Broaden Education

Other Pages of Interest

Never-Ending Notes!

No, I don’t think notes should be never-ending, good god the tedium!  However, note taking is a part of education, but it doesn’t have to be limited by the size of your sheet of paper. It can be quite frustrating to run out of space on your sheet of paper, especially if you are limited to one sheet.  In our school we use a lot of Cornell notes templates, but the students get frustrated when they run out of room on the sheet.  Or worse, they are taking notes in those silly comp books, that sheet is what, 8″ x 10″, 6″ x 8″?  Who can fit even a section of notes from the textbook on that?  So then they tape a new page in place  which involves trimming down a full sized sheet of paper, getting tape and figuring how small to trim the 81/2″ X 11″ sheet.  That is a lot of wasted time.

So what is the solution?  A never-ending template that looks like Cornell notes, but each section expands to fit the needs of the student.  So while it looks like a sheet of Cornell notes, it has no limits.  There is a template example on my class resources webpage (scroll to the bottom and look for Cornell Notes with Directions.one).  Naturally you could make one of these for any style of notes, or the students can make their own, I did this to support our schools’ AVID program.

Feel free to download my template and share it with your students!  And as always, please pass my site on to others who might benefit, like me on Facebook and follow me on this site or on Twitter @BroadenEdu.

All the best!

Alex

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Boredom Killer

So, a little progress update from class.  I have been using the DINO for two weeks in class and have noticed a couple of things.

By far the best part has been the student engagement.  Even my normally low-producers are doing their work!  I realize this my simply be the honeymoon phase, but I know that by keeping material fresh, and allowing them the use of technology in ways that they identify with they will be much more engaged than they would be with paper and pencil.

So far adding files (merging, to be more specific), though a little technical, has gone well.  Now we have only done it once, but I am hopeful that it will become second nature.  I think the tutorial video helped, but it is also a pretty easy process.

Converting .pdf files into worksheets went really well!  I couldn’t be happier with how they look and function.  The key is putting your screen shots into a table.  In OneNote the table will automatically adjust for any content they may add, so there is no overlap from one section of the worksheet to the next.

I did run across an interesting feature that bothers students.  We were writing paragraphs and several students were frustrated at not being able to Tab to indent the beginning of the paragraph.  They can do this using the space bar, but all in all they survived the trauma.  🙂

As you can see it has been a busy couple of weeks.  Be sure you check in on the YouTube page for helpful videos and give the page a Like, it helps me feel loved!  🙂

Alex

The .pdf Problem

OneNote is great in that you can put just about any file in it, work with it, and in some cases even have it as a part of the notebook (Excel leaps to mind as one that is amazing in OneNote).  But then there are pdf’s.  Yes, they drag and drop, and you can open them, you can even have them Print to OneNote and it will insert as a printout – thought the resolution is poor.  So if I have a great resource I want to use, and have my students be able to work with what do I do?

Well, here is my solution:  The pdf in question was three pages long, with short readings and a question or two that went with each question.  As the students could not easily, or clearly, write on the pdf I took screen shots of the individual sections and placed them in a table.  At the bottom of each cell I added a “Answer:” prompt.  As this is in a cell it will automatically adjust the size of the entire document to accommodate their answer for each section.

Once I have the master sheet finished I exported the page as a Section and attached that to my website (you could also put it in a shared folder).  When the students click on the file it will open in OneNote in the Open Sections area.  From their have the students right-click on the section tab and select Merge into Another Section – pick the appropriate location in their notebook and you are home free!

For the How-To I made for my students please click here.

All the best,

Alex

The World’s Biggest Tablet!

Ever want to write in your OneNote notebook on the SmartBoard and have it converted to text?  Normally using a SmartBoard the ink is added as a layer over the notebook and is not actually a part of it.  However in one quick step you can write on your notebook and have it converted to text.  Simply click the Draw tab and then select Draw With Touch.  After doing so select the color pen you would like and then write whatever your heart desires.  When finished select the Inf to Text button and there you go.  To see how it went for me check this out.

The OCR in OneNote is quite good and chances are you won’t have to correct all that much.  This is great when you are doing activities where the kids are writing on the board and you want to have their work recorded.  It is also great if you like to grade student work at the SmartBoard (yes, some folks do do this).

Note: my non-touch netbook does not have this feature, but my PC which is connected to a touch device, namely the aforementioned SmartBoard, does.

As I alluded to earlier, I made a video of this process, enjoy!

