Thursday, May 30, 2013

Wrapping up the Epic @Evernote Experiment #EdChat

It is hard to believe that June is upon us and my Epic Evernote Experiment is coming to a close. I wanted to share some thoughts with you on how this worked out for me and my students this year and offer some suggestions for teachers considering integrating Evernote into their workflow.

Lesson Planning:

This was the first year that I moved all of my lesson plans to Evernote. Everything I did started in Evernote as a note. All of my units were outlined in Evernote and all of my projects were planned in Evernote. If it was an idea in my brain about school, it ended up in Evernote.

I was able to store all of my old handouts and notes as PDFs that became searchable parts of my Evernote environment. I loved having my lessons with me wherever I went. I would often add ideas on my phone while waiting for meetings, appointments or before I went to bed. I was able to lesson plan on the go and that is huge for me. I found myself on the go more than ever this year and it was nice to have my lessons with me so I can address any ideas I might have. Inspiration rarely hits me while I'm sitting at my desk, so Evernote was perfect for capturing my ideas whenever and wherever I had them. 


I created shared notebooks for student assignments. I personally invited each student to the notebook for their class. In that notebook, I placed the days' work. Almost every day, there was a new note explaining what the class work was going to be the next day. 

Students were able to access their work wherever they could access Evernote. The vast majority of my students have mobile devices of their own, so many of them would access Evernote on their cellphone. I had a significant drop in the number of students who claimed that they did not know what they assignment was the day before. It has been a huge time saver on my part. I no longer have to use class time to catch students up on what they missed. They know to go to Evernote to see what we did and what they need to make up. 


I was able to find a digital version of almost every piece of literature my class covered this year. I found them all online and saved these links in notes and shared them with the students. This allowed my students to leave their bulky textbook at home and read on the fly with their personal device. Most of the novels still needed to be passed out to the students, byt the vast majority of poems and short stories we cover are outside of copyright, so free digital version were available to my students. 

This was great for my students who wanted to see what the assignment was and complete it without ever having to leave the Evernote environment. Many students told me this was very helpful when they were going on vacation, sports trips and other long excursions where a large textbook and a notebook would not help them in a bus or car. Evernote gave them access to do their work when they wanted and that is a big win for me as a teacher. 

One final part of access has to do with parents. I placed the public link to the homework notebooks on my school website so parents could access the work as well. If a parent wanted, they could join the notebook from the public link I have posted and they can keep track of their child's work from anywhere they are. It's a nice bonus feature for parents that do not want to jump through hoops to get my teacher page and find the correct class for the assignments. 


One of the big pushes for me this year was to have my students create portfolios. I wanted them to create a digital record of their work so they could access it when they needed. This access would hopefully prompt better reflection on their writing and leave to improved skills and stronger writing as the year progressed. 

My students have been keeping all of their work in Evernote this year and I think it has worked well. All handwritten work can be scanned or captured using Evernote's camera function. The nice part of the photos being added is that they become a searchable part of the Evernote environment. This means students can search for specific comments I have left and see what they need to work on for their next assignment. 

Students have done a very good jon of keeping their portfolios together, but some needed constant reminders to put their items in their so I could review them later. I loved the ability to have these portfolios be a shared notebook that would allow me to create a note just for my comments. It allowed for a dialogue on their work that did not need to happen publicly in class. I did not use this feature as much as I would have liked, but I can see myself dedicating more time to it next year because I do think it is a valuable option for communicating with students about their work. 

Next Year - Reminders 

This new feature by Evernote allows users to set up notification reminders on notes. This is going to be awesome for next year. Students that have joined shared notebooks can get automatic reminders if I set them on their assignments. I can set the reminder for one minute before school gets out so they can remember to get what they need from their locker for an assignment they might have forgotten about. 

This little addition to the Evernote world is huge for education. Students could get a digital reminder for every assignment given to them if the teacher adds the reminder to the note. That is huge. All of those students that forgot work despite all of the this help, can get one more reminder before school gets out for the day. I was hoping for something like this and I'm excited to see this in practice next year.

Overall Assessment:

I loved moving to Evernote this year. For me, it makes the most sense. I love having everything in a central location and at my fingertips. I will not have to reinvent the wheel next year with my lessons and I can tweak work on Evernote whenever I want. I worked hard all year to leave notes to myself in the lessons I made so I can make the appropriate changes next year. Using Evernote for Lesson Planning is a no brainer and I can't wait to see what next year will look like knowing I do not have to start from scratch. 

As for the student use, I was very happy with how everything turned out. Students used Evernote to take class notes, plan projects and store their graded work. I would like to try and set up a way using Evernote's email for students to submit work digitally and directly into notebooks. I would also like to try using Skitch to grade their work as well. The kids loved using Evernote and many of them used it for other classes. It really had a positive impact on many of my students on how they take notes and organize their class life. 

Evernote is a perfect solution for a 1:1 environment. I used it my class and was able to almost become completely paperless. That is crazy to think about when you consider the fact that I am an English teacher. After only one year of trying this experiment out, I'm excited to see what I can accomplish nest year with the experience under my belt. 

If you are interested in trying to move Evernote into your educational world, check out my book, The Complete Guide to Evernote in Education. It is available on Kindle and the iBookstore.