Tag Archives: free tech for teachers

Five Reasons Every Teacher Should Use Evernote

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I have been using Evernote for almost a year now, and I love it.  I feel like I constantly find new and exciting things to do with it, too.  I don’t really get the whole recipe thing, but I don’t cook, so that explains that!

There are ten main things that I do with Evernote, and that any one of us could implement immediately to make life a little easier.  That’s always good, right?

Evernote is a free app that is compatible with every device you have.  Here’s a little video from the Evernote folks that explains some of the basics.

So, for my Top 5 Reasons Every Teacher Should Use Evernote…

1. Penultimate.  Penultimate is a really good handwriting app that syncs directly to Evernote.  Whenever I have notes to take, I just open my iPad, take out my Bamboo Stylus, and take notes.  I really like being able to take notes by hand, and then Evernote lets me organize them however I like.  No more notebooks filled with notes that have nothing to do with the ones before and after them, never to be seen again.  I can even add tags to my notes so that they are searchable later- even if I am not looking in the Evernote Notebook where I put them.  If that helps me, just think of how much that would help kids.

2. Class Notebooks.  You can create a notebook for your classes and then share them with your students.  When you put class notes, printables, resources, homework, whatever- in the notebooks, they are immediately accessible to the kids from their own Evernote account.  It sure beats the process you have to go through on most websites to upload assignments.  And the media choices are endless- you can upload videos, pictures, audio, any kind of document- anything you can think of, really.  Want to record an important lecture?  Just hit the record button in the Evernote app on your phone, give the lecture, stop the recording, and touch the appropriate notebook for the class.

3. Student Portfolios.  Just as you can create notebooks for your classes, the kids can create notebooks of their work.  They can take pictures of drawings, add video, audio- all of the same things you can do.  They can share their work with you, their friends, their family, the world, or no one at all.  The best part is that they can take it with them.  They don’t lose it when they leave middle school or high school- they have it forever.

4. All of the Note Taking Possibilities.  I already mentioned Penultimate, but how cool is it that kids can just snap a picture of the work on the white board at the end of class?  Or record a brainstorming session for a class project?  One great idea is for kids to create a notebook for a research project, and then use Evernote’s web clipper to grab just what they need from a site rather than the whole page.  All of their research is stored in one place, without barfing from their folders and backpacks.  Pretty cool.

5. Digital Textbooks.  Instead of asking kids to lug a big book around, you can create a notebook and add all of the stuff you would normally want them to access from the textbook right in there.  Do it once, and it is there forever.  So, if you use certain content every year, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every year.  Unlike those big textbooks, you only keep the content you need- not all of that extra stuff that just gets in the way in the textbook.  And, when you need something that the textbook doesn’t have, you add that too.  That way, kids don’t have a million different places to look to find that one thing they need tonight.

I use Evernote at home, too- I take pictures of receipts, scan important bills, scan and take pictures of all of my children’s artwork; I use Evernote Peek to practice states and capitals with my son.  I use it as a librarian and I use it as a student.  Like I said, I come up with new ways to use Evernote every day.  Give it a try!

Have a great weekend!

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The Green Brothers are Awesome

As if they weren’t awesome enough, John and Hank Green have launched a new (?) series on their YouTube channel.  I am in Geek Heaven.

Crash Course

For those of you who do not know, John Green is probably the most talented YA author writing today.  I am almost evangelical about his novel Looking for Alaska with my 8th graders.  I have reached more reluctant readers with that novel than any other.  Time Magazine named his newest novel, The Fault in Our Stars, the #1 novel of the year – not just the #1 YA novel – the #1 novel.  Period.  Now I am getting all hipster- like “Hey- I liked John Green before John Green was cool.”  Which is ridiculous, because the thing I am going to talk about today already has over 400,000 YouTube subscribers, and I just found out about it.

John teamed up with his brother, Hank, to create the Vlog Brothers, the Nerdfighters, and they are fighting WorldSuck with the Project For Awesome.  When they talk, I’m all, “I totally remember you from AP English in high school.”  Except I don’t.  I grew up in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago, and they didn’t.  But they are geeks in the same way that I am a geek and the same way that my friends were geeks.  I will never forget the nights spent drinking coffee after orchestra rehearsal in Elgin… trying to stump each other at The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, dropping literary references and obscure music references because we were just that cool… Ah, the good old days.

Anywho… the reason I am ranting about John and Hank Green… I just found out about “Crash Course,” their educational channel on YouTube.  Hank talks about science and John talks about history and literature.  I can see them coming in handy with high schoolers or gifted middle schoolers.  Sorry, guys- you use really big words for the typical middle schooler.  John’s breakdown of The Great Gatsby is like watching live-action Cliffs Notes.  Except.

The two things that make this so much better than Cliffs Notes, aside from the fact that the Brothers Green are at the helm, are…

1. It isn’t boring.  It actually sucks you in.  I know all of the stuff he said about Gatsby already, and I was still really engaged.

2. It isn’t a plot summary.  Oh, how I hate plot summaries.  If you have ever read book reviews on Goodreads or Amazon, you will know what I mean.  The plot summary is up above.  Next to the picture of the book.  Do. not. summarize. again.  Please.  Just tell me what you thought of the book.  For the love of god.

My favorite book about books is How to Read Literature Like A Professor by  Thomas C. Foster.  In it, he breaks down symbolism and makes it so much more accessible to the average reader.  When I was in high school, I always thought my English teachers were pulling some of the stuff they said out of thin air.  Foster’s book made it all make so much more sense to me.  Why couldn’t my teachers just explain it to me the way Foster did???  The Green boys do just that- explain the nuances in a much more accessible way.