5 Reasons to Use Microsoft’s OneNote

I am involved with lots of meetings, and my memory of details is not great.  For that reason, I take lots of notes.  Organizing my notes, being able to search my notes, and being able to share my notes with others is crucial for what I do.  I use Google applications for most of my productivity needs, but I have grown to love Microsoft’s OneNote application for note taking.

OneNote is a free application that is available on any device.  This includes Windows computers, Macs, smartphones, and tablets, including both iOS and Android devices.  You can also go to https://www.onenote.com, log in to your Microsoft account, and work on notes completely through a web browser.  OneNote is easy to use and has many valuable features.  In this post, I will focus on the five things I like the most about OneNote.

  1. Customization Options – I love the way I am able to organize in OneNote. The application gives me the ability to create multiple Notebooks, Sections, and Pages.  I can create both personal and work notebooks, I can create sections within those notebooks for various needs, and pages within the sections.  Notice that I have two main notebooks- Personal and Work Notes.  Within the Work Notes notebook, I have sections, like Installs, Meetings, and Trainings.  Diving deeper within the Meetings section, you’ll see I have various pages for specific notes, like notes from our district’s Technology Committee and notes from meetings with vendors.
  2. Compatibility – OneNote is available on whatever device I am using. I have three devices that I use each day, including a school-issued laptop that stays on my desk, a personal laptop that is with me wherever I go, and my iPhone.  OneNote is running on all of these devices, and it works extremely well.
  3. Synching – OneNote automatically syncs my notes among all my devices. Without me doing anything, the notes that I create are available whenever I use my school computer, my personal computer, or my iPhone.
  4. Features – OneNote offers some great features, many more than Keep, which is Google’s note taking application. This short video provides an overview of some of these features.
  5. Cost – OneNote is free to download and use. You will need a Microsoft account, which is also free to create.

Students can also take advantage of OneNote on their school-issued Chromebooks and their smartphones.  As a matter of fact, Microsoft offers a special version of Office 365 for teachers and students, which includes a special notebook called a Class Notebook.  Class Notebook allows teachers to interact with students and share assignments, notes, quizzes, and other files.

I can help with creating accounts for you and your students if you want to take advantage of this.  See more at https://goo.gl/k5SD1T

A video to help you get started with this is available at https://support.office.com/en-us/article/OneNote-Getting-Started-020b2cd0-2e7e-4918-8e58-f434953acca2

To clear up a little confusion, there is an application called OneNote 2016 that is available on most of the Windows computers owned by our district.  Instead of using that one, I would recommend using the version of OneNote for Windows 10.  This version will have all of the most current features and will be available to you whether or not you own Office 2016 for your personal devices.  This page along with the included video will explain the difference between these versions:  https://support.office.com/en-us/article/What-s-the-difference-between-OneNote-and-OneNote-2016-a624e692-b78b-4c09-b07f-46181958118f



Quizizz-A Nice Alternative to Kahoot!

Quizizz is a nice alternative to Kahoot! for teachers who want to provide interactive assessments that include fun graphics and high-energy sound effects.  Like Kahoot!, Quizziz offers a colorful interface with a points system and a leader board, but Quizizz offers several features that are missing from Kahoot!

Like Kahoot! teachers create an account on Quizizz, build their own quizzes, and set the options for their quizzes.  Teachers can select the Play Live! option to allow students to complete these quizzes competitively against other students in class.  Teachers can also select quizzes made by others from a large library of community-developed quizzes.

One different feature that Quizizz offers is the ability to allow students to complete quizzes at their own pace and within a time period set by the teacher.  Quizizz calls the “Homework” option.  This allows a quiz to be completed privately by a student instead of in a situation where all students are completing the quiz at the same time.  Students can also find out after every question whether they got the answer right or wrong, so feedback is immediate.

