Evernote Homeschool Records: How Many Notebooks Do We Need?

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How many Evernote notebooks do we need for recording our unschooling? Here are three options:

 

1. We could create only one notebook for the whole year eg:

2015

We can easily sort our notes if we tag them with the term and the week eg:

term 1
week 1

If we want to see all the notes for week 1 of term 1, 2015, we search the 2015 notebook for the tags week 1 and term 1.

2. We could create a notebook for each term of the year eg:

Term 1
Term 2
Term 3
Term 4

These 4 notebooks can be stacked to form 1 year eg:

2015
Term 1
Term 2
Term 3
Term 4

We can sort the notes if  we tag them with the week eg:

week 1
week 2
week 3
week 4…

If we want to see all the notes for week 1 of term 1, we open up the Term 1 notebook and search for the tag week 1.



3. We could create a notebook for each week of the term, and then stack them into groups, one for each term of the year:

If there are 10 weeks in a term then…
10 notebooks = 1 term = 1 stack

If there are 4 terms in each year, we’ll end up with 4 stacks…
4 terms = 1 year = 4 stacks

 

 

I do things this way even though I don’t think this is the best way to use Evernote. The Evernote system was designed for fewer notebooks and more tags. But I use this option because I like how my Authorised Person (AP) can see everything at a glance when she visits us at registration time.

We have to provide evidence that our children are learning for 40 weeks of the year. My AP can run her eyes down my computer screen and yes, she can see the required weeks without me sorting the notes for her.

I have a lot of notebooks visible onscreen at once. To avoid a cluttered look, I collapse the notebooks we’re not currently using.

 

 

By the way, there are two available versions of Evernote. We can switch between them. I’m using the older version. The newer one is designed to provide more white space and a less cluttered appearance. If you want to know more, you could read my post Evernote for Homeschool Records: Which Version?

Of course, you might not use any of the above options. Perhaps you’ve discovered a different way of organising your record keeping notes. That’s what I love about Evernote: All the possibilities! It really is a very versatile system.

So how many Evernote notebooks do we need for homeschool recordkeeping? That depends! I wonder how many you have. Please stop by and share!

 

Of course, my girls’ unschooling doesn’t look as organised and regular as my notebooks might suggest. They don’t learn for only 40 weeks of the year. Their learning doesn’t occur in an even manner. So how do I make things look ‘good’ for registration purposes (without cheating)? I might write about that in a future Evernote post!



Update: I did (eventually!) write a post about making our Evernote records books look good: How to Make Evernote Unschool Records Look Impressive.

If you look at the above image, you’ll see Sophie’s blog post title: How a Famous Musician Followed Me on Twitter. That’s a great story if you want to read it!

 

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Comments

  1. Reply

    Hi Sue,
    Thanks for this post on organisation ! As you suggest in your article, I would really like to hear about how you make the things your child learns look "good" (I don't what other word would be appropriate here !) for the registration obligations. I'm somehow oldschool, making small notes on paper about the topics my son is interested in, and the activities that arise, but wonder how to present this in order to bring his (formal) learnings to light.

    1. Reply

      Dominique,

      I used to make notes on paper too. I used an exercise book. It was very convenient having my book at hand to scribble in at odd moments. However, I think my Evernote records look more professional and impressive than those exercise books.

      Oh yes, we need to take our kids' natural learning and present it in a way that shows they are fulfilling the formal learning requirements. Our records need to look 'good'! I have a few ideas I can share on how to do that. Perhaps readers have other ideas. We could share and learn from each other. I'll write a post on that topic soon!

  2. Reply

    Sue, I use an iPad app instead of Evernote but it has pretty much the same organising options. I had to make a few adjustments to get to what works best for us but it's working well, now.

    I'm really interested in your ideas for making records look impressive, too. I've found that digital record-keeping can be very creative and looks quite professional, which is helpful at registration time. It's also made me recognise more of the natural learning that I can record. It would be good to hear more of your ideas.

    1. Reply

      Vicky,

      I haven't seen the iPad app (I don't have an iPad!) but it sounds good. Yes, it takes time to work out which options work best. But once we've got our system in place, digital record keeping is easy to do.

      I also like how this kind of record keeping can look creative and professional. That ensures our records look 'good'. I've also got a couple of ideas about how we can arrange our content to the best effect.

      Now I've got a easy way of capturing natuarl learning experiences, I also look out for things I can record!

  3. Reply

    I also create a notebook for each week of the term. We have done 6 6-week terms the last couple of years. I have a review coming up in a couple weeks…I feel confident but a bit nervous as well!

