Buffy Hamilton is a teacher and librarian at Creekview High School in Canton, Georgia. Buffy is one of Tech and Learning’s 30 EdTech Leaders of the Future, Georgia School Library Media Specialist of the Year 2010, and one of the National School Boards Association’s “20 to Watch” educators for 2010; her media program at Creekview High School was also named one of two exemplary high school programs for the state of Georgia in 2010.
| Name: Buffy Hamilton
Profession: Librarian and Media Specialist
Blog: The Unquiet Librarian
In the spring of 2010, I decided to introduce Evernote as a research tool to a group of 10th grade Literature/Composition students at my school. I chose Evernote because these students (part of a learning and technology integration program), were preparing to start a research project using multiple sources of information, including database articles, web-based news stories, videos, photos, and interviews. For their research, students were not only using a wide range of information sources, but they were also creating multigenre learning artifacts, such as VoiceThreads, artwork, videos, poetry, and other representations of their key learnings.
Why I chose Evernote
I felt Evernote would be a perfect solution for the students’ need to archive and organize traditional and non-traditional sources of information. In addition to the more common features, Evernote offered some specific ones that made it the perfect tool for what we would be using it for. These included:
- Handwritten notes – Students could take handwritten notes if they preferred and still add them to their research by scanning or taking a snapshot.
- Flexibility – Students could use Evernote on their smartphones with apps available for iPhone, iPod Touch, and Android, as well as at home using any computer they had access to.
- Sharing – Students could make their notebooks public and import the RSS feed into Google Reader, iGoogle, or Netvibes.
- Email – The unique email address every user gets is very useful for adding things to your account from different places.
Class, meet Evernote
I introduced Evernote to the students by giving them a peek into how I was already using it personally. I showed them how I was capturing, organizing, and maintaining notes on materials I was researching to buy for our library using the web clipper and the iPhone app. The students were really responsive to this approach.
Next, I had each student sign up for a free account. Once everyone had registered, I went over some basics of the program with them, being sure to cover the fundamentals:
- Web clipping – At school, students only had access to Internet Explorer, but most used Firefox and Chrome at home so I was sure to demonstrate how to use all the different clipping options for each browser.
- Create new text notes – I went over how to create and edit text notes in the application.
- Use tags – I showed the students how tags work in Evernote and suggested some ways they could use tags effectively to keep all their notes in perfect order.
- How to modify note source/URL attributes – This features was relevant to my students who needed to insert the source URLs for database resources.
- How to work with notebooks – I went over how to create new notebooks, select default notebooks, as well as add content to notebooks
- Sharing and collaboration – I showed the students how to share notebooks publicly as well as how to capture the RSS feed of notebooks shared publicly.
- The power of sync – I introduced the concept of synchronization and explained how Evernote would automatically sync, giving them access to their notes no matter where they were or what device they were using.
What the students thought of Evernote
The response was very positive. I was pleased and pleasantly surprised by how quickly they picked up the program. They really liked the mobile apps and the flexibility of using either the desktop client or a web based version. Students repeatedly cited “ease of use” as their favorite reason for using Evernote.
“Evernote is really simple and easy to use. I am so glad Mrs. Hamilton gave us the opportunity to use this tool. I am really excited to keep clipping and working with Evernote!” -Lindy
“I found that Evernote was easy to navigate and kept all my information together. I like Evernote the best out of all the tools we have used.” – Jennifer
Evernote in the future
A year later, it has been exciting to see these students continue to use Evernote as a research tool into the 2011 academic year. To my delight, I noticed several of my former students opening and using their Evernote accounts with no prompting, because they wanted to not because it was a course requirement.
What happened next was truly amazing; I saw some students taking the initiative and showing their classmates how to use Evernote. It was impressive to see Evernote quickly spreading around the school through enthusiastic students. I hope that the work I’m doing with teachers this academic year will help plant more seeds for learning experiences like this for more students in 2011 and beyond!
Resources for students and educators
I’m really happy to continue sharing this great tool with my students in the future. I created a research guide, as well as an introduction to help other educators get started using Evernote in their classrooms.
Evernote Education Series
- Evernote at School: The Montclair Kimberley Academy’s 1:1 Program, plus Q&A Webinar
- How Evernote helped me through college
- 10 Evernote Tips for School
- 10 Tips For Teachers Using Evernote
Join the discussion about Evernote for Schools on our forum. Learn from educators and share your own experiences, best practices and tips.