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Miss the Old Screen Clipping Tool in OneNote?

While not a drastic change-up, the new OneNote 2016 brings about a few cool new features.  However, for many seasoned OneNote users, the 2016 version also brings with it some initial frustration.  If you were a regular user of the old Send to OneNote Tool, you may have had a panic moment upon taking your new 2016 version of OneNote for a test drive after installation.  That's because Microsoft did away with it.  Poof.  Gone without a trace.
Some were annoyed the presence of this tool, while others were avid users of it.
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Sweep Your Inbox

Take just a moment and glance at your work email.  How many message are sitting in your inbox right now?  If you are anything like me, you have gobs of messages fermenting in a virtual bottomless pit of email.  If emails were physical things, I'd be a candidate for one of those hoarders episodes.

Like much of the professional world, your workplace probably uses Outlook for employee/staff email.  If you or some of your coworkers suffer from a crowded mess of an inbox, you are in luck.  Microsoft released a nifty feature some time ago made just for the message cluttered masses.  It's called Sweep, and it, well, it sweeps out your inbox for you.  You know those little robotic vacuum cleaners that you turn on, turn loose, and they clean up for you on their own?  Sweep is sort of the same thing.  When enabling Sweep, it serves two basic purposes for you: 1) To quickly clean out accumulated emails no longer wanted, and 2) To automatically keep your inbox clean thereafter.  When activating Sweep, you are given four options for which rule you want applied to emails from a specific sender:

Ready to get your email inbox cleaned out and automatically kept neat from now on?  Here is the walk-through:

When you log into your Outlook account, you will see the Sweep option on the top toolbar.
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Loaner Technology

Remember being a kid and playing ball with a group of others?  Remember that one kid who either owned the ball or some of the gear, or the court/field was on his property...and he let you know it.  He established ownership of some aspect(s) of the game and pressed upon everyone else an understanding that all were at the mercy of him to bestow permission to continue the game.  Offend him in any way and the game came to a screeching halt.  I've often felt that is how many school systems are structured when it comes to technology.  The teachers are all the neighborhood gang in the game, and the central office technology staff are the kid with the ball.… Visit the author's original post

Erase in OneNote “Pencil Style”

One of my favorite things about OneNote is its inking capabilities, especially on the Surface tablets.  It is extremely handy for writing on my students' work in the notebooks they keep.  It is also a doodler's dream.  If you are somewhat new to OneNote and its inking features, you may not be aware that you can change the eraser settings. 

When I first started inking in OneNote, my initial response to erasing with the Surface Pen was "Bummer!"  I thought it was going to respond like a more traditional erasing experience.  Instead, an entire line, letter, stroke, etc.… Visit the author's original post

The “Fill in the Blank” Generation

In recent years, I have tried to step away from the standard, old school style report.  I believe there is indeed value in having students look up information and then share it in a somewhat concise, easy to digest form.  But, I also believe the objective can be accomplished in a more meaningful way.  A recent attempt to add a little creative relevance to a get-and-share info activity, though, opened my eyes to the current state of students and technology aptitude.… Visit the author's original post

Quick “Print to OneNote” Tip

This tip is for one of those Aaargh moments at the computer.  No, it has nothing to do with pirates.  The other kind of aaargh, like when you're frustrated with something.  In this case, technology.  More specifically, when you're wanting to print a document to OneNote and the application keeps giving each page of the document its own OneNote page.  You want the document printed to one page, but for some crazy reason OneNote keeps printing it as multiple pages in your section.  Aaaaaaaarrrrgh!… Visit the author's original post

To Class Notebook or Not?

For many teachers around the country, the first day of school is just around the corner.  For some lucky teachers like myself, we started over a week ago.  Regardless, the first of the school year is always filled with that vibe of newness and excitement.  It is a time when teachers often consider new things to try in the new year, and this year, OneNote is probably on the list of many.  I assume you are reading this if you are either brand new to OneNote and thinking about using it with your students this year, or you are at least a little experienced and may be looking for ways to approach implementation.  This little How-I-Do-It discusses the management of student notebook outside of OneNote Class Notebook.… Visit the author's original post

Using Microsoft Word to Determine Writing Sample Grade Level

I had a colleague mention in the break room that she had her students turn in a writing sample and was going to use Word to gauge the approximate grade level of each student's writing.  This was a great idea to get a benchmark for students to measure growth over the course of the school year.  At one point I had dabbled with this feature of Word, but honestly had not thought too much of it recently.  Word 2013 accomplishes this a little different than before, so if you're interested, click on the link below to access my How-To on Sway.… Visit the author's original post