    1. Reply

      Amy,

      Shorter terms sound good, even if there are more of them. When I was at school, terms felt never-ending. We had 3 terms of 12 or 13 weeks. Of course, term length isn't important when unschooling, but not having to concentrate on record keeping for so many weeks at once would be good.

      I hope your review goes well. I'd been keeping Evernote records for over a year when we had our last registration visit. I'd never presented digital records before. I thought our records looked good and would be acceptable but I still wondered what my AP would think of them. She LOVED them! We had no problems whatsoever getting through our registration process. I hope it's the same for you. I'd love to hear how everything goes if you have time to report back.

  4. Reply

    Thank you for doing another Evernote post. I'be been using Evernote more over the past year for homeschooling and I feel like I have somewhat of a hodge podge of what I'm doing. I've tried a couple different things and tend to waffle back and forth between "formats". I also create a lot of notebooks and really don't use tags very much. I don't know, the stacks, notebooks and notes just seem more intuitive. I also would love to read about how you make things look "good" for registration purposes.

    1. Reply

      Michelle,

      Evernote is full of possibilities so it can be hard to decide how to organise everything. But once you discover what works best for you, I'm sure you'll find digital record keeping very easy.

      I like the structure of stack, notebook, and note too. I prefer to do less searching and just have everything where I can see it easily. So I don't use tags for year, week, term etc. But I do have lots of tags for subject areas. I tag each note with as many tags as possible, not so much so I can find things again, but because lots of 'English' , 'maths' and other tags looks good! I'm glad you mentioned tags because I think I could talk about them in my next Evernote post!

  5. Reply

    Sue – A lightbulb went off in my head when I heard your podcast about using Evernote for records keeping. This is my first year of homeschooling my 9 year old son – he was previously "educated" in government schools, which caused him such anxiety that he began stuttering severely and fell behind the other students in many areas. I'm so glad homeschooling is an option for us! Living in South Dakota, USA, there are no requirements as you speak of for homeschooling except that we test our children every 5th grade, 8th grade and 11th grade of school and submit those tests to the State. Each state has their own requirements – South Dakota and Oklahoma being the least rigorous, California and Pennsylvania being quite rigorous. It is a very interesting subject matter here in the US – but the trend is growing. This excerpt states, "As the dissatisfaction among parents with the U.S. education system grows, so too does the number of homeschoolers in America. Since 1999, the number of children who are being homeschooled has increased by 75%. Although currently the percentage of homeschooled children is only 4% of all school children nationwide, the number of primary school kids whose parents choose to forgo traditional education is growing seven times faster than the number of kids enrolling in K-12 every year." – See more at: http://www.educationnews.org/parenting/number-of-homeschoolers-growing-nationwide/#sthash.bREhj9EJ.dpuf
    I believe we are currently at around 1.1 million children being homeschooled in the U.S. (That was a wild tangent.)

    So – today I started an Evernote – We haven't much to put in it but a lot more than I thought I would have to comment on. Of course, I don't have any registration requirements whatsoever and don't have any need to keep track of what is being learned. However, for my own sanity, I think I am going to keep track. It will be nice to look back on and to say – "look at what you did, Sam! You're an incredible learner." So, I am going to keep records – perhaps not by week – that would be too tedious for me with the demands of my twin daughters, however, I think I will start month by month and add things as we go along and start new books, watch new videos, experience new things together. Such fun this adventure has become! Thank you for your inspiration and personal commitment to blog and podcast – I cannot even tell you how helpful these have become for me.

    1. Reply

      Anita,

      I'm very sorry to hear that school caused a lot of anxiety for your son. I hope he is relaxing and enjoying learning now that he is homeschooled. Yes, we are fortunate we have options other than state provided education. 1.1 million children homeschooled in the USA? Wow! That's a lot of children.

      A few people have told me that they're keeping Evernote records even though they aren't required legally to do this. Yes, records can be a journal and we can enjoy looking back at them. They do reassure us that our kids are learning at those times when we are tempted to doubt what we are doing.

      I found that keeping records with Evernote has become quicker and quicker over time. I automatically clip videos or websites or articles as we are using them, so I don't have to come back later and catch up with the record keeping. You could add notes via your phone too. This is a good way of adding photos. Quick notes at odd times of the day might work. I'm sure you'll work out a system that works for you, that allows you to record enough for your own interest and reassurance.

      "Such fun this adventure has become!" I do like that sentence! Sometimes I think it's our attitude which makes all the difference, the way we approach things.

      Anita, it's a real pleasure to chat with you and share ideas. Thank you so much for reading my posts and listening to my podcasts!

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