Students with Specific Needs – How OneNote can make the job easier


Guest Post by Ineke McGuire, Microsoft Expert Educator

Students with specific needs in class are a way of life. OneNote can make the job easier to accommodate teaching and learning needs for students with specific needs and it can act as a portfolio at the end of the year to document your adjustments and accomodations.

By Using OneNote for identified students we can decrease double handling, increase the quality of learning, and provide evidence of learning for review and consideration later. OneNote pages and sections can be easily emailed or shared with parents and senior leaders of our schools and it keeps easily for years.

In OneNote there are many built in features that are fantastic in adjusting curriculum. By careful planning and training of our kids, students can use OneNote to improve the quality and depth of their learning.

  • Insert equation/symbol – Great for students with fine-motor skills and handwriting issues who have difficulty with specific symbols.
  • Record Audio – Excellent for students who can explain verbally but have difficulty putting it down on paper. I find this especially good for students with Autism and students with poor written literacy.
  • Record video – Have a presentation but the student have high anxiety? Get them to record themselves.
  • Everything under draw – Sometimes a diagram and a picture can explain better than text. Great for EAL/D (English as a second language/dialect) students especially if you have a touch screen and a stylus. (If you have not checked out Microsoft Surface Pro 3 well worth a look for this)
  • Page Version and auto save – Chronic lying is not necessarily an assessed learning need but for the student who says ‘I did it but I lost everything’ or ‘I have been working on it for weeks and it all just disappeared’ it is a great tool.
  • Research – For those students who have difficulty navigating between different pages the Research tool keeps more of the students work on all of one page.•Spelling – a standard in just about everything at the moment but great for the students who, like me, is written word challenged.
  • Language – good for English as a Second Language/Dialect students. It takes a while to teach them how to use it but it is worth a bit of one-on-one training.
  • Full page view – Many students get a little lost when there is too much on the screen. If you transfer OneNote to the full page view the students just need to focus on what is in front of them and not all the extra information presented on the screen.
  • Zoom in – Students who have poor eyesight and will not (or cannot) wear glasses find this very useful.
  • Always on top – great for the obsessive clicker. I have one student who was always losing his page because he just clicked on everything.
  • Link pages – Easy for student to navigate to a different page if they have difficulty sorting information from all the other pages.

So as you can see OneNote is great for students with specific needs. Like all technology it is only a tool and it is up to us as educators to make sure that the curriculum is relevant and accessible to all students.

I encourage you to go out and have a play.Make mistakes and learn the power of OneNote for our students who have specific needs within your classrooms.

Post by: Ineke McGuire, Microsoft Expert Educator

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Ineke is currently the Head of the Mathematics/Science Department at Sacred Heart College in Tasmania, Australia. She has been teaching for 20 years including internationally as Head of Science at the Hemmel Hempstead School in England for 3 years, and at the Gulf English International School in Kuwait.

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