Using the Draw Tool in Microsoft OneNote for Math

Adam Herman
PD Specialist
News on May 19 2020


Throughout my time as a PD specialist I have frequently trained teachers in the Google, Microsoft, and Apple learning suites. One of the most common questions I am asked is which one I think is the best. My honest answer is that all three have their strengths and weaknesses. However, all three are best leveraged when a teacher uses all parts of the learning suite in concert with each other.

In my experience, the more teachers and students work within a streamlined system, the more technology in the classroom functions as an asset that expands learning rather than distracts from it. One of the strongest programs for streamlining across all of the learning suites is Microsoft OneNote, a program that can function as a whiteboard, notebook, homework folder, and in a limited capacity as a learning management system for students. This blog will examine how the draw function in OneNote can be utilized by math teachers to model for students, save whiteboard, and create quick formative assessments. 

Accessing the Draw Tool 

OneNote is most commonly used as an organizational tool for class materials. Many teachers do not realize that the program can also function as a virtual whiteboard for students. To do this, once inside OneNote teachers simply need to go to the Draw tab in OneNote and select the writing instrument they would like to use. Once the tool is selected, a teacher can draw with their finger, or a pen that comes with their interactive board if that is more comfortable. As you can see, the teacher can pick from a variety of writing tools and colors. 

Writing and Selecting an Equation

Many elementary students (myself included) struggle with learning fractions. Using OneNote, a teacher can write an example problem on the board and then manipulate it in a variety of ways. After writing this particular problem, I highlighted my equation and selected “Math” at the top of the toolbar. From here I can choose, “Select an Action” and “Evaluate.” This will generate a solution, as well as provide me with the steps needed to solve the problem. If the problem has the potential for graphing, there is an additional option to generate the problem on a 2D graph and drop it onto the screen.

Generating Assessments

If a teacher would like, after evaluating the problem there is an option to “Generate a Practice Quiz.” After selecting how many problems the teacher would like the quiz will be, a Microsoft Form will automatically appear on the page with math problems of similar difficulty and content. From here, the teacher can push this assessment out to students and have their answers graded automatically. Therefore, teachers can move from modeling, to review, to assessment seamlessly without ever leaving the program they’re working in! 

Final Thoughts

To learn more about Microsoft OneNote and other tools in Microsoft 365, access Teq’s OTIS Online PD platform. Here there are videos reviewing the OneNote Class Notebook, the Immersive Reader Tool, and a full digital certification course in Microsoft 365. I hope this is a useful resource to expand your teaching! 


In light of the COVID-19 pandemic impacting our schools and learning, Teq is making all of our PD courses on OTIS for educators FREE to help schools and districts implement distance learning and online professional development.