OneNote…The Swiss Army Knife of Education

Fall is my favorite time of year to get outdoors and spend some time hiking and backpacking. No matter if it is a day trip or overnight I always pack my little Swiss army knife. One tool with sooo many uses.
This time of year also involves my favorite education tool… OneNote. Like my Swiss army knife, OneNote is one tool with sooo many uses. A virtual notebook, reminiscent of my old Trapper Keeper.  It can organize by sections or group sections with unlimited pages packed with documents, photos, emails, spreadsheets, recordings, inking and so much more. It gives me the ability to collaborate with colleagues and students and best of all I can access the most current version of my notebooks from my phone, my tablet, my surface, my desktop or laptop.

Take a look at how OneNote is organizing the Cherokee County School District.


I start the year with a personal School notebook. This includes group sections for each school that I service with sections for logistics, schedules, training materials and communication. There is a section for Conferences, Special Projects, Staff Meetings, Instructions and MIEE. This notebook is synced to my iPad, phone, desktop and laptop giving me quick access to anything and everything related to my job.


Each member of our department has access to everything we could ever need in our department notebook. All school floor plans, workflow for our projects, our organization chart, resolution to issues, leave and our performance appraisal forms. Project management and evaluation information all in one notebook where changes made occur in real time.


Our lead teachers create a notebook for their team allowing for collaboration of lesson plans, storing communication from parents, organizing the many events that take place throughout the year. Having the ability to access all of this information in one place has proved to be an invaluable tool for the teams.

Leader Keys Effectiveness System) NOTEBOOKS

The Leadership Keys Effectiveness System is an evaluation system that allows the state to ensure consistency and comparability across districts, based on a common definition of leader effectiveness. Our leadership evaluation documentation has gone from spiral bound paper copies to OneNote.

Our Principals share their notebooks with the Superintendent’s office providing a record with meaningful feedback supporting the continuous growth and development of each leader by monitoring, analyzing, and applying pertinent data from multiple sources toward attainment of established performance goals.

LKES offers clear and precise indicators and resources to leaders throughout the process. OneNote provides data and information that is always current.


Every school has a handbook with all of the information for the school year from discipline to leave information and everything in between. The OneNote Staff Notebook Creator proved to be the perfect match for this task. The principals created notebooks sharing admin rights with the assistant principals including all school data in the content section. Being able to update in real time to all staff members make it the perfect tool.

The Collaboration section is used for various meetings, leadership, technology, hospitality and staff meetings all give attendees the ability to contribute to the recording. This section is also a great way for Principals to gather information quickly from the staff.

Each Staff member also has their own private notebook which have a section for each of the Teacher Keys Evaluation standards including. Professional Knowledge, Instructional Planning, Instructional Strategies, Differentiated Strategies, Communication, Assessment Strategies, Positive Learning Environment and more. Teachers upload their lesson plans, communication tools and professional development records. This process keeps all of the information in one spot making it a professional and easy medium for the evaluation with administration always having access.


Many of our teachers are creating notebooks using the Class Notebook Creator for our students from 4th to 12th grade. The Content area provides the perfect place for subject textbook information, assignments and resources.

Collaboration content can include a yearbook space for each student, essential question of the day or a discussion space for a class topic. Each student has a private space to turn in assignments and homework and journal. Grading papers from one location make this seamless for class management.

Introducing our students to OneNote has been incredibly rewarding and exciting. They moved to this environment easily and have been respectful of the collaboration space, a great introduction to appropriate use of digital citizenship. Turning in their homework, maintaining their journal and having access to all of their content make this the perfect classroom tool.

Additional uses for OneNote include Notebooks for our Professional Development classes, notebooks for our Innovation Zones, Lesson Plan notebooks, notebooks for our EdCamp and for our Office 365 Swat Team.

Daily new uses and Avengers are discovered for this versatile “Swiss army knife-like” tool which is saving time and organizing our district one notebook at a time.

