How I use my Livescribe Echo Pen in the Classroom

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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.