Friday, August 3, 2012

Using @Evernoteschools for Lesson Planning #EdChat

Since I started this Experiment to use Evernote in every aspect of my classroom, I wasn't really sure what I was going to discover. I was sure there would be some way that Evernote was not going to meet my needs and I would be forced to add another tool to my chest while I continue the experiment for the school year. One way I was weary of was lesson planning. I have used the the traditional planner book for years and it has always been very good to me. I could easily flip back and see what I what I did the year before as I planned the upcoming school year. I'm not a big fan of trying to fix things that are not broken, but I figured I needed to give it a try in the name of the Experiment. Needless to say, I was not disappointed.

Here is a shot of my desktop version of Evernote. I have created lesson plan notebooks for each class I'm teaching. Within those notebooks, I've created notes for the individual units I have created for the school year. For each unit, I do not place dates, because I want the flexibility to move units around as I need to. 

Within the notebooks for the specific classes, I have scanned and uploaded various assignments I had in paper form only and added them to new notes. For assignments I already had in digital form, I copied and pasted them into new notes. This was a very simple and smooth process. I now have every document I need to teach a full year of school. 

Since all of my students will have Evernote accounts, I can easily share the assignments with the students in specially created notebooks. I can take a note, copy it and place it in the shared notebook when I assign the work. No handouts, copies or lost work. It will be there for the students the moment I place it in the notebook. There will be a tremendous amount of time saved by not having to pass out assignments to everyone at the start or end of the class. 

I have also created notebooks that contain notes on tech tips for using the various tools. The students will have complete access to any and all information when they want and where they need it. Simple things like this will save everyone involved some time when it comes to troubleshooting. As the school year moves along, I will be able to add new notes to address issues that come up along the way. 

One of my favorite parts of lesson planning in Evernote is the ability to tag my notes. 

If I want to see all of the different essay assignments for first semester, I just need to search tags for "Essay writing" and "First Semester." Only those notes will appear in the search field. I can narrow the search down as much as I want. It is awesome. I was never much of a tagger when it came to using Evernote for personal use, but for lesson planning, it would be stupid not to tag everything. My notebooks are only going to grow over time, so tagging makes sense when I want to find something to edit it or even share it. Tagging is going to save me so much time down the road. No longer will I be digging through a filing cabinet looking for "that" assignment. A quick search of my tags will have it ready in a flash. 

As I look at the set up, I have to say the best part is the fact I do not need to re-invent the wheel a year from now. It took me hours to sit and plan out an entire school year for three classes, but it is worth it. I will not have to do it again. I will have to tweak assignments and I might remove or add readings, but the bulk of my content is saved for life. 

Another nice bit is that my lessons are available on my iPhone, iPad, home computer and anywhere I have Internet access. If I want, I can download all of these notes and access them when the Internet is down. I've spilt drinks on my lesson planner before, it was an awful experience. Now, it's not a problem. 

If you are looking for a new way to approach lesson planning, please take the time to explore how Evernote can change and improve the way you prepare for the school year. You will not regret it. 

I look forward to sharing with you more of the cool things I discover and the Epic Evernote Experiment continues. 

- The Nerdy Teacher


  1. Thanks for this information! I've heard a lot about Evernote, and I know a few teachers who love it passionately. I've hardly even looked at it beyond signing up for an account.

    I love the idea of being able to access and develop lesson plans easily across multiple devices. I think I definitely will need to check this out. I appreciate your explanations.

  2. Very creative solution. I also like your comittment to your Epic Evernote Experiment. I am new to Evernote, but want to investigate how to lesson plan with the tool now after reading about your experience. It seems very efficient and organized. Can't wait to hear updates about how Evernote serves you throughout your year. Very cool experiment you have taken on.

  3. Your lesson plans are very organized on Evernote and you'll have the ease of tweaking whenever necessary. I am wondering how I could use this since my school district requires teachers to embed our lesson plans within the gradebook program we are using.

  4. Other than tagging, how do you have the sequence of your lessons (notes) organized in Evernote? Why did you do a notebook per class & units as notes instead of each unit as a notebook?

    I greatly appreciate you paving the way with Evernote! Thanks for documenting & sharing your journey!

  5. Time to put the lesson plan book manufacturers out of business! Thanks for sharing this. I started doing this last week and the tagging feature is a game changer. Sharing plans with colleagues is also a plus.

  6. I've been trying to find more ways to use Evernote and this is one way where I can see myself using it. I've used Evernote for lists of projects I'll be doing with students as well as sites I want to share w/ my colleagues. Then I use it to clip things I want to add later. I've used Google Spreadsheets for my lesson plans, but I can't get detailed enough in them. Thanks for sharing and presenting another option for Evernote!

  7. I really, really like Evernote, always have. Thanks to your post and some others I am finding new uses such as for Lesson Plans. However, currently I am only able to use my iPad and Evernote does not seem to support "stacking" in the notebooks, which is a serious drawback. Not sure if the web app does or not.

  8. I liked the screen shots, helped me get it quickly.
    Thanks, now to make myself take the leap into using evernote.

  9. As always, a great post! Every day I find a new use for Evernote…thanks for the insights to add to that list of great things to do.

    My son has to do an e-portfolio for his careers class and he's decided to use Evernote.

    HIs teacher was so excited that she plan to not only start using it herself, but recommend it to all her students!

    The Evernote explosion continues!!

    Now if they'd only make Evernote Hello for the Blackberry!!

  10. What a great post! I have been using Evernote to organize other things, but hope to encourage other teachers to use this for lesson planning. I agree it will take time up front, but the tag feature and staying as paperless as possible will save time down the road. I am going to link your work on my blog as I discuss some examples of how teachers use Evernote. One tool I use a lot is the email to Evernote feature. I email my self important documents and tag them in my Evernote. This is a great way to keep my inbox clean and not lose important information. Thanks again!


  11. Great post! I too use Evernote for my lesson plans and do much of the same things you recommend.

    One additional thing I do may be of benefit to you. After I put all of my documents into notes, I then copy the note link. I keep a notebook called "Lesson Plans" and a separate note for each class I teach. In that note I keep an outline of my lesson plans and paste the note link.

    For example, I have "Week 3 Aug. 27-31" and under that heading I pasted the note links to all the notes, assignments, and activities we did that week.

    This is a really helpful tool for staying organized and being able to find my notes quickly. It also has allowed me to change the order of my plans by simply moving the links in my outline.

    I'll write a post about this and use some screen shots to help illustrate how using note links is really helpful for lesson plans.


  12. I use Evernote to plan and reflect on my lessons. I teach 17 different sections of Spanish in K-5th grade. I title my lessons by date, level and teacher, e.g., 2012-09-05 Tues 2 Smith and list my lessons in reverse order so that today's lessons are always at/near the top. The copy note function allows me to copy lessons of the same level or material into new lessons. I love Evernote.

  13. I use Evernote mostly for collecting the learning journeys of students, formative assessment, recording, and planning. I've started to use it more for planning units as a place to collect essential questions, key understandings, resources, books, links, etc.. I'm still in the very beginning stages of this and your post reminded me I need to keep working toward this goal.

    Like you I find tagging to be one of the best features of EN. It gives me more power in sorting, sifting, and planning. I am intrigued by the way you are also using EN to collaborate and support students.

    Thanks for sharing,


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