Last term, this old mother learnt a new trick. After using the same method (my old exercise book) for many years, to record my girls’ learning activities for registration purposes, I actually considered a new method. And I liked it. I discovered Evernote!
If you do a Google search for Evernote and homeschooling, you’ll discover that a few homeschooling mothers, such as Pam, have already written some great articles about how to use this program. There’s even a couple of ebooks you can buy and download. So I thought I’d just share a few basic details about Evernote, and then concentrate on some specific unschooling uses.
It’s a paperless system for getting organised: for keeping records and making other notes. After signing up, you can download Evernote onto your computer. As long as you keep within the upload limit for each month, using Evernote is free. If you want to increase your uploads, the annual charge is very reasonable. Anyway, it doesn’t cost anything to try it out. Evernote has mobile versions too which can be synced with a PC version.
So I downloaded Evernote and started exploring. I discovered that I can make individual notes which can be tagged. Notes can be organised into notebooks. Notebooks can be stacked into bundles.
I made a notebook for each week of the school term. I labelled them with a number from 1 -10 and added the date of each week. I stacked 10 notebooks together to represent one term.
Each weekly notebook is full of notes, one for each learning activity. I labelled each note according to the key learning area it belongs to eg English, Maths, Science etc. Some notes have more than one label. I also added tags to each note.
I can record details of each learning experience within each note. I can copy and paste images of books read, or DVDs watched, or games played.
I can clip screenshots of websites we’ve visited. Here’s a shot of a Brainpop video the girls watched, complete with web address. I have similar notes of Youtube videos too.
I can take a photo of any craft projects in progress or completed and upload them to a note. I can add a description too.
I can import whole articles from either the Internet, or my own computer files, into a note. This is a screenshot of a note containing a blog post Sophie wrote. I clipped it directly from her blog. We have imported articles written by other people too.
If an activity is done more than once a week, I use the same note. I add a yellow star icon (from my icon file) on the note for each time the activity occurs. This is a note that records Gemma-Rose’s reading out loud times. I have also recorded, in a similar way, books I’ve read out loud, DVDs we’ve watched together…
I can make a note for regular activities such as piano and singing lessons, practices, sports activities etc. This note can be copied to each of my notebooks. It’s quick and easy and I don’t need to retype notes.
I can import emails into a note. This email is from DIY, telling Sophie she completed the Rainbow Loom jewellery challenge. I have also imported screenshots of her projects directly from the DIY site.
If I haven’t got a photo to add to a note, I usually add an icon to make the note look attractive. I’ve collected a lot of free icons into a file on my computer. Adding one to a note takes only a couple of seconds. I could have added a photo of the scones Gemma-Rose baked but I forgot to take one!
I can reorganise my notes easily by using the tags. For example, I can see all the books we’ve read by clicking onto the tag ‘books’. I can organise all my notes according to a particular key learning area such as English by using the tag ‘English’.
- I have imported screenshots of online computer games, activities, quizzes, websites explored…
- I’ve added photos of outings.
- I’ve copied and pasted in lists of library books borrowed.
- I’ve added copies of poems, images of paintings, quotes from Shakespeare, still photos from movies… anything the girls have discovered and found interesting.
- I have added Word documents from my computer files or the girls’.
- My notes include images of sheet music and music files.
- I can add recipes.
- If something can be scanned, it can also be imported into Evernote.
- If something can be photographed, in it goes!
So what do you think? Have you used Evernote? Or perhaps you’d like to give it a try. If you have some more ideas about how to use Evernote please share. I’m sure I still have lots to discover.
I was considering making a screen capture tutorial on Evernote. I wonder if I could manage to do that or if anyone would be interested. (Sometimes it’s easier to explain a procedure while actually doing it.) It might be a nice challenge even if I’m the only person who views it.Speaking of challenges, I’ve been setting myself a few recently… But that’s a whole new story!
Update: I did make a screencast video of my Evernote notebooks:
A Look Inside Our Evernote Unschooling Records Notebooks
And here’s a second video which follows on from the first one:
PS If you find my post rather confusing, I’m quite happy to try again if you have a specific question!