Saturday, February 11, 2012

Tagging in Evernote

Evernote is my new app I can't live without.  I have it on my computer.  I have it on my phone.  I have it on my Kindle.  I use it at home.  I use it at school.  With Evernote I'm able to work with or without a WiFi connection.

I spent last summer starting to use it and have fallen more in love with it every day.  Though most use Evernote for their daily lives, I have discovered using it in my classroom has made my life so much simpler.  Though I'm still not quite as quick as I'd like to be typing my notes, I've found it to the be the perfect way to track the learning in our classroom.  (You can read more about the ways I use Evernote in the classroom at Choice Literacy in "Capturing Student Learning with Evernote.")

While keeping notes in Evernote has helped me to capture student learning, tagging has simplified organization and my ability to reflect on these notes.  In my notebook each student has his/her own notebook, but finding particular pieces of information can still be daunting.  By tagging, I am able to search notes by student name, topic of learning, or other key words.

When conferring with a child I record information in the note and then tag it for easy retrieval.  I tag each note with the student name, the workshop in which we conferred, the concept/understanding/focus of our conversation, and other key words that might help me later locate, sort or group notes.

Here are a few examples:
  • In a recent reading conference with Caden I sat down to chat about nonfiction.  Caden was reading a book about foxes.  He had divided his paper in half and had written two questions he had about foxes.  Upon talking to him I realized he was using the pictures to ask questions and not the words.  He had looked at a picture of a fox on a rock and asked, "Why do foxes sleep on rocks?"  However the text was about the bushy tail of the fox and how it helped the fox to survive.  I tagged this note:  Caden, Reader's Workshop, nonfiction, questioning, pictures and text.
  • In a recent conversation with Meredith during Writer's Workshop I listened to her piece about losing her tooth.  Meredith read what she had written so far and I listened to her story.  As many first graders do, she turned to me often to add more to the story she had not included in her piece but wanted me to know.  We talked about all of those interesting parts of her story she might want to add so other readers would know exactly what happened.  It isn't every day your mom accidentally knocks your tooth out!  Meredith has been working on developing her writing so we found places in the story where she had already accomplished this and places she might want to go back to add.  I tagged this note:  Meredith, Writer's Workshop, personal narrative, details, developing writing.
  • Gabby had been working on making her own fact families when I sat down beside her in math workshop.  She had drawn a triangle with the numbers 30, 16, and 46.  I was blown away by her thinking.  Gabby's many examples of self-created fact families not only demonstrated an understanding of the relationship between addition and subtraction, but also pointed to a flexible understanding of using tens and place value concepts.  Keeping up with Gabby is going to be tough!  I tagged this note:  Gabby, Math Workshop, fact families, addition/subtraction relationship, place value, tens.
These are just a few examples from my virtual notebook.  Tagging makes it easy for me to later retrieve these notes to look closely at learning.  If I have a conference with Gabby's parents I can just search "Gabby" and all of her notes will come up.  If I want to look at the learning around nonfiction in our classroom I can just search "nonfiction" and notes from every conversation about nonfiction will be found.  I'm discovering tagging to be important in Evernote, blogging, collecting bookmarks and many other parts of my virtual world.  The transition away from paper is surely helping to keep me organized, and effective tagging is an essential part of this process.    


  1. Love your piece today in Choice Literacy about this topic! This is just an added bonus!! :) Would love to see how your notes look as compared to mine. Do you start new page for each conference? Love how we're all exploring this tool in different ways. Now I just need to process and refine my own thinking about its application.
    Thanks for thinking out loud!!

  2. Wow. You've been busy with new learning. Once again you are inspiring me to learn.

  3. Your summer learning sure has grown! Excited to be reading both pieces and learning more about tagging. I have not used tags but now you have me thinking! I have enjoyed the connection with students on all my digital devices though.

  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing such great examples of your tagging! I to LOVE Evernote and I am not sure how I ever taught without EN. Tagging is really my challenge, your post has given me new ideas!
    Love reading your thoughts!

  5. I find Notability to be a little easier to manage.