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Thursday, November 6, 2014

TUIT: Christina Mishio, SCHS

Christina Mishio has taught for three years as a social studies high school teacher.  She admits she's not afraid to take an edtech plunge, even if it's a bit of a scary tightrope walk.  As part of her Criminal Justice class, students have always done an annual group project involving taking notes and analyzing evidence of crime scenes. (In the past, this may have only consisted of finding packets in various places in the school with pertinent information inside.)  However, especially with the help of technology, she wanted to take it to the next level.  So Ms. Mishio reached out to me.  How could she integrate technology and do the project paperless?  If she created actual crime scenes (with police tape, "blood," footprints, etc.) how could students take, annotate, and share pictures?

Enter Evernote and Skitch, two great partners in crime.  (Heh.  Sorry, I can never resist a bad pun.) Both of these edtech tools are high on the list of my all-time faves.  Before we get to the plan I created for her class, a quick intro to each tool is in order.

Evernote has completely transformed my personal and professional life; it is absolutely my favorite organizational, planning, and archiving tool.  You can create Notes arranged in Notebooks, which are saved in the cloud and therefore accessible in real-time syncing across a multiplicity of devices, with desktop programs, smartphone/tablet apps, and even within a web browser.  Notes can consist of text, pictures, audio, and attachments like PDFs.   Notes and Notebooks can also be shared with others, which will be important later.   While Evernote is free, for $5 a month or $45 a year, a Premium account gives you several upgrades including going from a 100 MB monthly upload cap to 1 GB a month.

Skitch is definitely my go-to picture annotation tool.  It is a free app, as well as a free desktop program.  Upload a photo, and add arrows, stamps, text, freestyle pens, shapes, even a pixelation tool.  (It can also annotate PDFs, if you have a Premium Evernote account.)  Although Evernote owns Skitch, you can use either product independently.   However, for Ms. Mishio's project, the power of their partnership becomes evident.

First, Christina created her own Evernote account.  With 8 groups to set up, Ms. Mishio then created a unique gmail account for each group.  (This can pay off later if she wants to incorporate some Google Drive tools into her classroom.)  With each email, she created an Evernote account.  Inside of each Evernote account she created a "Crime Scenes Group __" Notebook.  Inside the Notebook, she attached her directions and set up a few Notes with tables so student analysis would be ready to be gathered in a consistent format. Before exiting each Evernote account, she made sure to Share this Notebook with her teacher account, so that in real-time she could view the student work as it was completed, and eventually assess their results.

Next, Ms. Mishio made sure each iPad had Evernote and Skitch apps installed, and went ahead and logged into each appropriate group's Evernote account. (Keeping track that iPad #1 is logged into Group #1's Evernote account is key here.)   And with that, they were ready for the Crime Scene project.

In short, the students were highly engaged, and the impact in their learning was evident in the amount and complexity of their various text and picture Notes.  It helped that there was almost a game-like feel to the project; students actually walked through the school to designated areas, taking and annotating pictures, discussing and analyzing evidence.  By using Evernote, Skitch, and technology, they felt like 21st century detectives.

An example of a student group's Crime Scene Notebook

One recommendation from Christina was to go ahead and trust the students with the user names and passwords to the Evernote accounts.  Not only did that cut down on her having to log students back in if they accidentally logged out, but several students (unprompted by the teacher!) went ahead and downloaded the Evernote app to their smartphones and logged into their group accounts.  In this way, instead of being limited to one device per group, the ability to capture and analyze information doubled or tripled.  This could also allow students who were absent for part of the week-long project to contribute from home or during after-school hours.

Of course, using Evernote and Skitch in such a way could be easily tweaked for a variety of different content areas and projects.  Indeed, in a 1:1 environment, it could completely transform the way student work is created, saved, archived, and accessed.

Congrats to Christina Mishio for taking her integrated edtech leap and getting a well deserved #ShelbyTUITshoutout!

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