This Week @gavirtual

this weekThis week the major to-do item was sorting out the OneNote Class Notebook and figuring how students would collaborate and what would be some useful tools and resources for them. The rest of my goals dealt with getting more buy-in from students by offering choice, differentiation, and bribery:

  • Set up Class Notebook
  • Continue to encourage students to post their rough drafts by going back to bribery, er, bonus points.
  • Create a “say hi” page in the notebook to verify students can find it and use it.
  • Create a student activity for students to show they can use some of the tools in OneNote.
  • Try some new games during the synchronous session.

So, what’s involved in setting up the O365’s OneNote Class Notebook? I’m so glad you asked!

The Class Notebook

Microsoft 365’s Class Notebook seems to be its answer to the Google Classroom. I’ve never used Google Apps for Education in a formal teaching environment, nor Classroom, so I can’t offer a solid comparison. However, I have used OneNote for ages, and I’m pleased to see it playing nicely with my learning management system, Brightspace. Depending on how many schools adopt O365 and how well adoption goes, I imagine the Notebook will become a formidable rival for not only Google Classroom but also many LMSs.


CN 2Setting up the Notebook involves choosing which sections to include, choosing whether to share the notebook with other teachers, and adding students. The default sections include Handouts, Class Notes, Quizzes, and Homework, but you can add or delete these. Since GAVS already has Brightspace for homework and quizzes, I deleted these and kept handouts and class notes. Best not to confuse students with too many places to submit work. Next, I decided not to share the notebook with another teacher, but this would be useful in a collab situation. Finally, adding students was easy since all my students already have O365 accounts. The most tedious part was entering the email addresses. Not difficult when I teach 24 students, but if I taught multiple classes or sections that totaled 100 or more students, this process would rival the drudgery of a data entry job. I believe IT is working on a way of automatically populating the notebook.

The complete notebook includes three main sections for students, each with a different set of privileges: Collaboration Space (students can edit), Content Files (students can view), and their individual notebooks with Handouts section and a Class Notes section (students can edit, but can’t view each other’s notebooks).

Content Files

Since the notebook is its formative stage, I just put three different types of files here. First, I used the “File Printout” option to add a .pdf of transitions notes from an external link in Brightspace. Second, I copied and pasted some comma practice sentences (directions: insert commas and page me when you’re done). Third, I created an activity for students to practice the tools in OneNote. A 3×3 choice board both shows students different possibilities while only asking students to complete a few tasks. It’s work, but only a little extra (maybe fun?) work.

CN 3

As of Sunday, zero students have interacted with the content files.


Lead_the_HorseFrom now on, I’m tempted to rename collaboration #horsewater, and my efforts to urge students to participate in collaboration mirror the desperate attempts of Screech to woo Lisa from Saved by the Bell. Clearly, I’m not making them thirsty, so that’s one of my goals for this week: figure out what they’re thirty for. Poll? I think so.

However, I am getting some feedback from students. The “say hi” page got three responses, and two students uploaded their rough drafts. One student encountered technical difficulties with uploading it, and another student was unable to open OneNote on his Mac. As far as peer editing went, I had one student begin the process but didn’t finish.

New Games for the Synchronous Session

Last Monday, a colleague and I presented on how to incorporate basic games during synchronous sessions. I shared some of my go-to games and game mechanics, but I also learned how she conducts several different games, specifically “Scratch Off” and “Tic-Tac-Toe.” I tried them both.

Scratch Off uses a word cloud and students use the draw tool to scratch off terms that match definitions or descriptions. It’s a great warm-up or review game. Word cloud web sites are easy enough to find, Wordle was my first, but Tagxedo is my favorite, but Adobe Connect also has a Shockwave program you can load into a pod. Being ever-daring, I tried it out and loaded the words and customized the display. Then, come Thursday night, I discover that the word cloud tool doesn’t save your work if you close Connect. Whoops!

tic tac toe - transitionsTic-Tac-Toe was more successful. I used it to summarize new material, which might have been a mistake. Students had some trouble with the basic recall and that slowed down the game. New learners enjoyed the game, but more advanced learners/gamers agreed with me about the pace. Conclusion: Tic-Tac-Toe might work best with older/review material.

Weekly Hypotheses:

  • Students might not use the Class Notebook because they don’t know how to use it, and learning how might not be worth it.
  • Students don’t collaborate because they do not see the need or value-added potential.
  • Students don’t share online or contribute more than the minimum because they are more involved with other projects or working on other course material.
  • Students are beginning to disengage with the now-familiar flow and format of my course.

Weekly Wins

  • Met my teacher-orientated goals
  • Sent a plethora of personal pages to students and got some solid responses

Next Steps

  • Poll students to see what their needs and wants are for collaboration and synchronous sessions
  • Begin synchronous sessions by having students introduce themselves and include some brain-breaks or off-topic chatter opportunities for students (ideas I got from research)
  • Touch base with struggling students
  • Page quick “Do this now” OneNote tips




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One Response to This Week @gavirtual

  1. Polling students will definetely be beneficial. You’ll know whether you should continue employing this tool or not. Trouble with learning how to use it might be associated with fear that one won’t handle it, so probably a mini training on how to use it could be a solution.


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