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Tammy Dunbar: OneNote To The Rescue!


by Tammy Dunbar
Expert Educator Columnist, USA

We had to have a Student Success Team meeting for Paris immediately. She had recently completed trimester proficiencies as well as reading comprehension testing in Read 180, and it seemed clear she might need more help than she was receiving. Emails were sent back and forth, but because we were in the middle of standardized testing, it was impossible to schedule a meeting so everyone could review the new data that would guide our suggestions on how best to help her.

The new data was difficult to review without getting together: only I had access to her district proficieny scores, our Read 180 teacher was the only person with access to Paris’ reading comprehension data, her cumulative file was in a secure room, and our administrator had the only copy of the original SST recommendations which were on paper.

student Then it hit me: why not create a OneNote for our Student Success Team? We had been training on using OneNote for ourselves and our classrooms for several months now, so everyone should be comfortable enough to try it out. After I created the OneNote, I invited the entire team. Reports everyone needed to see were quickly and easily printed into the OneNote along with the appropriate forms, observations and even student work samples. Anything on actual paper was scanned, digitized and added to the file. Once everything was uploaded and shared with only our team members, we were able to review the data quickly on our own time and agree via email that new testing was necessary as soon as possible.

When team members saw how convenient it was to have all this information digitally available, we immediately decided this OneNote needed to be expanded for all Intermediate (4th and 5th grade) SSTs. Our first idea was to include blank request forms (for testing, counseling, tutoring, etc.) in the first section of the OneNote. This has already been an amazing efficiency, because we no longer have to worry about carrying several copies of every single form to every SST meeting or, when we’re out of forms, having to get back to family members for signatures. Now we can simply access the necessary form, open it up, fill it out, get it digitally signed by all team and family members, save it and send it out.

After this particular experience with OneNote, our Read 180 teacher is now creating a OneNote for all her students, organized by the year of their promotion out of 8th (Class of 2015, Class of 2016, etc.). She is looking forward to having all student data, samples, and observations digitized and available in one place. Our administrator is expanding the SST OneNote idea to include primary (K-3rd) and Junior High (6th – 8th grade). I continue to be a big fan of OneNote: it’s been a great tool for providing immediate feedback to my students on their work as well as giving them one convenient location to turn in their work. It also makes grading easier for me, plus I love being able share their work with families at conference time.

What our collaboration has taught us is that OneNote provides more ways than one to help students and teachers find success.


techinjectionfourth-gradeWhy not use OneNote to give your fellow teachers a Tech Injection? My Intermediate grade level team worked hard over a two-year period to create PowerPoint presentations for each story in our Fourth and Fifth Grade Houghton-Mifflin Language Arts curriculum, complete with vocabulary introductions, reading comprehension skills practice and much more. We wanted to share them with our friends in the district, so we created a OneNote with all our resources and sent this link. Feel free to use these in any manner that benefits your students. We teachers must collaborate and share our resources so we have many ways to help our students dive into the curriculum and reach proficiency.

tammy2Tammy Brecht Dunbar, M.Ed., S.T.E.M. teaches 5th grade in Manteca Unified School District and Pre-Service Technology at Teachers College of San Joaquin (Stockton, CA). She will be presenting at the 2015 Microsoft Global E2 conference, ISTE 2015, CUE 2015 and CTA Good Teaching North 2015. Tammy has presented for CTA Good Teaching North (2014), Cap CUE (2014), all three California Subject Matters Project Conferences, Capitol Area Science Education Leaders, and several San Joaquin County Office of Education events. She has trained teachers in educational technology from 2005-present and has earned the designation of Microsoft Innovative Educator Master Trainer. She won the 2010 eInstruction $75,000 Classroom Makeover Video Contest, wrote a successful Enhancing Education Through Technology grant for Manteca Unified School District in 2008, and was Teacher of the Year in MUSD in 2006. She serves on the MUSD Superintendent’s Technology Committee and as district Tech Champion as MUSD embarks on its “Going Digital 2015” project.

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