When I was on spring break, several social media vs school opinion pieces came through my feed. (let me insert here how nice it was to have time to actually read items that came through on my feed instead of just scanning them).
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know we have to be careful. I know we need to be prudent. BUT so much of what education is IS about building relationships. I personally know the power of using the internet to build relationships. Several people, who were complete strangers years ago, are no longer. They are not only good, but great friends. Somewhere there is a fine line between being a professional and being a person. I think in our attempt to remain professional, districts have drawn heavy lines farther back than they needed to be.
In addition, we are actually judged as teachers by how well we convey 21st century ideas. I was at the Title 1 conference in Seattle and had the privilege of hearing William Daggett. He asked about technologies teachers are using and the list was surprisingly short. So this raises the question, why aren’t we as educators at least embracing technologies appealing to our students?
Then I read this one on Edutopia by Stephen Anderson who is in WSFCS. Along with a couple of other staffers, they developed a simple document that was not pages and pages long and not full of more dos and don’ts than can be remembered.
I’ve got to say, it gives me hope that we can figure out a way as teachers to realistically use social media in our classrooms and that districts will loosen the reigns a bit so that it can happen.
I want to thank Lisa Jacobson-Brown @ Pearson for a review copy of this book.
First, Evernote is a nice little free app to help organize your life. It’s easy to use and it syncs on all your devices. There is an online component so you can access it from any computer with Internet access.
Evernote is not difficult to use if are at all computer savvy. But when given the opportunity to look at the book, I thought it would be loaded with the things I couldn’t figure out on my own. I’m not sure that’s true, but I did learn some things from the book that saved me some digging around time in the Evernote Forum. This is a very slick book btw. The pages are thick and glossy. It’s full of pictures and easy to use.
The book covers the very basics of downloading, making notes and editing them. I hadn’t intended to use Evernote for anything but keeping myself organized across devices, but it’s got potential to do more along the lines of word processing and publishing. You can add images, add bits of web material, make audio notes. Work is organized in notebooks and can be organized and reorganized. You can share notes with others. I did that a couple of Saturdays ago when I’d been taking notes for a meeting. I just emailed them to all the participants, and we all looked at the same digital page on what ever device was at hand.
A couple of things the book does very well: Really good tips about Evernote are noted in green boxes. Disappointing things about Evernote are noted in red boxes. On a personal note, I had an issue with spacing for a new font and size. The lines overlapped and not only was it illegible, it printed that way. Yuck. So I went to the book and couldn’t find an answer. Couldn’t find one on the forum either. Both may be that I didn’t look in the right place or use the right search terms.
IMHO, this is a pricey book for a free app with an excellent blog and forum. If you aren’t comfortable on the computer and want to try Evernote, this book will get you though the basics and into its advanced features step-by-step.
Some of the kids had a hard time with the submit button. They didn’t intuitively know to click it when they were done. I’ll admit that seems a bit odd to me, but . . .
Some things I learned along the way:
I had to add a place for the students to put their name in at the top. I should have had a first name and a last name box for sorting on the spreadsheet.
I should have also had a box for them to indicate their class. Easily fixable on the spreadsheet, but I could have taken care of it up front.
I had 10 multiple choice question with the last one being a free response. s
The google spreadsheet is a little awkward to deal with, but it easily downloads to excel which is easier.
My questions were all on the top row. Some were pretty complex, so they took up a lot of room. I cut those and put them on the second page of the spreadsheet.
I made the key on the first row of the spreadsheet. This helped with grading.
I added a column after the name for grade.
As I graded, I put wrong answers in red. I like red. Kids aren’t going to see this and it stands out nicely. This also gives me a great visual looking down the column as to which objectives are strong and weak.
Some of the kids turned in multiple copies. It was obvious some just kept hitting the submit button, because each was identical. But it was interesting on some to see a progression of correct answers. However, one that turned in several had completely random answers each time. So I learned something about what that one knows too.
I had kept the free response pretty simple – just to get them used to it and for me to see what they could do. It was a word problem and I asked them to tell me about one (and only one) step. A few did just that. Most gave the answer instead. Some however worked the entire problem in the same way we’ve been working word problems in class. It was interesting to see how how clever they could get representing model drawing in a text box.
One of the drawbacks I found in writing this test is that Google Forms does not have the ability to link. So, I couldn’t insert an image in a problem nor could I link to an associated page of images. That’s a bummer.