Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Evernote Field Trips

About to descend into the cave...
Ever wonder how you can use your technology to enhance the traditional field trip? Here's a great idea from John Nies and his fifth graders at Grant Elementary. John was planning a trip to a local urban (Flat Branch Park) and natural (Rock Bridge State Park) watershed. He wanted a way for students to experience a variety of activities during the study all embedded on the iPad. We decided Evernote would be the best tool. Here's how it worked.

Adding notes to this artistic storm drain.
John had several activities he wanted to embed in the day. The trick was that there wasn't going to be wireless access. In his Evernote account, John made a folder for all the students. Then he created a single note that the students would use to guide their learning for the day. A copy was made and moved into each folder. To make sure they'd have access away from school, we had each student open the note at school so it would be saved on their iPad. Then we hit the road. 

Recording info during
the scavenger hunt. 
One part of the field trip was a scavenger hunt. John walked the route ahead of time and took pictures of important objects to include in the note. Then when the group reached that point, they stopped to discuss the spot. The students then added their own information to accompany the picture. One important thing to remember about Evernote: make sure each iPad has the picture size set to "small". Otherwise, you will max out your 60mb upload allowance pretty quickly when you are sharing an account.

Another activity for the trip was a reading and analysis exercise. John copied an article from a local publication to the Evernote note. The students had time on the trip to read the article and apply the information to their location. Because Evernote doesn't need an internet connection, the students were able to read, analyze, and record their thoughts directly on the note. Then when they returned to school, Evernote would hit the network to upload each student's work to their individual folder. Pretty slick. 

Did you know the creek ran under
downtown Columbia? I didn't.
Math time. John embedded a problem directly into the note. The students could flip over to another app like Educreations to solve the problem. The completed problem could be recorded with a screenshot and then moved into Evernote as an image. 

Watching video was a bit of an issue. John had a YouTube video that he wanted students to watch about a natural watershed. Of course, they weren't able to access YouTube from Flat Branch or Rock Bridge State Park. So how did we creatively solve this problem? We didn't. We decided it was easier to just have them watch the video when they returned to the classroom and then record their responses at that time. Like all things, we could have made it happen, but the tradeoff on time and energy wasn't worth it. Don't fight it if you don't have to. 

No, they didn't take the
iPads into the cave.
Last piece of important information: test first. We decided to test this process during the Flat Branch trip. Since the park is within walking distance, it made sense to try it out there first so if something didn't work, we weren't wasting the whole day. But things went exactly as planned. Which is a bit rare, but I'll take it. That made the longer excursion to Rock Bridge less stressful. 

So there you have it. An easy way to conduct offline field trips using Evernote. If you haven't already, set up your free classroom account and get started. 

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