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.
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.
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:
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.