For additional information on OneNote check out these resources:
OneNote for Teachers

Differentiation in the Classroom…When it is Filled with Teachers…

I LOVE teachers……. kindergarten teachers, middle school teachers, teachers of students with special needs, high school teachers, math teachers, science teachers, language arts teachers , teachers who are small, teachers who are round, teachers who are tall, teachers who are thin, I like them all. I am in awe of them.  They are right brain, left brain and both brain. They are sensitive and tough and proud. They are passionate, creative and resilient. They are hard workers, resourceful and gritty.

FullSizeRender (2)Teachers are all different …just like our students with different gifts and different learning styles. So when it comes to professional development there can be challenges. Often when immersed in a program like the Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts, (and how did I get here?!)  it is easy to forget that for every amazing, gifted technology wizard there are twenty teachers who struggle with integrating technology in the classroom. Some don’t have time, some are afraid it won’t work and for some it just doesn’t come easy.

It is important to be an advocate for these teachers. The black birds, the blue birds, the red birds. My goal is to NEVER make anyone feel inferior because they don’t Sway or Mix, but to LISTEN TO THEM and to lead them, starting with their abilities, to another level. I could never be a math teacher (right brain alert!!!) and I most likely would be unable to manage 25 kindergartners scampering all over the place on a daily basis.  That this is my THING, it is intuitive to me. That my desire is to help with their comfort and skill level.  I LOVE watching teachers bloom into technology users and excitedly share their first notebook, movie or mix.

We live in such an amazing time. Where augmented reality can let you fly into the aurora borealis, where information is literally at FullSizeRenderour fingertips, where we can collaborate on presentations in Office 365, or Skype with a classroom around the world, where we can print BODY PARTS in 3D, where there are apps that allow us to share how a machine or a heart works, where we can wear computers on our arms and cars can drive themselves. In the famous words of Bill Gates… “Ten years from now we will wonder why we were so limited…..”

We will wonder why we were so limited…

So today, show a little love to those teacher birds, they all tumble out of the nest at different rates.

A Day in the Life with Office 365

On a typical morning in Ms. Ingrams fifth grade classroom, students enter the classroom, log on to their laptop or learning device and head straight to Office 365. Most had edited a biography PowerPoint class assignment from home and were anxious to tweak their final product before presenting. Others checked email in Outlook for assignment updates from teachers and looked over notes in One Note for an upcoming quiz.20150108_150829242_iOS

Student life “in the cloud” means no forgotten papers, lost homework, corrupt or washed flash drives or any one of a dozen common excuses given for not having an assignment. Soon to be unlimited storage in their OneDrive means plenty of space for all of their documents and projects.


Student work is created in Office 365 from a current Office Suite including Word, PowerPoint, Excel and One Note. Documents are automatically saved and can be accessed anywhere internet is available, 24-7.  Mobile Apps found on smart devices add to the ease and ability to access and edit their work.

Having the capability to share documents allows for easy collaboration among peers or with their instructor for grading or editing comments and works well with 21st century digital learning goals. Student in our district from fourth grade to graduation have access to all of the apps available. These tools mesh perfectly with the district “Bring Your Learning Device” initiative and bridge the gap for those students who don’t own premium versions of Office on their home computers.

Office 365 also houses a full version of Microsoft Outlook with 50 GB of space allowing email communication within the closed network of the school district and full calendar functionality for planning and organizing. Our students email accounts are “in house only” giving them the opportunity to use these accounts as their professional account and giving us a great platform to teach digital responsibility skills.

A Day in the Life

Teachers enjoy the benefit of Office 365 as a one stop shop, where they can manage, communicate, share and collaborate with peers and students.  The addition of tools like OneNote Notebook Creator allow teachers to create “textbooks” for each class, housing content, a collaborative component and a page for each student. Homework assignments are easily copied to student pages and completed only to have a teacher grade and comment from a single location. The addition of OneNote Staff Notebook creator really offer application for our administrators at another level. Teachers love the Excel Survey app as another tool beneficial for collecting links to assignments and assessments.

Office 365 moves the teacher and the learner beyond the walls of the classroom, anytime, anywhere. Creating mobile learners with access to educational tools and preparing them for success in all types of environments.