For the next two weeks, I am doing some posts that showcase ways to keep "living" seating charts for your classes within OneNote. This post focuses on putting a hyperlink on your charts for students who are on Twitter. Scroll through my embedded Sway. (You can also click HERE to open it in its own tab.)
If you're still keeping your class seating charts on paper or some separate digital form, consider taking your seating charts to a whole different level via OneNote. From rearranging assigned seats to keeping track of assigned book numbers to marking temporary information, OneNote empowers your seating charts.
In December of 2014, I was selected as a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert. As a veteran teacher, I’d been a bit of a techie and been using Word and PowerPoint heavily for many years. They were pretty much a standard part of my daily life at school. I had recently started using OneNote, an application I had ignored for years but whose academic potential I suddenly found myself entranced by. I was obviously very excited—and even a little surprised—to receive notification of my acceptance as an MIE Expert, but at the same time I was also a little apprehensive about accepting a title that deemed me an “expert” to others.
As I got immersed in the #MIEExpert world, I quickly discovered that I was part of a professional community that was filled with many genuinely amazing educators. Dare I say intimidating even. Those first few months in the program, I caught myself wondering a couple times if maybe someone goofed and my name was actually supposed to have gone on the “We regret to tell you” email list instead of the “Congratulations” list. Regardless, I dove into the MIE Expert world head first, and what I found was a community that has provided me with inspiration, comradery, meaningful training & resources, and even some professional recognition/affirmation.
After some time, I began to accept my “Expert” title…and to wear it proudly. It didn’t take me long to realize that being a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert doesn’t mean that I have to be some sort of super powered classroom instructor. Being an MIE Expert doesn’t mean I’m a national go-to source for the deeper truths of successful technology integration. It doesn’t mean that I am a whiz at all things Microsoft. It doesn’t even mean that I am an answer-man expert of any particular program.
Being a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert means that I and my fellow “Microsofties” are indeed experts because being an MIE Expert is not a solo existence. We are a collective power. Together, we make each other experts, and for that reason I don’t hesitate to wear the title without apology. While there are plenty of questions a fellow educator might ask to which I may have no immediate answer, I’m connected to a passionate community of educators who share a deep well of knowledge and skills. As a connected MIE Expert family, I witness again and again Experts helping each other to help others in various ways throughout the year. Our individual strengths and knowledge bases differ, but together that makes us a pretty amazing bunch.
If you are an educator and would like more information about being a Microsoft Innovative Educator and/or a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert, click here:
If you are a teacher who keeps seating charts for your classes, it's time to move them into OneNote and add an extra dimension of power to this old, trusty classroom management tool. Last school year I transferred my seating charts into OneNote, transforming my old paper method into a "living" digital system. If you are already a user of Class Notebook, then you've probably been enjoying the teacher-only section that was recently added, and that is an ideal spot to store all of your seating charts.
In some ways I've been quite quick to adopt technology over the years, and in others I have been slower. Not reluctant, rather, but slow in the "oh duh" sense. As in "Why am I just now thinking of this?" I started teaching twenty years ago, so some old habits die hard. One of those was the seating chart. For years I photocopied a blank template of my classroom desk arrangement, penciled in student names, then erased and re-penciled as I made adjustments, then made a final chart in ink. Throughout the quarter I would keep notes on those paper seating charts. Assigned book numbers, Disciplinary issues. Tardies. Etc. (And, occasionally, I would misplace my charts.) Now, obviously, I've adopted a much better method via OneNote.
I'm going to walk you through one way to create seating charts within OneNote. In Part 2, I'll highlight some of the ways to utilize the powers of a digital chart. Like most things within Microsoft Office, and the digital world in general, there are multiple ways to approach and accomplish a task. This is just my way, tapping into my brain's workflow preferences. By all means, if you'd do it differently, feel free to leave a comment below. The following instructions are for "building" a blank chart that will then be replicated and reused.
1) On a blank page titled Temp, I begin by drawing a box via Draw > Shapes. (This page is just a workspace and will later be deleted.)
2) When you get the "desk" just the way you want, you are ready to build one row. Copy the box and then paste it below/beside the first desk. You can make a solid row of overlapping boxes (as I do) or space your boxes slightly. It's whatever your personal preference is.
3) After you make one row, use the Clipper tool (Shift + Windows Key + S) and then clip the entire row. Scroll down the page and paste the row in a clean working space. Repeat to replicate the specific desk layout of your classroom. (If you have rows with varying numbers of desks, just copy and paste your original box as needed to either add an extra desk to a row or make a smaller row from scratch.)
4) When you get your rows/desks placed in the arrangement that represents the layout of your classroom, you need to set each of the row images as a background on the page. This will allow you to continue to work on the seating chart as a singular canvas backdrop. To do this, simply right click on each pasted element of your arrangement and select Set Picture as Background. Again, make sure that you have everything arranged the way that you want.
5) This step is optional. In recent years, a small element of my personal classroom management technique is to number each of the desks in my room. On the upper left corner of each desktop is a number written in permanent marker. There a few different reasons I do this in my classroom, and you therefore may not want/need to follow this step. (As a side benefit, it makes my seating chart foolproof for substitutes or administrators to use.) To match the numbers on my actual desks, I add numbers to my OneNote seating chart. I simply type out all the numbers, then I size and color the font I want, and then I simply cut and paste and place each number on the appropriate desk
6) Now that your basic desk layout is complete, you need to make the whole arrangement one solid, singular image. So, again, use the clipper to select the whole chart. Do pay attention that you do not include portions of the OneNote interface itself as part of your clipping. After your select and clip, paste on a new page titled Template or something similar. This is your "original" that you will have as the source to replicate and use for different classes. (At this point you can delete the Temp page to free up clutter, if you'd like.)
7) Now you are ready to make actual charts for each of your classes. Add a new page (to wherever you would like within a notebook) and name it First Period or whatever. On this new page, copy/paste your blank seating chart template. Resize and position the blank chart to suit your preferences. Then, set the chart as the background by right clicking on it and selecting Set Picture as Background.
8) If you are making charts for more than one class, repeat step 7 as needed for each of those classes.
9) Now you are ready to add students' names to the chart. Simply click on the space where a desk is and type a name. You can move the text box as needed to reposition the name within that desk space.
10) Make certain that each student's name is its own text box. (This is important for later.) When finished, you will have something that look like this:
11) Now, run the spellchecker and select Ignore for all of the names that OneNote flagged with a red squiggly line. This is just to clean up the appearance of your seating chart, as the spell checker will not recognize many proper names as spelled correctly...regardless of which star system your students are from.
And that's the creation of one class' seating chart via OneNote. Simply repeat steps 7 through 11 for any additional classes that you may need a chart for as well. It is advisable that you give each class period its own page, for simplicity of organization and quick access.
So, you may be thinking right now "What's the big deal? I could make a chart twenty dozen ways with other applications and end up with the same thing." And guess what--you are absolutely correct...IF you stop right here. (Which we are not.) Earlier in this post I referred to this as a "living seating chart," and so in Part 2 we will dig into why a OneNote seating chart is better than any other method you have previously used.
I'm not blind--just somewhat distracted...