Tuesday, October 30, 2012

How I use my Livescribe Echo Pen in the Classroom

Livescribe logo

I am an everyday user of my Livescribe Echo smartpen, in fact I just upgraded to the 8gb model.   Livescribe announced yesterday their next "Sky" pen.  The new pen is designed to take advantage of wifi integration and have a native connection to evernote.  I am completely drooling of the new features, but since I don't have a sky pen to review yet I want to walk you through my day with my smartpen.

Brings Chaos to my Notebooks, and Compensates for my Sloppy Notebook Organization

I teach 9th grade English and I am the Dean of Student Advising.  The pen serves me well in both of these roles.  I am a list maker as well as a notebook collector, and few of my notebooks are full.  My pen collects the writing I do in various sources (I have a flip notebook, a portfolio A4 size, a single subject 8.5 x 11, post-its, a bound journal, and I use the self-printed note books).  Later in the day I can find the lists I have made, and all of the notes I have written, even if I handed the post-it to a student, because all of the documents are stored in my pen and view-able on my computer as well as exportable.

I can use the option to create a notebook to make a notebook on my computer that pulls together all of the notes I have written about the Odyssey in a variety of different notebooks.

For managing my work and keeping track of my notes I use mainly the writing capture features of the pen, but once I step into the classroom the audio capture utilities come to the front of the stage.

Captures my Class and Makes the Moment Re-visit-able

Content Capture is the key to the transformation I have enacted in my classroom.  It used to be that if a students did not understand or hear what I was saying in class they had missed it.  Now my students have an opportunity to "go back" into the key pieces of instruction and improve their understanding.

I use a combination of the Smartpen, projector, and document camera.  This puts my note pad in front of the class so they can see what I am writing.

Echo platform records, connects, and more
Ease of use is the factor that keeps a tool in my workflow or relegates it to the file cabinet of technology long abandoned. (currently on file my stand alone audio CD burner, 2 VCRs, a cassette recorder, an early model flatbed scanner and a video camera that uses VHS-C tapes).  The smartpen exports simply and quickly allowing me to choose between image only(PNG or PDF), audio only(MP4), or paired image and audio (pencast).

I can upload or embed these files to our LMS (we use schoology, but edmoto, edline, or any blog site will do this too).  With the connection scripts set up, I can do this in about 1 minute.  When I am trying to decide if I will use a piece of technology in my classroom this is my choke point.  If the tool requires too much post-production or has too great a risk of total failure, I will not use it.  My Smartpen only fails when I forget to turn it on. (so it also has limited user error).

Promotes Asynchronous Learning (or makes me flip-ready)

The ability to record something has so many potential uses, here are 2 I am really excited about.  The first is working with one of our students with learning differences.   Part of his accommodation plan includes having a test reader.  The biology teacher used the smart pen to record herself reading the test.  When the student took the test he was able to click on the question number with the smartpen and hear the instructor reading the question.  The student loved it.  In the past he had a hard time with this accommodation because he felt like he was wasting his reader's time.   He reported being much more comfortable using the smart pen and being able to click on the question as many times as he needed. 

The second use I love this year is my ability to move some of the time-consuming reading comprehension work outside of my class.  As we read The Odyssey, I am reading the text into my smartpen and writing down the line numbers.  This creates a read-along index.  I work with the kids and show them that when they get stuck they can click on the relevant line number and hear me read the section and briefly discuss what themes are active in that section.  Here is the document I created for book 9.
Odyssey Book 9
brought to you by Livescribe

While I admire teachers who are making videos of themselves teaching, Kahn academy style, I still don't have the equipment or the knowledge to make videos in a timely manner.  The Livescribe pen has allowed me to make my lesson more accessible to my students and it has allowed me to change how I spend my time in class.

Do you have questions about using a Smartpen?  Please leave them in the comments.  Suggestions on how I can up my game?  Leave those to.  Thanks for taking the time to learn with me, learning is living.

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Prompt for Talking about Isolation

 In response to the theme of 'isolation' I have been hearing in my discussions with students

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Gadget of the Day, Ipad Apps for Ed (part 2)

Time and again I repeat the refrain "It is not about the Apps."  This continues to be true, when applying tech in the classroom, start from your objective and let the tools assist you, don't begin planning with the tech.

Having said that, here are some notes on Apps I like and use.

Browsing: None of the browsers have the flexibility to manage Blog post composition, for that I sometimes use bloggsy, but 9 times out of 10 I just open the laptop.  I am really beginning to see this as a limitation of hardware (memory, screen space, keyboard) more than a limitation of browser.

Safari: Hooray for the default browser.  when I was first using Safari a little over a year ago I was frustrated.  Since then the browser has matured and works for most of what I need it to do.  

Chrome: I love the incognoito tabs, and the availability of a wide range of plug-ins.  When I get frustrated in Safari, this is the first stop.  I like to have several browsers to choose from and Chrome is one I alsways want available to view my work in a couple of different browsers.

Puffin: I bought this browser and it is my "flash secret weapon."  I think that the browser is actually loading the webpages on a proxy someplace and then sending it along via a remote-desktop-like mechanism.  This is evident in the lag as you wait fot he browser to connect and then refresh.  While it might seem a bit more slow, it almost always works.  When I need to check a setting or fix a layout in blogger (requires flash inside of flash), Puffin gets the job done.  

