And they said I was too adventurous?

The 2014 school year has been in swing now for eight weeks and what a whirlwind ride it has been. In such a short time I have seen some fantastic and inspiring learning taking place at my school, from both students and teachers. One little project I have been working on is creating some iBooks with Prep students. Little? Maybe not. I am teaching three different Prep classes for one hour each a week. Part of my role this year is to model and build exemplary classrooms that use technology effectively, that showcase how digital tools can be used in the classroom to benefit student learning. So I figured I would start by trying to build some excitement around this, I started with sixty 4 and 5-year-olds and one iPad. Fun! I suppose I wanted to prove to teachers at my school, others who may not be convinced by how digital tools can positively impact student learning and maybe prove to myself a little that I could accomplish something pretty amazing with Prep students…after teaching years five and six for the last two years, I was a little nervous and not sure where to start. I suppose my challenge here was to do something teachers were already familiar with doing in the classroom but transform and redefine how this could look using digital technologies. And so it began… Read more

Organising my Studies with Evernote

I have long blogged about using Evernote for teaching and how I use it in the classroom and with my students but this time I thought I would share about how I am using Evernote as part of my studies. I am currently studying two subjects for my Masters of Education (Information Technologies) and after this semester will only have two subjects to go (insert happy dance here). I am so incredibly busy, between work, extra curricular commitments, travel and a serious family illness, I still had to keep up to date with my studies. It has been full on but thanks to Evernote I have felt calm and organised.

A few weeks ago I set up my studies notebook in a particular way as I knew I would need to not just have my stuff saved in Evernote but organised so when the time came, I could sit down to my work and think clearly about the task at hand.

I have one notebook for both subjects-

Within that notebook I have saved all of my assignment details and due dates, subject readings and study materials. However if this was all just in the notebook I would have to search through it to find what I want- at this stage tagging would probably come in handy for some people…but I am not good at tagging- rarely (if ever) remembering to do so. Instead I use the reminders feature to pin certain notes to the top of my view. Read more

Welcoming the New School Year- Evernote Style #2

This is an update of a post that I wrote at the beginning of 2013, but in just one year there have been many updates that have changed the way I do a few things in Evernote.

Here are my top tips for preparing for your new school year with Evernote-

1. Set up a Notebook for each of your students. I like to do this because as the year goes by you will collect evidence of student learning and it is kept all in the one spot, easily accessible and extremely handy when writing mid year and end of year student reports. It is also handy when you have parent-teacher interviews. View my Evernote Infographic for a visual.

2. Stay organised with checklists. Evernote has a nifty check box feature that I use for to do lists, keeping track of student homework, home reading and curriculum outcomes.

3. Go Paperless with Reading Assessment. If you have an iPad, why not start taking running records using using Skitch which is now a one app process- no need to leave Evernote to annotate an image. Don’t forget to record the audio of your students reading for an even more powerful assessment tool. Read more

2014 Calendar Templates for Evernote

I love having a simple calendar in Evernote to use when planning different things. In the past, I have used calendar templates in Evernote as part of my planning for trips and holidays, creating itineraries, booking student meetings and conferences, keeping track of and documenting student behaviour issues and general calendar items.

I love that with Evernote I can use my calendar templates combined with the Evernote Reminders feature. I can also add note links within my calendar note which link to related notes of things that I need to do or are important. I know many people use third party calendar apps that may integrate with Evernote but I hate having so many accounts and apps. I already have too many, so I try and find ways of making Evernote work for me without using third party apps.

To create my calendar templates, I download free Word versions from the web or use the Word calendar template creator.

Here is a simple example of a month view calendar in Evernote.

Feel free to use and copy any of the 2014 calendar templates– Read more

Google Street View Treks in the Primary Classroom

I am really excited to have found Google Street View Treks. Treks let you travel to some of the most amazing and most well renowned sites all over the world, all from sitting in front of your computer. What an exciting opportunity for the classroom!

Some of the places and icons include Mt Everest, the Grand Canyon, Venice, the Kennedy Space Centre and the Great Barrier Reef, with more destinations expected to be added.

