Students with special needs – How OneNote can make the job easier

Students with special needs in a mainstream class are a way of life.   Even our ‘average’ students are tested and probed until they have been identified with a specific special learning need.   In one class of 30 students, I have only 1 students without an assessed teaching and learning need.   This is making the ‘normal student’ as an endangered species.   Add to that the increased workload to document how we are going to support the student and then the evidence of how we have supported the student (Individual Education Plan anybody?) our workload is higher outside of the classroom than in it.   OneNote can make the job easier to accommodate teaching and learning needs for students with special needs and it can act as a portfolio at the end of the year to document your adjustments.  By Using OneNote for students with special needs we can decreases the double handling that happens, increase the quality of learning and have it there to there for review later on.   It can be easily emailed or shared with parents and senior leaders of our schools and it keeps easily for years.

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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 special 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 special needs within or classrooms.


3 thoughts on “Students with special needs – How OneNote can make the job easier

  1. So many great features for special needs education!

    Another great one I use is the ‘Speak selected text’ button – which I have added to my quick access toolbar.
    This allows students to have OneNote read text to them – either a word or a paragraph at a time. As well as listening to teacher-provided text, students can use it to make sure that their sentences make sense.
    The “Speak’ button can also be added to other Office programs, e.g. Word and PowerPoint.
    (To add it, go to Options > Quick Access Toolbar and look for the ‘Speak’ icon.)

    Liked by 1 person

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