Thursday, December 15, 2011


During one memorable session at NCTE, Franki Sibberson and Donalyn Miller mentioned a pen made by Livescribe. I had heard about this pen on Twitter as well. It records your conversation and your writing. You can download the writing along with the audio file to your computer. While this sounds intriguing, I hadn’t really understood the potential. The ladies in this session planted the seed of curiosity, though.

Then I was at my final session of NCTE. Patrick Allen was in the audience and he was using one of the pens. I went up to him and asked him to explain it to me, and like a good teacher, he did. I wanted one.

My wonderfully supportive husband agreed to purchase a pen for Christmas. Knowing me well, he handed it over the moment it came in last weekend. Finally! I immediately named it, Anaklusmos, after Percy’s sword/ pen in The Lightning Thief. (Is that #nerdybookclub or what?) Monday I brought Anaklusmos to school and began setting it up. Here’s my review:

Cons (get the bad stuff out of the way!):

The cost is high. I have the 8GB. It was on sale after Thanksgiving for about $90 but is usually much higher. The special paper is an added cost. Also, the set up was a bit confusing and I connected the pen a few times only to get an error message. Reconnecting it seemed to fix that. I still haven’t figured out the online notebooks in Evernote or search features, but I plan on exploring more over break.


Their support was awesome. When I wasn’t sure if I had something installed correctly I went to the online support and a staff member helped me immediately. Once everything was installed, it was easy to figure out how to use it.

How I envision using this:

(sorry - I cut out the students' names and it looks a bit choppy)

So far I’ve used it for reading conferences. To save paper I write the date, student’s name, book (see image). Then I stop writing and record the entire conversation. Once I download it to my computer, I am able to listen to the exact conversation a student and I had, can analyze their reading fluency, remind myself of what we talked about, etc.

I also plan on purchasing the Magic Wand Scanner (also recommended in the same session). I would love to be able to create some type of virtual portfolio where I can store artifacts, reading/writing conferences, parent teacher conferences, etc. Maybe in Evernote? I’m still exploring this possibility but am optimistic about what I might come up with.

On a side note, I recommended this pen to my principal as well. I think it would be wonderful to have as an administrator, especially when conferencing with students who have come in with a behavior problem. It is so difficult to get everything they say written down.

Finally, a word of advice. I have told all of my students about the pen and would also let any parent know about its recording capacity. Illinois has some tough Eavesdropping laws and I would hate for anyone to get in trouble for using such an amazing new device. So, have you tried out the Livescribe pen? Any tips you would care to share? I’d love to hear from you and I promise to update when I’ve used Anaklusmos a bit more.