Evernote and Professional Development


Evernote for the Social Studies – Part 9: Evernote and Professional Development

Professional development is a key component for any educator, administrator or professional that needs to keep up with and provide the best expertise available.  Professional development can come in forms of workshops, conferences and any other form where people get together and discuss and train on issues in their field.

As one might expect, you may be taking several notes during this time to review and reflect upon afterwards.  Thanks to Evernote, you can create and organize your notes with notebooks and tags for quick and easy access.  Evernote also allows you to share your notes with your colleagues via social media or by the unique note URL.  Melissa Seideman recently used Evernote to take notes while attending  a conference for West Essex Regional School District.  Melissa was kind enough to share her notes with everyone via Twitter and agreed to let me share her notes in this blog as well.  Below is a part of her notes from the conference:

New Skitch

Click here to see the full note.

Using bullet points and bold headings, it is much easier to create a solid note to review and organize.  What is also great about creating notes such as this in Evernote is that anytime you make updates to the note it is automatically saved in the link you shared – no need to re-share the link.

How to organize your Evernote note

Here are some quick tips on how you can organize your notes in Evernote, making it much easier to review and access later on:

Note organization

Special thanks goes out to Melissa Seideman for inspiring this post!

Why is #sschat valuable to you? Join Today!

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How you can join #sschat?

1. Join the Live #sschat Discussions on Twitter Every Monday Night from 7-8 PM EST (see calendar on the main screen)
2. Join our Facebook Group
3. Join in 24/7 Discussions on Social Studies related topics on twitter follow the hashtag #sschat
4. Visit this #sschat ning website, which has discussion boards, groups, and archived chats of previous twitter discussions.

Why is #sschat valuable to you?
  • #sschat has helped to make me into a more dedicated, engaged, and connected teacher. It has helped me to create a positive learning environment for my students but also a professional learning community that I actually want to be apart of. Melissa Seideman @mseideman
  • #sschat allows me to instantly link with fellow social studies teachers around the globe, in real-time, from the comfort of my sofa.  It’s crowdsourcing professional development (how cool is that?), and it’s the most inspiring and resource-rich professional development I’ve ever participated in.  Joe Sangillo @joesangillo
  • I began watching the collaboration in #sschat as a lurker and thought “I want to belong to this!” The sharing and the organic co -developing of lessons has helped me develop as a newer teacher. -Michael Milton
  • #sschat has given me a countless number of lesson ideas and resources.  Just hearing what other teachers around the world are doing with their classes gets the creative ideas flowing.  It is also inspiring to collaborate with others.  It makes me a better teacher. Mike Nash @mackiefloyd
  • As an education professor, #sschat helps keep me connected with classroom teachers – their interests, successes, and challenges – on a daily basis. – Dan Krutka @dankrutka
  • I am the only Social Studies teacher in my middle school so #sschat IS my Professional Development!  Passionate educators keep me excited and eager to collaborate – John Padula @PadulaJohn
  • #sschat keeps me connected, invigorated and enthusiastic.  Learning from so many innovative educators is an experience that frees me from my office and classroom walls! @antfitz
  • #sschat is a great place to bounce ideas about lessons off others.  You don’t need to always reinvent the wheel. @sbdavidso
  • As a new SS coordinator, #sschat helped me expand my professional network nationwide and worldwide!  In some ways it is like having a SS Fairy Godmother – when I have a question or need a resource,  I tweet it out to #sschat and within minutes I have many great ideas or answers! @MapM8ker
  • #sschat is a great place to know what other people in the world are doing and a place to share good ideas and resources that we may not all have time to keep up with @praisesifa
  • #sschat is a community of passionate and knowledgeable educators dedicated to helping each other grow professionally.  Everyday I learn something new and always come away inspired.  The real winner in all of this… our students.  @RoanHoward
  • #sschat allows for continuous PD and it provides an outlet to share ideas and get feedback by teachers in the your discipline. In addition, it allows us to stay up to date with teaching trends, ideas, technology, and websites.  @philpuzz
  • Without #sschat,  EDSITEment would not be connecting to the most tech savvy teachers in America. We’d be in our “ivory tower” and they would probably not be aware of how much NEH has to offer them.
  • #ssschat has enriched the teaching in our department.   I often share the resources that I have found with teachers in social studies.  They have had great success with students using these resources.  I especially appreciate the support that I have seen provided for teachers new to the profession or teaching a course for the first time.
  • I don’t usually make the live #sschat and when I do it goes too fast for me, but I do enjoy the benefits of using the hashtag to ask questions or to search the archives later. I often share resources that I find here with the teachers in my department.  My participation has made ALL of us better. @jenslish
  • I have not taken part in many #sschat conversations, but I do look through the posts that are tagged #sschat. I have received many great ideas from other social studies teachers. Thank you to all. Monte DeArmoun @nksocialstudies
  • I am inspired by the creativity and dedication of the teachers on #sschat.   In the current test-driven climate, I am so impressed by the ways in which social studies teachers incorporate technology, current events, and interactive methods in their teaching, and refuse to “teach to the tests.” @dutchermann
  • The great people that use #sschat are ALWAYS willing to help with a link or advice to possible teaching topics.  It is instant professional development and probably the best PD tool in use today.  @jeifling
  • #sschat provides me with colleagues who are a resource, support, and inspiration. I just have to ask and there are so many in my PLN who respond immediately. It definitely makes me a better educator. I also connect with educators who are as passionate about student learning as I am and are willing to connect their classrooms worldwide. @kconners09
  • #sschat brings me in contact with new colleagues with new ideas. Collaboration is important to me as I do not have the opportunity at school to do so. There’s always lots of support, too. @geojo22
  • #sschat brings together passionate history teachers to connect, learn and share with one another.  It is a forum for getting help, support and great ideas to improve the teaching of Social Studies. @cybraryman1


