Teaching with Evernote- an Explanation

Evernote is a cloud storage application that allows users to add notes via text, audio or images and organise them in online files- called ‘notebooks’. Evernote is designed to ‘remember everything’ and allows users to easily collect and find data on multiple devices. Evernote is supported on Android, iOS, Mac, PC and web. Continue reading

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Doing My Best

 

Today was the last day of the 2013 school year. The last few weeks have been incredibly busy, the pack up and clean up and ongoing organisation for next year has gone on for weeks. Teachers were tired, students were tired. Everybody knew it was almost the end of the year. The walls in my school in the past few days have become bare and bleak. The classrooms no longer looked like classrooms but simple, empty and boring rooms. I didn’t like it. Of course, I know, it had to be done to get ready for next year, where we can splash colour on the walls again and create learning spaces that are vibrant, comfortable and welcoming for our 2014 students. Continue reading

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Online Sticky Notes- Padlet

 

I have known about Padlet.com (formally Wallwisher) for quite sometime now. I remember using it years ago for a university assignment and have used it sporadically with my classes over the years.  However with the constant development of new technologies and apps, I put my use of Padlet to the back-burner to make space. It wasn’t until listening to Tony Vincent at the #Mobile2013 conference in Tucson this year that I was reminded about such a simple, yet effective tool Padlet can be in the classroom.

Padlet is an online wall where users can ‘post’ ideas and thoughts in text, images or videos. Often described as online sticky notes.

Since returning from my trip I reintroduced Padlet to my class and have also been introducing it to other teachers in my school. The response from both students and teachers has been quite positive. I have seen it work with students in years one to six, with all students achieving success. Younger students have demonstrated increased levels of engagement as they see the instant collaboration.

Padlet is very easy to use. You can have your class collaborating on a wall within minutes. It works well on iPads too. When using a wall with my class I edit the wall to create my own URL and have the already made QR code on display so students can access the site easily.

 

Once your wall is created you can share it in a variety of ways, including posting to social media. You can also embed the wall into websites and blog posts and distribute the QR code.

 

Here are some examples-


 

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The Ultimate To Do List

 

In the last few months I have found myself to be more busier than usual. This is a good thing, I love my job and am easily bored so I always find something extra to do. However, lately I have felt like I have had lots of projects on the go and can’t seem to finish one of them. I am certain there are many other teachers who feel the same. At the Evernote Conference I was able to hear David Allen, author of ‘Getting Things Done’ speak. I really want to try out the GTD system but have not had time to finish reading the book yet- I have added it to my to do list.

During David’s Keynote there were two points that he made which really resonated with me. The first, “Don’t have the same thought about the same thing twice” and the value of having ‘clear space’ inside your head. Since returning from my trip I have tried to implement this way of thinking in my day to day organisation. I decided I needed a better way to capture my thoughts and prioritise my ‘To Do’ list.

I have been keeping a ‘To Do’ list in Evernote for quite sometime now and I also regularly use the Reminders feature. But I don’t think the way I was using it was helping me to get more done. It seemed a little ad hoc and I didn’t really put much thought into it. As such, I recently changed up my reminder workflow a little bit. I think it has definitely improved my ability to do more and get more hours out of a day. In fact, I am writing this blog post because it was the next one down in my list of ideas and my reminder just went off to write it.

I have a notebook called ‘To Do 2013’. Within that notebook I recently divided up what was once a very long list, based on each term at school. I have now created different notes for the different ‘sections’ of my list.

You can see how I have organised it in my Reminders dashboard-

Within each of those notes I have used the check box feature to create my list of things to do or ideas I have. Every time I add to the lists I decide on the priority and add it accordingly. The top being the most important. I can then rearrange as needed and if more pressing matters come up.

As I was writing this post, I went in and checked off the one I had written and then reset my reminder for next Wednesday so I would be reminded to write the next one. I have found by doing this and using Reminders and Checkboxes in this way I have remembered more ideas and managed to do a little more each day. Every morning I get to work, I make sure that this is the first notebook I check, even if I haven’t set a reminder. I am able to adjust my priorities if needed and focus my thoughts and energy for the day. This process has ensured that I am not feeling overwhelmed. Everything has a time and three weeks in, I have been able to stick to it.

I would be really interested in hearing about how others are managing ‘To Do’ lists using Evernote. I am always up for some new ideas to make me more productive.

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Evernote in Education Series #4

Tagging has never been something with Evernote that I have used well. I am very organised, I like to have all of my notes put just right in the right notebook, all nestled in a perfect stack, so for a while I never saw the need for tagging because I knew where everything was. However, recently I have become much busier (I wasn’t sure that was possible) and have found tagging to be very useful. Every time I am researching or looking for lesson ideas and inspiration I use the Webclipper and tag my notes. I tag curriculum outcomes, student goals and anything else that may pop into my head at the time. I never thought I could be more efficient with Evernote but tagging has certainly done that for me.

This brings me to tip number four in my series. Happy tagging. 🙂

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Postach.io & Post-It Notes

 

Today was the first day back in my classroom since returning from America. In my first hour with my students we were able to combine two of my latest loves. Postach.io and the new Evernote and Post-It Note integration.

Throughout my travels I kept a blog using Postach.io and loved how easy it was to use. I especially loved being able to quickly and efficiently publish my Evernote notes to the web. At the Evernote conference in September Postach.io won gold prize in the Evernote Development Cup– A very well deserved award. Postach.io is a blogging platform that allows users to automatically blog from their Evernote accounts. Once connected and set up (which is easy too), all you have to do is tag a note with ‘published’ and when the note syncs it is uploaded to the web- with the new iOS7 Evernote update it is super quick! So straightforward and makes so much sense.

