This is a guest post by Jonah Salsich, a grade three teacher in Connecticut, USA. He and his students love buddy blogging with 2KM & 2KJ!

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Starting this September, I will be implementing The Daily 5 CAFE model as the key component of my literacy instruction.

The Daily CAFE

The Daily CAFE

While I am very excited about the model in general – especially the potential for increased student independence, giving me more time to confer with students and get to know them as individual readers – one thing I’m not terribly excited about is “The Pensieve“ - the name for the conferring notebook that is essential to the CAFE approach.

The Pensieve

I have never been good with keeping papers organized. Digital files and folders just make more sense to me. My computer desktop is incredibly neat and compartmentalized, while my actual desktop can be a scary sight. I also like to be able to move lightly around the room. So, while I love the idea of having everything in a big binder that even I couldn’t lose, personally I’m not crazy about spreading it out on a desk and flipping between different tabs while conferring with a student.

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So, this summer I set about trying to make a “digital pensieve” for the iPad. My first thought was to use Evernote (much as Russ Goerend details here). I love the automatic syncing and the ability to access notes from any device that Evernote provides. However, I wanted to follow the conferring template from The CAFE Book, and currently Evernote doesn’t support any kind of rich text formatting or tables on the iPad so all the notes would have to be in plain text.

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After playing around with various apps and formats, I found that the pdf forms that come on The CAFE Book’s CD ROM are fillable. This means that text can be entered directly into the form’s fields by typing. PDF Expert is a fantastic universal app for reading and annotating pdf files. It is also the only app that allows you to enter text into fillable forms.

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Below is a slideshow tutorial of how I used PDF Expert and the fillable forms from The CAFE Book to make a digital pensieve:

(View in fullscreen for best resolution)

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While it may not be a perfect solution, I am hopeful that this set-up will meet my needs of; ease of use, portability, and access from any device. Here are what I see as the pros and cons:

Pros:

  • Light and small – easy to work with in a variety of spaces
  • Universal access to folders and files through Dropbox
  • Can email forms for sharing with parents or colleagues
  • Can add notes on desktops and laptops using Preview or Adobe Reader
  • It’s cool! – more like Dumbledore’s magical pensieve

Cons:

  • Light and small – easier to misplace?
  • Can’t include audio files in folders like you can in Evernote (but you can’t do that with a paper notebook either…)
  • Can only type text into fillable forms

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Do you have any suggestions or questions?

How have you modified “the pensieve” to meet your needs?