Backwards Technology in Public Education

If you have spent any time in the K-12 education world, you know all too well the deafening buzz about technology integration.  Teachers are encouraged, required, and even sometimes pressured to inject more tech into the way they teach.  Administrators feel the pressure of tech mandates that school districts are expected to meet.  Go to any large ed-tech conference, and no one can deny that technology companies see public school leaders the way an ice-cream truck driver sees a giant group of kids on an unshaded playground in the pressure cooker days of summer.… Visit the author's original post

Keeping Files In OneNote

One of the cool features of OneNote that a lot of users are unaware of is its ability to store files for you, just like keeping a file in a desktop folder or in a folder on a cloud service like DropBox, OneDrive or GoogleDrive.  In OneNote, however, you get a little more "interaction"  than when sticking a file anywhere else.  Let me show you what I mean…


Students and professionals have gobs of benefits from using OneNote to keep track of all the things in their school/work world.… Visit the author's original post

Microsoft Band First Impressions

I'll have to admit, when smart watches started landing in the marketplace, I was quick to say I had no use for one and had no interest in buying one.  Now, July of 2015, I have what I suppose is technically a "smart fitness band" hugging my wrist.  The Microsoft Band was released last fall, so it's had a little time in the market to prove itself, which helped lure me into the purchase.  I'm on day 5, so there's no way I can comment on the long-term use of the band, but my initial reaction to the Microsoft Band is that it probably deserves an A- score.… Visit the author's original post

Double Spacing Text in OneNote

Last year I made Microsoft's hero application an interwoven part of my curriculum with my juniors.  It was a pilot run, and though I experienced a few bumps along the way (as we do with any first drive), the program ended up being one of the best changes/additions I have made to my classroom in eighteen years of teaching. 

OneNote should probably be named WayMoreThanNotesItDoesAlmostEverything, but I must admit the former is a much catchier, more marketable name.  While this application has a deep feature list, more than most people imagine, the one thing it doesn't do that my students expect it to is act like Microsoft Word when they type.  OneNote does not have Word's full-force word processing features, though. 

One of the things my students were using OneNote for was keeping and organizing all of the research and pre-writing for their research papers.  When it came time to start drafting, many asked "Can we just type our paper in OneNote?"  I had told my classes they could draft in whatever program they wanted, so long as they knew how to print to OneNote during the process (so I could review and comment on their drafts) and that they understood the final draft of their paper would require Microsoft Word.  (Sorry Google Docs--you still can't format into columns, among other things.) 

My problem with reviewing work typed directly in OneNote is that the text lines by default are set to what we understand as single spaced paragraphs.  OneNote features inking, which allows me to write on students' papers...just like English teachers have done for years.  A traditional double spaced paper provides plenty of room within the text on which to write, so for someone annotating a text, double spaced paragraphs is important.  Whatever your reason for wanting double spaced text, lots of us have scratched our heads in confusion when trying to figure out how to do this in OneNote.  If that's you, here is how it is done:

1.Visit the author's original post

Are Microsoft Office Skills Still Relevant?

GoogleDocs has gained a lot of popularity in recent years, especially in the K-12 education scene.  And, it should have.  I have tried out GoogleDocs briefly at different points over the years, though, and it never did click with me.  In the beginning, file compatibility was an issue.  Upload and download conversion was a pain.  I ended up sticking with Microsoft Word and integrated it with DropBox.  (At the time, DropBox was noticeably ahead of the game over both Google and Microsoft.)  I still don't like the formatting limitations of GoogleDocs, and will never convert to a GoogleDocs user.  But, I must say Google did a solid with their browser based document application.  Free is what originally attracted many to it, though it now stands in a crowd of free document editing options.  Live collaboration won over yet others, which is also turning into more of a norm with options.  For kids, not having to click the Save button in a word processing program was a magical blessing.  It's simple interface and multi-user cloud capabilities earned it a deserved spot in some schools.Visit the author's original post

Kids Aren’t Stupid, But Lawmakers Are…

Spring time in American schools means lots and lots of government mandated standardized testing.  Millions of tax dollars go into designing, producing, and assessing these yearly tests that are supposed to gauge how well teachers and schools are doing their jobs.  These test results are meant to reflect what students are learning.  These tests are also the brainchildren of idiots.  Politicians.  Education higher ups.  The big wig people behind the policies of giving these standardized tests are either morons or are simply stuffing their pockets with hefty kickbacks from testing companies.  There is no other option.  And here's why:

There is no student accountability in these tests.
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Surface Security Modification

There's no question that the Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3 are the real deal when it comes to owning a device that packs the punches of both laptop and tablet.  Because so much power is packed into such a portable housing, it stands to reason that the Surface will be tagging along on most outings with owners.  The one drawback to super portability in any device is the added potential for theft.  

