Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Evernote & My 13 year old

This week an article about Evernote showed up in my Twitter feed multiple times.  12 Surprising Ways to Use Evernote by Michael Hyatt is great! I have been using Evernote as a website clipper for 3 years or more.  I upgraded to premium Evernote last year when I started using Penultimate for my calendar and all around note taking app.  After upgrading, I started using Evernote for things besides web clipping.  I've started storing information about my 3 boys as well as work information.  I use Evernote on my iPhone, iPad, MacBook, iMac and Chromebook (gracious I have a lot of devices). I heart Evernote.

My 13 year old, Sam, has always done well at school.  But this year had struggled in ELA class, specifically in spelling.  And his handwriting is awful.  More awful than regular 6th grade boy.  His ELA teacher asked me about dyslexia in September.  We watched and collected data.  We initiated testing in January.  The results were astounding (at least to me, I'm a geek).  Sam can not decode words longer than 5 letters.  But he has high comprehension scores.  He has trouble with math calculations but excels in math reasoning.  Besides pointing towards dyslexia, the test results also pointed to a short term memory issues.

My husband and I can concur.  Sambo forgets lots of things.  The Sunday before the meeting about his results, at 9 pm, he remembered he needed to take video footage from his phone and make an iMovie.  I ran him up one side and down the other for that one.  Then I felt bad the next day.  I knew we needed a plan for recording assignments and reminders.

Because of his bad handwriting and general dislike for handwriting I knew that an assignment notebook would not work. That's when I thought of Evernote!

I set up an Evernote account for Sam and loaded the app on his iPhone.  We created a notebook for each class, including electives. Then I thought, "he'll never remember to do this" so I set an alarm for 5 minutes before the end of each class period.  I also shared the notebooks with my account so I could help him check everything at the end of the day.  Finally, I emailed all Sam's teachers to let them know what he would be doing and how it was documented in his 504 plan.  They all responded enthusiastically.

So far so good on our Evernote system.  Sam can take pictures, type or record his notes.  His favorite thing to do is to take a picture and record a note.  "Finish this" with a picture is the most common note.  When he comes to my classroom at the end of the day, we review his notes.   Sam records notes of reminders and what they did in class. This helps me review the day with him in hopes of jumping information into his long term memory.

We need to start checking them at home too because we still forget.  It took us 3 days last week to get a milk jug to school for a theatre project.  I've tried adding notes with reminders for him but that's not been too successful but I don't think it's the system's flaw ;). For example, there was a note in his Honors Social Studies notebook "took notes".  I added a note with a reminder that said "ask teacher for a copy of the notes" as this is an accommodation of his 504 plan.  That afternoon, I asked, did you you get the notes? Nope.  He 'forgot'.  I think that time was a matter of not wanting to bother the teacher.  My hope is that adding notes will become an automatic part of his day and we can stop the alarm reminders.  I don't think we'll even talk about this until October, couple of months into the new school year.

Have you used Evernote with your class or individual students?  Tell us how in the comments!

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