Have a great day,

Alex

More on Sharing

Hey everybody,

This is a quick write-up on what I have found regarding students sharing their DINO notebooks with me.  For me there were two main options: Invite People and Get a Sharing Link.  I have gone with the later, for now, and here is why:

Sharing options

Invite People is great because it allows the invitee to open the student’s notebook in either the web browser or in OneNote itself.  This is an advantage as there are way more things you can do in OneNote itself than you can in the web version.  For instance, if I want to draw arrows, or circles to emphasize a point I can only do that in the program itself.  The down side to Invite People is that it sends you an email with a link to the students notebook – all well and good until you have a hundred emails sitting in your mail that have to be individually open to get the link.  Now, as you will see in the video I propose a solution to this using either Excel Forms or Google Forms, but it is a lot of initial work for you, the teacher. 

Using Get a Sharing Link is nice in that it gives the students a link that they can copy/paste into a Excel or Google Form you give them and viola, you are ready to go!  However, this link takes you to a version on the Web App that you can not open in OneNote. Why Microsoft made this distinction I do not know, but now you know that this is an issue you can choose whichever option works for you.

In the next week or so, once I get my netbooks back from MAPS testing, I am going to have the students email me the Invite People link so that I can see just how much extra work it is and if there is an easier workaround…perhaps through Mail Merge?  I’ll keep you posted.

For a more detailed and visual version of this post check this out.

All the best,

Alex

Now on Video!

For those of you who are visually oriented I have started making short videos that accompany some of the topics on the site.  They are located under the Video tab at the top of the page or you can go directly to the YouTube page through the icon on the bottom-right side of the banner.

So far I have one for creating a notebook and one for sharing the notebook.  These are meant to be quick overviews.  There is a lot more that could be discussed in each one, and should there be a request for something specific I am happy to oblige, just make a comment below or email me.

Happy viewing!

Alex

 

Let’s Launch this Puppy!

So, it is the big day, at least in my class, and it is time to get students into their notebooks.  What did I do to get to this point, you ask?  I found a couple of students, they could be student aids, kids you have a good relationship with or just a couple of kids who happened to be in study hall without a lot to do, and tested the setup and directions on them.  Why use students and not just test it on your account?  Well, I would guess that just about every school in the world has different permissions for teachers than it does for students.  On more than one occasion I have said to a student: “Well that worked for me…”.  So now I use their accounts to test things, as long as they are good with it.

So, in my district there are still a few kinks to work out on just how students will get to OneDrive, but we did find a work-around, and wouldn’t you know it, that was OneNote!

 OneNote   +  OneDrive  = Your DINO! Your Digital Interactive Notebook in OneNote!

Because OneNote automatically syncs to the web it wants to  establish a connection to OneDrive.  Now, while it would not connect to OneDrive the first time we opened OneNote (the account type was not recognized) it will open anyway.  At that point we just created a new Notebook, and because this is a district machine, on a district connection the district OneDrive was available.  From that point we were in, and now students could access OneDrive because it identified the student’s account based on their OneNote notebook.

So, that was way too much detail, and chances are your setup could be much different, but the take-away from this is that it is always best to find a student or two that you can do a little trial and error with – you’ll be glad you did when you are trying to do it with a class of 30!

Now that the students have their DINO we are ready to get down to the nuts and Boltz (that is my school – couldn’t help the pun) of daily classes in DINO.

If you have questions on how I got them up and running, classroom techniques for getting 30+ kids logged in at the same time or anything else please post them!

Have a great day!

Where to Start?

Here We Go!Well, the school year is getting underway and you want to set all of this up, but how?  Great question!  A lot of folks prefer to begin with a paper and pencil Interactive Notebook and then as the year moves on they make the switch to a Digital one.  I have done this in the past and it works really well.

There are a couple of advantages to this.  First, and most importantly, this gives you a chance to assess your students and their abilities.  Will they be able to handle using a computer this much, do they have special accommodations, what skills do they (or don’t they) have?  Secondly, you can assess your school’s tech.  This is almost as important as the first consideration.  Do you have OneNote?  Does it need to be added?  HINT: OneNote is free!  And, while it comes with Office automatically some school tech departments do not install it in order to save space in their image.  If this is the case you can use what you learn here to make a strong case for adding it back in!  Lastly, you may need time to walk through the steps of setting up your instructions and, if necessary, your shared server folder (more on this in a later post).

When you are ready to launch you need to find out how and where they will save their work.  OK, actually they won’t save, OneNote does that automatically – another great feature!  There are basically three options of where to have students put their DINO: OneDrive via a school account, a private OneDrive account, and a shared folder on your school’s network.  Let’s look at all three to see what will work for you

OneDrive via a School Account: Do your students have the ability to save/access the OneDrive that allows OneNote (and all other Office programs) to save to the cloud?  If so you will have them share their notebook with you and viola!  you are good to go!  Directions for this will be in a separate post.  The easiest way to determine if their student accounts have access to OneDrive is to either look in their “My Computer” and see if it is there.  If you don’t see it I would suggest you still ask your building / district tech department.  It may be that it is available and just not active.  It is worth the trouble.  Having student access to their OneDrive is by far and away the most ideal situation!

