, not just the teachers. Recorded ideas are valued ideas. There is a definite sense of wanting and needing to discover new learning together.

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Modeling books in OneNote Class Notebook.

Modeling books help illustrate learning over time. We can see how concepts are linked to previous and subsequent ones and that effective learning is about building on and strengthening these links. Rather than flipping through pages, we can see learning at a glance via page titles and tabs. Finding previous learning and accessing resources is easy.

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Perhaps the most important function is that they allow learners to revisit content wherever and whenever needed. This is a useful support when working on an independent task which might be proving difficult. It is also a helpful tool when students have been absent and may have missed an important lesson in a sequence. Students who are away for extended periods of time can see what we are up to. Many actively seek out missed lessons and catch up in their own time.

Using a traditional physical modeling book, students could revisit work anytime throughout the school day. However, there might be slight delays if others need that same modeling book. With OneNote Class Notebooks, learning is shared instantly with everyone in the class, easily accessible from any device in the room and beyond. Now, we can all see our work all the time.

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Modeling books are also used to store and direct independent tasks specifically related to the learning focus. Having these in digital form has made it easier to include a variety of activities for students. Where we once chose one or two relevant tasks and photocopied the right number of sheets for distribution, now we can click a button and our students have more choice about which activity best meets their individual needs. Something as simple as choosing the follow-up task that suits best has ensured higher levels of engagement and completion.

One of the unintended benefits is the way OneNote helps us to create a more transparent teaching and learning experience. Our students can now see the work of other groups more easily. They can see the pathway ahead with illustrated examples of what work at the next level looks like. This increased visibility has been invaluable for teachers too. As we begin our journey of working more collaboratively in innovative learning environments, sharing OneNote Class Notebooks and developing modeling books together actively encourages ongoing conversations about effective practice.

More time to do what we do best!

OneNote saves significant administration time and hours of lesson preparation. Using OneNote Class Notebooks means our students don’t have to hunt for resources and materials anymore. The learning we have done is preserved so they can revisit whenever they need to. We can get on with business of learning and have more time to do what we do best: teach!