OneNote Tips: Syncing

A OneNote Notebook is a bit like a whole website in a notebook. That’s great. It means it’s packed with a variety of content like text, photos and video but when one syncs a notebook it checking every page on a website for changes and downloading all the pages at once. That can take a while. Here are some tips to make it less painful.

If a notebook is slow to sync or appears to not be syncing at all there are three systems that could be causing the problem:

  1. Microsoft’s servers
  2. Your internet connection
  3. Your device–your iPad or laptop.

Microsoft’s Servers

Occasionally Microsoft does have problems with their servers and systems but it’s not common and there’s nothing you can do about it so we’re  going to focus on to the other systems that might be causing your syncing problems.

Your Internet Connection

  • Do you have an internet connection? Open a web browser and see if you can connect to other websites. If you can connect, how fast are they?
  • If you’re at home, is someone else in the house playing online games, streaming movies or music? In other words, are they hogging all the bandwidth? If so, ask them to pause what they’re doing and see if it helps.

Your Device

  • Quit unnecessary programs and close unnecessary apps. If you have a bunch of tabs open they are probably using your bandwidth even when you aren’t using them. If you’re in the habit of keeping a bunch of tabs open you might consider using a browser add-in like OneTab. (This tip is for laptop users running Chrome or Firefox.)
  • Restart your device. As we move around from school, to home or to restaurants our devices get “clogged up” with all the network settings. Restarting your device can help. It gives your iPad/laptop a fresh start.
  • “Close” old notebooks you’re not currently using. “Closing” notebooks doesn’t delete them. They stay in your OneDrive or your teacher’s OneDrive if it’s a class notebook. “Closing” a notebook means OneNote won’t try to sync notebooks it doesn’t need to.

One More Thing

If you’re adding content to a OneNote notebook, think about the size of what you’re adding. Text is fine but think about the size of the photos and other files you’re adding.

  • Re-size photos in apps like Preview or Photos before you add them. It will speed up syncing and the images will still look good on screens.
  • Rather than putting pdf’s or other docs in the notebook, put them in OneDrive and add a link to the notebook. That way people only have to download the file when they need it.
  • If you’re in a class trying to sync your notebook with 20+ other people, it’s going to be slow. Move somewhere so you’re using a different wireless access point. As a student you might sync your notebooks when you first get to school. That way they’ll be up to date and ready to go when you get to class.

I wanted to plant this seed with them at this early stage

This week we had the pleasure of talking to Patrick Magnus, an ELL instructor for the French Bilingual Program.

He created an amazing authentic learning project which combined literacy, mathematics, gamification, and entrepreneurism and solved a huge need for tired teachers in the morning.

Without further ado here are his responses.

1. What did you want your students to know or understand?

The main idea I wanted the students to understand was that money is a finite resource and it must be managed properly.

The process of learning how to accept, track, and buy supplies is powerful for them to have when they become young adults and I wanted to at least plant this seed with them at this early stage.

2. What skills did you want your students to gain?

There were two main goals.

For literacy, it was the acquisition and authentic use of vocabulary involved in the basic business and finance.

Additionally, I wanted them to be able to use dialogue in text and use proper punctuation within it.

For mathematics, I wanted them to be able to read, analyze, and use graphs to measure growth and then communicate their findings.

A basic skill, but very powerful for their future.

3. How did you teach this lesson in the past?

To be honest, this is the first time I have taught it (overachiever) …

Yet there are already things I would like to change for the future. For example, we waited until the scripts for the commercials were perfect, but this took a lot of time.

However, when we shot the commercials, the scripts didn’t match the message we wanted.

Thus, we had to start over.

Huge learning!

4. How did you problem-solve and be creative to come up with this new method for this lesson?

I actually started with the WIDA teacher resource.

It gave me the following:


Like I mentioned above, I wanted the students to gain a mastery over financial terms, so that is where I started.

This got me thinking about how I could actually bring this to life.

So I created a provocation in the form of a narrative (connection to the previous lesson) about the script of the “Two Cats’ Business” which mixed the vocab from the current unit in a story which described getting a loan from a “shadowy figure” as their business was not making money.

The goal was for the students to think of how they could help the Two Cats’ so they could make a profit and pay off the loan.

Of course, the end prize was the “The Glasses of Coolville” (who made anyone who wore them 100% cool).

I found they actually had a lot of difficulty with it in the beginning, so I reached out to the Grade 4 team to see how I might “gamify” the vocab.

This led me to Classcraft, where I made challenges based on vocab exercises.

