Evernote as a Portfolio: Promotes Lifelong Learning!

Thanks to Justin Stallings, my blog has featured a bunch Evernote blog posts (see the previous posts listed below). Evernote is by  FAR one of the best tools I use on a daily basis in my classroom: from lesson plans, to file sharing, to assignments, to bookmarking…. the ideas are endless. After co-hosting #sschat a follower asked me to explain how I had my students create digital portfolios using Evernote.

Why a portfolio? 

A portfolio is really useful way to store projects, writing samples, and student-centered learning. It can be used by students, parents, and teachers to document progress and learning in the classroom. Portfolios allow students to reflect, share, and document their own learning. This summer I planned a really awesome senior project where my students took a problem with the government, researched it, conducted their own research, and presented a solution. The cumulative project was a portfolio documenting their progress: including a research paper and a documentary film about their topic.  You can view the project here. This summer I transitioned from the idea of doing a paper portfolio to a digital one using Evernote as the primarily system for creating portfolios in my classroom.


Why Evernote?

As I was researching options to create digital portfolios Evernote naturally came to mind due to its ability to sync with any device,  as well as be accessed from any internet browser. The Evernote app allows students to easily capture and document their portfolios from any device including iPods, iPads, or their mobile device.  Evernote is free, has an app for every device, and is easy to use. Check out Evernote.


How do you use Evernote as a digital portfolio?

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Evernote as a Lifelong Learning Tool

One of the best features of using Evernote is that it allows students to take their portfolios and share them with the world! Evernote allows the student to be in control of their own learning in terms of sharing, documentation, and ultimately reflection. Instead of digging out files from a basement, my students will be able to digitally carry their milestones and accomplishments with them. They can watch as they progress into lifelong learners and the ownership placed on the student. It is a very valuable process to observe and as a teacher it is so rewarding to see your students be excited about their learning. 


Previous Evernote Blog Posts

Please see Justin’s posts in the Evernote for the Social Studies Series:

Part 1: Evernote for the Social Studies: What is Evernote

Part 2: Evernote for the Social Studies: Evernote in the History Class

Part 3: Evernote for the Social Studies: Evernote and Skitch

Part 4: Evernote for the Social Studies: Lesson Planning with Evernote

Part 5: Evernote for the Social Studies: Evernote and Study Blue

Evernote for Educators Livebinder

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My Big Campus is Amazing!!!

I have used Edmodo the past year and a half with my classes. I love Edmodo because it’s a free social learning network for teachers, parents, students, and administrators. It provides a way to connect, collaborate, and so much more.

Michelle Krill, a technology coordinator @mmkrill at my former school, introduced me to new course management resource called My Big Campus. My Big Campus is a wonderful resource that allows teachers to create a virtual classroom with their students. My Big Campus has so many features and endless opportunities to collaborate and teach your student’s 21st century skills!

My Big Campus has a resource library for websites, wiki’s, handouts, power-points, and videos, etc. Once you create an account, you can create separate classes or groups. As a teacher you can create a blog, classroom calendar, post assignments, and even grade assignments right in My Big Campus. Last semester I used the blog to have a virtual discussion before and after classroom debates. I also used the classroom “chat” feature to Back-Channel while my class watched videos.


MBC is by far one of my favorite programs. It has replaced a lot of other programs and allowed my students to go to one place to access all our classroom information. Two teachers in my department have already rolled it out, one with an honors program and another with the AP US history course. My wonderful department chair, Mrs. McGrath has actually encouraged our department to start using it for a department resource sharing. I have two trainings scheduled for this spring to teach teachers about MBC in my district. I am excited to share my passion for MBC.




