Tools for Collaborating, Teaching, Learning and more.


Collaborating on a book for three other people (and one other book with one person) is no easy task. So when we started out, our first task was to find the right productivity tool that we can all use, we don’t have to take out a second mortgage to purchase same, and one that is flexible and can be accessed from any mobile or “wired” device.

After trying several, we all agreed on Evernote. Each of us have taken on a subsection of the topic of our book along with specific research (primary and secondary), interviews, timeline, bibliography and more. Evernote allows us to do same and share it simultaneously. And what’s really great is that putting together our outline in Evernote helped us to quickly see how our individual topics will flow together. When collaborating, that’s a big hurdle to overcome.

I also found some other neat tools that Evernote offers. One of them is Skitch. Here’s a blog post by a Skitch user from Canada that I just had to share. This is awesome.

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Steve Lai teaches French as a second language to 6-10 year old students at Richmond Christian School. In addition to his day job, he teaches children how to play the guitar. Steve shares how he uses Skitch in the classroom to create colorful, interactive visuals that help students learn.

A different way to teach French

I love the simplicity of Skitch — using it with my students takes only a matter of seconds, and there are unlimited possibilities. 

Skitch has allowed me to teach French in an engaging and interactive way that resonates with my young students.

  1. I snap pictures or take a screenshot of anything that visually displays a word or category of words, like clothing, colors, and diagrams of the body.
  2. I hook up my iPad to a projector.
  3. I use Skitch to annotate the image. My students are able to chime in and respond to what’s happening on the screen; for example, I’ll color in a pair of pants, then draw an arrow and prompt the students to name the color. Or, I’ll ask a student to come up and color another part of the image. I sometimes take pictures of (willing) faculty members and call on students to draw silly clothes or hairstyles on them. Skitch makes learning more fun, and turns it into a group activity that’s very engaging.

Skitch makes technology accessible. My students are really excited about using iPads, and Skitch gives them a fun and easy way to interact with them. They are amazingly proficient, and Skitch is so intuitive that they can go home and play around with it on their own almost immediately.

Skitch makes it easy to share. I can share all of the images we create in the classroom on my blog, so parents can see what their child has accomplished. Skitch then becomes not only a great teaching tool, but a great communication tool that can be used to keep parents updated with what’s going on in my classroom.

Skitch for illustrating motion. For French language instruction, my school uses the Accelerated Integrated Method which pairs words with actions in way that’s similar to sign language. Skitch is great for helping kids practice and learn the movements. To do this, I take a picture of myself posing in the correct position, then use arrows and text to describe the motion.

Skitch on the go. I work in a school where I switch classrooms throughout the day, and I have a cart of materials that I take with me between each class. With Skitch on my iPad, I can just snap photos so I don’t have to lug around a bunch of coloring books or other papers on my cart. All I need is my iPad and an HDMI cord/adapter!

Skitch for showing complex chords to my guitar students

In addition to teaching French, I’m also an avid guitar player and give lessons to students on the weekends and evenings. Before Skitch, I used to take pictures of my fingers’ positions for different chords and then just list them in order for my students to help them memorize the placement. Now I use Skitch to quickly label and share — it’s so much easier to keep track of what chord I’m trying to show them. I simply snap a photo of my fingers in the correct position, use Skitch’s text or drawing tool to label it, and share it via email. Marking up chords in Skitch is a cinch and it really helps students visualize where they need to place their fingers to get the right sound.

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