How do you use #sschat?
  • 24/7 or during synchronous, moderated chat on Mondays at 7pm EST
  • I tune in most Monday’s to see what’s up.  I always find something useful.  I will also post resources to #sschat throughout the week and look there when I am trying to find something.  I also occasionally post questions.
  • I ALWAYS come away from #sschat with a new site, article, or connection for my PLN – EVERY TIME.  That’s the kind of people who keep me coming back!
  • I used to come across resources that I wanted to share out and thought no one cares, why bother sharing.  Then I discovered #sschat and now I just tweet a resource with #sschat and I instantly have a whole slew of like minded social studies teacher excited about the resource too.
  • I use #sschat to connect live and collaborate or I can go back and check the archives and find great ideas that are perfect for my lessons.  Every little bit helps in keeping education fresh!
  • Having a network of people who always willing to help/share is refreshing!  Also makes me feel great when I can offer help or a resource – validates what we all believe in as educators, despite high stakes testing and local politics
  • When I come across something useful that helped shaped the way I plan what I’m teaching or some interesting ideas, I like to share it out to others on #sschat
  • EDSITEment staff views #sschat as our window on the world of K-12 social studies and history teachers. We find out so much every day about where they are and what they need.
  • I use #sschat throughout the week rather than come to the chat. I use the archives and follow the hashtag.
  • I generally have classes on Monday evenings so I refer to the archives and follow the hashtag. The archives have provided an abundance of resource and ideas for use in the classroom.  @MaribethWestlun
  • Looking for new ideas and classroom resources.
  • I introduce my preservice teachers to it so that they can have a digital learning community.  I gain energy and enthusiasm from the teachers, even though I can’t regularly join the synchronous chat.  I love to share ideas with other teachers, and to get their suggestions of classroom projects, especially to see their student work.
  • When historical current events take place (death of bin Laden, Japan earthquake, etc) #sschat is the best place to gather information.  It is collaboration at the best.

Beyond the Bubble and Reading Like a Historian

I am very proud to announce that The Stanford History Group will be hosting the first #sschat of 2013 on Monday, January 7th at 7 PM EST. They will be discussing reading and writing in history courses. Please join us on #sschat


The Sanford History Educaton Group has created two wonderful programs: Reading Like a Historian and Beyond the Bubble.  The Reading like a historian curriculum engages students in historical inquiry. Each of their 65 lessons revolve  around a central historical question and features primary documents modified for students of all ability levels.   Instead of memorizing historical facts, students evaluate the trustworthiness of multiple perspectives on issues from King Philip’s War to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and make historical claims backed by documentary evidence. Beyond the Bubble utilizes the digital archives of the library of Congress to create a new form of history assessments. Their goal is to “go beyond the bubble” by offering teachers an easy-to-use assessment that captures student’s knowledge and interpretation of critical thinking instead of memorization of facts.




How I became an Edcamp Junkie?

