If you are looking for a way to track students, independently or as part of a team, then I strongly suggest you give Evernote a try.
Evernote is both a website and an app, allowing iPad and laptop users to synchronise their notes onto different devices and with each other no matter what device your colleagues prefer.
It was a winner for me (and now the 1/2 team) over google docs and onenote, because it allows you to easily imbed video, audio and pictures in the moment. The basic app is excellent, and we have each purchased the premium for our accounts for $50.
How I use Evernote
While working at a High school we were charged with the task of integrating science, maths, humanities and english into the one unit. At the time, I used one note to deliver course content, while allowing for additions and alterations from each of the 14 teachers involved. The interface and ease of use of Evernote would have been priceless in this process. I’ve mocked up an example of what one of these might look like (below), so you can see the computer interface.
Another way this would have been useful for us is the “information” button, which allows users to make a URL that can be accessed by anyone, from anywhere. It also allows you to set the author, so when the students sync their notes to you, you can tell whose page you’re looking at (if they forget to put their name in!).
As mentioned above, I am wowed by the ease of use Evernote provides when it comes to student tracking, which is important in an open-plan school were we often have a different mix of children, or the entire 5 classes of 28 working together at once, depending on the activity and lesson.
Below is how I set up my notebooks.
I have one notebook per child, then drag one on top of another to make a “stack”, after that all I have to do is drag each one into the stack. I have made a “stack” for term 1 (highlighted in green) and after using this for a month I think it will become a year-long stack.
You can put as many notes as you want in each notebook, I started with initial information:
A photo, their teacher from last year, family information, (so I can sneakily check what to call their parents and siblings when they come in!) their report results, (to already identify students who need extension and support) and a miscellaneous section for behavioural notes/allergies/any other relevant information.
We have each set up the notebooks in our own way, and to our delight in similar ways! We have notes in each child’s book for Investigations, Literacy, Numeracy, Emotional/Behavioural and Parent Conversations. This is really useful for behavioral issues, as are able to see any behavioral incidents or patterns that we otherwise we may not have had the opportunity to communicate.
I have also found this useful when a student of mine was absent from school for an extended period, and has returned to school for only 2 hours a day. This allows me to track and manage the student’s learning and share this tracking with their parents, so the parents can continue with the same focuses, skills, themes and activities at home.
Then you can invite people via email or make a public link, but I would not do this for files containing confidential information. Evernote have chopped and changed their service, and as we did not want to pay the $139 per person, per month for Evernote Business, I spent about 2 hours sending invites to each member of the team to join each child’s notebook. We then had about 120 emails each, and opened each one to accept each invitation. We didn’t mind this so much because it is something we only have to do once, and it’s better than the alternative.
The recording process is where this program shines.
Below is a screen capture from my ipad, of a file of a student who is new to the school, with the recording tools highlighted.
You can of course type away, or click on the camera to take and embed a photo instantly, hit the button with the little pictures to insert anything from the camera roll (I find this particularly useful when having previously scanned or taken photos of work samples and test results) and the microphone to record audio and imbed it in the file instantly. It also has a nifty page camera for taking photos of documents!
You can imbed videos such as ones they made themselves or ones from “show me” into their files as well.
You can print, copy, mail, tweet or post any notes onto facebook with the share button (highlighted in red).
The search button (highlighted in blue) is useful for finding key words and phrases instantly.