Feedback After an Evernote and iPad Workshop

I recently hosted a one hour technology session for district staff. The topic: Using Evernote on the iPad to Confer With and Assess Readers.

Afterward, I emailed each participant a survey via Google Forms to gather feedback. The last question I posed was, “What is one way you see using Evernote with the iPad in your current teaching position?” Here are their responses:

“I plan to have students read and record them, then play back. I am working on fluency with a lot of kids and I would like them to hear themselves. I’m not sure on the conferencing part/note taking yet, but we’ll see as I mess with it. With things like this I don’t make plans, I just jump in and see where it takes me.”

“I plan on recording students’ one minute reading fluency assessments and then embedding a picture of the actual passage they read with miscues and self-corrections marked. I am also going to take a pic of a page in their independent reading book and record them reading as part of my ‘running records on the fly'”

“I plan to record running records and allow students to hear themselves read, both immediately after reading and later on in the year (to show growth).”

“Photograph and save student work samples using hash tags so that I can easily access them later.”

“During running records: record students’ reading of the selection in order to score/check the record at a later time. This allows for me to focus on fluency during the assessment as well as have documentation of the students’ reading at that point in time.”

“I plan to use this when I conference with my students. It is my hope to try this today!”

“I could see myself taking a picture of what a student is working on and sharing it with the classroom teacher.”

“In Reading Intervention, I could record a students’ reading of a passage and replay it for them to hear. Together we could discuss strengths and weaknesses and set goals for improvement.”

“I plan to use Evernote by making notes as I meet with students during guided reading groups. Each group is reading a different book that they were able to choose. I will use it to create a notebook for each group. – Jot down their predictions and record audio of students reading and/or our group discussions at the end of each chapter.”

“I don’t have my own iPad, so I don’t see myself continuing with this. Maybe having your own iPad should be a requirement for this course.”

“I find this to be effective for my guided reading. I can keep all of my notes together instead of having a post-it here and a post-it there. I can view my notes from home too without having to bring my notes home with me.”

“I started using Evernote the next day. I took pictures of student tradition writing and them recorded their voice reading it. Next I am going to use volunteers to display on reflection and go through the process of editing on the SMARTboard.”

I am scheduled to run this workshop again for Central Wisconsin reading teachers in January. This information is invaluable to me as I think about how I will change my instruction to better meet the needs of the participants.

Replacement Practices

“Is most of students’ time spent practicing and applying what you have been teaching, or is a disproportionate amount of time spent following your directions? Is most of your time spent putting up bulletin pard displays, planning elaborate projects, and marking papers, or is most of your time spent thinking and reflecting about teaching and learning to move students forward?” – Regie Routman, Teaching Essentials

A few years ago, my wife and I were looking for a new house. One place we visited had lots of updates one would expect of a slightly older home. When the realtor told us the price, I thought it was a bit high. His response: “They put in $30,000. The asking price reflects this.”

I don’t believe this is necessarily how realty works. Homeowners are expected to keep up their property with periodic maintenance. What updates were made? Did they make the home a better place to live? Or was it merely cosmetic and necessary, replacing the same with the same?

This metaphor could be applied to teaching.

Some of us continue to favor a few older practices, even when new ones are being introduced that are a better alternative. This may be one of the reasons for feeling overworked and subsequently stressed out. What do we give up? What do we add? Focused conversations with colleagues, deep reflection on the part of the individual, and a willingness to forgive oneself for past actions could help this process, referred to as “replacement practices” (Stephanie Harvey?).

I know a teacher who gets to school every day around eight. She leaves shortly after students are dismissed. In between these times, the students are doing the work. The teacher provides quick, explicit instruction using authentic text. She spends the majority of her day conferring with readers and writers. Her purpose is to ask them questions, notice what they are doing well, and guide them toward the learning target. The assessment occurs during the day by both the student and the teacher, and less often at night in the form of papers to grade. Technology is used to support and augment her instruction. She gains time back with efficient use of these tools. Very little of her time is spent on _____ that do little to impact student learning (fill in the blank).

I don’t know if the metaphor works, but this is my vision of a 21st century educator.