OneNote has levelled up with Learning Tools

OneNote learning tools is AWESOME. It is an add on for Microsoft OneNote that contains an immersive reader and a dictation function. I didn’t think it was possible to love OneNote any more than I did, but I do now. When using OneNote learning tools, you can take ANY text and be able to change the font, highlight different parts of language (nouns, verbs etc) and change the font size to make it more accessible for students. I have only really just started playing with this tool for one of my students who has dyslexia, but it has also made me think a little differently about how I support students to interpret text given to them during assessment tasks.

Once you have installed it, OneNote Learning tools is just another tab at the top of your folder


To use it, you highlight some text


And click the reader button

You then have a variety of different options for the text


You can highlight parts of the text with different colours, or change the spacing, or break the text into syllables


You can also change the background


And then, the reader will read the text aloud, highlighting words as it goes.

The voice is still a little wooden, but it generally manages some of the complex Science words that it has been presented with.

I haven’t played round with the dictator function much, but have it on good authority from a friend (here’s looking at you Nikkie) that if you swear at it, it writes F***. Which is a super lovely touch. I have had a go (I did swear, maturity levels are low at the end of term) and it did this. More importantly, it was pretty good at picking up what I said despite my accent.

So far I have only used this tool a little in class. We are not a 1:1 environment so it is harder for the students to use this function for themselves. But I did find it really useful to think about how I was teaching my students to interpret exam questions. As a science ‘teacher’ of senior students, all of my learners have end of year exams and I do spend some time going over how to read questions correctly to make sure they are answering them well. Going through this exercise showed me just how much more I could do when talking through questions. The simple process of highlighting the nouns meant that students actually linked how the were reading the questions back into the skills the learn in English (some moaned about it – ‘why are we doing English in Science Miss?’. But by doing this, it made links with another subject ‘silo’, it reminded students that skills need to be transferable, and it reminded ME that if I am going to do a job, I should do it properly. If I am going to take time to pull an exam question to bits, I should make sure I do it fully and make those links to try and make the most out of every learning opportunity, not just skim over it to get the best outcomes/marks.

You can download the learning tools add in HERE. It is seriously worth a look

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