Tips & Stories

10 Tips for Teachers Using Evernote – Education Series

Posted by Michael Cruz on 13 Jan 2011

Posted by Michael Cruz on 13 Jan 2011

Michael Cruz is a great example of someone that has fully embraced the benefits of putting technology to use in a classroom setting. For five years, he taught courses at San Jose State University’s College of Business ranging from web marketing to entrepreneurship. He now focuses on technology and productivity.

Name: Michael Cruz
Profession: Teacher
Twitter: @Michaelcruz

Evernote is a great application for educators. Its usefulness can range from planning a course to delivering a lesson plan to capturing feedback after class. I experimented with using Evernote while I was teaching courses at San Jose State University. It proved to be an excellent classroom companion. Here are some ways to use Evernote to achieve your teaching goals.

As a teacher, my Evernote use falls into three categories:

  • Prior to class
  • During class
  • After class

Prior to class

  • Plan and organize your classes with tags: Using tags is a great way to organize your classes on a week-to-week basis or on a class-by-class basis. For example, if you know that there is certain content that has to be taught during the second week of the school year, then for all related content you can use the tag “week 2”. Once you’ve created this system you can keep adding additional items throughout the year.
  • Standards database: Compile standards of achievements for your particular grade or subject. You can even share them with teachers, parents, administrators and students using Evernote’s sharing features.
  • Professional development: If you use the summer break or vacations to improve your skills or continue your education, keep all your notes, resources, lessons and new ideas learned in Evernote. This also works well for teacher in-services, conferences, workshops and seminars that you attend.
  • Classroom templates: Templates are a great way to save time when grading and assessing your students. If you use templates such as grade sheets or student assessment forms, keep them in Evernote so you have them at your fingertips throughout the year.
  • Prepare for your absence: Use Evernote’s shared notebooks as a way to keep your class up and running even if you aren’t there. Evernote makes it easy to share a notebook with the substitute teacher. Consider sharing lesson plans, worksheets, answer keys and examples of completed work. This can ensure your class keeps moving even if you aren’t there.

During Class

  • Share a notebook with your class: After you create a public notebook,  share the URL with your class. This way anything you add can be viewed by your students (or their parents). Here’s an example of a public notebook that I created for an entrepreneurship class.
  • Whiteboard photos: Taking snapshots of the whiteboard is a favorite use of mine. Take photographs of the whiteboard before the start of the class, and again at the end. This gives you an accurate time stamped snapshot of what you were working on, on any given date. You can title or tag each photo based on the lecture number to make searching for specific photos easier. Also, you can share the photos with students that miss a class, so that they have the day’s notes.
  • Keep handouts handy: Keep all of the handouts, worksheets, templates, study guides and assignments that you frequently use in Evernote, where they are easily searchable and accessible.

After Class

  • Simplify grading: Scan graded tests, including scantrons and add them to Evernote. You can then enter them into your preferred grade-book or spreadsheet when you have time. This is also great if you have a teacher’s assistant. You can share the notebook with them and have them help with the grading process.
  • Keep your extracurriculars in order: If you participate in any committees or coach a team, you can use Evernote to keep track of all the different research, notes and information associated with it. Again, shared notebooks are a great way to keep your committee on the same page and makes for an easy way to share collective knowledge about a project.

To get more productivity tips for teachers you can visit my website and sign up for my e-mail list.

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58 Comments RSS

  • Heidi - seed invitations

    Thanks for this article. I’ve forwarded it to some teacher friends and will use some of your tips as a volunteer teacher at my church. ~Heidi

    • Michael Cruz

      Thank you for spreading the word. EN is a great tool for teachers.

  • Karen

    Thanks for your ideas. I work with a lot of doctoral students and have started using a notebook for each student with notes from previous meeting, plans for the semester, notes on committee members, etc.

    • Michael Cruz

      Thank you for your kind words. Contact me if you’d like to brainstorm how we can make this work for you and your doctoral students.

    • Educational Tips

      I found very helpful it.

  • crw

    These tips are great! I already use Evernote for teaching and planning but I’m sure I can make even better use of it. In some instances I still prefer Google Docs though.

    • Michael Cruz

      Thank you for your kind words. In the example of the workflow with the student assistant, I scanned the graded assignments into Evernote, and the assistant entered the grades into Google Docs. Worked like a charm. Please contact me if you’d like to brainstorm more about how to integrate Evernote into your teaching.

      • robert

        Great article!

        I have found that keeping the grade spreadsheet (or a copy of it) on EN (or dropbox) where it can be accessed anytime is really helpful for students. I can answer the “What is my grade in the course?” type of question at any moment. Just pull out the phone and show them all the grades recorded, work received, etc. etc. Previously, I would have to have them stop by the office, or take out my lapto; a small barrier, but one that many students wouldn’t leap over.

    • Educational Tips

      It is very useful.

  • cesc

    I’m not a teacher but these tips are really usefull.

    • Michael Cruz

      Thank you for the kind words.

    • Educational Tips

      I would have to have them stop by the office, or take out my lapto; a small barrier, but one that many students wouldn’t leap over.

  • Warrick

    Great tips, and timely too as I’ve been thinking about Evernote as a tool for students, particularly with the new STACKS feature. I’ in a 1-1 school and have been using OneNote (which is great) but Evernote is increasingly emerging as a really powerful tool for students to be using in class to organise their notes and ideas. I blogged a bit about it here:

    • Educational Tips

      Great tips, and timely too as I’ve been thinking about Evernote as a tool for students, particularly with the new STACKS feature.

  • Jared Dees

    What a great collection of tips, thank you! I’ve found so many uses for Evernote and I truly do hope teachers find it helpful as well. Teachers are always looking to save time and Evernote clearly makes that a reality for tech-savvy teachers.

    • Michael Cruz

      Thanks, Jared, for adding me to your Twitter list and for your kind words. Now we need to help the non-tech-savvy teachers to try out EN.

    • Educational Tips

      I really like it, Because it is very useful for me.

  • laurie

    Michael- Thanks for sharing, which means I’m sharing with
    teachers from the Mount Pleasant School District.

    • Michael Cruz

      Laurie, if you need help implementing Evernote at your school, please let me know. Perhaps we can schedule an in-service training.

    • Educational Tips

      Thanks for sharing, which means I’m sharing with

  • Sarah

    I’m actually a doctoral student/full-time librarian, but I can see hoe evernote could be particularly useful in organizing all of my course-specific documents and the lectures i capture with my smartpen in one central location. Now, if they can integrate themselves with Refworks, I’d be all set!

    • Educational Tips

      What a great collection of tips, thank you! I’ve found so many uses for Evernote and I truly do hope teachers find it helpful as well.

  • Melissa Cameron

    What if; I’m using one of those white-board apps over the wi-fi, and using my macbook connected to the projector, and my iPad to rome the room and have students contribute to our notes. With the right app, my students could also have our whiteboard display on their laptops or iPads (by pointing at the right URL) and then capture that to Evernote to tag.

    Complicated? Too complicated?

    • Michael Cruz

      Melissa, from my experience, my college students liked the use of Evernote in moderation. When I tried to step on the “high-tech” gas pedal, I noticed that a few students were turned off by this. From what I’ve seen, it’s a balance between the usefulness that technology (like Evernote) provides and the engagement that students want to feel with their instructors.

    • Educational Tips

      Now I will never lose what kids create on the board!

  • mrsdurff

    I didn’t realise I could email notes in and tag them using hashtag format. So I tried it, took a pic with phone, emailed to evernote and tagged. Now I will never lose what kids create on the board! Thanks!!

    • Michael Cruz

      Mrs. Durff, don’t forget that you can take pictures of samples of the students’ work and examples of how you want the work to look (so that students can model your work). I’ve also taken pictures of the students when they are doing a project (example: presentation in front of class). It’s another mental trigger that helps them remember what we covered in class.

    • Educational Tips

      his article was very helpful for me to begin using Evernote.

  • Will Pena small business consultant

    Working as a small business consultant, is similar to being a teacher. You have to prepare before hand, have to take notes during and then have to do a post meeting review.

    This article was very helpful for me to begin using Evernote. I heard it was a great tool to use – you just made it clear for me how.

    Thank you.

    • Michael Cruz

      Thanks, Will. I also recommend listening to Evernote’s podcast. In each podcast, the on-air talent covers “use cases.” This will help you open your mind about the many ways you can use EN. Also, at the beginning of each podcast, real users talk about a use case that they have discovered. I submitted a use case in podcast #15. You can access the podcast on iTunes. Or, here’s a link:

    • Educational Tips

      I heard it was a great tool to use – you just made it clear for me how.

  • Jim Brown

    thanks for share, cool idea + cool software

    • Michael Cruz

      Thank you for the kind words, Jim. What do you think was the most useful idea?

    • Educational Tips

      It was the most useful idea.

  • David

    Are you people kidding??? I too am a teacher and this article is useless!!!

  • David Andrade

    I am also a teacher who uses Evernote extensively. I use it for my lesson plans, notes, web clippings, and much more. I keep meeting notes, policies, schedules, and other information in it.

    I also share notes with students and colleagues.

    Here are some articles I wrote about how I use Evernote in education.

  • John Talbot

    As a lecturer myself, I am somewhat concerned about the data protection act and the fact that some of the suggestions imply that student data would be kept in Evernote.
    I don’t think that this would be permitted at my institution, and how can you be sure that the info is secure?


  • Felipe

    I think it is important that if you are saving grades to Evernote that you make sure you are a Premium user and Encrypt the data. We require both the transmission of such data as well as the storage of student data to be encrypted so we do not inadvertently violate the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and wind up front page news.

  • Hans Landel

    Thanks to all of you who posted concerns about having student grades in a publicly accessible (i.e., accessible to students) online site, which would violate FERPA. I was concerned that privacy might get overlooked in the excitement of using Endnote.

    I use EN a lot, but I was wondering, Mr. Cruz, why you would use EN for the things you use it for that don’t require sharing, because those can just as well be done on your computer. For example, you wrote, “If you use the summer break or vacations to improve your skills or continue your education, keep all your notes, resources, lessons and new ideas learned in Evernote. This also works well for teacher in-services, conferences, workshops and seminars that you attend.” I could just as well keep all that info in a folder on my computer. My computer is searchable, like EN, so I can find items quickly. Furthermore, if I use Dropbox, I have access to the documents anywhere. The same is true for you example with templates.

    On the other hand, using EN for sharing is a good idea. (Although DB also allows sharing.)

    This is not to disparage EN, because I really like it. It just seems to me that some of this is just “reinventing the wheel”.

    • Michael Cruz

      Hans, those are great points. Keep in mind that some people keep handwritten notes, and I like how Evernote can make my handwritten notes searchable. Don’t get me wrong. I also use Dropbox, and it’s great. But, I also like how Evernote allows you to tag files. I also appreciate how some notes can be viewed based on physical location. If I had a conference in San Diego, for example, I could do a search for all notes created in San Diego. In sum, I think teachers will get more benefit out of Evernote if they hear about different “use cases” so that they can envision how to use it for their particular situation.

  • Cazare Bran

    Thanks for the tips !

    • Michael Cruz

      Thank you, Cazare, for the kind words. Which tip will work best for you?

  • Natalie

    Hi Michael! In spite of the fact that I am a part of a very technical industry (tv and film production) I am such a technophobe. And while I love Evernote, or the potential I see in it, I have been so unclear about how to use it. It wasn’t until I read your blog that I was like “Wow!!! Yeah!” Now would you please hold my hand as I try to incorporate all you’ve suggested, LOL? I teach broadcast journalism at a small private college in the southeast, and could really use your suggestions to help me be more productive all around. Thanks for begin so generous with information and ideas!

  • James O'Sullivan

    Hi, I am really keen to try and set this up in my school.

  • Miss Farhana

    Hi, how do you create a sharing URL as shown in the public notebook for one of your classes?

    I am also trying to incorporate this into my Sec 1 Math class

  • rosana345

    Somebody has tested with Evernote??

    • Sαяαηѕн gαяg

      Yes, Its amazing. You can send anything to evernote like screenshots, pics, texts. its very easy you just have to select text or item you want them cntl + C then select evernote. but it will save ur item in default notebook rather than desired notebook and without tags.

  • Szafy Gorzow

    Cool man!

  • Lynda Williams

    Evernote is looking more and more, to me, like the up and comer collaborative and personal organizing tool! I plan to do more with it weekly.

  • Lori

    I will definitely be passing these ideas on to my husband who is a HS teacher. I use Evernote extensively and save articles like this to a folder I’ve shared with him. I have been dragging him into the technical age and while he is starting to enjoy it he is slow to adopt new applications.
    This article will be really helpful in showing him how he can quickly integrate Evernote into his daily teaching practices and save himself some time.

  • jim sweetman

    Evernote is great. I access it from the Jolicloud ‘app’ in google chrome which now comes up as my home page with links to mail, fb and lots more besides. That means it is one click away when I need it and it keeps me signed in. Neat all round!

  • Frank Peeters

    Actually, I am more interested in having students adding notes to a shared notebook instead of me. Looking up related information and building on top of what other peer students posted could be an excellent learning experience, I believe.
    Anybody knows if that could be arranged with Evernote?
    Many thanks in advance,

  • Susan

    We are in the process of having our grade 6 class Login to Evernote. We noticed that they must be 13 to access this program, so we can’t actually agree to your terms of service. Would you have any suggestions for us?

  • Peter Pappas

    Great stuff Michael,

    I’m working on a free iBook history text. You’ve given me great ideas for creating the teachers resource activity guide in Evernote. I’m wondering, do you think that it could be set up so that students could collaborate and share their thinking via iPad? Since its an iBook I’d like to keep the whole package on the iPad. It would also need to be easy for non-techie teachers to work with.

    I hate worksheets. Any Evernote replacement ideas gratefully accepted.


  • Senad Dizdar

    These are excellent tips!

    And BTW if you use also Dropbox or Google Drive, you would like you to check our cloudHQ will sync all your Evernote notes with Dropbox or Google Drive. So you can have offline backup of Evernote, or you can easily import Google Docs or Dropbox files into Evernote.

    For example, some of cloudHQ users are professors and they use cloudHQ to sync shared Google Docs documents (shared by students) with their central Dropbox account and Evernote.


  • Laura Conley

    Thank you! I am new to Evernote but rely on it already! I hadn’t thought of using it to plan ahead with tags. I too will be sharing it !

  • Timo

    Another tip: Evernote Clearly is the perfect companion for Smart or Clever boards.

  • Elizabeth

    I believe, as a future educator pursuing a secondary ed degree, Evernote can pose many useful applications in the classroom. I appreciate the ideas you suggested and hope to use them someday. I used to use my Evernote account frequently in high school for downloading pdf’s, keeping notes, and using the picture drawing tools for assignments, as well as for my own personal uses, and I encourage others to use it as well. It is helpful for accessing documents everywhere you go, rather than them being stuck on one specific computer.