The students really liked the “Boss battle” which assessed their knowledge of vocab, but they had the opportunity to collaborate and learn other ways to study the vocab. This helped them gain confidence.

Next, I did some gentle nudging and asked how they could use this vocab in the real world (Patrick raises his hand with a fake mug to his mouth)

Thus “The Activator” and “The Cool Coffee FBP” delivery businesses were born.

The students took on all the roles of both creating and running a coffee delivery business where they did everything – logo creation, writing commercial scripts, recording commercials, marketing, management, and customer fulfillment.

Business is booming, and the students are in the black (profit).

Patrick said he would have liked them already breaking down the charts and graphs, but this will come at the end of the delivery phase, as there are so many other things to be done to “run the business” right now.

Lacking some energy in the morning?

Reach out to the Grade 4-5 FBP classes if you need a “cup of joe” to add a pep in your step!



WIDA – Reading charts

Common Core Standards

One way we can make our community more inclusive is to turn that idea upside down and help get rid of the labels.

Hello #SISRocks ! This week on Teachers of SIS, we are pleased to have Learning Support Specialists Erin Madonna and Vivian Wu. Erin and Vivian walked me through their roles, the targeted support they provode to students and the consultative coaching they offer to teachers. Read the full interview below.









Can you talk about what you want us (as teachers but also the wider community) to know and understand about what you do ?

(Erin) When you think about our positions our jobs…the reason that we are here is because our community is trying to become more inclusive of diversity … so we are trying to meet the needs of diverse learners. Additionally, when you think of what learning support is it gets a little muddy. We often think of students who struggle. But learning support really is more about meeting the needs of students who have identified learning needs versus students who are just six months delayed or are struggling in a certain area … because students just struggle in that area.

So I think really try provide targeted support to kiddos who have identified neurological needs, behavioral, attention deficit, hyperactivity disorders, social communication delays… things along those lines …

(Vivian) From my perspective, we tend to students with diverse needs. Knowing that teachers need to tend to these students, TAs run small groups. We also work with and provide students with individualized strategies and tools so that they can be successful.

(Erin) I’m glad you brought that up because that is another important part of our role … because we have such a small team, I think a major part of our role is that consultative coaching of teachers.

What skills did you want your students to gain?

So everyone will struggle at some point. We all have things that we’re better at and things that we struggle with but when a student has an identified need (and lots of times it’s brain based) there is an cognitive obstacle that they can’t past without extra scaffolding and support or material presented in a different way.

And that will not change for that student no matter how hard they are trying. So that’s a really clear indicator that its not just a “okay, I need a little more time…” and a little extra support but more a case of real road blocks that despite herculean efforts they will not get past.

A lot of the times it comes down to executive functioning skills, so things like self organization or self regulation within the classroom

(Vivian) Some targeted interventions we put in place for students with those needs include checklists with students, self-monitoring, making sure they understand the goal of an activity, our my eyes on the speaker, basic utilization of checklists.

(Erin) We do,, with students who have social communication delays, we’ll do social stories…so we’ll do targeted intervention where we will pull the student out of classroom and we’ll sit with them and read stories that highlight pro social skills. An example might be “If I am in a classroom and I want the teacher’s attention how do I get that …” So it’ll be a story that we create for that student to help the learn those pro social behaviors.

(Vivian) Another big area that we work on is our inclusive community so that students don’t feel ashamed or that they are different.

(Erin) Something that happens a lot (with fine motor needs, for example) is … when we have kids who utilizing things like pencil grips or they get silly putty because of hyperactivity in the classroom and they something to channel that energy…., we have kids who will stop by our office and ask if they can have that too..? Its funny and different for every kids … but it’s also a good clarifying point for our community because a lot of the times because we do pull kids out of them room and have them meet with us outside of the classroom..That said, we have this concept of inclusion being this “push-in” model where they should stay in the classroom and be in the classroom all the time but the background impact of that (for the student with the differences) is that often and emotionally that injures them – “I’m that kid that Ms. Madonna is coming to see again” And we’ve had kids very clearly tell us that they don’t like that but when they come into a safe space where their peers aren’t watching them get this remedy l support that feels better. That’s not every kid – some kids aren’t phased when we come in but that “pull out” support often times is there to protect their self confidence.

Can speak about teacher responsibility and classroom culture ?

