Technology Tools To Help Teachers Work Smarter

As promised, this is the second in a series of posts in which I’ll share ways for teachers to work smarter, not harder, using technology tools that will actually “save” you time. Today we’re going to take a look at setting up notebooks and tags in EVERNOTE.evernoteicon
First of all, if you haven’t done so, yet, download the Evernote app to your desktop and all your devices. It’s free for the first 60 MB of notes. You can find the various links here: Evernote. Note – I’m using a Mac, so it might look slightly different on a Windows PC, but the same features are in both versions.
Once you have Evernote, it’s time to set it up for your classroom. When you open up your app you are going to see a toolbar across the top. It will look like this:evernotetoolbar
Now let’s set up some notebooks for student portfolios and for your other teaching needs. You do have a limit of 250 notebooks with Evernote, but that should be plenty. In Evernote, you have a 3 layered hierarchy for organizing your notes. A **note** is like a single document. Several notes can be put together by topic into a **notebook**, and finally, notebooks can be piled together into **notebook stacks**.
Let’s get started setting up a system for collecting student data and work.
1. Go the left-hand sidebar and find the icon that looks like this: notebookiconClick on it and you will have a toolbar at the top that looks like this: newnotebooktif click the +New Notebook button to add a notebook – I begin all my student notebook names with the word *student-first name*. That way, they will show up all together in a list because they start the same way. Go ahead and make your first notebook and name it student one. Follow the video clip to help you make student notebooks and put them into a student stack:

2. An alternative way to get students into notebook stack is  to click on the student before you go on to the next student,  Just right click on the student notebook and choose the option add to new stack. Then name your new stack. I call mine Students-year or Student Portfolios. You can name yours whatever you like. Now I have a stack called students-2015. studentstack

Inside the stack are all the individual student notebooks and in each student notebook will be the notes or any documents related to that student. (Running records, assignments, student pictures, videos, etc.) Yes! This is can be likened to my filing cabinet, but the beauty of this system lies in the fact that all of the information I put into it will be sortable and searchable. With a search tag and a click, I can easily find any information I want in seconds. I definitely cannot say the same about my filing cabinet! With Evernote, I have created an easy database which I can now use in so many ways (which will be the subject of later posts, so stay tuned).
3. Okay, so we’re set up for collecting and sorting student data, but what about other useful notebooks and stacks for teachers? How about setting up notebooks for each subject topic that you teach. For example, I would call one notebook Rocks and Minerals, another Simple Machines, and yet another, Waste In Our World. Then I’ll put those notebooks together in a subject stack called Science. In each subject notebook I’ll keep documents, bookmarked websites, blog posts, pdfs, tests, unit plans, etc. related to that topic. The web clipper, which I’ll explain in a later post, is very valuable in gathering information related to a topic area.
4. Use the system! The possibilities for using this system to declutter your classroom are endless, but you must create the habit of using it. Get into the routine of using your phone and Evernote to keep track of everything. As I mark important assignments, I now use my phone and Evernote a to scan each and tag it with a student name and subject area, I then file it in their notebook in one step. If students are doing a group project, I’ll take a photo of it and tag it under each student then add it to his/her notebook. If I make an anecdotal note or observation about a student on a sticky note, I just scan the note, tag it and add it to their notebook. Now that not can go into the trash, I don’t need it cluttering up my desk. If it’s something I need to follow up on with that student, then I will add a reminder alarm to in Evernote, but we’ll learn more about that in the next post.

Quick, it’s time to set up your notes and notebooks for the new school year. Let me know if you have questions in the comments below. I’m here for you, and I want to help. More tips are coming in the new posts so be sure to subscribe so you won’t miss any of this series or future topics.
Remember, time saved as we “work”, leaves more time to “play” with those we love.
Take care always,

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