The greatest personal reward I can receive as an educator is to know that I have really helped someone. For the most part that “knowledge” comes from personal observation and on occasion from the parents of my elementary aged students. Of course it is most satisfying when it comes from a student directly either in the moment or years later. Those are the experiences that really remind me why I love my work so much and why it is still so important.
Over the years, often because I write this blog, I have had the great fortune of corresponding with many educators from around the world. From small villages in Canada, to large cities in Europe, Asia and South America. From preschool teachers to university professors. Mostly these correspondences are a few emails to support educators as they explore Evernote for their schools. Occasionally, however, I have the privilege of hearing over a whole year about how a teacher or a school has transformed the learning landscape of their students using Evernote for Portfolios. It is so satisfying to know that my work, my ideas and my writing has had some small part in that transformation.
Below is an email that I received this week from Keleen Kaye, a teacher at the Hartland School of Community Learning in Wisconsin, describing how Evernote for Portfolios has had a transformational effect on her students and their learning. The email is the greatest form of flattery for me as a writer of this blog, but more importantly it is a great example of how a teacher, with a few good tools and the determination to do something powerful, can help her whole school move in a new direction. Thanks for sharing your story Keleen.
I am SOOOO SOOO SOOO sorry that I am awful at keeping in touch with you but I do have to send you another update for how stumbling across your blog and discovering evernote portfolios for our school has completely changed and enhanced our classroom and school!
We did have some conversations in the summer about setting up accounts for my kids where I discussed with you how important the portfolio and especially digital portfolio process is in our setting. We have a 3-5 multiage, constructivist environment focusing on a generative curriculum. There are so many beautiful pieces to what we do, but one constant headache was keeping track of and sharing out what 26 different kids are doing when they are all working at 26 different things all of the time. Evernote has changed all of that.
I recently gave my students a checklist of the Common Core State Standards and had them use their evernote accounts to go back through their notes from the year and link them to the things that they have done that meet each particular standard. After doing this, instead of holding traditional conferences, we were able to hold small group meetings teaching parents about Evernote accounts and showing them how we use them. It was EXTREMELY powerful and since then we have shared our notebooks with our parents and the feedback I have gotten has been just awesome!
One parent wrote me:
Also wanted to say that we are loving Evernote, we are now all on it and I am journalling with the kids so we can read each other’s entries! So fun!
I had another parent tell me that since their 3rd grader taught them about Evernote, they got an account and now use that exclusively in their work place! So cool that a 3rd grader could have that impact!
Because our school is different from most, we have many, many visitors coming in each week to learn about what we do. Over and over again, I am asked about management, documentation etc. I grab a few of my students and have them talk through Evernote with the educators or parents that come through, and I get the same feedback everytime. They all think this is such a powerful tool, and they all say that my 3-5 graders sound like college students while using Evernote to discuss their journey of learning. My students have also made connections with other classrooms in the building, sharing how they set goals and write reflections and keep track of their journey in Evernote. Each of the teachers of the classrooms that my students have mentored have also foudn this to be a transformative tool.
I have also shared this process or recording learning with college students that our school has partnerships with, and got this feedback from their reflections to their professors:
“It is all trial and error, which could be frustrating, but also exciting because there really are no limits to what you can do! Just seeing a sampling of the websites Keleen and Becky used was also useful too, especially after hearing how they have used each one. The tool only means so much until you have found a successful way to use it. I really think I am going to work on using Evernote as a part of my final research project. My goal is to create a collection of tools and ideas specific to career exploration in the elementary classroom to share with my classmates, and this just sounds way more fun and practical than a PowerPoint or packet of handouts!”
another student wrote:
“It is essential for educators to utilize meaningful methods of communication because communication is what makes family partnerships work and grow. This helps reinforces to students that it is important to develop a connection between home and school, which will then extend to connections to their larger community and world. Without continuous and effective forms or communication, parents and teachers miss opportunities to learn with and from one another to better meet the needs of their students.”
I have just been using Evernote on a basic basis, as I studied a lot on your blog during the summer and have had limited time to learn more and implement more as the school year has gotten off the ground, but even the small pieces that we have incorporated have been transformative! I just today went back to your blog and saw the penultimate stuff as well as the note links and portfolio checklist and I am so excited about these pieces that I feel as if I need to take a week off and figure it all out ASAP! :)
I keep telling my principal that on my bucket list is visiting you and your school and learning even more from you! Thank you for sharing all you do! It has truly transformed my classroom! I saw on twitter that you just wrote a book! Congratulations! We will be getting copies for our entire charter team!