January 28, 2013

Digital Storytelling


I came across this article about digital storytelling that helped me view an interesting way to help children develop communication skills.  If you are not familiar with digital storytelling, the idea is that stories are created by the students and told while using digital media (images, voice recordings, video) to depict their stories.  Digital storytelling is done in many different countries (the article shows a group of students working on a project in Croatia) and can be shared electronically just about anywhere.

Digital Storytelling Article

The take away from the article is that the process of using digital storytelling helps children develop much needed communication skills, especially for vulnerable and special needs children.  It briefly described how this has been applied to special needs learners in Switzerland, Croatia, Italy, Mexico and Brazil.  

Digital storytelling ranks high on the SAMR model where we visualize the transformational way we can use iPads to help students engage enough to develop important skills in both in 21st century technology and in communication. 

January 03, 2013

Student Portfolios Using Evernote from Any Device

iPad and PC users alike have inquired about a way to keep portfolios of student work that can be accessed from any device.  What I like about portfolios is that they give an academic picture of the student's learning over the course of time.  It can hold example pieces of work, show students' learning progress, and give parents an even better understanding of what their children are doing.  Some teachers are even showing these online portfolios at parent conferences.  I have been gathering procedures from teachers around MMSD on methods for creating electronic student portfolios.

Student portfolios can be kept online from any device (PC with internet, webstation or iPad) using a site called Evernote.  What's great about this site is that the portfolios can be kept over the entire time the student holds the account.  This means that comparisons between grade levels are that much easier to determine, especially with good rubrics.  I have talked in the past about pre-made rubrics, which can be found here on http://edteacher.org -- Seriously:  Using a pre-made rubric will save you SO MUCH TIME.

Here's an example way to use Evernote:
1.  The student creates an account in Evernote by going to http://evernote.com and clicking CREATE AN ACCOUNT.  For students that may be too young to do this, you may have to create their accounts for them.  On the iPad, they can do this from the app.  You can use their student email address and password for these accounts; that way they're easier to remember.

2.  Each student can then create a NOTEBOOK which will be the electronic portfolio.  The Notebook can contain any file the student wants to share, such as:
  • images
  • videos
  • student recordings such as those recorded from the iPad ShowMe app, or Educreations which can link directly to Evernote (Educreations also requires an account, but you can use the same email address and password as Evernote's, and it's accessible from both the iPad and PC)
  • iWorks projects such as Pages or Keynote
  • MS Office documents such as Word, Powerpoint or Excel files
  • links to websites they would like to revisit, or a web project they are doing
3.  The student can create multiple Notebooks, so if you are interested in having them keep a portfolio by subject area, this would work well.

4.  Each student account comes with its own customized email address.  Emailing items to this email address will automatically send the file to the Evernote account.  The downside is that the address is difficult to memorize.  Perhaps adding it to a contact list in the student's Gmail account with a simple word so that the address comes up when the word is typed in the TO field of their email.
NOTE:  Email must be set up on the iPad to send work to Evernote.  I talk about setting up email on the iPad here.

5.  The student then shares the Notebook with the teacher, and the Notebook is updated every time there is a change in the Notebook.

6.  The student can also generate a link to their Notebooks so that their parents can see their work.

These are just some ways to use Evernote.  If you have a different way for keeping electronic portfolios, I'd love to hear about them.