Last year, I saw a tweet from Zoe Branigan-Pipe (@zbpipe) talking about Evernote, and based on her recommendation, I signed up for an account. Since then, I’ve been using Evernote in a variety of different ways, and it’s definitely become one of my favourite tools to use.
During Elementary Chat (#elemchat) tonight on Twitter, I replied to a tweet by @NancyTeaches about Evernote, and shortly after that, @NancyTeaches, @BarbaraDay, and @mbfxc asked me to blog about how I use this tool. So this blog post is for all of them, and for all of you too, that might be interested in different ways to use this wonderful tool! In the style of @whatedsaid and her “top 10 list,” here’s the list of my Top 10 Ways to Use Evernote:
1. Use it for anecdotal records. I have a Notebook on each of my students, and in it, I can insert my observations throughout the day. There is a fantastic iPad App for Evernote, and you can even send what you write with the Livescribe Pen to Evernote too, so there’s all kinds of ways to update these records.
2. Use it for evaluation. When I give students marks, I insert these marks into my Evernote Notebooks. This is a great way for me to keep all of my marks in one place to easily access for report card purposes too!
3. Use it for sharing feedback with students. As part of our TLCP (Teaching Learning Critical Pathways) process, we have been encouraged to tell students what they are doing well and a way for them to improve. Many teachers write these “stars and wishes” right on the submitted work, but I often find that the students cannot always read what I wrote, which means that they are not using my suggestions either. In addition to writing the feedback on student work, I orally record this feedback in a separate Notebook — one for each child — that I then share with that child. The students can then go to the classroom computer and listen to this feedback. I can also share this Notebook with parents, and they can reinforce these concepts at home too.
4. Use it for sharing data with teachers or administrators. Earlier in the year, I had an in-school meeting on one of the students in my class. I was asked to bring my notes on this student to the meeting, but in order to give the Learning Resource Teacher and the administrators a chance to really look at the notes, I shared this student’s Notebook with them in advance of the meeting. This proved incredibly useful, as all of us then came to the meeting prepared to talk about the child and what we could do to support him.
5. Use it for student self-reflection. This year, I have started using my iPad to record some guided reading sessions. The AudioMemos app on the iPad allows you to upload recordings to Evernote. This has been great, as I’ve uploaded recordings of students reading and talking about reading, and I’ve let these students listen to the recordings in these Notebooks. These students are then reflecting on their decoding skills and their reading comprehension skills too. Hearing themselves read and hearing themselves talk about reading has really helped these students become better readers!
6. Use it to expand on ideas. While I will record many little notes in Evernote, I am not one that likes to write paragraphs on each of the students. I do have lots of thoughts that I like to share though, and I’m an auditory learner, so sharing these notes in a way that I can listen to them later, makes a difference for me. Evernote allows you to easily make an audio comment to accompany any written notes too. I tend to do just this. Then I have something written down to trigger my memory on what I was thinking, but then when time permits, I can listen to my audio thoughts too.
7. Use it for brainstorming. Last year, I created some Notebooks for my students to use. They used these Notebooks to brainstorm ideas about a text or brainstorm ideas on a particular subject, and then they took these ideas to later complete different writing activities. I could easily share these Notebooks through email with either the students or the parents, so that they could continue these writing activities at home as well. I never got to this point last year, but we’ll see what this year brings.
8. Use it to keep your work at your fingertips. This weekend I found out that you can upload Adobe files to Evernote. I have some files on my computer associated with the TLCP (Teaching Learning Critical Pathways) that I want to have access to on a regular basis. It’s not always convenient to pull up this information on my laptop, but it is on my iPad. With Evernote, I can upload all of these files into one Notebook, and then easily access any of them on my iPad with just the click of a button. Fantastic!
9. Use it to store and organize photographs for formative assessment. I think that photographs can show you a lot about what students know, and I often take photographs in the classroom to show student learning. These photographs can be uploaded to a Notebook, and I can then look at them, see what the students already know and what they still need to learn, and adjust my teaching accordingly. This has definitely helped make me a better teacher!
10. Maybe the best reason of all: use it to avoid the “paper problem.” I do not do well with paper. I don’t think that I’ve ever done well with paper. I am constantly losing paper notes, or adding them to a never-ending pile, from which I can never seem to find the paper again anyway. Evernote is fantastic though, as instead of having a bunch of paper anecdotal notes or marks, I can keep everything online, in one safe location, where I can find it later. This is the tool for me!
So why do you use Evernote? How are some different ways that you have used it too? I would love to hear what you have to say!