Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Me, Evernote and parent-teacher interviews

Note: ditched Evernote some time in 2016. They changed the conditions of use. Non-premium users were limited to use on two devices only, if memory serves, and the price for a premium subscription went up. Was good while it lasted. Changed to OneNote. It's free.

Yesterday was part one of the biannual torture: parent-teacher interviews.  I've blogged about this before.  Let's just say it was a four paracetamol gig; a variation on a theme that won't end until I leave secondary English teaching.  Just need to remember:  it's not about me.

What was different was my use of the Evernote app on my iPhone 3 - a tad slow, but functional all the same.  (I've just paid off my iPhone and I don't feel inclined to upgrade it just because the newer model is available.  Could be tempted by an iPad though.)

Heaps of tech-savvy teachers are already using the Evernote app. You can read about it in some detail on Richard Lambert's blog.

But as a new user, my experience is thus:

Having decided to give the Evernote app a try,  I photographed at least one piece of all my students' written work.  This added thirty seconds per piece of work to assessment time.  Yes, in my anally retentive way, I counted out the seconds.

You can get Evernote as a free app for your phone or iPad.  However, half way through my piles of marking I exceeded my monthly data upload allowance.  I bought the premium upgrade for $46.99 for a year.  Suppose it's cheap if you use it.

All the students' work is stored alphabetically on my iPhone and on the web, so I can access it anywhere.  It's easier to view the students' work on a computer monitor than on the iPhone, of course.  So without any other records, apart from the VELS grade in my chronicle, I can see at a glance the quality of each student's work, including their typical errors.  I also photographed my final comments.

Unfortunately, I couldn't use my laptop during the interviews because I was sitting in the centre of the indoor basketball court.  My laptop battery is on the wane and only lasts for 90 minutes.  But I could use my iPhone.

At the first round of parent-teacher interviews there's always the concern that one won't be able to provide accurate assessments for parents - given it's week eight of the school year and secondary teachers on a full load teach perhaps 125 students. 

I teach 75 kids this year.  Yesterday, during seven hours, I saw the parent/s of 45 of them.  Mostly, I was able to recall student details accurately.  However, for a number of students, or when parents wanted more specific information, it was Evernote to the rescue.  Had to do a bit of 'finger-spreading' on the screen to enlarge the relevant pieces of work sufficiently to see them, but it worked.  Think several parents were impressed with my efforts too.

So thanks Evernote.  And thanks Richard Lambert on Twitter for giving me the idea.  I expect my Evernote records will be invaluable come report writing time.

Meanwhile, I'm preparing myself to get ticked off tomorrow by the principal for playing on my iPhone during parent-teacher interviews.

No comments: