Do you sometimes find yourself and your students focused on one type of tool or another? Maybe you’re deep into a writing unit, and students have been immersed in their journals, pencils and paper writing. Or, maybe they’re so immersed in their Google Doc that they haven’t touched a pencil in days. Frankly, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with either scenario. Each form of media, digital and analog, has it’s own strengths and weaknesses. I think that as educators, one of our main purposes is to help students understand how to choose the right tools, and to help them achieve the right balance for their individual needs.

Pencil, paper, markers, white boards, sticky notes, crayons, paint. All of these are excellent tools for creation that should be abundant in every classroom no matter the digital tools you have available. Magic happens when students are able to add analog creations to products produced digitally. Sketchnotes and drawings are particularly great to combine with digital media. Check out this ThingLink my class made to curate our notes on salamanders and amphibians.

ThingLink, along with the iPad camera is one of my favorite ways to combine paper and pencil work with digital media to find that perfect balance in creation. This ThingLink “Digital & Analog” recipe is one that we use often to record student work and easily share it with others. Hover over the ThingLink for lots of tips and details!

Get your students started by encouraging them to draw or write on a topic. Then use the iPad camera to capture their work. Doc Scan is an excellent, and free, tool that allows you to crop and clean up images so they’re just right. Then as appropriate, combine the images into a collage that will be the background of your ThingLink. Next, add a layer of awesome! Record student voice with audioBoom, have them create videos or word clouds to show additional understanding. Finally, add all their hard work onto a ThingLink to share.

This “recipe” for digital and analog balance could be used in so many ways. Here are just a few:

  • Class research projects. – Add student sketchnotes, art, and video projects to a collaborative ThingLink.
  • Individual research projects. – Let students make their own ThingLink, adding all different sorts of artifacts.
  • Interactive diagrams. – Students paint or draw to create an image to label, then add the labels and extra information using ThingLink
  • Documenting a process or field trip.
  • Create a class yearbook.
  • Curate student work, notes or projects into one easily shareable space.

I hope you’ll be inspired to combine digital and analog work to create amazing projects!


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