Most of us have never had our desktop computers stolen.  Almost as many have never experienced the loss of a laptop to theft either.  However, having a tablet or a smart phone stolen is an unfortunate heartache many have suffered...or will in the future.  Losing a $100 tablet is an annoyance and a frustration, but having a $700+ tablet stolen can be devastating.
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The Elephant On The Desk…


Every politician making a run for office mentions education.  On the national and state level, a league of educational "experts" toil away at finding solutions to the broken gears in the American public school entity.  Some have the purest of good intentions.  Some are looking to look like they have the purest of intentions because, let's face it, if you hold a big public office or work for the government and aren't involved in some form of education reform movement/bill, then A) You don't care about our children or our country's future; or B) You don't believe our country's public education system is in need of repair.  If you have a political/government job that's in the public eye, then you obviously need to give the impression of caring about education, even if you don't.
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ONENOTE: Getting Started

Over the next six weeks, I'll be posting quite a few mini-lessons on using OneNote, with an obvious emphasis on school use.  This first entry is just a handout for getting started and setting up a OneNote notebook for a class.  Useful for anyone, but geared for middle school and high school students.  If you are a teacher, this is hopefully generic enough to download and use with students.  This particular .pdf is for doing so with the web version, but I will post the same thing for the desktop and app versions as well, so stay tuned. 
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Personal Device Classroom Contract

Shortly after becoming a BYOD campus, our school learned that, unbridled, technology is more distraction (some might say disruption) than aide.  TIn my previous post, I spoke on the misinformed belief that teenagers are the tech generation and know their way around computers, cell phones, and tablets like little tech-prodigy clones of Bill Gates.  I quickly learned that teachers must show students HOW to use their devices productively.  And, that all starts with setting specific rules/guidelines for cell phone/tablet possession in the classroom.  If your school is moving in the BYOD direction, start the year with a clearly communicated (and maintained) set of class policies regarding tech that set boundaries and expectations.  Here are the ones I used this school year:

• You must maintain at least a C average in this class to be allowed to use a personal electronic device during this class period.
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The Myth of the BYOD Classroom

A few years ago, my high school announced that it would become a BYOD campus.  Previously, we had been a school where cell phones were treated as contraband.  Using a cell phone at school was almost akin to lighting a cigarette right in the middle of class.  As someone who had relied on his phone (Palm Pilot back in the days before smart phones) to keep organized, I was excited at the thought of my students being able to openly possess and use their electronic devices during the school day.  I envisioned all the benefits awaiting my students: keeping important dates and reminders in their calendars, accessing our class blog right from their desks, taking snapshots of the white board for later reference, and whatever innovations lie in wait as technology and phones continued evolving.
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Do What You Love

I have worked in public high schools since 1997.  I'm far from an expert on anything in the educational realm, but I have cataloged a considerable amount of observation (with mental notes) over the years.  Hopefully, some reflection on those years of experience has given a little insight into things.

I have worked with older teens my whole career.  It's always interesting to watch these young men and women prep themselves to step into the real world once high school has come to an end.  And, truth be told, I'm always a little nervous for a number of them.  As much as I love my profession, if we are honest, the public school system really does little to ensure that kids leave high school with the skill set and knowledge base needed to be successful in life.  A daily blog could be written this whole year exploring the different avenues ofthis issue, but today I would like to comment on one fallacy I encounter on a regular basis with my upperclassmen.
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Welcome to my blog.  Please don't look for a focus topic for this site.  (It has none.)  You know that drawer in the kitchen or utility room that has evolved into the catch-all junk drawer?  Well, that's what this blog is.  It is a place for me to drop in any random rant or rambling.  Several will connect with teaching an/or technology in the academic setting, but others may stray into various unrelated areas of life, current events, and maybe even an occasional product review.  regardless of where it takes you or how long you stick around, thanks for visiting.Visit the author's original post