Today’s post was written by Gerald B. Johnson, data support specialist at Feldwood Elementary School in College Park, Georgia.
As the data support specialist at Feldwood Elementary School, my role is to support teachers in using their students’ assessment results and to support my principal in identifying key data points for decision making. As I began planning how to facilitate these tasks effectively, I knew I would need a medium to organize, store and share the vast amount of information we collected throughout the school year. Like many of you, I was used to keeping a physical binder containing this information about my homeroom class. The problem I faced was that I was no longer in the classroom and needed to facilitate this process with over 30 teachers. The idea of thumbing through over thirty five-inch binders on a regular basis was not an appealing idea.
During the second semester of 2015, our school district purchased the Office 365 suite. My school received access near the end of the school year. Over the summer, I attended a conference that offered a session to learn about the Office 365 platform and received an overview of OneNote. My mind was blown! I immediately saw how OneNote could transform the way I monitored teachers’ data usage. Since my district did not have any formal training on using the Staff Notebook, I created a test notebook and sent the invitation to four colleagues who would allow me to use their sign-in information. I spent countless hours over a two-week period learning how to use the notebook from both the teacher and administrator perspectives. I highly recommend you do this before sharing your notebook with students or staff, because you will develop a working knowledge of the software that will be invaluable as you guide others in using the notebook.
OneNote has been a game changer at our school. The Content Library allows me to provide teachers with access to every document, spreadsheet, form and assessment they need to utilize student data in a meaningful way. Gone are the days of a teacher mistakenly completing their form on the shared drive and cluttering templates expected for use by everyone, because teachers must download files before they can edit.
As we approach the testing season, teachers are finding value in being able to easily access their grade level’s subject assessment pages and reuse the common formative assessments we have given this school year. The storage capacity and ability to organize through the use of subpages are awesome features that make the notebook easy for teachers to navigate.
The Collaboration Space has proved to be a great tool during our data discussions and PLCs. Teachers can edit simultaneously while completing lesson plans, and we no longer have to line the walls with chart paper as group members share their ideas during protocols. We’ve also found this to be a great place to share reminders, updates and group results.
The private notebook has been a great source of information for us as an admin team. We can quickly access benchmark, formative and summative assessment results to guide our discussions with teachers. During mid-year conferences, our principal and assistant principal were able to use the teachers’ private notebooks to identify artifacts to support evaluation ratings and support teachers in understanding our school’s framework for data utilization.
The beauty of OneNote is that you create it to meet your building’s needs. I highly recommend using OneNote to organize and monitor your school’s initiatives.
—Gerald B. Johnson