Superpowers: I have these apps on my Ipad and I think I could really do cool stuff with them, but I haven't put the time into them

Ignition: This allows me to connect to my desktop through my Ipad.  The cool part of this is I can control presentations on my IWB from the Ipad.  I also discovered I could open my web-cam and remote view into my classroom from ANYWHERE.  Pairing this with my remote microphone allows me to see and talk to my class without them knowing where I am.  This, it turns out is super-creepy and rarely pedagogically helpful.

Netmaster: This app, at the minimum allows me to see my network.  Beyond that, I don't know what it does.  I suspect I could do and know some great things, but mainly this app is here because it seems lame to have only one app in a category labeled "superpowers."  I think this app might me a radioactive spider, but I have not yet been bitten.

Building your PLN: follow these Education Hashtags

Popular Educational Twitter Hashtags
I love this Infographic Compiled By: OnlineCollegeCourses.com

Friday, October 19, 2012

An Open Letter to my Past Teachers

a letter of gratitude to my past teachers.  Thank you for meeting me with a smile, even when I was a relentless smartass.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Parent's Guide to Responding to College Essays

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Why Digital Handwriting Matters

College Essay Guide for Parents (pt2)

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Power of Handwriting

A Parents' Guide to College Essays

Created using a Livescribe pen

Sunday, October 14, 2012

It's College Essay Season

This entry was handwritten using a Livescribe SmartPen.

Digital Handwriting as Content Creation

Link to another discussion of Handwriting

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Building Your PLN- Gratitude Builds Relationships

When I work with my kids on digital citizenship I talk about Personal learning Networks and how they are an ongoing exchange.  One of the best ways you can interact with others is to share your own gratitude.  As a case in point, My wife runs the site soundsofsilentspirits.org, and the accompanying facebook page.  Recently she put together a post thanking people in animal rescue for the work they do.

She didn't do this the generate page views, she did it because animal rescue work is very emotionally engaging and difficult.  In almost no time the post went crazy.  When I pulled this screen shot the post had over 21 THOUSAND shares.    My wife and I have been talking about this, and not just because I am competitive.

When I told her how the post had taken off she was completely surprised, especially since the revision of facebook pages our views have been down considerably.  This post connected with people and motivated them to share, and this is all the power of honest gratitude.  As my wife often reminds me: find your gratitude and don't keep it a secret.

Monday, October 8, 2012

From Digital Native to Digital Citizen Without Repeating the Mistakes of Colonialism

In honor of Columbus Day, I am pushing this outline into at least a short version of what will be a longer work.

I hear the term Digital Native in discussions used to describe our students who have always lived with technology and the internet.

As I was musing on the variations and implications of the extension of digital native (think digital colonialism, digital imperialism) we risk viewing our kids and students as digital noble savages.  The internet is a culture thing and becoming a good citizen is about learning effective behaviors.

As I assemble my resources and plan for my ongoing digital citizenship units, I am using the following as a guide.

Keeping the kids engaged in a BYOT class is not a hardware or software issue, it is a pedagogy issue

1. Recognize and value the culture.  Student come into my class with a unique set of user experiences.  I have to acknowledge and value these preexisting skills.  They may well be transferable.

2. Evaluate, recognize and praise best practices.  Digital citizenship involves writing and students only grow as writers when they have ongoing feedback.  As they try new things we need to give them feedback and support.  We build good digital citizens by working side by side.

3. Model mindful and purposeful internet use. You have to be the user you want your students to be.  When I open up my twitter and I discuss the people in my PLN, they know I am telling the truth.  The students can see me as I work.  I allow them to follow me, but I don't usually follow them with my work-twitter because they don't build the resources I need in that account.

What lessons from history do you think we can apply to teaching?  Share in the comments below

Friday, October 5, 2012

Building your PLN, Assisted Curation: Scoop.it and Storify

This post is the second is a series looking at types of curation.  Today I want to explore assisted curation with you.  In assisted curation the user selects from suggested topics or search results.  In Scoop.it I created a Topic and set up a few ongoing searches.  This creates a bank of stories I actively curate.  I can discard a story or "scoop it" into my topic.

The Curated Content from Scoop.it can improve the quality of your content across several platforms.
1. Feed your Feeds
As I scoop a story I include it in my topic, but I also get the option of publishing the story individually to my Twitter feed, FaceBook page, and LinkedIn posts.  This gives me a great rich content source for my PLN.  Finding and sharing good content is one of the ways I serve my learning community.

2. Embed it
My Scoop.it topic has an embed code with a number of different formats.  This allows me to embed a scoop.it on my blog and be able to update and modify the feature without ever signing in to the blog.  As i keep my topic updated, the embedded topic remains up to date automatically

3. Share it with others on Scoop.it
Scoop.it's full potential is realized when users know about other topics and suggest stories to other users.  When I am sorting threw the suggestions left for me, I always have the option of suggesting the story to another user or topic.  I have done this a couple of times, but even though I can see many users from my Twitter-based PLN I have not exchanged much with them on Scoop.it.

Storify is assisted in that they have brought several platforms to the same window and made it easy to search and grab content.  

Storify gives you a "first-person" experience as the reader, you "see" the tweets.  Storify also allows you to add notes to the original tweets.  One of the best ways to see the potential is to let the tool speak for itself: