This year I committed to using Evernote for every thing I manage around data and student portfolios. There are lots of other things out there that I could have used--three ring, Live Binder, Google Docs, to name a few. I chose Evernote because I had dabbled in it a little but mostly because people I really admired (Cathy Mere for one) were using it. The fact that Cathy has a great blog and a Twitter account helped seal the deal for me because I needed to know that I could ask questions or ponder aloud and there were others listening and able to think things through with me.
This weekend I decided to set up the system that I would use for the year. The minute I started looking through all of my paperwork I felt like it was ridiculous to add an extra step by taking pictures, uploading the pictures and filing them on my computer. I was thinking I should just three hole punch them all and stick them in a notebook. Then I remembered my commitment to making Evernote a habit. I decided to try it with a few papers. I used my camera to take a picture of the Words Their Way tests and scoring sheets that my students had taken last week. I had already set up a Dropbox account, so they uploaded to my dropbox on my computer immediately.
In Evernote, I set up a notebook for each student. I dragged each photo into the correct notebook, titled the note Words Their Way and tagged it with WTW and Literacy so that I could find it if I need it. It was SO easy and then I threw away the paper. Yup, I am making it a habit. Once I got started in Evernote, I couldn't stop.
I created a District testing notebook, opened a new note and added a simple table to hold all the district required testing data in one place. I tagged it and plan to drag the actual test photos from each student into their notebook and use the same tags. It sounds complicated but it's really quite zen. Once you get your plan organized, Evernote works with you. It took one hour to get myself organized and start really using my system.
Next I created a Literacy notebook and added a note for Reading Levels. Using my district data, I was able to easily find the names of the students who had tested at DRA levels 4, 6, or 8 and create a digital version of a file folder system I always used previously with velcro and lamination. Yay!
Some of the other aha moments came when I wanted something and then found a way to make it work. For example I noticed that one of my students did really poorly on the WTW test and I started thinking he may have needed more time and that I should do it again next week. Aha! I added a reminder alarm to his previous test and now Evernote will remind me to do the test.
The other thing that's really exciting is that I have access to this stuff anywhere I am. No more needing big binders just in case I need them for an IEP or at a staff meeting. I can just share a student's notebook or open up what I need on my phone or an iPad. This is big, huge even. I can spend more time organizing centers and thinking about books and being there for my kids. I won't keep losing things. Yay!