This year has been a wonderful year of professional development, growth, and reflection. I had the unique opportunity to attend and present at the National Council for the Social Studies Conference in Seattle, Washington, a summer institute through Gilder Lehrman on 9/11 and American Memory held at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum (not yet open to the public), and an interesting opportunity to learn more about the Hudson Valley through the HELP program at my district. While all of those experiences were exciting and educational, I can’t but help to reflect on how the EdCamp movement has changed my expectations of professional development.


What is the Edcamp model? 

According to Simple K-12, “It is a new grassroots movement happening all around the United States, is something you don’t want to miss.  This movement is spreading like wildfire, quickly transforming the way teachers learn. EdCamps should not be confused with traditional education conferences; these are events organized by local groups of educators who strive to create an UNconference environment that encourages participant-driven discussions in an informal area.  There are several benefits of attending EdCamps, including: free attendance, flexible agendas, group brainstorming sessions, local networking opportunities, and much more!”


My Edcamp Transformation 

Edcamp Social Studies: I was first introduced to the Edcamp model by my wonderful #sschat professional learning community when they organized Edcamp Social Studies #1. The conference was held in Philadelphia, PA on March 24th, 2012. I learned innovative and creative ways to improve my practice. The Edcamp Social Studies unconference was such an amazing experience that it “set the bar” for other Edcamp’s.


This summer I attended EdCampNYC #2, Edcamp Leadership # 3, and Edcamp Hudson Valley # 4. All of these Edcamp experiences were amazing in that they helped to expand  and reinvigorate my teaching methodology and repertoire. It is important to remember we are all learners – teachers and administrators as well as students and we must constantly adapt and reflect on our own teaching and learning.


EdCamp NJ: This weekend I had a wonderful opportunity to attend Edcamp NJ #5. What made this Edcamp different was that it was much larger than previous Edcamp’s.  Edcamp NJ was one of the best Edcamp’s I attended this year. Besides being very well organized, sessions were streamed so people across the United States could participate remotely. This encouraged a new form of collaboration and participation.


Now that I am officially an “edcamp junkie” I was able to recognize and reconnect with some amazing educators from previous Edcamp’s, blogs, or twitter chats. It was a also an inspirational experience to meet educational leaders such as Brad Currie, Salone Thomas-El, Jeffery Bradbury, Danielle Hartman, Kevin Jarrett, Scott Rocco, and so many others! I got to connect with educators such as Hannah Walden, Katie Baker  that I am now following on Twitter. I was able to meet people for the first time in-person even though we have been communicating on twitter for a few years.  Here is a Evernote file of what I learned at Edcamp NJ. Blog posts will be forthcoming!


How has the Edcamp model changed my expectations?

1. Invite Me to the Table: I love Benjamin Franklin’s quote, “Tell me and I forget, Teach me and I remember, Involve me and I learn.” Just like this quote, I want to collaborate, I want to participate, and I want to be apart of the “fight” to improve education. I am no longer satisfied with traditional methods of professional development and I often WANT to use the “rule of two feet” at other conferences. The Edcamp model has taught me that I should no longer be passive learner at professional development, but to be apart of the discussion and collaboration to improve education.


2. The Power to Change: Edcamp conferences have made me more reflective of my practice. I have the ability to transform my classroom, school, and the field of education (even in a small way). I can bring about change through collaboration with others. My mother, a 13 year veteran teacher was also inspired by Edcamp NJ. Even through she was an Edcamp and Tech Newbie, she left with the same feeling of excitement and desire to share/implement like I did.


3. I am not alone.  The field of education can be a very isolating experience. Twitter as well as Edcamp has turned my professional experiences from isolation to inspiration. I have a unique and wonderful opportunity to connect with dynamic educators from around the world everyday!  My PLC  has expanded and reinvigorated my expectations for myself and my students. My professional Learning community, twitter, and the Edcamp model has helped to make me into the teacher I am today and it will continue to shape me into the teacher I want to be tomorrow.


Here is a Evernote file of what I learned at Edcamp NJ. Blog posts will be forthcoming!


For more information about Edcamp Movement please visit the Edcamp wiki

Life After the Red Pill: One Educator’s Journey into the Rabbit Hole of Social Media

We all have to make choices. As teachers we must constantly make them. How will we spend our time in and out of class? What resources should we use with our students, and where should we go to get them? How will we foster effective learning? Social Studies educators, like me, often wonder, how will my lessons foster responsible citizenship among my students?


