Curating research using Apple Notes

Apple Notes for collection and curation of resources


One of the challenges for ourselves and our students is the collecting and curation of resources.  There is now a vast ocean of resources and ideas that can be accessed online or created by ourselves.  Some old figures is shown in the image,

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Access to lots of information is detrimental to student development, more is not better.  Students need to be taught how to curate and focus on the valuable information to make informed decisions.

A tool I like to use myself and encourage my students to use Apple Notes. True, there are lots of tools that serve this purpose such as Evernote which has been around for awhile.  However, I will talk about Note simply because it comes standard on all Apple devices.  It also easily synchs across all of a users devices, meaning the notes/resources follow them around.

Using Apple Notes you can teach your students to create a system of collections of information by subject.  You can have them create their notes without any content and the guide them how to link information within those categories.  Intrinsically they will start to develop skills in thinking and sorting information to be quickly accessed later, whether for a project, research in depth or revision.  An example of some groupings are below:

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Within each of those groupings are the links, notes and other digital information they have collected or entered manually.  A list of my sample Latin links are shown here.

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Where the notes become enhanced is by the annotation of the links to provide depth to students.  It can also form part of the development process for students when creating an annotated bibliography.  Importantly it will provide context for why the students linked the information initially when they return to it at a later stage.  Have you ever booked marked a site and then when you returned later you could not remember why, requiring you to reread the site to trigger your memory.  Annotation reduces this time, triggers memory on the purpose of the link and provides greater depth of information that can be easily updated.  It creates the foundation of a student system to manage their learning resources which become invaluable in the later school and professional years.

So how do you link resources to online resources.  

In this example I will use Safari as the web browser.

So I was looking for some books for my daughter to read in Latin.  A good approach to develop new language skills is have students read a text naturally in the new language they wish to learn.  Of interest to my daughter was a Latin language version of Harry Potter 🙂 

So locate  a website with some good options.  

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I don’t have time to read about each of these books know and I wish to return to them later.  Traditionally you may bookmark it, but that leads to lots of bookmarks that often you never look at again.   So I decide to add it to my Latin teaching note. 


On Apple products there is a “share” icon of the scare with the arrow. 

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 When you click on that you will see a menu appear and we are interested din the “Notes” option.  Select that. When you do the following image appears.  

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Sometimes you need to wait a few seconds for the page data to load.  At the bottom you can choose the note group your would like to place it in, or create a brand new note.  At this you have the first opportunity for annotation of the link.  You can add this later if you wish).  And then click save.  It will then be stored on in notes and starting to be synched across the related devices including their personal iPhones, meaning they take their resources with them and can them at any stage.  Press save when you finished annotating the link. 

When you go to the notes you will see the different links or other information you have entered.  


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You can then access your Lins by clicking on the links shown above.  You can also add additional notes over time as you learn more material.  It can be used for project research, being effective helping students organising their initial notes before they start the refining process.  They can delete an add resources as the projects evolve and they narrow their focus to their question.  

Over time it builds a well organised collection of resources.  I use notes to collect information from a range of sources, not just webpages, resources from twitter, instagram and other online resources.  

Hopefully this is useful for you and your students. 


A personal favourite – Hereford Mappamundi Source analysis

I have finally found some time to write about one of my favourite lessons. While I teach in two areas of computing and the humanities, the medieval period is my favourite period of History, though I love all history, The period has such an amazing range of sources and evidence of medieval though of the world as they slowly rediscovered the scientific foundations lost with he collapse of the Western Roman empire.

A favourite source I love to share with my students is the Hereford Mappamundi. If you ever visit Hereford definitely go see the original at the Cathedral it well worth the visit. I am not going to critique the source, there are lots of amazing websites that can do that for you with a little research. This activity is run for Year 8 Medieval history class.

The task I have designed is a whole class cooperative learning activity. The lesson students of all levels to participate and it relies on peer sharing and discussion to be successful It is also very engaging and it has never failed once to excite my students.

The setup:

I have made A1 size copies of the map. These were printed and laminated so that I can use them each and still look new after 5 years of use. (See photo)

I arranged the class into groups of 4 (Maximum number). I setup u the classroom are you see it below, so each group can work independently to each other initially.

Classroom setup before the start of the lesson

On each table I provide each drop with the same resources to complete the task. There is the map, two magnifying glasses (Limit of my budget) and a whiteboard marker. Each group needs a different whiteboard marker. This will be used for accountable for each group later. All history students should have a access to a magnifying class to analysis sources including etc based sources.

The resources of each group

Student brief: The students are not told anything about the map, only that it is a medieval source. The unknown factor is a big incentive for students, it creates a mystery for them. They will required to investigate the source and write what they find on a single whiteboard for all groups to see.

Task progression: The students will will initially start to note obvious elements of the source. But slowly they will discover patterns. The collective effort of the class will see ideas being quickly shared, providing clues to other groups, who build on those ideas as displayed below.

Whole class whiteboard of source elements

Normally about half way through yhe lesson I’ll pause for a whole class discussion to consolidate what they have learnt and if required build links. At this stage students will start expressing their hypothesis on what the source is and why it was created. In some circumstances if needed I’ll provide some clues or directions to look at specific elements of the map, such as why is that red body of water red (i.e. Red Sea) or the orientation of the map being a T-O Map in design. I would also explain some of the Latin phrases in the map. If you examinee the sample whiteboard you can see the level of contribution of each group by the colour of the whiteboard markers used by each group.

Once we have obtained enough information of the source, we begin the process of analysing it as a useful source in understanding medieval thought. The complex nature of the source as a historical record, a bestiary, world atlas on a single layered map means that students will alway find interesting elements to investigate further.

I hope you investigate whether this source and activity give it go.

P.S. Prior to my laminating my maps in A1 size. I used to use an A3 size map which was still effective.