On Monday, all but one student came into first period with a tablet. For students with or without executive function challenges, effective notetaking seems to be an epic struggle. New tools, tablets and smart phones, can’t immediately become powerful assets in this struggle if students still struggle differentiating main ideas from support, identifying types of support - reasoning vs. concrete details, etc.
—Unless there’s something inherent in the structure of the tool that is novel and exercises these skills.
That’s what I’d like to learn about Evernote, available for Android and iOS devices, as well as Macs and PCs. Evernote users can take notes on their devices in a variety of formats, with or without attachments, and sync them to cloud storage. The notes can then be recalled and reviewed on any system on which the client has been installed and internet access is available.
As I was teaching the students with Android tablets this strategy for using their tools productively, it caught on. The remaining student installed Evernote on a laptop running Ubuntu Linux using Wine. That was a positive sign, and the results by the end of class were encouraging: pithy, economically efficient notes were taken by all.
What surprised me is that word clearly got to other students, because by 4th students had their smart phones out and Evernote already installed. Their thumbs poked and prodded at the material as we discovered and constructed an understanding of it.
I’ll sum up my observations at the end of two weeks. In the meantime I intend to introduce some strategies to use with Evernote: Make PDFs of handouts with cam/scanner and attaching them to Evernote entries; scanning QR codes to make data entry quicker, etc.