Video  Citation 


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5 free mobile apps to capture student work written by Justin Stallings

Mobile technology has provided new opportunities for students and teachers to both capture and organize data.  With the advent of mobile technology in the classroom, students can do a number of things like capture notes from their spirals or the whiteboard to capturing pictures/video of a project they’ve been doing in class.        This allows students to both share and reflect upon their learning.
Here are 5 mobile apps to capture student work:
1.  Evernote (IOS, Android, Blackberry)
Evernote is a mobile app that is cross-platform friendly–so regardless if your students prefer the Iphone, Android, or Blackberry they will be able to install the app and use it.  With the Evernote app, students can take picutres of classroom activities (not to mention activities assigned outside of class) or they can take audio notes as well.  So if you have your students taking notes in a spiral or journal, they can make them into digital notes with the Evernote app and have access to them 24/7.  More importantly, once they’ve created the new note from the app, they will have it access to it on any other device which they have downloaded Evernote or they can simply access it from the main website www.evernote.com.
2.  JotNot (IOS)
Jotnot is a very impressive mobile app which makes pictures or “scans” very crisp and clear.  Depending on how new your mobile device is (which I still have the Iphone 3GS so the camera on it is not as good as some of the new models) taking pictures may not exactly be as clear as you want–especially when reading text.  With JotNot, you can take a picture and change the settings on it to make it clearer to read.
The only downside to the free version of JotNot is that can’t share via Evernote or Dropbox–that is only with the paid version ($1.99).  With the free version, you can still save the image to your phone’s photo library and upload it into Evernote or Dropbox app from there.
3.  Whiteboard Share (IOS)
Whiteboard Share is a app that I just recently started experimenting with.  Essentially, with Whiteboard Share you can take a photo and share via Evernote or email.  The main benefit of this app is that it when the image is uploaded into Evernote, it makes the text more readable (evernote.com).
The other benefit to using Whiteboard Share is that it gives you a “zoom” feature on the camera, which the standard camera on the Iphone (3GS model at least) doesn’t allow for that.
4.  Pinterest (IOS)
Pinterest is quickly becoming a fun and easy way to both capture and share photos.  With the Iphone app you have access to your previous “pins” and can take photos directly from the app and assign them to a “pin board” for easy organization.  The pin boards can be a easy way for students to organize photos into different categories (i.e. Group projects) and be able to reflect on what they did later on.
5.  Voicethread (IOS)
Voicethread is a very engaging tool that students can utilize in the classroom.  With the Voicethread Iphone app, you can take a series of pictures and categorize them into different “threads” and make them into a type of “slideshow” presentation.
What sets this apart from the other apps is that once you take the photo, Voicethread allows you to make comments on it either by voice, text, or video.  So instead of students just making a caption description of the photo, they can also take audio notes or even actually video of them describing what is going on in the picture.
Honorable Mention:
CamScanner (IOS, Android)
CamScanner is also another excellent app that students can use to capture there work.  With Camscanner, you can take a snap shot from your Iphone or Android device and save it as a PDF or upload directly into your Evernote account.
Thanks to Melissa Seideman (@mseideman) for suggesting the app!
If you are looking for a cross-platform app, Evernote is the way to go.  Of course, if students have the Iphone or even a Ipod Touch they have a few more options to choose from (for now at least). I’m sure that there are a few that I may have overlooked, which ones would you recommend?
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How technology has helped me cope with a tragedy?

Anyone who knows me knows I am completely dedicated to my family, friends, students, and this blog. The past month I have been so busy with a new job in a new district, moving out of our apartment, and closing on a house. To say the last month has been stressful, is an understatement!


My Best Friend Gets Sick

Last week my college best friend and maid of honor, Cassie Davies has what she thought was a cold turned much more serious. She woke up Friday without any feeling in her legs and was rushed to the hospital. She went into a coma on Saturday and finally woke up this past Thursday. She is making small steps everyday but the recovery process is going to be a very long. Doctors are not still 100% sure of what she has but they are thinking its ADEM with other complications.


Feeling Helpless 

For most of the week I felt very helpless and hopeless. I couldn’t visit her and I couldn’t help her. I dove into a household project: I  reupholstered my entire dining room set as well as out outdoor patio. I kept myself occupied but could not escape the fact that she was sick and needed help. I moped around the house and avoided all types of schoolwork and housework. I told my students that she was sick and they offered to make cards and have a bake sale to raise money for her family (see the cards on the right).


How Technology Saved Me and Gave Me a Purpose?

