Literacy and Collaboration Using NOTEBOOK Style apps in any class, for any topic (yes, science and math, too!)
Stephanie Rivera, SBHS firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
Do you need some ideas on how to implement more LITERACY in your classroom?
Are you searching for ways to make your lesson more “Common Core Style?”
Are you seeking to engage students with one another AND the content?
I have had great success using notebook apps on a class set of iPads to get students writing and reading about chemistry content. They have used to the apps to create individual presentations or work collaboratively. The opportunity for peer editing is endless. Students will also be able to “dive deep” into a topic and apply their knowledge. There is always room for teacher input, and in this venue, the students can immediate feedback from both you and their peers in real time.
Type of technology: mobile app
Grade level: Any
Subject area: All
SAMR Model Rating: Augmentation to Redefinition
Redefinition (teacher and student): I like to use this app to regularly incorporate interactive LITERACY into a lesson. I trained my students to use the app to quickly formulate answers to DoNow questions. I pose a question/situation and the “families” of students work collaboratively to BOTH write an explanation/answer AND draw a diagram.
Cost: Others cost between $2-20. The paid apps can be downloaded via cloud onto a total of 10 devices, so I am able to purchase them once on my iPad and then download them onto my nine classroom iPads for no cost.
There are a myriad of notebook apps available. Some are free, some have a nominal fee of $2-7, sometimes more. (The adage “you get what you pay for” might apply here, but the really expensive apps are overkill for me.)
Some of the FREE apps a “pro” version offering more features that you can purchase.I have purchased and tried a few, including Notebook, GoodNotes, Doceri, Notability, and HiveBench (a digital lab notebook that the students use for their semester collaborative project).
I started out using free NoteBook but am now using several different apps.
Doceri advertises itself as an “interactive whiteboard, screen casting and remote computer control”, which illustrated the many varied tasks one can accomplish with the notebook apps.
Free notebook apps that I have not tried, but have reviewed include NoteSpirit, Opus Domini, Lenote, NotePad, and EasyNotes. Type “notepad” or “notebook” in the AppStore search box and see what you find that meets your vision!
It will probably take you a few hours to master the options available and distill it down to a quick training session for your class.
For me, the important features to look for, from most to least important, are
•The ability to WRITE both freehand or in type in a textbook.
•The ability to DRAW ideas so that students can include diagrams, math equations, and the ability to mark the text.
•The ability to insert images from the web or one that they take with an in-app camera.
•Voice over option that allows the students to create KahnAcademy style video presentations/tutorials. (For example, the only real difference between GoodNotes and Notability is that the latter has a voice-over option that allows the students to create Kahn Academy style tutorials/lessons that they can share with one another.)
Detailed example of how I use this app for literacy tasks and science content:
Following are results from the very first training session in my CP Chemistry classes in the 2013-14 school year. I show these (instead of newer ones) so that you can see how quickly the students can adapt themselves to these apps, and so that you can see any issues you would want to prepare them to avoid. Also, in this first try, I learned so much about the students and how they perceive the curriculum. Students confessed that they really appreciated being able to see different answers and compare/edit them. My public comments to each group benefited everyone in the room, and the impact of the comments were greater because everyone’s work was still fresh in their minds, and so many of the students were able to have a truly coherent discussion about the content, with a depth that is not possible with the traditional classwork/homework venue.
Here was the lesson: in the Gas Laws unit there is a lot of math, but also quite a bit of theoretical descriptive material, including relationships between the volume, pressure and temperature of a gas sample.
While taking notes on these relationships (known as Kinetic Molecular Theory) one of my students asked, “so why does a bag of chips get all bloated when you take it on an airplane?”
Brilliant question! Instead of answering right away (blah, blah, blah), I busted out the the class set of iPads, displayed the question using the doc cam, and gave these simple instructions:
Answer the question using the concepts of Kinetic Molecular Theory (your notes), being sure to use vocabulary in the notes. You may free-hand write or type your response.
Also, draw and LABEL a diagram illustrating your answer.
