Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Using Evernote for Anecdotal Assessment

We are spoiled for choice when it comes to the range of digital tools at our disposal these days - both tools for helping children learn better and for us as teachers in helping us assess their learning better. What I have been thinking about in particular recently is how I might go about collecting anecdotal evidence during the course of the day to build up a picture of my learners.

I have tried a variety of ways of doing this over the years, with varying degrees of success, and to be fair it is still very much a trial and error process - tweaking and adjusting and often finding that a particular method is just too cumbersome. Pre-digital I used an exercise book, with a page or two allocated to each student. The drawback of this was that I was constantly flicking back and forth alphabetically to find the child I wanted to comment on. I also had to remember to date each entry, and had no easy way to categorise according to curriculum areas or Key Competencies, and had to re-handle the information come report time...

I also tried setting up a spreadsheet, with children’s names down the first column, and areas of assessment along the top. This was on a laptop, which was not always handy, and as I added over time the cells grew to be quite large! So useful in some ways, not in others.

Most recently I have been using Evernote. Evernote essentially allows you to collect almost anything, in a variety of formats. This is the most successful app I have tried so far, for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is on my iPad and iPhone, which I am quite likely to have on me most of the time - and it will sync between devices, so I can have the information on my laptop when I need it too.

Secondly, it enables me to record data in a variety of formats, from typed notes, photos, video, voice memos and even a particular document photo setting. The great thing about this is that I can write meaningful feedback on a learner’s work, photograph the page and my comment and have it as a searchable record. Does it get any better than that! So I have set up a folder for each child, and when occasion arises I simply open the app, select the folder and add a new note, be it text, photo, video or voice.

I still feel I am only scratching the surface with Evernote, and that there are ways of using it that I haven’t yet explored. How do you keep anecdotal evidence of children’s progress? Do you use Evernote (or something else??) in ways that we could all learn from? Let us know in the comments!

Further articles about using Evernote for assessment:

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