When I got home from school on Tuesday I thought of a wonderful project to help Cassie. I thought I could use my love of technology to help her and in the process it gave me a way to cope in a positive way. Cassie’s high school friends created a facebook group to get the word out and give people a way to voice their love and support. Cassie’s support group now has 563 members!


Raising Money 

The first thing I did was create a video (see below) and a website to raise funds for her family. Cassie’s family is one of the most giving families you will ever meet and I know the medical, travel, and hotel expenses are going to be a lot. I created the video through iMovie and the website through  Indiegogo. So far we have raised over $6,700 with a 108 funders in the past four days. It’s amazing when a community comes together. I even tweeted it out and a few of my twitter friends have donated. Thank you for your support it means so much to me!


Photobook and Voicethread 

I created a Voicethread to share memories and stories to help Cassie while she is recovering. I think its so important for our friends who live across the US to be involved in the recovery process and this was one way we could send our support and memories through a touching project using our voices.


I also created a Shutterfly photo-book about Cassie using all the photos, memories, and good luck wishes. I fiqured it would be something she could treasure during her time in the hospital.

Click here to view this photo book larger

Build your own high-quality photo books at Shutterfly.com.



One of Cassie’s friends Monica ordered bracelets that are pink and white that say “Cassie’s Army” on them. They are $5 a piece and all proceeds will go towards the Davies family. She even used a google form to keep track or the orders, addresses, and payments.


This week I have shed more tears than I ever have, but technology has given me a positive outlet to contribute my skills and truly make a difference. I have realized that life is too short and we need to live each day like it is our last. Technology has brought friends together to help, support, comfort, and pray for our friend. Please send positive thoughts and prayers to Cassie.  She still has a long way to go but I am happy technology is helping to make that gap just a little bit smaller.

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Part 2: Evernote for the Social Studies

Last week, I posted at what you can do with Evernote.  Hopefully you’ve had a chance to get hands-on with Evernote in the last few days and got a feel for how awesome it really is.  Once you do get started with Evernote, you’ll wonder what you did without it.

Evernote in History Class

(Photo courtesy: Library of Congress)

Continuing on in the “Evernote for the Social Studies” series, today I wanted to take a look at how Evernote can help students in History class.  For this post, I contacted a former student of mine and asked if she would be willing to take a few minutes with me and take a look at what Evernote could do for her in her History class.

Digitize and Organize your notes

As I sat down with her and we began to discuss what she was doing in her classes, she showed me some of the notes that she had taken in her class.  Currently, she’s in 8th grade and taking a United States History class from Colonization period to the end of Reconstruction of the American Civil War.  The notes had been done on loose-leaf notebook paper and she kept them in a folder specifically for that class.  As we discussed the positives and negatives of taking and retaining notes that way, the one thing that concerned her was loosing her notes.  Here’s where I showed her where Evernote could step in and take care of that problem.  To start off with, we created a new notebook “US History Notes” in her Evernote account (age requirement is 13 yrs old for any users of Evernote, see the privacy policy).  Using the Evernote app on her Ipod Touch, we took a snapshot of her notes:

She like the idea of creating a “notebook” specially for her US History class for quick and easy organization.  What I also showed her as well was how Evernote can help her refresh on her notes and prepare for a test.  On the notes above, we looked at Evernote’s search feature to quickly find needed notes.  Once she took the snapshot of her notes, she would title them–i.e. Jamestown notes:

Notice how performing a search of “jamestown” in her Evernote notes came up with her Jamestown notes and how Evernote highlighted the searched term in yellow.  As a side note, if you are a premium user you can also search for text in the image themselves.

At the end of our discussion of Evernote, she said she was going to try using Evernote for the next couple of weeks and see how it will help her.  I’ll be updating everyone as she continues to use Evernote over the next few days.  In her words, she classified Evernote as “cool”.  Yes my fellow educators, Evernote will make your students say “cool”.


