Using Docked Pages in OneNote to Support Writing

Dock To Desktop

The dock to desktop feature in OneNote is an excellent way to support writing in both creative writing and non-fiction wwriting. When OneNote is used as a repository of all whiteboard material (it makes an excellent replacement for generic interactive board software - but more on this later) this can provide pupils with not only a bank of all whole-class created 'working-wall' material but also the plans, brainstorms and working word lists created by pupils themselves.

OneNote For Classes

The below examples are based on using OneNote in class, with pupils having access to OneNote on a device during their writing time. In my context this is facilitated using the OneNote Class Notebook Creator, but this is not essential as any personal or shared notebook will allow pages to be docked to the desktop. The below ideas also work well for group based tasks and even using OneNote for shared writing in front of the whole class. Because OneNote (although free to download) is also part of the Office family of programs, when working on the screen the teacher is also doing the double job of modelling how to use the menus, tool ribbon tabs, etc that are consistent across the other programs such as Word, PowerPoint and Excel.

The 'New Docked Window' button is the easiest way to attach a page to the side of the desktop.
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Working Walls

Where pupils have contributed to whole class brainstorming and shared writing, the collection of resources that would typically live on a working wall can just as easily live inside OneNote where pupils can access all pages as they need them. Where pupils feel ownership of the material that they have co-created and value the content this is especially powerful in allowing them to look back at each aspect of the writing process as it was scaffolded and guided by the teacher.

Pupils' Personal Plans and Ideas

By storing pupils' own plans and brainstorms in OneNote the dock to desktop feature really comes into it's own. In the same way that a pupil might flick back through their own book to look at a writing plan composed days earlier, it is easy to dock that OneNote page to the side of the desktop, with the added bonus of not needing to constantly turn back and forth pages in a book. On touch and digital ink capable devices like the Microsoft Surface this is especially valuable as not only text plans and tables but handwritten notes and diagrams can be used, added to and amended even during the writing process.

Supporting my writing with my own hand written plan with branches, using digital ink on a surface.Supporting my writing with my own hand written plan, with branches, using digital ink on a surface.

Targets and AFL

Personal targets or AFL statements when kept in OneNote have increased value when a pupl can have the relevant page docked when the work is relevant to the targets. This serves a double purpose of allowing the pupil the opportunity to review their targets whilst writing and a reminder of their current priorities, but also an easy way for them to screen grab or snapshot work into their AFL pages as examples of meeting a particular target. This can also work for the teacher at the front, where a class list of targets, or success criteria for the genre of writing can be kepy to the side fo the main task. Tick boxes are a great visual reference to this, and collectively ticking them off as we shared write or proof read together really reinforces the expectations of content and structure on a piece of writing. 

Formatting and Other Subjects

There are a number of formatting tools in OenNote than can add to the clarity of docked notes. Next time I will explain how using the predefined and editable formatting facilities of OneNote can support pupils in the writing process. A follow up article will also look at how docked notes can work in other subjects in the same way. PLease do comment with your thoughts, examples and questions to clarify what I have noted above.

Last modification: Mon 3 Apr 2017