When you navigate to Google Street View Treks and scroll down the page, you are presented with some spectacular photos of the places you can ‘visit’. When you select a destination you can read the information about it, as well as interact with Street View and maps. You can then select ‘Explore in Views’ to further investigate this wonderful places. Read more

Death by Anchor Chart!

It has become quite a running joke with my year 5/6 students that I am obsessed with posters- or ‘anchor charts’ in our classroom. For months I have continued to brush off their comments, believing what I have always been told…that students need these visual displays that have ‘captured their learning’…that I was creating a ‘print rich’ classroom environment that gives my students (and visitors to the room) a clear image of our classroom culture and what we are currently learning about. I had often been told by casual replacement teachers that they were appreciative of the (many) charts as they found it easy to pick up and teach if I was absent. I was commended by other staff, with many often coming in to take pictures for their own ideas. I loved the colours and maybe became a little too obsessed about which textas and paper I would use…only the best would do. A simple Google or Pinterest search delivers hundreds of brightly coloured, aesthetic charts teachers have proudly uploaded to the internet.

One day some students asked to share with the class an iMovie they had worked on in their free time, I was more than happy to allow them to excitedly share their finished product. Read more

Collecting Assessment Data with Evernote

Last year I wrote a post about how Evernote has dramatically improved how I report on student progress. As report writing time has now crept up again for Australian schools, I thought it was the perfect time to write about my developments in this process.

At the beginning of the school year, from the very first day, I have been collecting an array of student work quickly, efficiently and productively all within my Evernote account. The types of things I have collected about my students include-

  • Samples of writing
  • Audio recordings of reading
  • Videos of student explanations and answers to maths problems
  • Student reflections (written and recorded)
  • Anecdotal notes
  • Reading group notes and assessments
  • Photos of students working, managing their learning and demonstrating teamwork
  • Learning goals and achievements
  • Copies of pre and posts tests and assessment tasks
  • Records of home reading and homework habits

As a result, when I pulled out my iPad to begin writing reports last weekend, I was again, pleasantly surprised to feel so at ease and confident in writing quality reports for my students in a fraction of the time it would have taken me two years ago (before Evernote). I didn’t have to carry tub loads of books and assessments home because I had all the data I needed at the tip of my fingers, ready to go! I love that there is no need for comment banks as all student assessment data is personal and individualised, just the way student reports should be. Read more

Evernote Clearly and Web Clipper

When planning lessons and thinking about topics I am going to teach, I always ensure I research to see what other teachers have done, to get new ideas or to clarify my thoughts and understandings. I’m also a Masters student so am constantly reading articles on the web and am now in the habit of ‘clipping’ these articles or things I may want to refer back to at a later date, into Evernote. I have never been a good ‘bookmarker’, I tried social bookmarking, it was a fad for a while but I gave up. I also have saved bookmarks to my local devices but the inability to access these across platforms annoys me quite a bit. I love the way I can save different websites and articles I find right into my Evernote account.

The Evernote Web Clipper allows you to save anything you see on the web quickly and easily straight into your Evernote account. You can clip a full page, single article or just the URL and save it to a designated Notebook and add tags. Your web clips then become searchable within your Evernote account. Doing this allows me to have all of my information at the tip of my fingers, right when I need it and across my multiple devices. Read more

Twitter In My Classroom

In November 2011 I blogged about how I used Twitter in a mathematics lesson on chance and probability with a group of year two students. Since then, just over a year ago, Twitter has become an integral part of my classroom program. So much so that last week I was contacted by Jewel Topsfield, the education editor at The Age Newspaper who wrote an article about how Twitter is being used in the education field – T is for Teaching. After receiving so much attention from the article, I realised that using Twitter with my year five and six students had become such a normal part of the daily activities in my classroom that I had forgotten that what my students and I are doing is still something that many educational professionals perceive as ‘taboo’, that there are still so many people out there that believe social media plays no part in the education of these ‘digital native’ students we teach everyday.

Photo: Jason South

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