Evernote Use #25- Documenting Classroom Observations #50EduEvernote

When I observe a classroom, I use Evernote to document my observations– both for me and for the teacher. Here is my documentation system I’ve been working for an informal/min-observation:

1. Before entering a classroom, I open a new note Evernote on my phone.

2. As I am observing the lesson, with the new Evernote note open, I try to snap a picture of what’s going on in class, something written on the board, or a classroom display. Other than snapping a picture or two, I just watch and listen rather than type notes– that’s for later. However, I will type something quickly to post on Twitter.

3. Once I’m finished observing, I step into the hallway and type a few notes, questions I have, or a reminder for me. (Since I’m usually walking in the hallway, I tap the microphone on my keyboard and speak my notes.)

4. Following Kim Marshall’s method of observation, conversation, and documentation (click here to learn more), I try to have a conversation with the teacher later that day or the next. (Note:  I’m still working on this. It’s harder than it sounds!)

5. After I have a conversation with the teacher, I go back to the Evernote note I started in Step 1, and I type my observation and ideas from the conversation. I save the note in my “2013-2014 Teacher Observations” notebook and I tag the note with the teacher’s last name.

6. When I’m finished, I email the observation note to the teacher.

Informal Observation Documentation

I’m still learning how to do this whole admin thing, but I’ve found that this system works– I just need to use it more consistently. I’ve found that Including a picture in the observation is great for documentation, and tagging the notes with the teacher’s last name is great because I can do a quick search to pull up all of my observations for each teacher.

Hopefully this gives you some ideas on how you could use Evernote for documentation. Don’t forget about the audio recording capabilities in a note. I’ve used that for some observations and found it helpful.

There isn’t one right way to use Evernote for documenting observations. How do you use Evernote to documentation observations? Share below.

 

Evernote Use #24- Informal Classroom Observations Checklist #50EduEvernote

After reading Kim Marshall’s book Rethinking Teacher Supervision and Evaluation, it’s clear that administrators need to be in as many classrooms as possible every. To get a clear picture of what goes on in the classroom, Marshall recommends that building principals should be in every teacher’s classroom at least once every two weeks.

Marshall says, “Talking to teachers about the teaching and learning that’s going on in their classrooms is the heart and soul of instructional leadership. There’s nothing more productive and satisfying than being in classrooms and talking to colleagues about teaching and learning. This is the work!”

Marshall’s system is really simple:

!. Observe each teacher at least once every two weeks.

2. Have an informal conversation with the teacher to discuss the observation. Find out the context, learn about what’s going on in class, ask questions, and offer suggestions.

3. Document the observation and conversation with a follow-up email.

That makes sense and seems easy to do, but like many things I’ve discovered in my first year as an assistant principal, life happens during the school day, and without a plan, informal observations and classroom visits rapidly get moved down the priority list. If I’m not careful, I’ll get busy and go a day or two without being in one single classroom! If I believe observations are the most important thing I can do, then I must make them a priority.

To help keep me on track, every two weeks I create an Evernote note for an informal observation cycle, and I put the note at the top of my shortcuts list. In my note I list all of our teachers and provide three checkboxes in front of their names. As I visit a classroom (O), follow-up with a conversation (C), and document the observation (D), I check the boxes. I also put the class period I visited just to make sure I vary the classes I observe.Informal Observation Checklist

This checklist really holds me accountable, and even though I may not get to every classroom in an observation cycle, I am able to see the cold-hard facts of how often I am observing classrooms. It also shows me in black-and-white the classrooms I frequently visit and the ones I don’t.

I’m still learning this whole administration thing and having a checklist has really helped me so far!

In my next post, I’ll share how I use Evernote to document a classroom observation.

 

How might a recurring checklist like this be helpful for you? Share your idea below and help out another educator.

 

 

Evernote Use #23 – Digital Learning Portfolios #50EduEvernote

As both a parent and an educator, I place great value in documenting a child’s progress and growth. However, providing detailed information regarding growth isn’t as convenient as checking a box or assigning a grade. Documenting growth takes time– but it is certainly time well-spent.

Last year, my son was in PreK-3 and in December we received a progress report. It was my first “report card” experience as a parent– very surreal. I enjoyed reading over his progress report and it took every part of me to not want to “fix” all of his “deficiencies” (which we didn’t “fix”).

But let me ask you something:  Which of the following tells you more about my son’s progress with using scissors?

Option A- Progress Report Checklist

Progress Report

 Option B- Picture of Cut-Out

Picture of Square Cut-Out

Option C- Video of Student Cutting Out a Shape

Clearly, the video communicates progress more than the checklist and picture! How awesome would it be if teachers would combine video and audio along with a checklist to document their students’ progress in a digital portfolio that parents could access at any time?

Evernote is perfect digital portfolios. Click here to read how I used Evernote for digital writing portfolios in my 8th grade English class.

If you’d like to learn more about using Evernote for digital portfolios, here are some great resources:

Digital Portfolios Workshop (perfect for faculty training/professional development)

Evernote as Portfolio blog by Rob van Nood

The Power of E-Portfolios by Rob van Nood (ebook)

Principalcast Podcast interview with Matt Renwick

Reading by Example blog by Matt Renwick