Office 365: An integral part of math pedagogy

This is the third year of a divisional initiative to advance student learning in Mathematics (Grades 4-9) through the integration of validated teaching and learning practices focusing on the seamless integration of mobile technology. Within this project, teachers are provided with professional development to help transform traditional classroom practices into student-centered learning environments. In addition, a problem-solving approach with an emphasis on mathematical conversations is spiraled throughout the educators’ learning.

This model of PD is constructed and supported through many aspects of O365, especially OneNote Staff Notebooks, Yammer, and OneDrive. Presently, there are 260 educators, including both math teachers and their administrators contributing, collaborating and learning within a group of Staff Notebooks. These Notebooks have been transformational in the creation and delivery of instructional content while supporting the curation of their understanding. Learning collaboratively inside this digital environment is easily transitioned from “individual” to “small group” and/or “school group specific” within the Staff Notebook.

“The pedagogical aspect of using OneNote is limitless! It has been fun, challenging and refreshing but most importantly I have been walking away feeling like I have pushed my boundaries a little further.” –Mr. Moore, Grade 8 Teacher

OneDrive has not only enriched the collaboration of teachers and administrators within the participating group, it has also allowed for unprecedented efficiency between the group of presenters. We are now able to seamlessly and collaboratively develop Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files that are utilized during PD sessions. In addition, the ability to have multiple contributors creating and sharing resources residing in Office Mix and Sway has enriched the collaborative process.

Teachers with laptops work together at a table

Yammer has added an exciting layer of both social learning and informative messaging. The PD participants have access and contribute to postings such as how-to docs, instructional readings, and video links. Additionally, it’s been a great place for teachers to share ideas and receive feedback. Another revolution we are witnessing within Yammer is the communication between the IT Department and teachers. It represents a shift in thinking that enables teachers to receive information that is relevant and timely to them.

To support the collaborative use of O365 when deepening the understanding of problem solving and mathematical conversations, a set of five iPads, including one teacher iPad, has been placed in each classroom. In these student-centered environments, learners usually find themselves creating on the iPads and then transitioning into or between any number of O365 apps, and in particular OneDrive or Class Notebooks. Through the integration of these mobile technologies, students are able to create, share, receive feedback, reflect and refine their learning. This collaborative, technology-enriched process provides a powerful path for learners to deepen conversations and make their thinking visible.

“When students work on solving math problems using our classroom notebook, they can use tools (images and photos) to help them visualize and explain their thinking clearly using Class Notebook. It has increased the home/school connection, with students accessing math problems from home and sharing their learning with their families.” –Ms. Slota, Grade 3/4 Teacher

Students are now working in a digital space that not only supports their learning but is creating a culture of empowerment and ownership. The ability to access O365 tools from a free download perspective is a step in the right direction with regard to equity in learning, and Class Notebooks are enabling the curation of their educational journey. The Class Notebook is also providing a “one-stop-shop” for our students. With the infusion of OneNote into our classrooms, students are now able to use one digital space to:

  • receive and create content individually or in groups
  • research and record findings
  • make thinking visible and curate conversations and thinking
  • receive feedback from teachers, peers, and parents in multiple forms such as text, audio, and video
  • track grading and progression
  • develop a complete picture and history of learning (ePortfolio)

Teachers are empowered to:

  • create and curate content and lessons
  • push content to individuals, groups or their entire class, allowing for differentiation
  • evaluate, assess and provide timely feedback in many forms
  • track student progression as individuals or with group situations
  • collaborate with co-teachers and learning support individuals

The implementation of Office 365 within this initiative is having a transformational impact on many aspects of the teaching and learning process for all stakeholders.


Kent Brewer is currently the Curriculum Consultant for k-12 Technology Integration at River East Transcona School Division in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Ten years ago, as a Technical Vocational teacher in Nova Scotia, he recognized the power of OneNote to facilitate student learning. In 2007, Kent was recognized as a Worldwide Microsoft Innovative Educator, and in 2011 he was selected as one of two Canadians to participate in the World Wide Global Learning Forum in Washington. Kent has also been awarded the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence for his commitment to teaching. In his current role, Kent has been instrumental in the division-wide roll out of Office 365. He emphasizes a focus on pedagogy with the integration of amazing tools such as Office Mix, OneNote Notebooks, Sway, and Yammer.
Find more information on  Office 365, OneNote, and a whole suite of useful educational tools at  Connect with Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts and find resources for educators in our Microsoft Educator Community.