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Going Digital #BeBrave

True confessions of an old school teacher…well, old school in the “paper pencil” sense of the phrase.

I have tried. Every year for the past four years I have tried to go digital. There are so many advantages to going digital. I’ve read them all. You can look right here on Two Writing Teachers and find a slew of posts on digital notetaking. Seriously, here and here for starters! I look at my digital friends, many of whom are co-authors here, and think, why can’t I do it?

Then I am reminded of the many times I have told other writing teachers, do what works for you! If you gain the information that you need from your system then that is all that matters (and I do truly believe this). However, every year, I sit here and think, Maybe I could gain more. Maybe it would actually be easier. I have my current system of note-taking down to a science. I take monitoring notes frequently alongside my conferring notes. I look for patterns, make plans, and learn from my students. It is super comfortable. What I don’t get to do though, I don’t get to take photos and input them right into my notes. I can’t record a bit of conversation right inside my note-taking because my clipboard isn’t compatible with that kind of high tech software. It has a spot for my pen, notes, and a few other cool compartments but it’s a bit limited in the voice-recording department. I can’t take a picture of my student’s smiling face when I congratulate her on punctuating dialogue correctly. I can write it down but recording the moment via photo might be pretty powerful.

So here I am, twelve days from looking at my students, and I’m thinking, maybe this is the year. I’m hoping it is. Wish me luck!

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Betsy Hubbard View All

Daughter, sister, wife, mother, teacher, and writer.

16 thoughts on “Going Digital #BeBrave Leave a comment

  1. I have tried a number of systems and ways myself- including Evernote. But hands down the Cafe Conferring Pensieve (http://www.ccpensieve.com) is the easiest to use, most comprehensive and can be used alongside any hand-written note taking system with very little extra time.
    If I had an iPad, especially a new Pro with built in keyboard and drawing pen, I would not on occasion use my written system, but as it is somedays it is just too cumbersome to carry around my MacAir when meeting with kids.
    I love that I can enter reading levels throughout the year and get a quick snapshot on who is experiencing the most growth and I love that I can print out a PDF of all the conferences (both writing and reading) that I have had with a student before Parent Teacher Conference or IEPs. It is a bargain at around $40. a year. I have 66 students and it costs me no extra.
    The other remarkable thing is when I asked them about the possibility of adding a feature, the developers contacted me directly to see how best to implement the change. Amazing.

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  2. I have tried to go digital in the past too, but never wholeheartedly. I think this year I will do a combo, but will try to transfer my handwritten notes to digital by taking pictures of them and uploading to the notebook of each child I have created in Evernote, that way everything is in “one place”. We shall see.

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  3. I’ve loved switching to Evernote since I don’t see the same kids every day. I’m in different classrooms/schools and using Evernote has allowed me to easily hold on to information AND capture photos. (I haven’t used the voice recording feature. I know Deb is big on that.)

    Go ahead and try it. See if it works for you. If you find that it frustrates the heck out of you, then go back to pen and paper. There’s no shame in returning to what works well for you.

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    • That’s kind of how I’m feeling. I wonder a bit if my “lack of success” with digital notetaking has had a bit to do with the grade level changes and groups of kids I’ve had over the past four years. This new crew, whom I never had as K’s or 1’s, I’ve heard nice things about. So, I’m hoping maybe it’s the year to give it another try.

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  4. If you have a system in place that works for you, I’d say keep it. There are so many other ways to “go digital.” At least that’s what I’ve observed…I’m retired now and being on this site is as digital as I get! So I listen and learn but don’t feel compelled to do anything I’m not that comfortable with. Are you sure you’re not feeling peer pressure?

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    • No, literally no one, to my knowledge in my building is digital with their writing notes for all their students. In the last four years I have taught three different grade levels and had one of the toughest groups of my career, so I’m feeling hopeful that this might be the year I can make it work. I feel like my current system is good but it would be better with a digital element, like photos and audio. We shall see!

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  5. I am digital for the most part ( plan book for my lessons, and smart board lessons ). I transcribe my handwritten notes and input my data into google drive and excell spreadsheets BUT I am not the type to walk around with my phone or tablet in my hand. When I approach a child with the intent to confer, I tend to go open handed with a clipboard. I find the kids are distracted by the phone or tablet. I mean they watch what you scribble but when you have a phone or tablet they are transfixed and often forget to finish what they are saying. I love the ability to record so I don’t mind using my small flip camera but other than that I guess I’m still a little old school ish too

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    • I think this has always been a little bit a part of my issue too. I’m hoping I can be a bit more present in the moment of the conference and quickly type up the notes before moving to the next student. We’ll see!

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  6. Good luck to you! I’ll be over here with my notebook and binder. 🙂 I record conversations and then listen to them later and make notes (on paper). I thought I might try digital planning on a website, but 15 minutes into the “free trial” month I got overwhelmed.

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  7. I installed the Evernote app on my iPad 2 years ago, and rarely use it. I jot things down on lots of sticky notes! However, as the teachers are implementing writing workshop this year, I will share this post with them, Betsy, as some may want to try it. Thanks for sharing!

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  8. This is such an interesting post, Betsy! In so many ways, I’ve gone digital, but not with my note taking. I’ve tried, but I don’t like it and it doesn’t work for me. I remember my notes so much better when I hand write them vs. type them. I happily stay with the “old school” methods of note taking.

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  9. I admire your determination and persistence. I downloaded Evernote and that’s about as far as I got–and I think that was three years ago! I’d love to hear how this works for you this year. Good luck!

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