First grade teacher talks about how OneNote Class Notebook has changed her life

The Microsoft Office blog has shared many ways that educators have found the company’s tools to improve the classroom experience. One such example of this is Rachel Montisana from Ashton Elementary School, who wrote a guest post today. Ms. Montisana is a First Grade teacher with kids of her own who, like most teachers, constantly struggles with balancing time in the classroom and personal time at home. That is where the idea of implementing the OneNote in her classroom of six- to seven-year-old children first hatched.

Many colleagues actually critiqued the idea as being more of a hassle for such younger students than it was worth. The concept that they would be using technology instead of the traditional methods brought up concerns of under-developed motor skills. But she and her students were very determined to take on the quest–and set to prove the naysayers wrong.

In retrospect, Ms. Montisana estimated that it only took approximately a week to specifically focus on teaching the students how to handle the Surface 3 and how to traverse through OneNote, digital ink, and Office 365. After the initial process of acclimating the children, they became more accustomed to the tool over the course of the year.

Learning Without Paper

Once the students become more confident with the tools handed to them, Ms. Montisana realized that there were no more lost pencils, no time collecting papers, no lack of supplies, and definitely no more lost homework. Students had everything they needed in one place, and that made all the difference. In fact, she emphasized that the classroom became nearly paperless except for special projects, displays, and taking tests.

Not only did it decrease the amount of resources necessary to maintain a daily classroom environment, but Rachel realized that students’ were becoming more active in their learning. Across the room, she noticed that the children wanted to read, then re-read the assignments, highlight and prove their answers, and interact with their classmates. OneNote with digital ink made it possible for students who needed smaller or bigger lines to write more easily, letting them customize by themselves with a simple pinching gesture.

Time is a Precious Commodity

Teaching the students to be self-reliant and active in their lessons was the result that Ms. Montisana had intended. Although the success came with some complications, the most notable of which was the difficulty of students accessing pages from the content library. And so every evening, Rachel stayed up until approximately 2 AM, taking the time to copy each single page and tab to the student’s notebooks for the next day. The time she spent at home was often considered regained in the classroom, even though it was still taxing on her personal life.

That is how the Class Notebook changed her life. The add-in saved her the time she spent at home with only a few clicks that sent each tab and page to every student’s notebook. It even proved to be a lifesaver whenever a substitute came to call. Rachel was able to switch out her originally scheduled lesson plan to a different one from home, ensuring that the sub had a day of instructions and activities already available.

OneNote has not only been a time saver for teachers, but for students as well, who can share articles, pictures, and resources from their notebook to the classroom and share multiple pages quickly.

Individualized Learning Tools

Now, with the addition of Learning Tools added to One Note Class Notebook, Ms. Montisana has watched her students become independent. Individualized learning has reached a whole new level for students who were previously falling behind. Learning Tools helps those students that are on lower reading levels receive individualized attention. Instead of relying on a single teacher to cater to each student’s needs, the child becomes independent by clicking a button and listening to the information that is on the page. They are more able to participate and collaborate without falling too far behind. The tool highlights each word as it speaks it out loud, reinforcing the understanding of reading by sight.

The Microsoft One Note Class Notebook with Learning Tools has significantly impacted Ms. Montisana’s First Grade class. By providing the proper tools and opportunities, future schools will be able to improve learning on an individual basis.

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What do you think about OneNote's impact on education?