Historical Inquiry

Evernote for inquiry based tasks

Inquiry based learning tasks are essential for the creation of meaningful learning and understanding. The use of collaborative and innovative Web 2.0 applications allows students to work in ways that further immerse them in the 21st century, while providing them with the skills to become life-long learners. Evernote is a fantastic tool for inquiry based tasks. You or your students can:

  • Access their research from any device including, desktop, smart phone, tablet device – at home, at school, in class, on the bus…anywhere!
  • Students can work collaboratively by creating shared notebooks that can be accessed simultaneously, edited by all members of the group and worked on either at school or at home. No, my dog ate my homework or I couldn’t work on my assignment because my friend was away doesn’t apply here! Anything that is added to the notebook is immediately sync’d between devices and can be accessed anywhere.
  • Students might like to gather and record their findings using, while using the notebook to tag concepts, file their work neatly and even better, search later for information. 
  • Create logs that record resources they have referred to. They can even use their smart phones to take a picture of the cover of the book, insert PDF documents and then annotate (with Premium), insert links to websites. 
  • Forward emails to Evernote that are automatically filed into appropriate notebooks and tagged (e.g. You can file an email that you want to name Evernote training into your professional development notebook by putting this into the subject line: Evernote training @Professional Development #professional development #technology) 
  • Set a reminder for when items are due for submission or when the team will be meeting to work on the inquiry task.
  • Students can share their work with their teacher by hitting the share button and either posting on social media or emailing you their final product which is uploaded onto a note of it’s own.

As a teacher, and also as a student, I have come to really rely on Evernote for my own learning as well as a tool for teaching. In my own research, I have been able to create Notebooks that safely organise and collate information, while allowing me to share that information, or simply access it from where ever I happen to be. 

References:

Evernote http://www.evernote.com

Caspari, A., Kuhlthau, C. and Maniotes, L. (2012) Guided Inquiry Design: A Framework for Inquiry in Your School, Libraries Unlimited, California

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iBook Author for Teaching the Australian Curriculum

Proving engaging materials that are suitable for the new curriculum requirements has become a massive job for many teachers, including history teachers in Australia. Many schools are utilising iPads in encouraging creativity, accessing resources and engaging students. Certainly, having an iPad means a lighter backpack for our students at the very least. I think we are being presented with an amazing opportunity here, with the introduction of a new curriculum, to create and introduce some new and exciting resources for students. Apple has various apps which are great for teaching, but I want to bring iBook Author to your attention today as a way to create resources (for both teachers and students).

And before you say it, I know, not all schools or students have access to these amazing technologies. I wish that they did and although this information will probably be outdated by the time they do gain access to them, I think it is important for teachers from all schools to be aware of the exciting opportunities that technology presents to teachers.

Creating our own resources using technology means that we can design them to suit the particular needs of our students and reflect their learning needs. Creating our own resources means relying less on textbooks, worksheets, overheads and other “old school” resources and engaging with exciting and relevant information to encourage a deeper understanding of history.

This all might seem like a lot of hard work but this article about the move beyond worksheets might convince you: Beyond Worksheets: A True Expression of Student Learning.

For those teachers that have access to Apple iPads or Macs, iBook Author is a great app that can be utilised in the history classroom. iBook Author allows you to author your own eBook where you can embed images, video, links to primary and secondary sources and create your own learning activities that can be accessed both at school and at home (therefore meeting an increasing demand for expanding our classroom  beyond the four walls where we physically teach to the virtual world).

I know I do get onto the digital bandwagon quite a lot. Many of you would be surprised that I take a balanced approach to teaching from my previous posts. I do, however, choose to engage in the kinds of learning activities of the generations of students that I teach, therefore I value technology for teaching. I also value my own individual approach to teaching history, and that requires me to adapt, create and expand on the resources I give to my students. In short, I love technology.

iBook Author allows you to:

  • Create collaborative documents with other teachers to share with your students;
  • Engage your students with interactive resources and sources, while also allowing them to work at their own pace through the content
  • Create engaging student activities that encourage students to build deep knowledge of the content by creating their own book. Wow! Students can work collaboratively or individually.
  • Create an interactive and reflective environment where students can evaluate their own work and others, therefore creating a deeper understanding while also developing skills such as content knowledge, information literacy, social skills, digital literacy and competencies using ICT, digital citizenship, collaboration, flexibility, communication and evaluation skills. Students also learn about copyright restrictions and ethical engagement with resources, a lesson which comes to life when they understand how their work might be used by others!
  • Create content that specifically targets the learning goals of your school and class. It also allows you to adapt content and activities for students with disabilities.

How do you think your students would respond to writing their own content?

Do you think your students would benefit from resources created with their own particular needs in mind?

Do you want a one-stop-shop for all of your online and digital resources so that you or your students can access them where ever you are, whenever you want?

Does your school have access to Apple iPads or Macs?

If you have answered yes to any of the above, then I recommend you look at the app.

For more information on using iBook Author as a teaching tool, visit the Apple website.