One Drive installed!

Private OneDrive / Live Account: If they do not have access to OneDrive via a school account you can try to get them signed up for a Microsoft Live account.  This would seem easy enough, simply go to www.live.com and begin the New User procedure.  However, there is a catch.  Your students must be 13 years old or older.  If they are not I recommend getting admin and parent permission for them to sign up.  Potentially there is another issue, one that I have run into in the past.  Some districts do not like the idea of students accessing cloud storage that is out of their control.  If this is the case you may find that access to Live.com is, or will become, blocked.  If this happens you will have to move their notebooks to a local server (if they give you time to do so before blocking access) or you will have to start over.  I consider this option the least desirable of the three options.

Shared Folder on the Local Network: With a little help from your tech department you can set up a folder that has permissions such that student’s OneNote notebooks can be written to and shared (see screen shot below).  This is handy, but not ideal.  It means that a student can not access the notebook from off-site, and should they wish to access it from on-site at a computer other than their normal one, they have to go to the folder and open it from there.  And, should you have a student inclined to mischief, they can open other student’s notebooks and prowl around in them, or worse.  They can, however, share them with you which allows you to see and provide feedback to them.

Permissions

So, once you think you have determined what means you and your students will use to create your DINO’s (Digital Interactive Notebook in OneNote) you are set to go!  In up coming posts I will be talking about the initial launch, great get-to-know-OneNote activities and some resources to help you get to know it as well.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, once you DINO you’ll never go back!

What is DINO?

Simply put DINO stands for Digital Interactive Notebook in OneNote.  There are lots of interactive notebook options available to teachers today.  And, what really pleases me is that more and more teachers are exploring these options.  They are a great alternative to pencil and paper notebooks…when grading time comes, they are a whole lot lighter too!

Some folks like to use a wiki, which is nice for written content and attaching files to but can be cumbersome when formatting and sharing plus the learning curve for students can be steep, especially for younger kiddos.  Similar issues hold true for other types of sites, such as Google Sites.  I used Sites for years with both my middle and high school students.   However, both my students and I found that they can be very limiting, especially in the formatting and file management areas.  My other frustration with Sites was that it seemed that the interface and the server settings were continually changing, necessitating time consuming re-learning for the students and re-creation of instructional materials like screencasts and screenshots on my end.

There are also some companies, notably TCI, that have a dedicated digital interactive notebook.  Some of these are quite good, and are specifically designed around their content.  The downside is that they are not free, and should your district have it, the next one you work at may not.  Personally I love TCI / History Alive and use their material all of the time, but I have adapted it to work in DINO.

I believe that using OneNote is the most flexible and intuitive way to create a digital interactive notebook.  As you will see in future posts adding content, any content, is as simple as dragging and dropping, commenting on student work can be done at any point on the page (not just in a comment box at the bottom of the page), sharing is as easy as entering an email address, and should your school have tablets students can use the powerful OCR to write and illustrate anything – lab reports and math problems come to mind, but why not art projects and shop class designs?

These are but a few examples of what can be done, and will be shown here in the future.  So keep checking in, or like this site and you’ll be notified automatically.  Please pass this along to anyone you know of who might be interested creating a digital interactive notebook, they’ll thank you later!

Have a great day,

Alex

No, not this type of dino!

What is DINO?

Why is OneNote so Great?

So I was sitting around the other day trying to figure out how to share, effectively, concisely, poignantly and  “ly” I can think of why I like OneNote so much.  Is it the innate organizational abilities in it?  Yes.  Is it the ability to sync, share and collaborate?  Of Course! Is it that it helps students be organized?  Duh!  But what about all the cool features it has?  Could that be a way to hook people?  It might.  So I sat down to try and outline them when I came across an article by a gentleman named Thomas Maurer and an article he wrote called “This is Why OneNote is Awesome” and he nailed it on the head.  He goes on to list some of (around 53!!!) OneNote’s helpful features.  As far as I can tell he hit all of the ones that make me giddy, except that you can publish your notes directly to a blog, with the math and academic add-on’s you can do even more in class, and that you can create custom templates.  (More on those things in a later post…)

Anyway, I highly recommend that you skim his article.  I’ll be covering a lot of the topics he mentions in the future as they relate to classroom usage, and more in depth coverage will be available elsewhere through this site at a later date but for now read, enjoy and be amazed!  We’ll bring all of this to your classroom together.

All the best,

Alex