I rarely write posts about tech tools in recent years, but I thought I would briefly share some of my “go to” resources that have become an integral part of my work since coming to Norcross High in August of 2013. These apps and devices are essential to the work I’m doing related to teaching and learning, especially for capturing student work whether it is for archival purposes, assessment, collaborative work between classes, or to merely document learning activities and experiences in our work with teachers and students. They also help me collect qualitative data, celebrate all aspects of student learning, and interact with both students and teachers. I’ll also share our essential non-technology oriented tools that we can’t live without here in the NHS Library Learning Studio. These tools and mediums are also helping me document the ways we and our students are using writing and composing multiple kinds of “texts” for thinking, processing, and creating in the library.
Scanner Pro App ($2.99)
I’m excited to have such a robust app, especially that runs on my older iPhone 4s. Originally, I bought the Scanner Pro app a little over a year ago because our library copy machine was broken and I needed a fast way to capture and print student submitted book passages for the very first write-around we did with Darrell Cicchetti in December 2013. This app does surprisingly high quality resolution scans of any kind of document; I love that I can capture these scans as image files or as PDF files. You can scan and edit multiple pages into one master document in color, black and white, or both; these features are wonderful when you are needing to capture collections of student work by class.
You can also edit files at any time and make adjustments such as rotating the scan to a portrait or landscape orientation very easily.
You can also import photos quickly from any of your camera rolls on your iPhone:
I initially was uploading the files to my Evernote account, but I quickly changed to sharing my scanned work to Google Drive. The learning curve is gentle, and my scanned files always upload to my Google Drive account quickly. Once they are in Google Drive, I can download the files to my laptop (and then upload to my blog or a LibGuide) or share the files publicly using the share feature in Google Drive or upload quickly to my school SlideShare account as needed.
You can name your files when uploading so that you can identify your files easily as well.
I have come to rely heavily on this tool as we have been collecting more student samples of work and doing more work with learning artifacts from written conversation strategies (see my blog for many previous posts on this topic). On a personal note, this app was invaluable last fall when I was handling real estate business for my father after my mother passed away—I used it frequently to capture PDFs of documents for Dad’s new home loan and loved not being tethered to a traditional scanner. Whether I’m using it for professional or personal reasons, ScannerPro allows me to capture scans in a nimble and seamless way.
Vine is another wonderful app I’ve been using with increasing regularity during the last year. Like many of you, I use it to capture quick snapshots of daily life in the library and of different learning activities and processes; it’s easy to share the videos to your social media streams and to embed into a blog or LibGuide page. It is simple to use and again, it works seamlessly on my older iPhone.
I also love connecting with other librarians on Vine and seeing their creative uses of this app!
Nikon Coolpix S6500
This is my personal camera that I bought on clearance last summer. It features wifi connectivity and some fun built-in photo editing tools (see below):
While I primarily use this camera to get higher resolution photos of activities and life in the library, I have also discovered it is great for videoing interviews with teachers and students as it captures high quality recordings that I can then upload to YouTube and then edit in YouTube.
My iPhone is nearly always in my hand here at work. Whether I’m Tweeting with a class (see hashtag #rustyq or see this post), capturing student work with Vine or Scanner Pro, taking photographs, texting with a teacher to conference quickly or touch base about an activity we’re doing together, or accessing documents via Google Drive, my iPhone is an essential piece of technology I use to document what learning looks like in the library.
Essential Non-Tech Tools
If you’ve been reading my blog over the last year, you know that butcher paper, index cards, assorted sizes of post-it notes, markers, Sharpies, and dry-erase boards have increasingly become robust mediums for thinking, composing, sharing, and learning with our students here in the NHS Library Learning Studio. These artifacts are the springboard for the rich work Jennifer Lund and I have been doing with students and teachers. I am continually awed and inspired by the ways that these “unplugged” modes for learning generate critical thinking and rich conversations (written and verbal) with our students.
What are your essential go to tools you are using as part of your professional work with patrons or students, particularly ones that might not have been part of your daily work just a few years ago?
Buffy, We have just gotten our first set of Huddleboards, so I appreciate hearing about how you are using them and other tools in the library. Have you seen the books Back of the Napkin or Unfolding the Napkin? It strikes me that the methods might resonate with some of the other work you are doing. Your deep and rich sharing of your work with students is very helpful. Thank you!
Hi! Oh, I’m excited to see what you do with the Huddleboards! How exciting! I have seen those books—I will definitely think about how we might use them. Right now the Harvey Daniels learning structures and those from Making Thinking Visible have been great mediums for us since they are being used across curricular areas and give us a common working vocabulary with our faculty. Thank you so much for that kind feedback on the work with the students–lots of interesting work has been going on since fall!
Thank you for providing the Scanner Pro App for converting pictures to pdf. I will be utilizing this app right away in the media center. When I was teaching science, I would take many photos to document student work and provide professional artifacts. I wasn’t familiar with the term Huddleboards, but I had plans to incorporate mobile whiteboards into our media center. Thanks to your awesome images, I will determine what will work best for our area. Keep up the great work!
Thank you for the kind words! I am also happy the blog post was helpful!