Microsoft OneNote – Teacher Planning – Part II

Part 2 – How do I set OneNote up as my Planning Folder

As mentioned in Part I of Microsoft OneNote – Teacher Planning, every teacher, every school, plans differently. The method that follows is just one way in which teachers could use Microsoft OneNote to plan. It is not necessarily my prefered method, but is one that I can see working well with how OneNote operates, and therefore is a good example of how OneNote can be used to enhance and organise teacher planning and paperwork.

Below, I will outline how I have set up Microsoft OneNote as a planning folder for unit plans, lesson plans, and subject based information.

Step 1: Create Notebook

Folder structure for Planning Notebook

However you like to, create a Notebook. Clicking on the existing Notebook reveals a drop down list in the Mac version, with a grey plus (“+”) button in the top. This will allow you to open or create a Notebook. I called mine “2016 Planning”.

Step 2: Create Plan and subject folders

Along the top I clicked the tab with the “+” sign to create a new tab and labeled each one accordingly. I had a generic “Plans” folder, along with a folder for Mathematics, Literacy, and Inquiry; which make up the three blocks in my day. I added P.E. and Health as there are additional plans that do not fit under inquiry that I will be using. In turn, there may also be additional plans in the other curriculum areas, such as The Arts, which don’t fit under any of the Inquiry units. I changed the colour of each to match the colours I associate each with thanks to previous curriculum documents. These also match the colours that I used in Google Sheets last year.

Step 3: Plans folder

In the plans folder I created a series of pages on the right hand side. These are as follows:

  • Page Structure for Planning FolderYearly Overview
  • Term 1 (menu holder)
    • Long Term Plan
    • Weekly Overview
      • Week 1

*Note: The menu holder is a blank page that reads Term 1. This is merely to organise the sub pages into Terms, so within this folder, there will be Terms 1 through 4, and under each, a Long Term Plan, Weekly Overview, and the Weekly Plans. Two of these are school requirements that may or may not be necessary in your school. You’ll also see that Week 1 is a sub-page of “Weekly Overview”, though Weekly Overview is not a menu holder, in that a generic plan outline is included in this plan, with the sub pages sitting under it.

Step 4: Including existing plans or planning templates

There’s little point in throwing out the baby with the bathwater here.

Instead of creating plans and units within Microsoft OneNote, you can insert or “attach” existing documents; much like you would be able to insert plans, notes, or newspaper cuttings into a clearfile folder.

Importing local files into Microsoft OneNote

For the long term plan, rather than attempt to create the complex table in OneNote, (especially seeing as I’ve developed this plan to automatically shade in particular subjects if they are not being covered) I have merely “attached” or inserted the excel spreadsheet into the OneNote page called “Long Term Plan”.

Another option, and great feature, is Inserting a PDF printout. OneNote will go and open the selected file, print out a PDF copy of it as it is, and then insert that PDF as a page in your folder for display. A very useful feature that I am sure I will make the most of throughout the year.

Step 5: Creating Unit Templates

Initially, I thought about doing the same for Unit Plans, but quickly realised this would become tiresome as the year goes on. Essentially I would not be using OneNote at all, merely gathering files, which I may as well use Google Drive for.

So to use OneNote a little more, I decided to copy the Unit template from Google Docs and paste it into OneNote.

Seamless; aside from the superfluous Drawings/Shapes I had added as additional flare for the unit plans. These were quickly inserted by using screenshots and entering them into OneNote separately. I was amazed at how accurately it copied the table from Google Docs and added it into OneNote without any formatting issues.

I then used Onetastic to create a number of custom headings and font formats, and went through and edited the template using these. This is not a necessary part of the process, but one I like to do as a designer.

Creating Page templates is very easy in the Windows version of OneNote. I have yet to find if the OS-X version has this capability. Visit here to find out about creating page templates. Essentially, I created a blank Unit Template with the relevant headings and sample content. Saving these as templates then allows me to open them up as pages for following terms, and following years.

Step 5: Weekly Plans

Early in my teaching career I separated all my plans out, so I had a weekly overview, a mathematics weekly plan, a reading weekly plan, a writing plan, as well as an afternoon plan. I know many teachers who plan like this, and it hasn’t been difficult to go back to this after collating all those plans into one Google Sheet last year (Read here).

Week 1 plan - Literacy

By creating a folder for each subject, I have somewhat forced myself to return to this system. In each subject folder, I have created a “Term 1” menu holder, much like the page structure in Step 3. This is a blank page. I then made two sub-pages; “Unit Plan” where I inserted the Unit Template from Step 5, and a “Week 1” plan, which is displayed above.

This is essentially a table copied from my Google Sheet from last year to show what happens in Literacy each day of the week, according to the Weekly Overview in the “Plans” folder (See Step 3).

Step 6: Linking to OneNote Pages

As I explored more and more of Microsoft OneNote, I needed to make sure I made use of its many facets. One of those is linking to the different pages from within OneNote, so that when I have my planning folder open, I can quickly click once on a particular part of the weekly plan and jump straight to the related week plan for that subject.

Weekly Plan - Links to other PagesThe screenshot above is the “Week 1” page within the “Plans” folder (See Step 3). As you can see, I have made five “Week 1” links under Whole Class Maths for the week.

These link to the Week 1 plan in the Mathematics Folder. This allows me to view the week overview, and directly click once on “Week 1” to automatically go to the Week 1 plan for Mathematics, rather than having to click on the Mathematics folder, and then find the corresponding week.

Next week, in the Plans folder > Week 2 page, I will change these links to point to Mathematics folder > Week 2 page.

In Conclusion

And that’s about as far as I’ve got. I’m sure that there is much more to learn about Microsoft OneNote that I will no doubt come across throughout the course of the year.

I am also very aware that there may be other ways of using OneNote for planning, and in teaching. If you do, please share these with us in the comments below. I would be more than interested in seeing how others use it and see whether such methods I could incorporate into my own planning.