Thursday, February 28, 2013


Our final blogger of the month is Therese Dristas. Therese is the Systems Technology Mentor for the School Town of Munster.

Evernote logo
The digital age has brought about many changes to the classroom. Before 1:1 and BOYD, the mainstay of all students were the textbook and notebook. Students now learn through digital content. So, what happened to the notebook? Do students still keep a literature journal, writing portfolio, science lab notebook, or lecture notes for classes? Are students creating single page documents that are saved in files? Do teachers then get 140 emails with 10 attachments? In our 21st century classrooms, there are better ways to handle this and in doing so, preserve the notebook. The notebooks that I am suggesting are places for the organization of multi-media, research, inquiry, observation, metacognition, creativity, and reflection that can be shared with the teacher. Evernote is my favorite 2.0 app for creating online notebooks.

Evernote allows users to establish a web based account for free. Downloading the Evernote app on devices like cell phones gives users the ability to sync across devices. The user takes a picture through the Evernote app on her phone and it is available on her desktop, iPad, netbook, or laptop. The uses for Evernote in the 1:1 classroom are endless. Syncing media across multiple devices is easy and creates a repository for student work. When students “share” their notebooks, teachers can access all media. As students add more information to their notebooks, the teacher can see this work as well. Using Evernote eliminates the need to collect physical notebooks or open a gazillion emails. Students acquire 21st century skills. There is also a place for Evernote in a traditional classroom. Because it is a web based app, students can utilize computer lab time in the same way as already outlined. Research work can be chronicled and easy to access from home computers and they can add their cell phones as a registered device.

Here are a few notebook scenarios.

Science Notebook

Using Evernote to create a weather notebook page, students use an excel spread sheet to collect temperatures for a specific time frame, create a graph, drag and drop the graph in the notebook, and attach the spreadsheet file. They also have the capability to take a picture with their phone of the snow accumulation in the latest storm and sync with their other devices. What does the weather sound like tonight? Using their phones to capture audio, their notebook includes what hail sounds like hitting the sidewalk. They can include the local forecast from the web or an article on global warming. Finally, add the student’s analysis, reflection, conclusion, or summation and the entry is complete. The teacher who shares the student notebooks can review them on the computer without having to collect physical notebooks or open all those emails.

Social Studies Research Project

A student researching immigration for U.S. History creates a notebook for the project. Using an iPad, she captures a video of her grandfather explaining why he immigrated to the United States. This is saved directly into a notebook page entitled Family History. Family photos are attached from files to the notebook or she can use a cell phone or an iPad to take pictures, which automatically sync. Research is collected and time stamped and appears on the left side interphase. The teacher is able to see the time frame it took to create the notebook. An oral history is collected from the student’s grandmother because she does not want her picture taken. The Evernote app allows you to record audio and sync to registered devices. This means that all the resources for a research paper or presentation are organized in one location. Video, audio, current and old photos, along with notes taken in class will all sync to the notebook.

Art Portfolio

This scenario begins with a field trip to the art museum in a real time or virtual scenario. The assignment for the students is to select an artist whose style they would like to incorporate in an original piece of art. Students take the picture and attach it to the notebook or sync it to the notebook from another registered device. Page one of the notebook is an analysis of the artist’s style based on the picture of the artwork placed directly into the notebook. Page two is the picture of the students’ initial sketch and ideas for the work. The students then chronicle the unfolding of the project. This becomes a part of the students' digital portfolio, a portfolio that eventually will contain all the work created during the course. The notebook reflection gives the student an opportunity to express individual creative thought behind the artwork.

In the book, Classroom Instruction that Works, authors Marzano, Pickering, and Pollock describe the importance of summation and note taking in the learning process. They believe that students need to engage in a process of review and revision of the notes they take and that teachers play a major role by directing and encouraging. This review process becomes both cumbersome and time consuming when students are writing in spiral bound notebooks that have to be collected and read. Having all student notebooks digitally available in Evernote allows the teacher to identify and correct misconceptions, provide feedback in a timely manner, and encourage the important thought processes behind note taking.

The Common Core Standards for writing mandate the use of technology to produce, publish, and update individual writing. It also calls for utilizing “technology’s capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically.” I can’t think of a more dynamic interphase than that in Evernote. If I have convinced you to try Evernote for individual student notebooks, here are the step-by-step directions on setting this up for your class.
Getting Started

  • Create an account at Evernote ( before you have the students create theirs.
    • Create a personal notebook.
      • Select NEW NOTEBOOK.
      • You will see this popup.
      • Give the notebook a name.
      • Selecting “Synchronized notebook” allows you to use multiple devices.
      • Select OK.
  • Walk students through creating an account. 
  • Have students create a notebook and name it.
  • Have students share their notebook with you by using the following steps. 
    • Highlight the notebook to share by clicking on it.
    • Right click to see a new menu with the following options:
      • Rename
      • Delete
      • Add to stack
      • Share notebook.
    • Select “Share notebook.”
    • Select “Invite Individuals.”
    • Have students enter your email address.
    • They should select “View notes and activities” from the drop down menu.
  • When invited, join the student notebooks. (You may be asked to join more than once.)

Evernote has a learning curve, but once you get the basics down, it is easy to use. I have created an Evernote notebook for some of the classroom basics, which I will add to. This notebook was made public and therefore has a URL address--

The Challenge:
On their website, Evernote says, “Save your ideas, things you like, things you hear, and things you see.” This especially hits a chord for me because of conversations that I have had down through the years about technology. For me the allure of technology was that point, that lesson, or that teachable moment that came together because of the technology and you could see it in the faces of students because they too became jazzed up by what they were thinking and how they were going to use their ideas in their paper or project. Traditional notebooks could not include a recording of a student practicing the flute and then critiquing the performance and setting goals for improvement or a math student’s screencast of where he was lost solving a calculus problem and his subsequent analysis correcting his thought process. So, the challenge for you is to look for this opportunity to enhance learning in your classroom!

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