iPads as Notebooks — Part 2

The Tools

In the first part of this post, I talked about why I decided to use iPad as notebooks in some of my math classes.  Now, how exactly does that work in practice?

My school required all students to purchase the note-taking app Notability along with their iPads this year, which I was thrilled about because it is probably one of my favorite and most used apps. Over the course of the first few days of school, I intentionally included activities in my lesson plans that gave me the chance to show my students how to do the following:

1. Organize their notes for different classes and chapters using the Divider and Subject features. Because Notability supports typing, handwriting, and importing documents from the web or cloud storage accounts, it is flexible enough to work for any subject.

2. Be smart about naming “notes” (using section numbers, etc) for each organization and searching.

3.  Use the ZoomBox and wrist guard features to write math neatly.

The Zoom Box makes it so easy to write intricate things neatly!

The Zoom Box makes it so easy to write intricate things neatly!

4. Import PDFs that I post on our class page on Edline, my school’s learning management system. These can be:

  • Templates for notes. I typically create lesson skeletons in SMART notebook, print them as PDFs, and post them for students. I think this helps them to pay attention more in class because they have to spend less time copying things like diagrams and problems down. It’s easy for me to do and a huge time saver for the kiddos.
  • Problem sets for class work and homework.  When I don’t want to assign problems from the textbook, I can easily distribute digital problem sets to students. Some benefits of completing them in Notability rather than as paper worksheets are the availability of colors, the ability to erase really easily, and the fact that I can leave lots of space for them to work in between problems without worrying about fitting everything on one sheet or, in general, using too much paper.

5. Access solutions to problem sets and attach them to original work. Notability makes it very easy to merge documents by using the “Add to Note” feature when you import a file.  Prior to this year, Margaret and I were both in the habit of writing out solutions (using Notability, of course), exporting them to DropBox or Google Drive, and them posting them on Edline.  Margaret had the brilliant idea (I wish I could take credit for this one!) of having students add our solutions to their work so that they can easily scroll back and forth to check their work.  We’re getting lots of positive feedback from the students about being able to do this!

With two weeks under our belts, I can truthfully say:  so far, so good for Notability!  The only hiccup we have experienced is when we are planning on having students import PDFs as part of the day’s activities and, suddenly, the wireless network has been down.  If I can get organized enough down the road, I think it would be a good idea to have students import the PDFs they need for class the next day as part of the previous night’s homework.