Quizizz is available through a web browser on any device or through the app on an iPad.  Different from Kahoot!, students actually see the questions and answer choices on the screens of their devices.  Kahoot! only shows a color and a shape on the device, which students must match to what they see being projected in the classroom on the teacher’s computer.

Teachers can see the results of quizzes taken by all students and can make informed decisions about mastery and re-teaching based on the results.

Another great feature is direct integration with Google Classroom.

Give Quizizz a try to see how it might benefit your instruction.  Visit https://quizizz.com to get started.

New Features for Google Slides

If you’ve read this blog, you know that Google Slides is my favorite of the apps that are a part of GSuite.  I do lots of things with Slides, including creating newsletters, creating infographics, and developing informative presentations.  Google is always improving their products, and Slides got some new features last week that can be used by both you and your students.

Grid View
You now have two ways to view slides in Google Slides- the classic filmstrip view and the new grid view.  The filmstrip view is just a vertical arrangement on slides on the left side of the work space.  With grid view, you can see the arrangement of slides in a larger window where they are laid out horizontally.  You can also zoom in or out to see more or fewer slides at one time.

Google Keep Notepad
Keep is Google’s note taking app.  It’s like having a page of electronic Post-it notes on the screen of your computer, tablet, or smartphone.  To use any notes that you have taken in Keep within your Slides, just click Tools and choose Keep Notepad.

Add-ons have been a part of Docs and Sheets for a while, but they are now available in Slides. To enable any add-on, click Add-ons and then Get Add-ons.  One add-on that’s already available is the Icons by Noun Project add-on.  The Noun Project is a catalog of simple icons that can be used to enhance slides with graphics. About 100 icons are available to users without a paid subscription.

Diagrams of various types are now available to users within Slides.  This is great for students as they can spend more time organizing information and demonstrating their understanding of hierarchies, timelines, processes, and relationships instead of wasting time on design.  Most all subject areas can take advantage of these diagrams.

Linked Slides
If you have slides that are a part of several different Slides presentations that have the same information, it’s a pain to edit one presentation and then switch to the other presentation to edit the same slides again.  With linked slides, you can link a slide in one presentation to a slide in another presentation, edit a slide once, then automatically update the second slide with edits in the original.

Here’s how it works:

Copy a slide from one presentation and paste it into another.  Select the Link slides option choice.

Now, when you edit the information on the slide in the first presentation, you can apply these updates to the slide in the second presentation.

Our Mission

Several years ago, we began working to define how technology could be used to positively impact our district.  We involved everyone, including our administrators, the members of our school board, members of our technology committee, students, parents, and teachers.  We met, we talked, and we conducted surveys to gather feedback.  We attended trainings, visited other school districts, gathered knowledge by following smart people on social media, and even read a few books.

We took what we learned and then reviewed and modified our district’s technology plan to ensure that all of the things we wanted to accomplish were contained in this document.

We then drafted a mission statement and formulated some goals for specific groups of people, including technology proficiencies for primary, elementary, middle-school, and high school students.

Next, we began to implement our plans, which included:

  • updating our technology infrastructure.  We paid particular attention to improving our wireless networks and took advantage of federal E-rate funds to upgrade our networking hardware;
  • creating and following a seven-year replacement cycle to ensure that all staff members have the best productivity tools for getting work done;
  • training our teachers on how to shift from traditional instructional methods to those that would incorporate more technology into the teaching and learning experience;
  • evaluating the needs of each campus to find the best hardware and software resources for students;
  • deploying devices to campuses and ensuring that they work properly;
  • supporting the technology needs of all students and staff members each day;
  • deploying tools that improve communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking among students and staff;
  • providing training that ensures that our students use technology safely and responsibly;
  • highlighting best practices and asking teachers to share their knowledge with others.

Although we have reached some of our goals, we still have much to do.  Students in grades 1-11 now have devices that they can use each day to complete daily tasks and to accomplish learning goals, but our senior class has yet to be provided with devices.  The 2018-2019 school year will mark the final year of our five-year plan, and next year’s twelfth grade students will be provided with devices as they return to campus in August.

