Classroom observation documents tend to be revised from year to year based on the needs of individual buildings and groups of teachers. Because of this, it is critical for evaluators to be knowledgeable of the tools that they can use, and most importantly, revise so that their work is current and relevant each year. Many principals are on the lookout for a perfect observation “tool” or “app” that will instantly tell them what to look for during a classroom observation. The real task is for the evaluator to reflect and be knowledgable about what they need to look for and THEN find a tool that can be customized to fit their needs and make their work easier. With the help of an iPad, I believe I have found just the tool.
Following are the steps that I take to create my observation documents.
1. Download dropbox onto your ipad and then also onto your laptop computer. Dropbox is free, but you must set up an account. It is an app that provides you with a way to share information between your laptop and your ipad.
2. Download a Note Taking app on your iPad that allows you to write on pdf document. I use NoteTaker HD. It is available at the AppStore for $4.99.
3. The next step is to create the document that you would like to use for classroom observations or drop-ins or both. This can be created using any word processing program, but you must be able to save the document in a pdf format. You are welcome to use the link to access the observation document that I am using this year. But please remember, the “look fors” that I use in my school may or may not be the same things that you are looking for. I strongly encourage you to revise it to work for you.
4. After you create your document you need to save in as a pdf format. On a mac computer, you need to go to “File” then “Print”, then you will see a pdf button in the lower left corner and you can save your doc as a pdf. If you need a visual for this you can check out this youtube video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8Ihn1W6pdM . When you select “save as” , another box will open where you can name the document and tell your computer where you want to save it. You want to save this document to your Dropbox.
Now the fun begins…
5. Go to your ipad and open Dropbox. Find the document that you just created and in the upper right corner you will see a “push out box” which is just a box that has an arrow pointing out of it. By clicking this button you will be prompted to open the document in Note Taker HD.
6. When you open the document in Note Taker HD you will be prompted to name the document. I suggest that you name it with the name of the teacher who you are observing and the date of the observation.
7. Note Taker HD allows you to write, type text and add pictures to your documents. If you are new to Note Taker HD, you may want to view a tutorial. Here is one that I found on youtube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUGG08eGRfg Give yourself time to really play around with Note Taker. It takes a little getting used to, but when you get the hang of it, it’s brilliant!
8. Now, before you leave the classroom. Use the “output” feature to email your teacher a copy of your notes and then cc: yourself so that you have a copy. Although it will stay in your Note Taker, you can use the emailed pdf to upload to any evaluation file or program you may be required to use. For example, I have to use a program called Halogen and I can upload this pdf directly into the teacher’s file.
Let me know how you like this approach or if you have figured out something you like even better!