Using Evernote to reduce my paperwork

I can honestly say that I’m one of those teachers who just can’t shut off over the holidays.

I spend lots of time thinking about all the things that are coming up in the new year, or in the next term. What are the new resources that I’ll need? Can I find any great online resources or tools to support learning in my classroom? Can I make connections with other educators to further my own knowledge and understanding? How can I streamline my paperwork?

One thing I’ve been working on over these Summer holidays has been the last question on the list. I’m terrible with paperwork – absolutely and utterly hopeless. My papers get thrown on a pile and left there until the end of the term/semester/year. (Another goal is to learn to be clutter-free, but that’s a whole other story.)

My solution is Evernote.

By now you’re probably going, ‘Yeah, Stef, you’ve talked about Evernote before.’

And I have. Inspired by Bec Spink I experimented with Evernote very briefly last year using a checklist to track students who were returning their communication folders and readers each day. I intend to keep using that particular checklist in 2012 because it only takes a couple of minutes and gives me a very accurate record. Here’s a screenshot of what my checklist looks like (ready for first term):

I’m going a bit further by using Evernote as a digital portfolio of student work and assessment.

My goal is to, ultimately, have a very complete record of student capabilities when it comes time for report writing and parent interviews. (It’ll also be handy so that I don’t have to cart workbooks to and from school – always a bonus!)

I’ve set up notebooks for each student in my class so that I can add the following items throughout the year:

  • writing samples (once a month)
  • reading samples, audio (at least 2)
  • running records
  • assessment pieces across the curriculum (as completed)
  • anecdotal records
  • behaviour logs

The majority of this work will be collected as a photo (taken on my ipad) and stored as a new note in each student’s notebook. I’m also going to make use of the audio note taking to record students reading.

(Evernote view from laptop – student notebooks set up on far left side.)

The brilliant thing about Evernote (and other cloud storage programs) is that it syncs across multiple devices, so that I can add new notes and access everything from my iPad, my iPhone and my laptop. So, if I forget one of the devices somewhere (or I forget to charge my iPad… it’s been known to happen!) I can still access all of my files.

I’ve also started using it to store all of my PD notes, meetings, and ideas for my classroom.

I’m sure I’ll be adjusting my plans (adding and adjusting) as the year goes on. But having these tools available to us as teachers really gives us a lot of room to experiment and discover what works and what doesn’t work.

So that’s one of my goals!

Did you set any goals for teaching this year?

Do you have any other excellent tools for being organised (or even just tips)?

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15 thoughts on “Using Evernote to reduce my paperwork

  1. So glad to see someone else is using Evernote this year – I have taken some of your ideas and am going to try them too. I want to use this resource as ePortfolios too so it will be great to follow what happens for you at the same time! I love how Evernote is able to sync to all of my devices – makes life so easy!

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    • @ Kimberley,

      Fantastic – since learning about Evernote all of this has been brewing in the back of my mind. I have a 2-step plan of attack with using it for portfolios: at first it’s for me as a teacher as a portable record of student work; eventually I do want to use it for ePortfolios. But like you said, I’ll eagerly follow what happens for you as you use it this year and we can all learn from each other (which is still one of the best parts of teaching)!

      Stef

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  2. Hi Steph,

    I LOVE this post! I think it is great how you are planning to use Evernote. I really like the idea of having a notebook set up for each student and adding notes as they come up throughout the year. It leaves room for lots of flexibility which is always a good thing! I think I like it better than the way I have mine set up! Seems to make sense having of a student’s notes in one place. I think I might change mine now!

    Also I love the new blog header and name! Looks great.

    Regards,
    Bec

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  3. P.S

    I am so bad at answering questions!

    My main goal for this year is to make meaningful global collaborations through my class blog and other tools, especially Skype.

    I think you know all of my secrets when it comes to organisation! Evernote should pay me for how much I rave about them to everyone I know! Haha

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    • @ Bec,

      Thanks, Bec – it means a lot coming from you, my Evernote guru!

      I tried to keep the process as simple as possible, mostly so I stick to it! The fact that Evernote allows you to take and add photos to notes so easily is what really got me thinking last year and kind of spawned this whole idea. Originally I had my incoming preps take photos of the work they did on their Meet the Teacher day (so I already have some of their work in their notebooks) and I love that I can add anything I need to from this point forward.

      One of my goals involves Skype as well! With the other prep and 1/2 classes in the school (because I’m geographically removed from both my areas unfortunately) and with other schools. If you ever need a Skype buddy, let me know!

      Between the two of us, Bec, we could become Aussie teacher ambassadors for Evernote! (But really, it’s hard NOT to rave about it when it has so many helpful features and applications for its users.)

