Sunday, September 23, 2012

Six Ways to Use Evernote to Capture Learning

Last week I participated in a Google hangout with several colleagues from Twitter and learned so much.  Our discussion was focused on the possibility of embedding a form in Evernote.  Many of us are using Evernote in our classrooms, but the challenge remaining has been putting forms into Evernote for use.  Evernote has basic word processing abilities, but doesn't seem to have to capability to create forms, tables and charts.  On Twitter Kristen Bispels had shared the way she created a Google form and placed it within Evernote.  This conversation led to many questions and a time for a hangout was planned.

As Kristin (@KrisBisBooks), Susan Dee (@literacydocent), Matt Renwick (@HowePrincipal), Katherine Sokolowski (@KatSok), Karen Terlecky (@karenterlecky),  and I talked about using Evernote I couldn't help but think about all of the ways I think Evernote helps me to be more efficient in my classroom.  For me, it is helpful that it has flexibility in the way it is used.  Being able to a capture a variety of information about student learning using tags and notebooks makes it an even better tool for the classroom.

So while I'm gushing with internet love for Evernote I thought I'd share some of the ways I use Evernote:

Conferring Notes  
For my students I have created a class stack.  Every time I sit down with a student I create a new note during the conference.  During the conference I record:

  • What the student was working on that day.
  • What I noticed about the work looking for new shifts in understanding.
  • Important information about our conversation.
  • The teaching point.  I record this at the top of the note so I can easily view it the next time I confer with the student.

Here I took a picture of writing
before and after focus lessons on
Snapshots of Learning
Being able to snap a picture of student work is sometimes worth a thousand words.  Here are a few ways I use pictures to capture thinking during our day:

  • class charts
  • student writing during writer's workshop
  • models created with manipulatives in math
  • quick checks done during our learning (often on a post-it) that illustrate new understandings or confusions
  • examples of student work in goal areas

Here's an example from a student's
work in that illustrates
revisions made to a piece.
Embedding Screenshots
Using screenshot commands on my computer I am able to capture pictures of student examples of Web 2.0 work, class data charts, webpages, and other pieces I may want to remember or view easily.  Evernote has a web clipper that works within its application as well.  

Here are notes during a poetry
study in which I used audio to
help a student hear where line
breaks might be added.
Having the ability to record students talking in a primary classroom is a powerful tool.  Oral language development is a key piece of literacy learning.  Here are some ways I use audio:
  • To record conferring conversations
  • To have students read or retell their stories in writer's workshop.  (This is especially useful for writers drawing pictures only, when writers tell more in their conversation than the words in their story, in helping young writers listen to hear if their stories make sense, etc.)
  • To record reading fluency.
  • To record retellings.
  • To have students explain their thinking of work done in math, science, and other content areas.
  • To record student thinking to share with peers and/or parents.
  • To have students restate their understanding of learning goals set and share plans of action.

One of the great things about Evernote is how it plays nicely with so many other applications.  Skitch can be used in a variety of ways in the classroom.  Students can write on a whiteboard, a photograph, a piece of writing, and many other images to show their thinking.  Often I will take a picture of student work and mark the significant part of my observation to help.  I wish Skitch had audio ability so students could record conversations as they think, work, and share.  If anyone knows of an application that works with Evernote and allows simultaneous creating and audio recording, please let me know.  

Having the ability to now create forms and embed then in Evernote is going to open a new world of possibility.  After seeing the Google reading form created by Kristin Bisel (Kristin was inspired by this post at Doing the Daily 5) and watching this YouTube video about how Susan Dee is embedding Google forms into Evernote, I see a plethora of new possibilities.  I thought I'd give it a try and created a Google form for information from our fall Developmental Spelling Assessment as it was pretty concrete.  Now I'm working on a new form for collecting retelling information during conferences in reader's workshop.

Other Uses?
I know I'm only scratching the surface of Evernote.  I'm beginning to play with applications in the trunk and need to learn how to utilize sharing features more effectively.  How are you using Evernote?  I hope you'll take a second to comment to let me know.