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Monday, 18 June 2012

Observations Made Easier with Smartpens

I’ve been using a smart pen for a while now and I just love it. I was showing a colleague recently and she said, “You need to tell people about this!” I replied, “I do.” And then I realized it is one idea we share in our August sessions when Sandra Herbst and I help people get ready for the upcoming school year but you might not get to attend this summer’s Institutes in the Comox Valley, BC or in Mississauga, Ontario so...

Imagine, a pen that records everything you write and hear. Think about the possibilities:

  • You and a group of students are having a focused discussion about where they are expected to make high-level connections. Once again you are keeping notes. And, along with those notes are the recorded voices of each participant. Now you have recorded evidence of the kinds of connections and contributions students are making during focused discussions from early in the term and from later in the term.

  • You’re conferencing with a student. As you make notes, the student’s voice and your entire conversation is recorded.

  • You’re doing a running record. You’ve printed the text on the Livescribe paper. As the student reads, you make the notes about corrections, substitutions and so on. While you do your note taking, the student’s reading is also recorded. When you check for understanding, the student’s responses are recorded. You have a complete record. One that is a product, an observation, and a recorded conversation. Powerful evidence.

  • Consider a learning conversation with a student whom you have identified as needing additional support. You are collecting evidence to support your case. Imagine keeping your notes while you are interacting with the student, and then, later, when you meet with your school-based team to plan additional support, having them hear the actual interactions.

  • Consider preparing for end-of-the year conferences. Students record the highlights of the past year. As they are sharing with you, you record and add in your thoughts regarding additional events worth celebrating. This becomes irrefutable evidence and a source of text for those final report cards.

  • When meeting with colleagues, you can have an easy record of what was accomplished and what ‘take away tasks’ you committed to doing.

I find myself taking my pen and notebook along to any appointments just so I have a record. It is so easy to use and the recordings are easy to retrieve. Paper comes in a variety of shapes and forms. You can also print your own. It is easy. You might want to have a look at the videos on their website so you can imagine how you could use it. Livescribe smart pens are easy to find in North America (and probably elsewhere). 

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