Trying Something New – Using Class notebook in lessons as a whiteboard

Published on 10 March 2023 at 20:17

This post is about using Teams and OneNote in lessons as the teacher, I am not sure if there is an alternative for Google Classrooms.

As many will know I am a big fan of using workbooks in my lessons, but one thing that I have struggled with is feeding back / feeding forward etc. Usually, I would recreate the worksheet in a PowerPoint and then use my graphics tablet to fill it in. I had tried a visualiser, before anyone suggests that, but I just don’t get on with them. Not sure why, but as a piece of tech or resource it just didn’t click.

About 2 weeks ago I had a bit of a brainwave, again not sure why I hadn’t thought of it before, I had put many of the workbooks on to Teams, class notebook for students who prefer or need to use laptops and tablets in lessons or are home learning and watching them complete the tasks on their devices I thought “I could do that on the board”. I spent a couple of hours one Sunday afternoon [yes I am a geek] playing around with class notebook and found that I could write on my tablet/Chromebook and it would appear on the Teams I had open on my PC.

I know that I should have realised this as I knew I could see what the students were doing as they were doing it during remote learning. It was a bit of a “Doh!” moment for me.

So for the last two weeks, I have been trialling this in class, mostly with Year 12 and 13 as we worked through essay plans and feeding back 6,6,3 activities as part of the flipped learning [I will do another post about this] but also with my Year 7 RE classes in a more limited way and I think it has been successful. It is not perfect yet and I am still playing around but here is what I have found:


  • The work is autosaved in the content library so students can access it after the lesson but not edit it.
  • I don’t need to reformat anything as the worksheet/workbook have already been created for students.
  • I can add notes around the worksheet for the deeper explanation which again is saved automatically.
  • I have two students with sight issues and this means that they can get the board open on their devices and zoom in on the notations and text easier. This is also more inclusive for any student who needs devices to access the lesson.
  • Supports students with literacy and dyslexic tendencies as they don’t have to rush to get everything from the board.
  • Students no longer need to photograph the board as it is saved on the Team.
  • It is easy to add pages if I create a worksheet that is not in the workbook.

Negatives / Areas to work on

  • My handwriting! writing on a tablet is taking some practice and getting used to, although with Onenote I can also type rather than write.
  • OneNote on Teams doesn’t yet allow for backgrounds so I need to add a square paper background when creating my pages as this helps with the handwriting issue.
  • It is time-intensive to set up but once that is done it saves me time in the long run.
  • The students will need to be taught about how to use Class Notebook and find the information.
  • As ever with technology, it can have a mind of its own so there can be issues there, connection to wifi [I currently use a dongle in my classroom for my Chromebook], lag between my Chromebook and the PC etc.

Despite these issues, some of which I can work on and some are beyond my control, I do like this development in my use of Teams within the classroom. I have also brought myself a podium desk so that I am not stuck behind my desk but can move around the room more easily. As I have worked out I can’t write and hold my Chromebook at the same time – my handwriting gets even worse.

Moving Forward

As we move into the summer term I am going to continue to play around with using OneNote and Class Notebook in the lesson, with the hope to be more efficient and set up for September.

The pipedream would be to use OneNote instead of exercise books, however, I am very aware that this is unlikely due to the cost and the infrastructure necessary to make it happen. I can see many benefits from doing this such as being a little more environmentally friendly and reduce photocopying costs, no more lost books, I can check work in the lesson as well as marking work as and when I can rather than taking books in. Also, Chromebooks would offer both the touchscreen to write as well as the ability to type. I also believe that this could be more inclusive as students who need to use devices to support their learning would not stand out as different.

I do not envision students necessarily having their own devices [although they could use their own if they wanted] but a class set that is kept in the classroom in the same way as in an IT/Computing lesson, with a locked charging station.

I am aware that this wouldn’t be without its problems but as I say it is a pipedream.

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