Groups of students collaborated and were given 7 minutes to complete their response. I then chose groups at random (using the SmartSeat app – see my post on this HERE) to mirror their response for everyone to analyze. After allowing 3 minutes for analysis and a minute of group discussion, I had each group vote on the quality of the response (using Kahoot’s survey option – see iLearn’s post on that app HERE). The kids voted using this criteria:
Is the response COMPLETE?
Is the response ACCURATE?
Is the diagram CLEAR and EFFECTIVE, ADEQUATELY illustrating the concept?
And chose from these options:
3 – all three requirements are met.
2 – two of the requirements are met, but one is not.
1 – two or more of the requirements are not met.
After seeing its average score, we had a quick discussion about each presentation, with students telling the class why they think the presentation is good, or what is missing, wrong or misleading. I then give my feedback and score.
Depending on the situation, I may have also generated a quick discussion about grammar, punctuation and spelling, but this is when time allows and when there is a great example of what NOT to do.
Here are several responses that groups generated in the 5-10 minutes allotted:
The following three drawings may look perfunctory, but all three of the groups show the change in air density (and thus air pressure), between sea level and the top of “Mt. Chem”. This was key to the explanation. These diagrams are all similar to a diagram in their notes, telling me that these groups all resourced their notes (yay!)
Identifying and clarifying misconceptions:
Several groups made the same mistake as in Samples 1 and 3. This gave me the opportunity to point out the seemingly universal misconception and clarify the concept to the entire class the first time it came up. But then the students were able to identify this error in subsequent responses. I believe that this reinforces the correct concept in ways my droning voice or written examples could never do as effectively!
This brings up a trust issue: if each student group or individual saves their work in a notebook, the teacher will have to build trust with the students and stipulate that copying work out of another notebook completely robs them of this learning experience! So there you go: another teachable moment! 😀
From this exercize the students were given a quick opportunity to
•delve into one of the unit topics in a collaborative manner.
•do some peer editing and evaluation.
•work with material in the notes and apply the concepts to a situation that they might have themselves experienced and wondered about.
•get exposure to great, good and poor literacy skills
•practice putting their thoughts into words (the LITERACY component that we all know is going to show up on the Smarter Balanced standardized tests!!) and…
•corroborating their explanation with a diagram.
I got the opportunity to
•see what was needs to be retaught by noticing what common misconceptions prevailed
•see more exactly how the students are thinking
•give immediate valuable and useful feedback in real time
•generate deeper questions and discussion among the students
Students have let me know that they really enjoy evaluating each other’s responses and that seeing different versions of the explanation already serves to reteach the topic and clear misconceptions and correct errors.
Now here is a surprise: almost ALWAYS the best (most accurate and complete) explanation gets a lower score than some of the mediocre ones!!! I asked them why, and they responded that the best explanation was too long, and had too many vocabulary words I learned that the kids need a lot of help applying their literacy skills outside of the English classroom! They learn it there, but need the rest of us to solidify those skills. They clearly need to apply the skills in varied situations to get good at writing.
Here are some more features and ideas that you may find useful:
– Make as many different notebooks as you want, so students or student groups can save their creations on the “bookshelf”.
Other SAMR rating/ideas: These are the other ways in which I have used these wonderful note-taking apps so far:
Augmentation (TEACHER): You can use your iPad in place of a doc cam while circulating throughout the classroom. For example, while mirroring, you can write answers to problems, make Vin diagrams, discussion lists, etc., or draw diagrams in real time as a response to student questions. Or you can snap a photo of student/group work and instantly mirror for the class to see and discuss. You can even monitor behavior by taking a pic of a student off task and mirroring it as a warning. This of course needs to be preceded by a discussion of norms and a warning that your miss-behavior might be randomly mirrored!
•Using the class set of iPads (from Library) have students photograph each other’s responses using the in-app camera.
Students can make edits together, or edit and comment on each other’s responses. If
GRADING by TEACHER:
•Take a photo of any essay or other assignment with the in-app camera.
•make comments in different colors on the image of the essay
•narrate some of the longer comments instead of having to write it all down.
•send that ShowMe back to the student. You will have a copy of your edits.