Using GoodNotes for Great Notes (and more…)

eLearning eXpress – 15/12/16

This week saw the last eLearning eXpress of the year. Neil Henderson (@neilhtweet), Deputy Headteacher and iPad guru, led a session on some of the finer points of using GoodNotes. We’ve been using this app since the beginning of our iPad roll-out and it is used frequently across the school by students and staff (some staff are currently trialling using it with certain groups as a replacement for exercise books, though some pieces of work will always be done on paper).

This session was about raising awareness amongst staff about some of the key features (and potential pitfalls) for staff using it as a personal tool and for staff using it with students. And when used effectively it is a rather powerful tool indeed…

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Photo Credit: ericpalmer3181 Flickr via Compfight cc

As a school which has committed to 1-to-1 iPad deployment, it is essential that we keep a close and critical eye on where their usage enhances – and where it undermines – learning. This means supporting teachers and students not only in knowing how to use a specific app, but also in terms of knowing when to use a specific app: what can it do that will make some aspect of learning ‘better’? How can it add to the learning experience? What are the top tips for reducing the potential for things to go wrong or distract from the learning?

 

(Neil’s presentation is available in full here as a pdf)

So, why GoodNotes?

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Organisation…

Knowing how to keep GoodNotes organised is key to it being useful. In the same way as we want students to keep their exercise books organised (some departments even go so far as to have separate books for ‘exercises’ and for ‘models’ or ‘revision’), there seems little value in having random bits and pieces scattered all over the place. This is particularly pertinent when we are looking to ensure students have notebooks that are backed up and carefully manicured (with content, notes, weblinks, screenshots etc) that can then be used for revision.

 

Using the notebooks…

At the heart of it, this is what GoodNotes is all about – creating exercise books rich with content from multiple sources. Images, typed text, handwritten text, screenshots, pdf’s (which remain searchable), drawings, weblinks… There aren’t many exercise books where you can do all of that!

 

Bringing stuff across from (and sending stuff back to) Showbie…

Bringing documents across from Showbie is something you might like to do in terms of using GoodNotes as a central storage system to avoid having pieces of work spread across different apps. GoodNotes also offers a more refined (read ‘better’) approach to writing, annotating, highlighting etc than Showbie (although Showbie remains our go-to app for submitting work and communicating back and forth… see this post on giving verbal feedback from a distance, and this post on self-assessment for more suggestions on using Showbie! )

 

Backing-up and archiving…

We have our students backing-up to Google Drive, but it can be easily done with iCloud or other apps. We also encourage students to archive notebooks to Foldr (which is used fairly extensively across the school to allow students to access space in their user areas on the main school network).

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Further help…

As well as the presentation from this session (which is available in full here as a pdf), Neil has put together a sequence of videos, designed mainly for our students to self-help but ideal for supporting teachers as well. Go here to see them!

The GoodNotes website has a handy user guide with a few other specific features worth noting as well. Go here to see it!

Follow @GoodNotesapp on twitter for tips and links to handy blogs etc.

 

 

 

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Models and Modelling

#15MinForum – 1/12/16

Published earlier this month, this guide from What Works Clearinghouse (@WhatWorksED) on ‘Teaching Secondary Students to Write Effectively’ reminded me of a conversation I’d had with Mike Coll, Subject Leader for History and one of our newly appointed Lead Teachers on the Extended Leadership Team, around ideas to do with modelling.

One of the things that came up in that conversation was a feeling that some of the work we’ve done over the last 18 months in relation to assessment and success criteria may have emphasised the value of ‘using models’ (i.e. pieces of work shared to set a standard of expectation, to unpack success criteria or refine student approaches to self- and peer-assessment), but has perhaps overlooked the value of ‘live modelling’… And so Mike led our most recent 15 Minute Forum on this very theme.

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Photo Credit: mion.danny Flickr via Compfight cc

Mike started by sharing the journey he has had in terms of his own thinking, particularly in relation to the fact that he used to spend a lot of time preparing and providing model answers. He suggested that they are useful in terms of giving an idea of what excellence will look like, but no matter how carefully you might go about using it as an opportunity to tease the detail out of a mark scheme or the success criteria, for many students giving them the model and then saying ‘now get on with it’ can be daunting and unrealistic. And that is where the live modelling comes in…

 

The purposes of modelling

“Using model answers can show students what they should be achieving – modelling should provide them with the techniques and processes to help them to actually achieve it.”

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I particularly like this last one. In the context of wanting our lessons to challenge students and really make them think hard, modelling reality shows them that struggle is normal – it is ok to be stuck! Being stuck should be highlighted and endorsed, and through modelling we can demonstrate strategies for overcoming challenge and getting unstuck.

 

In much the same way, Mike highlighted that when modelling how to construct an answer in History, he’ll occasionally make mistakes or omissions and then redraft as necessary. Again, this message is an important one – keep tinkering until your work is excellent!

On occasion, this might even go as far as to involve a bit of drama in the classroom. It isn’t acting as such, but really externalising the thought process and making clear to students what you are thinking and doing.

 

Here are a few of the other strategies that Mike shared in relation to modelling:

  • Collaborative modelling. Ask a student to get it started, and then invite others to contribute the next part or suggest revisions.
  • Comparative modelling. Give a couple of models and get students to evaluate them. In the History setting, Mike identified that this has had an impact on getting students to think carefully about what the question being asked of them, rather than simply writing down all of the stuff they happen to know about a topic referenced in the question!
  • Deconstruction. Give an example paragraph (or get one from a student/group) and then deconstruct it by identifying specific skills. For example in History, underline/highlight in one colour where there is evaluation of extracts, in another colour where these evaluations have been supported with evidence, and in a third colour where the answer demonstrates an awareness of historical context.

 

The Clearinghouse guide unpacks this idea a bit further, including some example statements that a teacher might use…modelling-example-1-8

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For more on modelling, this post over at Class Teaching is well worth a few minutes… it was a source of inspiration for this session!