Are you interested in using your iPad to record, organize, and manage important information? As teachers, we depend on our assessments to track student progress, communicate clearly with parents, and plan instruction. I have enjoyed using the free app “PDF Notes” to create what the authors of “The CAFE Book” term a “penseive.” A traditional penseive is a binder with a section for each student that can contain the following in reading: a CAFE menu to document reading goals for your students, conference sheets to record the progress students make towards completing their goals, assessment information, small group instructional plans, running records, a sheet to document when you conference with a student, and a calendar to plan those individual conferences. My own penseive also contains the district sounds, sight words, and benchmark reading assessments that we give at the start of each school year and again at the end of each trimester. My binder would grow as the school year progressed and by January it was usually so thick that I had to handle it gingerely to prevent any more pages from tearing and falling out. My iPad has allowed me to take everything that I traditionally used in my assessments and upload them to “PDF Notes.” Now, I can carry around my slim device and don’t have to worry about pages falling out. It’s easy and safe as well. I backup all of my important information to Dropbox so that I will not loose the important information that I have worked so hard to collect. At the upcoming SLATE Conference, my team and I will describe our digital “penseives” in detail. I am taking the time to post a “how-to” video here in case people would like to tray making one of their own.
This second video is an example of a digital portfolio that a student has created on the iPad. Again, I have made use of the app “PDF Notes” to guide my students in the creation of digital portfolios to not only demonstrate their proficiency with comprehension strategies in reading, but to reflect on their application of the strategies and set reading goals. I love this method because it allows me to create activities for students based on the Common Core Standards and our district’s curriculum.