Evernote Video Tutorials

I’ve been using the Evernote App for well over a year and a half after I saw it recommended in a magazine article. As time goes on I find more and more uses for it and ways that it can enable me to work and organise information more effectively, both at work and outside work.

At times I find that when I advocate it to other people they are initially a little skeptical and also once they download the App they seem daunted by the full variety of possibilities that it offers. Therefore, i was pleased to come across a series of online video tutorials that take a beginner through the basic functionalities in a simple manner. As a result of watching the videos I’ve now got a few new ideas for how i want to experiment with the App and also how to make my existing notes a bit more organised and easier to search/ filter etc.

As I’ve got more comfortable using it (I now have it syncing across two laptops and two phones!) I’m now getting further in to how it can be used in the education domain. One of my first uses for it was for keeping reflective notes. In my case, I jot short notes relating to staff, but a teacher could equally use it for reflection comments about students, with a separate Notebook for each child/ person. I believe there are many more uses, especially when we place the App in children’s hands for when they are carrying out collaborative or research based projects.

So, especially for people in our school team who are just starting to experiment with Evernote – here is the first of the tutorials:

Evernote Video Tutorial Series:

Gulf News – Article 6: Persistence

I’m pleased to attach here the 6th in the series of articles that I’ve been writing for Gulf News. This was published in the Education Supplement of this morning’s paper:

Gulf News Article – Persistence

The seventh and final article is completed and submitted. I really hope readers of the blog have been enjoying the articles. I’ve enjoyed the rigour of writing for a paper which requires more effort than for the blog directly, even if it did get a bit like pulling teeth sometimes!! So, about 10,000 words later the assignment is over for now.

I’d love to have lots more feedback from the thoughtful, well-informed regular blog readers.

RTE – CSE Review After Nearly 3 1/2 Years

April 2010 saw the Right to education Act come in to effect in India (my, my, doesn’t time fly when pursuing pie in the sky!!). So, it’s timely that Centre for Science & Environment (CSE) has carried out an extensive review of implementation of the Act.

Down to Earth – Elementary Failure

At the top level, on the biggest issues, the report gives a grim picture of progress so far on enrollment, prevention of drop-outs, teacher training and recruitment and parent empowerment. It doesn’t really get in to the other key areas of special needs education provision or integration of EWS children in to upmarket private schools where my suspicions would be that the failure to deliver is at least as bad, if not worse.

Of course, there were plenty of us at the time of the legislation being passed who doubted the viability and scope of the targets and promises. Nevertheless, with children as the biggest losers, ‘I told you so’ doesn’t carry much satisfaction. The legislation is a reality now and it’s time that educators and civil society started to bring pressure to bear on the Indian government to realign, to set fresh goals and to commit to put in place the resources necessary to achieve the avowed aims. If, over the next two years real progress could be achieved, then all would not have been in vain. However, without new fresh commitments I rather fear the failures would be brushed under the carpet and the objectives allowed to die a slow death – later to be blamed on party political issues!

I also believe that the best prospects for the future may genuinely lie in PPP, but partner selection must be good and the criteria for deliverables identified and communicated with clarity and transparency.

The children and the country deserve better.

Gulf News Article 5: Active and Passive Leisure

This is the fifth in the series of 7 special articles I’ve been writing for the Education Supplement of Gulf News. The remit was to write pieces which would be of interest and value to young people aged from around 14/ 15 upwards.

This article deals with defining the difference between active and passive leisure and how one can be a powerful force for good while the other can significantly undermine a person’s chances of achieving anything meaningful in their life:

Gulf news article 22-09-2013
(Click on the link to open, read or download as a pdf)

Gulf News – Article 4

This week’s article was published in the newspaper this morning. For this article i chose to tackle the sensitive issue of cheating, dishonesty and integrity, concluding that a commitment to be ‘honest later’ doesn’t work and that low integrity carries too high a price:

gulf news article 15092013

Please share your thoughts. I’d love to have feedback and ideas from the regular blog readers. Also, whilst Article 5 is virtually finished, I’m open to any ideas for what should be the themes of articles 6 and 7.

Building Up the Empathy Muscle

So many schools make high-blown statements as part of their mission or values about valuing and appreciating diversity, co-operation and sensitivity. However, when we step in to the school environment, when we delve even just a little in to the school’s practices, procedures and culture – do we find this is really reflected in the day to day reality of the school?

This is particularly poignant on a day when, around the world, there are reports of a tragic case of a young 12 year old girl in America, driven to commit suicide through online taunting and cyber-bullying.

Here are two links that highlight the importance and value of empathy as a critical ingredient in creating high empathy school climates and enabling children to build up their ’empathy muscles. The first is a very good article from the Edutopia website that includes links and information about the Ashoka ‘Start Empathy’ and ‘Changemaker Schools’ programmes:

Edutopia Article – Empathy Back to School Supply

The second is an inspiring speech at the 2013 Graduation of Harker School, California by Nipun Mehta;

I believe this idea of empathy focused schools is very powerful, acknowledging that it starts with the educators – we have to lead by example. Apart from anything else, I believe high empathy schools offer better academic learning scope for more students, as well as developing vital life skills for pupils and contributing to a more humane world.

Innovation in Classroom Environments

I loved this article I came across a while ago, looking at what happened when a teacher started to think out of the box about the environment in which she was asking children to be creative, purposeful and to do great work. The result was a redesign of the classroom space and changes in the way children used that space.

Mindshift Article – Ditching the Desks

I think this highlights an aspect that we too often fail to pay enough attention to – the way spaces and design shape the culture an climate within our schools. If we want to see new and different approaches from children towards their own learning, we have to be prepared to envisage new and different ways to design both individual classroom spaces and even whole schools.

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