We are constantly evaluating the effectiveness of our programs, but we will need to take a focused look at the impact that devices have had on student achievement in order to understand how we should move forward after Year 5.  We will also need to continue to find the best methods to educate our teachers concerning best practices for utilizing technology with students.  We will also need to continue to teach students technology skills that will ensure that they are well prepared for a post-secondary education or the world of work.


Changes to HISD Wireless Networks

This article was written by HISD network manager Gray Young.

Over the summer we replaced our Sonicwall with two new devices:

Sophos XG Firewall – the firewall sits between us and the internet. Its responsibilities are to ensure outside attackers don’t penetrate our network. It is also responsible for traffic shaping (limiting users so that no one user is using our entire bandwidth).

iBoss – the iBoss is a content filter that is responsible for filtering web traffic to ensure our compliance with Federal regulations. With this content filter, we have gained more insight to what our students are accessing. We can view search queries from the three major search engines (Google, Yahoo, and Bing) as well as Youtube and several other websites.

To better gain insights and hold our users accountable, we will be replacing the wireless network LionsNet with three new wireless networks:

  1. Connect2Learn
    1. This network will be the network our 1:1 devices will connect to.
    2. The network will be secured—users will need to authenticate to this network to gain access.
    3. Campuses that have shared 1:1 devices such as Wylie Primary, Wylie Elementary, and Northside will be logged into the Connect2Learn network via a generic accounts (c2l)
  2. BYOD
    1. This network will be the network for bring your own devices.
    2. The network will be secured—users will need to authenticate to this network to gain access.
  3. HISD Guest
    1. This network will be for contractors and guests that are visiting our schools.
    2. The network will be open—users do not need to authenticate to this network to gain access.
    3. This network will only be available from 3:30 P.M. to 7:30A.M. the following day as well as all day Saturday and Sunday.

The HISDNet network will still remain to serve our Windows devices however it will be hidden.


Our district receives federal E-rate funds to help pay for a portion of our Internet service and some of the networking equipment that we have installed at our campuses. Because of this, we are required to comply with a law called the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), which was enacted in 2000.  We must have an Internet safety policy, and we must utilize a content filter to block students from inappropriate material.  We must also educate young people about appropriate online behavior, including “cyberbullying awareness and response.”

Technology applications teachers address this in our lower grades by utilizing online safety lessons at Learning.com with their students.  At the high school level, we are requiring all students to complete a cybersafety course, which I developed this past summer.  You can review this course at https://www.hendersonisd.net/cybersafety-course

The course contains four modules, including Protecting Your Privacy, Avoiding Phishing Attacks and Malware, Information Literacy, and Cyberbullying.  Students are also required to complete an assessment and to score a passing grade in order to receive credit for the course.  Because technology is so prevalent in the lives of our students as they use both their school and their personal devices, it is essential for them to learn and practice these basic digital skills.

If you would like to improve your skills at recognizing and avoiding common computer security problems, I encourage you to take a look at the Protecting Your Privacy and Avoiding Phishing Attacks & Malware modules.

Enhance a Google Slide with Video

Google Slides is my go-to app for most everything.  It goes way beyond being a presentation tool.  One of Slides’ best features is that it allows you to add video to a slide.  These videos can come from YouTube as well as your own Google Drive.  And there are great extensions that allow you to capture your own videos to share within Slides, so you can guide your students through a set of activities within your slides.

Consider recording a short video of yourself explaining a process.  Along with your video, you include diagrams, some explanatory text, and even some links to other resources.

Here is an example of a game I created.  The object of the game is to match the Google app’s name, it’s representative icon, and the task for which the app is used.

First, let’s see the instructions that I created for students

Next, here are the instructions for you to learn how to insert video from both YouTube as well as Google Drive:

Let your students try this as well.  It’s a safe and easy way for anyone to share information that includes video.