      And thanks for the feedback on the new header and name. Was never really happy with the old name (mostly because the one I really wanted was already being used by someone in my PLN)… but I love Dr. Seuss and I love this book and I think it sums up my current headspace quite well!

      Stef

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    • Hi Ron,

      My apologies for not replying to you sooner. Thanks for visiting my blog and for sharing the link to the discussion boards. I confess I hadn’t had time to visit the boards before, so I am definitely happy to share this post with other educators.

      Thanks again,
      Stefanie

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  4. Hi Stef,

    Great post! I can totally relate to you being one of those teachers who just can’t shut off over the holidays. I find myself bouncing from one idea to another and never really stop thinking about all the possiblities. Good to know there are others with the same `problem’. 🙂 I read your ideas for using Evernote with interest as (being a new ipad owner) I too plan to use it in the classroom this year. I’m still in the setting up stage – fiddling around, trying to work out the functions – lots to learn. I hope you continue to post about your adventures in Evernote as it is really useful to read about what works for others (thanks @becspink for your excellent posts too).
    This year is a year for collaboration for me – quadblogging and hopefully making more connections with other teachers and classes. I plan to continue learning with and integrating tech. – sharing my ipad with my K class should be fun! Using Evernote to organise my records is my big idea at the moment but if I find any other ways I will be sure to let you know.

    Jen 🙂

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    • Hi Jen,

      Thanks so much for visiting the blog!

      The really nice thing about the iPad is that it’s very intuitive. I spent the first six months with my iPad just playing around and deciding what I liked (and what I didn’t like). I used to get lots of ideas from Twitter and other blogs – which is how I stumbled on Evernote. (And yes, that’s Bec’s doing!)

      I definitely plan to keep sharing how I’ve used Evernote (and other apps) because you’re right – it’s far more useful to read about what other people are using and finding successful (or not).

      I’d love to hear about your experiences with quadblogging – it’s not something I’ve been involved in yet (taking baby steps) and I’d love to know how it goes for you and your class. Kinder kids love using the iPad; it’s such a motivator in that sense.

      Stef

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  5. Hi Stef

    I too use Evernote thanks to @BecSpink. I love it! I am hopeless at keeping paper records and end up with information all over the place. I love how I can have it all organised beautifully in one place across many devices. I use it a lot for literacy record keeping and notes/observations on running records. The search function is a great way to group students too. For example, once I have tested all students I have a good idea of teaching foci so I would type in ‘b/d confusion’ for example and it will list all the students where I mentioned that and then I have those kids as a pull out group. So easy! And it also ensures that your groupings are fluid and needs based rather than children being in the same group for ever.

    Good luck with it all!

    Sue

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  6. Hi Stef
    Thanks for the great post. I am a fledgling en user as of late last year. I had been thinking of creative ways to manage assessing student work, capturing samples and managing anecdotal notes. Along came en. So I started experimenting and now I’m back thinking more seriously about the potential of this resource. Your blog (along with Bec’s) helps inspire me to get more serious.
    I look forward to sharing some more ideas with you. BTW, I loved your blog from 2011!
    regards
    Deb

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    • Hi David,

      I created the table on my Mac using the free Evernote program, and then synced it to the iPad – unfortunately I can’t create/edit the table on the iPad side, but it’s easy enough to do on my laptop.

      Hope that helps!

      Stef

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  7. Hi Stefanie,

    Great article about Evernote, I’m studying primary education at Deakin (couple more years to go though) and have switched to Evernote for all my note taking, readings and general ‘things I need to remember’. It has quite literally transformed my study habits.

    I really liked your point “I’ve also started using it to store all of my PD notes, meetings, and ideas for my classroom”. Over the semester break I did a few short PD’s that I stored all my notes in Evernote, I’m looking forward to being able to simply search ‘dice games’ and finding all my notes from the PD in a couple of years. I even scanned the certificates into Evernote in case I ever lose my original copy.

    I’ll definitely be using it once I graduate.

    Daniel

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    • Hi Daniel,

      Since writing this post, I keep finding new ways to use Evernote. Most recently I’ve started using the Evernote web clipper to grab interesting websites/articles/ideas for the classroom as well. Evernote is one of those tools I wish I’d had while studying (I probably would have been a bit more organised!).

      That’s a fantastic idea, about scanning certificates into Evernote. Having everything easily accessible wherever I am is one of the great features of Evernote.

      Also, a good tip for when you graduate – VIT now requires teachers to input their own PD. By storing all my PD notes on Evernote I’m able to email them to myself, print as a .pdf and upload my notes as evidence of my PD as well.

      Good luck with your course! And thanks for sharing your Evernote ideas!

      Stef

      Like

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