As the adults in the building, we have to really shift our thinking away from a deficit model to a strength-based approach – yes you’re building on the strengths of that individual with differences but it also can come in the form of how the class views that person. How the teacher sets up their classroom can shift the idea away from oh you’re the kid that always acts out to you have the most creative mind of any of us , can you be the one leading us in this …. Additionally, lots of times we will pull in peers who are high performing in order to mix up those groups so that the other kids can rethink their preconceived notions that Ms. Madonna only helps the bad kids or the dumb kids, etc … basically the kids who can’t. So again, as the adults, I think one way we can make our community more inclusive is to turn that idea upside down and help get rid of the labels.


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Also our inclusive posters thorughout Mountainside & Parkside campuses.

We did not want it just to be about fundraising, we wanted the unit to “stick.”

What do you get when you combine student agency, math, literacy, social studies, art, design cycle, social-emotional curriculum, cross-divisional collaboration, and parent engagement?

The Quilt Makers Gift Project! An amazing interdisciplinary learning experience for grade 1 students.

This week I had the pleasure of learning more about this amazing, impactful, and intentional project from Ria, Lisa, Linda, Shannon, and Ritu.

The project has been ongoing for the past two years, but it all started from a lesson in Geometry connecting how to make quilts using shapes. However, it has transformed into a unit which encompasses all the elements listed above and continues to grow.

Without further ado here are their responses.

1. What did you want your students to know or understand?

Academically, we wanted them to see a real-life application of Geometry in the real world.

Additionally, for them to understand how they can use what they know in order to take action to feel empowered to impact the world they live in.

Lastly, we wanted them to understand three central themes from a socio-emotional curriculum which are empathy, connection, and gratitude.

2. What skills did you want your students to gain? 

We wanted students to improve their communication skills, more specifically how to find their voice and how to express their opinions to others.

Furthermore, the ability to use the design cycle to make a plan, iterate and carry it out.

Finally, the idea to be being open-minded through the process and to foster a “can do attitude” where they believed they can make big changes.

3. How did you teach this lesson in the past?

In its simplest form, we taught students how to compose and decompose 2D figures, and we just started with just paper.

They would still make the quilts, but each kid contributed a square and this where it would end.

4. How did you problem-solve and be creative to come up with this new method for this lesson?


This spurred the question,

“How can we extend this unit?”

First, we extended the unit by connecting to a story about a woman who makes quilts for other people who really wants them. She makes one for a King, who earns a piece of the quilt each time he gives away a possession of his. By the end of the story he has no worldly possessions but is fulfilled and happy as he has a full quilt.

It was great, but then this lead to us asking more questions like,

“Who can we reach out to who might be able to make a quilt?”

Enter Ah Huang. She was a cleaner at the time we first started but also a seamstress who actually helped make the quilt.

More discussions and brainstorming sessions lead to connecting with Rosana Walsh in the Middle School. She facilitates the “Hats on Heads” project, where she went to Amman to give hats to refugee children, but also took the quilts the grade 1 students created. Rosana shared the story in Jordan, took pics with refugees, and came back and presented an age-appropriate keynote to the students on the impact of quilts they made.

It did not stop there, as an ex-SIS student who moved to HKIS, carried on the project and worked with his parents to take him to Amman to give another round of hats and quilts to the refugees.

He also took pictures and brought them back to share with grade 1 students. They actually watched the presentation of the trip about the refugees during pajama day with blankets. This was super relevant as the refugee children were in the cold, and the grade 1 students could see their quilts were being used.

This then prompted connections within Social Studies on how are we similar and different. Students learned more about Syria through games, foods, and sharing of cultures.

We wanted to highlight it was not just about giving but receiving as well. A main focus was on service, but we emphasized they could learn from the process as well. Also, tying in what it means to be a “global citizen.”

We did not want it just to be about charity or fundraising, we wanted the unit to “stick.”

This prompted us to make a change the following year where grade 1 students had to find ways to raise money for materials and sewing of the quilts.

Each student had to earn 25 RMB by completing five days of work. The money would pay for all labor and supplies. The crazy thing is many are surpassing the 25 RMB quota and actually earning much more. This showed the students were very invested in this project.

Worked ranged from playing musical instruments, bus games, making food and then selling, or selling clothes.

It has taken a lot of time and planning to make this project, but we wanted it to be intentional and give students agency through the process.

A huge part of this has been the home link, which only reinforces the importance of the project. The parents have been super supportive and are really pleased with how their children are taking part in such a meaningful project and are asking how they can do more.

Like we said, it has been a little different each year, some years a person goes to the refugee camps, while other years we look at how we can impact someone in the local community.

Additionally, we are looking at how we can incorporate art, understanding of materials and colors.

The possibilities are endless!


Any questions about service learning please visit or email anyone on the Grade 1 team.

The Quilt Maker – A book on service learning.