Staying up-to-date on current events with Evernote

The interesting part of history is that it does’t stop, history happens every day.  If you plan on having your students keep up with current events throughout the school year, why not have them clip articles with Evernote?  As my former student did for her history notes, have your students create a notebook in their Evernote account and name it something like “Current Events”.  If they have the Evernote Webclipper installed on their internet browsers (weather it be at home or at school) they can clip a article that they like or over a topic that you choose for them.  Here’s an example of article I clipped and also added a short response, the article is over the events in Libya.  What’s good about this is that students can email you the article they clipped or share in on Facebook, Twitter, or copy the note URL and put it in their Livebinder.


How does this help the teacher?

When I was student teaching, I had students who lost their notes, forgot to bring them to class, and everything in between.  As we discussed in the first post of this series, students can access their notes from their computer, tablet, or mobile device.  When a student scans their notes into their Evernote account, they won’t be able to say “I lost them” or “I forgot them”.  Of course, as the teacher, you might consider typing or scanning your notes into your Evernote yourself.  This way, if you do want to share your notes with your students, you can share them the same way your students can.  Here’s how to share notes and notebooks.



Hopefully this gave you some ideas on how you might use Evernote in your History class.  As with any technology tool that is used in the classroom, the main goal of it is to use it to engage the students and nurture them to become life-long learners.  Once I showed Evernote to my former student, she automatically started to see things that she could do with it.


Next week, we’ll look at how Evernote can help in the Geography class.  Looking forward to sharing more ideas for using Evernote the Social Studies classroom!


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Thinkfinity for Classroom Resources

I learned about Thinkfinity at EdCamp Hudson Valley. Thinkfinity is an interesting resources that provides a multitude of collaborative aspects for teachers. It is sponsored by the Verizon Foundation, with the intention of providing teachers with the latest topics, tools and trends in education.


Thinkfinity was esablished with the intent to encourage teacher collaboration, connection, and resource sharing of the best practices for 21st century teaching and learning.  The website offers teachers access to thousands of free lesson plans for all subjects, interactives, learning games, videos and professional development. Check it out today!


Features of Thinkfinity:

  • find discipline-specific, standards-based Thinkfinity resources, developed by our valued Content Partners.
  • discover reviewed resources that expand the breadth and depth of Thinkfinity’s Resources, developed by our Supporting Contributors.
  • network with colleagues and education leaders to create and innovate classroom practices.
  • organize your bookmarks and documents for easy retrieval from school or home.
  • share ideas, resources, and useful advice in various ongoing discussions throughout the community.
  • join groups whose members have interests similar to your own, maintained by our Content Partners, Supporting Contributors, and Community Hosts.
  • create groups for collaborating with your colleagues or extending learning beyond the classroom with your students.
  • read blogs by your favorite Verizon Education Bloggers and interact with them.
  • try strategies tested and designed for you to replicate in your school, developed by Verizon Technology



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SoundGecko Converts Any Article Into an MP3

I learned about SoundGecko from Lifehacker blogSoundGecko is an interesting resource for teachers and students of all ages.   SoundGecko is a FREE text-to-audio transcribing service that lets you “read” any article or written content from the web on the go in an audio format.

All you have to do is paste a URL into SoundGecko and it converts the article into speech. You can send the new audio file via email, Dropbox, or Google Drive for immediate syncing. You can also use the iphone app and chrome extension for quicker conversion. Hopefully, they will come out with an ipad app soon! SoundGecko would have been so useful in college and it can help all ages of students in education. SoundGecko works efficiently and simply to use. Pretty amazing website, check it out today!


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Share My Lesson: 228,000+ Free Teaching Resources

Share My Lesson is an interesting resource for any educator to collaborate, connect, and share with our teachers. It is a FREE website that gives teachers access to teaching resources such as worksheets, learning materials, lesson ideas, activiities, and lesson plans. The lessons are divided by grade level, subject, and unit.


Start using the site today with your TES login. Simply enter your TES username and password and then accept the Share My Lesson terms. Do so before 31 July and you’ll be entered automatically into a prize draw to win the new iPad!*

The website also connects teachers to an online community to build your PLC. Share My Lesson was developed by the American Federation of Teachers and TES Connect, the largest network of teachers in the world. Check it out today and improve your teaching repertoire!


