7 great ways to hit the ground running this school year

Guest post by Helen Gooch, Microsoft Fellow and Master Trainer. Connect with Helen on the Educator Community.

List of new students for your class. Check!

Classroom arranged for optimal learning styles. Check!

Bulletin boards done. Check!

Now let’s discover seven great ways to hit the ground running this school year by getting your curriculum ready, getting to know your students, and helping your class get started with technology.

1.    Start your OneNote Class Notebook, move content over, and close old notebooks

Many teachers use OneNote to organize curriculum, including previously used lesson plans, quizzes, and tests. A well-organized OneNote notebook is a springboard you can simply copy and reuse each year when you start new class notebooks, and update as you discover new ideas and lessons.

  • Start by setting up that new Class Notebook in your Office 365 account by clicking on the Class Notebook tile in the app launcher (upper right corner). Find in-depth instructions on how to use Class Notebook wizard and create your Class Notebook.
  • After you have finished with the Class Notebook creation wizard, you have the option of clicking on “Open in OneNote” from the top menu and working from your OneNote desktop.
  • To move content from previous OneNote notebooks you wish to use again, simply right-click on any pages or sections and copy into the current year’s notebook.
  • When you no longer need to see older OneNote notebooks in your list, simply follow these directions in OneNote 2016 help. You have not deleted your notebook; you’ve just closed it so that it isn’t visible in this list. Because it lives in the cloud, anyone who had access to the notebook still has access to it.

For more ideas, download the new sample teacher notebook. And to learn more about saving valuable classroom time by distributing assignments and content between notebooks, check out this recent blog post, watch this instructional Office Mix, and download the add-in (free for OneNote 2013 or 2016).

2.    Find lessons and classroom activities

Lesson plans have to be written, but where do you find great new ideas for developing a lesson aligned to content standards that will engage your students?

The Microsoft Educator Community is a phenomenal place to start.  You can quickly click on “Find a Lesson,” and filter by your subject and grade level. For free ideas, videos, samples, and training, just visit the Microsoft Educator Community’s OneNote “One Stop.”

If your students would benefit from a virtual field trip, Skype in the Classroom provides that opportunity. No permission slips, no long bus rides, and no collecting fees to cover your trip.

Finally, MIE Expert Tammy Dunbar just started a blog series on how to use Microsoft tools for delivering your interactive lessons. Check it out here: Lesson Planning with Microsoft: Introducing the Lesson!

Screenshot of Educator Community showing filters and ways to make it more efficient to find what you are looking for

3.    Survey your students’ interests

Send a Form out as a learning inventory to capture your students’ attention while you learn about what types of books they enjoy reading, how they prefer to learn or study, and how to help them achieve. Check out this recent blog post by MIE Expert Laura Stanner, on how she is using new features in Microsoft Forms to individualize instruction.

Screenshot showing a student learning inventory questionnaire

Another great way to learn about your students is to have them use Sway to “Sway my summer,” or create a “Who am I?” as a classmate introduction.

Sway my summer screeshot example of a Sway project

4.    Find documents and assignments from the start

The new Office.com home page now displays all the key apps for learning, as well as your recent documents, to make work you did last class, yesterday, or the day before easier to find. This saves valuable class time when starting a new day and returning to a lesson already introduced. It is also a great springboard when students log into Office 365 and need to open a new Word document to begin an essay or jump into their teacher’s lesson at the beginning of class.

The new Office.com home page now displays all the key apps for learning

5.    Create documents easily from a browser

Students also need a convenient way to create and access their documents directly from the browser, even when they aren’t on the Office.com home page. There are also Office Online extensions for the Microsoft Edge browser, where you can easily create new Office documents, access your recent files, and open content stored on your OneDrive. This also works on Chrome browsers.  

Office Online app extensions

6.    Keeping notes and content organized

Teach your students how to use OneNote, whether they are taking notes on their own notebook, or using a Class Notebook created by their teacher. No other product provides so many resources – from embedding videos, to capturing web resources, to inking and annotating right in their notebook, to recording voice notes, and the list goes on! But first, students must learn to use OneNote. And believe it or not, even shared iPad schools or Chromebook schools can use OneNote! When students sign in to the shared iPad or a Chromebook, they can access all their notebooks on the OneNote iPad app or a Chrome browser. The OneNote Notebook just lives in the cloud.

Check out this great site for students (and teachers):  http://www.onenoteineducation/students

Share this new sample student notebook with your students to get them started with OneNote today!

7.    Going paperless this school year

Many students who love OneNote will also love using Office Lens to scan and digitize nearly anything and then send it to their notebooks without the need for any scanner. Plus, no more heavy backpacks full of paper!

As of this week, Office Lens is now available for all Windows 10 devices—joining the iOS and Android apps – so any student can start scanning hard copy documents or whiteboards today. Just scan content with your device and then send it into OneNote, including your Class Notebooks, to reference and search on it later.

Once you send your content to OneNote, you can even search the text in the image using magical optical character recognition.

In addition to OneNote, you can send your content to be retyped in Word, sketched in PowerPoint, be searchable on OneDrive or sent via Outlook. The latest Office Lens updates released this week for all mobile phones let you just sign in with your school account and your scans will benefit from the easy sharing and security within your school’s Office 365 environment.

Check out this recent blog post to learn more about Office Lens as a “pocket scanner” with Office 365.

Students and teachers can get Office Lens for free today on their devices: iOS |Android | Windows

Animated image showing Office Lens scanning a file


These are just a few of the great ways to hit the ground running this year, to shake up your approach, and to engage students in learning. Pick your favorite, and incorporate that idea into a lesson soon. Then come back and adopt another idea, and another. Before you know it you will be using most — if not all — of these ideas, and your students will thank you!

To get more tips and tricks for this school year, check out our blog post “10 great ways to rock back to school with Microsoft” and follow us on Twitter at @Microsoft_EDU.


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