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.


  1. What a thoughtful, helpful article. Once again, thanks for gathering the information and sharing your knowledge with all of us. Can't wait to try Google Forms this week.

  2. Fantastic post Cathy! Love how you listed out the ways you are using each feature. Your willingness to share your thinking has helped move my own thinking and knowledge forward ten fold! I'm looking forward to future Hang Outs!

  3. OMG - This is fantastic and now I feel completely lost in the dark and I better get rolling with EN. However, I think the tool that makes you so fluid in all this EN work is the Ipad - am I wrong or right?

    1. I used EN on my Kindle and it worked well. I was able to take notes with ease. I would agree, however, that the iPad does make it even easier to use as it enables taking pictures and recording voice.

  4. Terrific sharing of all your knowledge, Cathy. I'm sorry that I don't have anything new to share, & I am using Evernote, but clearly, not nearly enough! You've inspired me to get going with it again, & maybe then I'll come back to share. Thank you very much!

  5. The pictures that you shared are so helpful!I love the idea of including pictures of student work and fluency! You've inspired me to try skitch...If you all have a conversation about the trunk, I'd love to participate in that as I have not tried many of the features I am sure are in there. Thank you for a great post!

    1. Perhaps we can all play around with the trunk a bit to see what we can discover and then chat. I think it would be interesting to see what everyone discovers.

  6. Thanks so much for sharing Cathy. I use Evernote to record conference notes, student observations and I take pictures of student work. I love that when I go to do report cards all I need is my computer and I'm not drowning in a paper shuffle anymore!

  7. Kathy, I started using Evernote this September as a tool for keeping my documentation of student learning and I am LOVING it. It is so easy to use, and allows me to easily keep up to date accurate information that I can access any where. I've been using it to store on line student created work that has been uploaded to web sites such as or youtube. The links are super easy to e-mail to parents too. Thanks a ton for sharing so many great ideas. The more I play with Evernote that more I love it. I too will blog about it once I'm a bit more comfortable with it. Right now I'm loving the camera and audio features. I love documenting my students talking about their thinking and learning. :-) Karen


  8. I always enjoy reading your blog, Cathy. I got an iPad this summer and am trying to figure out how to effectively use it for conferring with the kids - as well as many other things. I would love it if there was a book about how to use Evernote in the classroom.

  9. Wow. Thanks for the EN upgrade. Can't wait to try forms.

    Here's my question -- how can I add pictures, but make them smaller than full screen?

    1. Hmmm, that's a good question. I'm not sure.

  10. Hi Cathy, I've just come across something to use forms and Evernote. It is called Kustomnote. It is web based and allows you to create your own forms. There are public templates already created which you can use and it automatically links to Evernote by selecting the notebook you wish to send it to.

  11. Cathy~
    I too am playing with sharing. My newest love is emailing parents directly from EN!
    I have added all the parent email addresses to my contacts making emailing from EN seamless! In addition, I added a Parent Communication note for each child. This note contains all parent contact information and a family photo. I find having the photo handy helps me to remember my parent communications.
    I can email parents note, photos, videos or audio clips as I sit along side the child! The kids LOVE this, I even let the kids hit the "send" button.
    Tonight I found another beauty to this direct EN email, as I was browsing notes on my class I was able to compose a new "email/note" right there in EN and send it right out! This makes my goal of communicating more positive moments manageable!

  12. Hi Cathy! Thanks so much for this article. I have not been reading blogs of late (reading for 2 grad courses and the job leaves little discretionary time left), but I am glad to have gotten to this post. I use EN when I coach teachers, to capture our conversations. I have a few teachers who are interested in electronic documentation. One teacher tried Three Ring, but found it is too glitchy. I will share your thoughts with my teachers. And I will play around in the trunk, too!

  13. Cathy, I am creating my documents and importing them into Explain Everything for each child. Then Explain Everything will save beautifully into Evernote. I have word lists, spelling words, math assessments etc all set up. As I work with a child, I can use checklists, record audio or record the actual screencast of the student doing his/her work. Evernote is one of the save options and I save as a project. That allows the screen cast to save as well as all the lists and audio.

    I have loved reading all of your posts about Evernote. I started using it with my class in literacy in April. It went so well that my goal for this year is to expand into all subject areas where appropriate. Each child has a notebook and I have tags for all academic areas. I am also planning on using for my RTI students, Title One students, and sped students so I can share their notebooks with support staff.

  14. Does anyone know if it is possible to move a blog a kid wrote in Kidblog to evernote, without doing a bunch of cutting and pasting?

    1. Tricia,
      Hmmm. I'm thinking you could take a screen shot of the post and insert it into Evernote. You could probably also email the link into Evernote. The best alternative might be to use Evernote Webclipper to capture the post and put it into your notebook. Let us know if you find a way that works.


  15. Okay, first of all, waa waa waa, why wasn't I invited to this Twitter party? I know everyone there! I need to know how to do this in Evernote. I also need to know why sometimes other people can't open my Evernote shares. More Google Hangout time PLEASE. What do I have to do, buy you a Slice of Life mug?