At my school, we have launched into OneNote as a school platform with both feet. At this point, just 9 weeks into our one-to-one program, we have roughly 80% of our teachers using Classroom Notebooks for their day-to-day activities, and 97% of our staff using the devices every period of every day.
We believe that the biggest reason for this success is the use of Staff Notebook at the administrative level. As an admin team, starting from the principal down, we believed that the only way to get our teachers to use Classroom Notebook was to model proper use and notebook setup. To do that, we started thinking about the systems we previously had in place to deliver and receive information from our teachers. Our school heavily depended on Sharepoint, and the tools there were extremely useful to us. Looking at the way our workflow went with Sharepoint, and considering the power of Staff Notebooks, we broke our system into a total of 3 primary administrative notebooks.
School-Wide Staff Notebook – Team WARRIORS
Our primary purpose for Sharepoint was for distribution of documents, forms, and lists to the staff. This included things like Pre-Planning Schedules, Professional Development Calendars, School Maps, etc. To accomplish this goal, we developed a school-wide staff notebook, called Team WARRIORS (our school mascot). We removed the individual teacher tabs and just use the Content Library, Collaboration Space, and Welcome area. Here is a look at some of the key sections:
Going through the old Sharepoint site, we realized that Staff Notebook gives us the ability to organize much better than Sharepoint. In a Staff Notebook, we have lots of organization options. By breaking our content into the various sections within the Content Library, information is much easier to find for our teachers. Here is an example of the Discipline section:
As we entered further into the school year, we found that Team WARRIOR became the perfect place to store tutorials and how-to’s for the technology that we use in our classrooms. There are some major advantages to this over Sharepoint. For one, it is more visually appealing. Instead of seeing lists of documents the teacher can download, then view, they can directly click on the page and see it immediately. It also allows us to make more dynamic content. If a software application gets an update, and the walkthrough I made previously isn’t exactly right any more, I make a new version and replace it on the OneNote. While this can be done on Sharepoint as well, the advantage here is that the new version automatically replaces the old one. When teachers download a document off of Sharepoint, they get their own personal copy of that document. OneNote automatically downloads the most recent version, ensuring that all teachers have the most recent information.
This Staff Notebook has been hugely beneficial to our staff for finding needed documents, that in the past, were difficult to find on our Sharepoint site. Even more importantly, it forces our staff to actually use OneNote, and helps them make connections between what a Class Notebook can do and how they might actually use it in their classroom.
Administration Staff Notebbok – Leadership Team
The Leadership Team Staff Notebook was created by our principal, and the staff added were the Assistant Principals, Deans, and Support Personnel who make-up the leadership team. This Staff Notebook helps the principal disseminate information to the team such as the weekly newsletters from our Deputy Superintendent, agendas for our weekly leadership team meetings, and the supervision schedule and maps. In addition, it maintains the classroom teacher observation schedule, ensuring that all administrators know who they should be performing classroom observations on each week. It also allows our principal to monitor that the observations are complete.
The best use of the Leadership Team notebook is the use of the Collaboration Space for the Leadership Team Meeting Agendas. Here, our principal supplies the agenda and everyone in the meeting can follow along as he goes. In addition, we can make notes for the rest of the team to see, and comments can be added with questions or more details as we go through the meeting. This process has prevented interrupting others from talking, or stopping the flow of the meeting, to get clarification.
Evaluating Administrator Notebooks – Team AP
The most useful, and beneficial, staff notebooks are the ones setup by each of the evaluating administrators at our school. These notebooks add all of that administrator’s direct reports (primarily broken into the different subject area departments). Within each of these are the specific documents that administrator wants shared to those teachers and support staff that they oversee. In each of the teachers’ own sections, they submit their syllabus at the beginning of the year, their weekly lesson plans, and their quarterly grade verification.
In addition, the Collaboration Space of this notebook has been beneficial for departments, and grade levels within departments, to collaborate. The Reading Department, for example, has taken to using this for all of their documents. Pay particular attention to the navigation panel and organization structure of the screenshot below.
There are two major advantages to our use of Staff Notebook to run our school. The first is efficiency. This system is so much simpler to use than a Sharepoint site. It allows each administrator to directly control how their system is setup, and each administrator only sees their direct reports instead of everyone. Teachers also have a much easier time submitting plans to their administrator and accessing necessary information through the Staff Notebooks than they did on Sharepoint. The implementation of this system has saved our administrative team and teachers countless hours in the 9 weeks since we implemented it.
The other major advantage, and in my eyes the bigger of the two, is that it gives our teachers the chance to use OneNote. More accurately maybe, it forces our teachers to use OneNote, so that when they begin to use it in their classroom, they know how to use it already. As classroom use of OneNote, in the form of a Class Notebook, is an expectation of all of our teachers, this is essential. OneNote is an extremely powerful tool, and the Class Notebook creator makes it an amazing tool for instruction. However, its greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. OneNote is loaded with features and capabilities, but because of that, it appears daunting. The sheer number of navigation panels and toolbars can be intimidating even for powerusers. However, once you start to use it, once you get a conceptual vision of the functions of the various components, it is not actually complicated to use. Forcing our staff to use Staff Notebook showed them that it isn’t actually as complicated as it appears.
If you have any questions about our implementation, feel free to comment below.