Wednesday, August 8, 2012

iPad App review: Penultimate

According to my blog stats, it's teacher planning time!!! The most visited portion of this blog lately is the lesson planning idea page. Pretty cool, if you ask me. And like you all? I am doing plenty of planning for next year as well.

Pinterest has been a huge wellspring for inspiration for me but I also find lots of ideas via my blogroll managed by my Google reader. Every time I see something I like, I will star the posting so that I can return back to it when I need to. Now, this system has worked for me but it has also been a little clunky (if you will). It required me to do a ton of printing, filing, spreadsheeting, and inevitably forgetting about the file stacks of lesson plans that I had printed and never really looked at again since all I ever really used was my single printed spreadsheet that I would write all over and dirty up.

Enter: Penultimate for iPad

OH MY LAND!!! This app TRULY blows me away!! It does everything that I was doing in a format that is incredibly efficient, portable, and shareable, but also doesn't force me to give up certain elements of lesson planning that I just can't stop myself from doing - like using pictures for reference, making lists, compartmentalizing my ideas, and physically writing notes about what I intend to do with my project plans for each of my classes.

Penultimate is essentially a wellspring of digital notebooks that you can use to put pictures in and then handwrite notes about what you want to do with them. I created a notebook for each of the courses I am instructing this year and I access them by simply touch-scrolling through the lineup until I get to the one I want.

When I get to the one I want, I simply touch it open and it brings to me to the last page I completed.

Pages can be changed to be a grid/graph background, have narrow or wide rule notebook lines, to-do checklists, etc. You can import pictures either from the on-board camera OR from your camera roll. You can put more than one picture of the page and layer them as well.

After you put your picture on the page, you can hand write notes on or around it as you like. What works for best for me for the purposes of supplies ordering is just putting a picture (for visual reference/recall) and then listing the supplies I anticipate needing right next to the picture. This works well for me because there are a lot of project ideas that I see that are not standard art education lessons and I do a lot of top-down planning.

Once you have a handful of pages finished, you can view them all together and rearrange them if you like. The below is a view of all of the notebooks open to their last completed pages but this is the same view you see if you look just at the pages within one notebook. You can touch and move any of the pages to rearrange them and reorder them if you need to.

Something I haven't done but plan on trying is sharing and/or exporting any of my notebooks either to email or to other apps. This is good for people who might prefer typing over handwriting since *I think* the Penultimate imports elsewhere as an image file that is put on a page where you can type things around it.

Before I got Penultimate I considered Evernote (which I got and honestly don't care much for) and Pages. I got Penultimate randomly but I am so glad that I did. It is the ultimate digitized notebook if ever there was one.

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