Ever since the 3M and Evernote partnership was announced, I have been excited about the ways I can use Post-It Notes with Evernote. The new integration means that Evernote transforms Post-Its into a digitally enhanced format. This allows the handwriting on them to be ‘searchable’ and you can even assign specific Post-It Note colours to notebooks, tags or reminders in your Evernote account. You can read more about the features here. All you have to do is activate the Post-It Note camera in the app in iOS7, snap the note and it instantly transforms.

This morning I used both of these tools to create a blog of recommended books for my students to read. I wanted this to be personal and to come from their own opinions. Students in my class often take time to decide on their next text, or they just choose anything even though it may not really interest them very much. As such we created a space in our classroom library where students can make short recommendations about books they have read and liked. They need to include the title, author, genre and seven words that describe the book either written in a sentence or a word list. The idea is that the person reading the recommendation should be able to get a feel for the book in seven words.

I created a notebook in my Evernote called ‘Recommended Reading’ and after a discussion with students about genres I created a new note for each genre they listed. We then came up with a genre key so I knew which note to attach it to when I was taking the snapshots. This is also handy as students can see the recommendations in the classroom, they will not always have the blog. When the students had finished their recommendations I used the Post-It Note camera to snap the notes and added to each genre note. Once this process was done I then logged into Postach.io and created a new site, connected my ‘Recommended Reading’ notebook, tagged the notes as ‘published’ and it was done. This all took less than one hour. Now whenever students read a book they love all they have to do is add it to our wall and I can snap it in Evernote. My students do not have their own Evernote accounts but if they did I would create a shared notebook for this purpose so they could take their own snapshots of the Post-It Notes.

Here is our site- http://recommendedreading.postach.io/. When you click in to each of the entries there are multiple notes recommending different texts.

The students were really excited by this and asked for a way to check the blog at home for reading ideas. I thought it would also be great for them to have access to it when at the public library. As such, I created a book mark for them- one for school and one for them to take home. The bookmark includes a QR code to the site for easy access.

I am really looking forward to discovering more ways I can use both of these tools in the classroom.

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A Journey’s End- or is it Just the Beginning?

 

In May this year I was extremely lucky to be awarded the Victorian Education Excellence Awards- Primary Teacher of the Year by the DEECD. I am still so humbled by the accolade and am so grateful for what I have been able to accomplish in my relatively short career. This month marks only my fifth year as a teacher. The best thing about the last five years is that I have never stopped learning. I am never satisfied with only knowing so much, I always want to find out more and ultimately be better. I work hard and often get told by friends, family and colleagues that I do ‘too much’, but when you love what you do, is there ever enough? When listening to Evernote’s CEO Phil Libin speak in San Francisco, he spoke about this notion of ‘Life’s Work’, being something that you love and are passionate about- something you would probably do without getting paid to do it and that’s how I feel about my job. To me it isn’t really a ‘job’, it is my ‘life’s work’.

Thanks to my award, last month I was able to travel to the United States to undertake professional development with the view of investigating mobile learning and Evernote. I was able to attend two conferences, the first being Mobile Learning Experience in Tucson, Arizona and the second being the third annual Evernote Conference in San Francisco. During my trip, I also visited four different schools in three different states.

I kept a blog about my travels, the conferences, announcements and school visits which you can read here- http://americanadventure.postach.io/ 

On my return to Melbourne, I was asked by some friends what was my favourite part of the trip, with the expected answer supposed to be a city or a landmark- one of the amazing sites I was able to see. But that wasn’t my answer. My answer was #EC2013- the Evernote Conference. Don’t get me wrong, #Mobile2013 was AMAZING and I met so many wonderful educators and I learnt so much about mobile learning and already have so many ideas to take back to my school. But #EC2013 was by far the best. I was able to meet fellow Evernote Ambassadors, connect with people from Evernote who I had only previously had virtual correspondence with, meet Evernote’s CEO Phil Libin, meet MC Hammer and the best bit was being able to get excited about a product I love- with people who love it as much as me.

The Ambassador group at #EC2013

Evernote CEO Phil Libin

Myself and fellow Ambassadors with MC Hammer

 

At #EC2013 someone asked me what Evernote did for me as a teacher. My answer was simple. Evernote makes me a better teacher. Many people don’t see what goes on behind the scenes with a teacher, all the paperwork, data and assessment- the managerial stuff. What Evernote does for me is alleviates all of the ‘behind the scenes’ pressure. I don’t spend hours marking books or stress over writing detailed, personalised school reports. I don’t have piles of student work samples floating around my classroom, my car or my house, I don’t have folders and folders of assessment records. I never take student books home. I am more timely with feedback, I rarely forget anything, I am a checkbox crazy lady. I am, for maybe the first time in my life- organised. Because of Evernote- instead of spending my valuable time on all that ‘stuff’ I am able to spend more time on what counts- my students.

Some other highlights of my trip-

  • Finally reading ‘Teach Like a Pirate’ by Dave Burgess
  • Evernote announcing a partnership with 3M- making Post-It notes digital
  • #Mobile 2013 and all of the amazing people I met
  • Visiting a variety of very different schools
  • Learning from other teachers
  • The new Evernote and Adonit stylus- Jot Script
  • Making connections
  • Postach.io winning the Evernote DevCup
  • Having so many new ideas to take back to my school

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