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January 7, 2014 A New Gadget for the New Year! By Erin Klein
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    Imagine being able to capture everything you hear in an important meeting or conference. When I was younger, I became skilled with taking notes via my own shorthand method. I actually kept most of my notebooks and binders from high school and college because I had invested so much work into capturing a detailed record of everything shared during those classes. I couldn't fathom parting with the years of hard work. It wasn't until last year, when my family moved, that I finally allowed myself to part with these objects from my past. I imagine it had something to do with making room for the binders and portfolios I started collecting of my own children's work.

    My students keep several notebooks in our class. We have our "Wonder of the Day Journal" where students creatively respond to the daily Wonderopolis video. We also have our reading and writing notebooks where we respond to literature and write stories to share with others. We even have a social studies notebook where we reflect on the field trips we take and write about our family and community.

    One thing I've realized over the years is that not every child writes at the same speed, has the same handwriting, or processes their ideas to paper the same way as their peers. Luckily, I discovered the Livescribe Pen. Last year, I contacted the company to see if I could try one out with my class. They asked that I share my teaching ideas on my personal blog in exchange for the product. So, last year, I shared a few ways we used the pen in our class. When I heard they launched a new version of the pen, I was excited to try it out. My students love using it!

    The Livescribe 3 Smartpen 

    What is it?

    We have used other Livescribe pens in our classroom before, and my own two children have also benefitted from the technology. However, I recently received their newest product, The Livescribe 3. This pen has several features that sets it apart and makes it an awesome classroom tool.  

    The smartpen enables students to record their thinking as they're writing. The pen turns their words into action. For example, as students are thinking out loud and writing, the pen is recording their voice. So, if they're sketching out the beginnings of a great story, the pen can hold their thinking so they can reference it later when they're ready to compose their sentences. Additionally, the pen captures the sound of the room. If a lesson is happening, the note taker can jot down information while the pen is recording everything being shared.  


    Impressive Features:

    One aspect that I appreciate with this newest version is the ability to instantly view what is being written on paper on a tablet screen. The two platforms are synced. This makes it simple to share important information with a partner, small group, or entire class. I have two pens in my classroom, and use them in my centers. But a teacher can easily make do with one. For example, walk around the room, place the notebook in front of a child and have him or her jot down a response or share an example. If the device is being mirrored, the information will be displayed for a larger group to see. You can achieve similar results with an interactive whiteboard, however, the advantage of using the smartpen is its ease of use over that of writing with a stylus.

    Another feature that I like is that the tablet can immediately transform handwriting into typed text with the tap of a finger. This makes it easier for some to read. The information can also be sent via text message or email. Notes can easily be shared and stored. I could see this feature especially benefitting children in older grades or students who are absent. The audio captured via the pen can also be played back on a mobile device.  

    Using the Pen and Sound Stickers in Class:

    My students love mixing things up a bit. Adding variety to our day keeps their interest. The following are a few ways we practice our spelling words:

    • drawing the words in shaving cream

    • using sand trays and our fingers

    • writing on the Boogie Board

    • playing Bubble Bubble Pop*

    • sounding words out using the Livescribe pen

    *Kids stand in a large circle facing the center of the circle. If the word is "said" for example, one person starts by saying "S."  Then the next person says "A."  The third person says "I."  The fourth person says "D."  The fifth person says "bubble."  The sixth person also says "bubble." The seventh person says "pop."  That "pop" person sits on the floor instead of standing. They stay in the circle (so that not to be removed from the fun). They just aren't playing for the remainder of the round. The eighth person starts a new word. Eventually, everyone has "popped" and there is one person remaining.

    Because we like to use a variety of tools and methods to support our learning, the Livescribe pen is another device that allows us to share. Establishing a routine of having students share is important in our class. Students learn so much from their peers. They also love seeing the work their friends are doing. Giving children the chance to collaborate and present their thinking and discoveries validates their voice. They appreciate knowing their opinion matters.  

    We use Sound Stickers LOTS in our classroom. Sound Stickers allow children to record their voice and have it captured on a circle sticker. You can put these stickers anywhere. To listen to the message that was captured on the Sound Sticker, one simply has to tap the sound sticker with the Livescribe pen.  

    During reading workshop, we were learning how readers make predictions based on the title and the cover of a book. Students practiced looking at unfamiliar texts, examining the cover, looking closely at the title, and making a prediction based on their observations. Students wrote their predictions on a large sticky note. After reading the book, they went back and recorded their confirmations and contradictions onto the Sound Stickers. Then, they stuck the sticker onto their sticky note. These sticky notes are kept neatly in their reading notebooks.

    During conferences, when I'm sharing the child's work, parents are amazed when I show them their child's notebooks, discuss the lesson objective, and then play back their child's Sound Sticker. To have the student's voice present at conferences is powerful. Their faces light up hearing their child explain how their prediction was confirmed or not based on their examination of the book's title and cover.

    Five Ways to Use Sound Stickers in the Classroom:

    1. Have students record a review of a book once they've read it. Place the Sound Sticker on the cover for other classmates to listen to when deciding on a book from the classroom library.

    2. Have students record additional information about a place they've visited on a map. Add the Sound Stickers to the map so that other friends from class can learn more about their community, state, and country.

    3. Have students record themselves playing an instrument. Place the Sound Sticker on the sheet of music so that others can hear the melody.

    4. Have students make a hypothesis in science class. Place the Sound Sticker on the lab report. Then, their lab partner can record the outcome on a second Sound Sticker to place on the bottom of the report.

    5. Have students record the directions for a math game to place on the game's box. This way, other classmates can listen to the Sound Sticker as they're setting up the game. This could save players time so that there would be more time for actual game play.


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