As a US educator Share My Lesson offers you:
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Paperport Notes for the iPad

I learned about PaperPort Notes at ISTE12 and was so amazed I just had to blog about it. PaperPort Notes is a wonderful app for the iPad that allows users to edit and collect information, which includes text to speech software. You can send your notes to Dropbox and download files from there. The app even allows files such as .txt, PDF’s, and .jpg,  to integrate into the app.  If you need a free iPad note-taking app that syncs with Dropbox , PaperPort Notes is a great option. Check it out today!



• Quickly take typed and/or free hand notes 
• Leverage Dragon voice recognition to capture your ideas and notes simply by speaking
• Leverage powerful annotative tools to quickly mark up documents
• Never miss another detail by adding audio page by page within your notes
• Combine full documents, individual pages, content from the web and notes into a single document.
• Powerful search, copy/paste, reordering and bookmarking tools allow you to quickly navigate your notes while staying organized
• Access and share content using your favorite cloud storage services
• PaperPort Anywhere connector provides access to files stored online or within PaperPort Desktop

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Interactive Presentations with Slide Boom

I discovered Slide Boom when I was searching for an interactive World War II map (see below). Slide Boom is a website that allows users to upload Powerpoint presentations and the website converts the file to a flash movie. Each presentation that is uploaded can be shared with others on a blog or website.  The slides are uploaded in the same manner as the original .ppt file, including audio, animation, and visual files.


My favorite feature of Slide Boom is the animation options such as a pen, highlighter, or eraser. You can save your writing and animation of each slide. You can then make the presentation available to your students. For example: I animated and highlighted the battles on the interactive WWII map. Here is a how to use Slide Boom guide.


Here is the main features of Slideboom

  • It has a basic free version and premium version (Basic is fine for educator)
  • It is very simple and easy to use
  • It allows you to upload PowerPoint presentations and slideshows
  • It can be used to convert PowerPoint presentations to Flash
  • You can share your presentations with others
  • Search for presentations in 100+ different languages and by 30+ categories.
  • Join an interest group or create your own
  • Embed presentations into your blog or website
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My School Notebook

I learned about this website from the Make Use Blog. The Make Use blog always has interesting and engaging technology ideas to implement in your personal or professional life. My School Notebook is an interesting idea  and really useful app for students to take notes in a 1:1 school or BYOT program. My school notebook is a new tool to write notes in class both online and off line.  Students can organize their virtual notebooks into different classes. Students can even share notes with friends or classmates. 

MySchoolNotebook offers two different plans. The first program is a free app that allows you to create one notebook, share it, use it online or offline. The Premium plan is $2 per month and you can take advantage of all the wonderful features the program has to offer.

Check it out today.


Citation: My School Notebook

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CamScanner- The New Way to Save “Paper” Documents

I recently discovered a new Android application called CamScanner. Camscanner is wonderful because it turns your phone into a document scanner. You can digitalize any document with the use of your smartphone. Simply take a  take a picture of any paper documents such as receipts, whiteboards, notes, agreement and so forth, and CamScanner can auto-crop image, enhance image quality and create an industry standard PDF file. The program also allows you to easily upload your document to  Dropbox, Google Doc, etc. and sort them.

I scanned recipes, shared them online with family, and saved them in a digital folder. This app truly makes everyday tasks easier and reduces clutter.  This is a wonderful new application with so many uses for your everyday life! Check it out today.

Photo Credit 



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Send and Share Files Instantly with Minus

I usually use Drop It to Me to send large files instantly via Dropbox. I recently discovered Minus for file sharing from the Lifehacker blog. Minus allows users to share pictures, documents, music, videos, and files instantly. The best part about Minus is that it is simple to use and FREE. You can simply drag files from a folder or your desktop directly into your Internet browser and then start sharing.

Some other benefits for Minus: 

  • Create and share your files
  • Share files with friends and follow them
  • Manage and organize your files online
  • Get 10 GB worth of free disk space
  • Upload individual files up to 2 GB
  • Unlimited downloads and transfers

For more information check out Minus today!
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