Implementing Social Media into the Classroom

I recently chose to investigate the possibilities and challenges of utilizing social media to improve my social studies teaching. I define social media as any service where content is user generated and shared with fellow users of that medium. I was already using several social media services (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram) in my personal life, but I did not utilize them professionally. While I didn’t understand it at the time, I’ve found this choice, albeit a quite a bit less dramatic and violent, like the one Neo faced in The Matrix (1999):

Like Neo, I had no idea of the ramifications my choice to select the red pill of social media. When I began to use it I discovered a world that I did not know existed, but, fortunately, it was not the painful reality of Neo’s “real world.” Over the last couple weeks I have uncovered a wealth of resources, ideas, and colleagues. Yet it has not been without challenges. I will provide a brief summary of my some of my experiences using social media for school. I hope these experiences might provide some insights for others embarking upon a similar journey (or maybe even remind social media veterans what it is like for neophytes).


Exploring New Forms of Social Media

While I made the choice to investigate social media, I have not been alone. For the past week I asked my senior social studies methods students to accompany me. I began a week before our first class by immersing myself in a variety of social media services by using them 5-10 hours a day. I created a Facebook page, a new Twitter account (@WSUSocStudies), an Edmodo account, and sought out people and organizations on these forums. I checked out books from the library and searched databases for academic articles on the topic. The academic materials provided some interesting perspectives, but they didn’t show me what to do. Just like Morpheus explained to Neo, “no one can be told what [it] is. You have to see it for yourself.” Only by using social media can one really understand the possibilities it might afford teachers and students.

I initially used my linked Twitter and Facebook pages to collect and share resources with others. I searched organizations with which I was already familiar (e.g., the History Channel, the Gilder Lehrman Institute). I retweeted interesting links, or posted YouTube videos or websites that I had previously used in my own classes. I made use of Scoop.it to find new and interesting articles.

I found many good resources, but I also felt overwhelmed. I was inundated with a mass of information, and keeping up with everything on just scoop.it and Twitter seemed like too much. I enjoyed much of what I was finding, but I found myself without enough time in the day to keep up with all my professional responsibilities along with this new cyber world. Not only was I overwhelmed, but I also wondered, what is really different about social media then just searching the internet? I was also nervous about how my students would feel accompanying me on this journey (see next blog post). The social studies methods course is designed to help students think about theoretical and practical aspects of teaching social studies, and I was dedicating the first few weeks of our course to exploring these tools so we could practice using them all semester. I certainly did not want to waste their time, and there’s always anxiety when you try something new and different with your students, especially something that is banned in many schools. Like Neo, I was initially unsure of my role in this new world.


The Turning Point: Connecting with Other Educators 

The turning point came when I discovered that the real power of social media was not in simply collecting resources and ideas, but in connecting with others whom are on the same journey. I have met a community of social studies educators passionate about teaching, and using social media tools to improve their craft. All of a sudden, I not only found resources, but support, insightful recommendations, answers to questions, and invitations to opportunities to continue the conversation. I didn’t just search for resources, I began receiving and providing them to people as we had conversations about wise practices. My online use went from a largely one way gathering of resources to the development of transactional relationships and the discovery of an online community.


Twitter’s #sschat 

After 10 days of social media use I found myself participating in a Twitter social studies chat (#sschat) where educators from across the country were sharing resources and ideas. Four days later social media leaders in the social studies – Shawn McCusker (@ShawnMcCusker) of Illinois and Melissa Seideman (@mseideman) of New York – were imparting ideas and answering questions with my class via Google Hangout videoconferencing. They showed my class and I specific ways we could successfully use social media and technology to become better teachers. As they answered my students’ questions I was amazed how social media made this all possible.

I still have an incredible amount to learn, but after only two weeks I can’t help but feel like Neo at the end of the Matrix – after he finally believed and understood how the Matrix works. He realized that the rules of the old system didn’t apply to anymore. He saw that a new world of possibilities existed. I am excited and unquestionably satisfied with my choice to journey into the rabbit hole of social media. I recommend that you make the same choice.



- Participate in social studies chats on Twitter using “#sschat” every Monday for one hour beginning at 7 Eastern/6 Central; Follow moderators: @ShawnMcCusker, @Ron_Peck, @Becky_Ellis_

- Although I’ve had some problems, I’ve found Edmodo to be an interesting way to set up a class. It has a Facebook interface, but provides a closed, and presumable safer, environment for classes.

- I have found Google Drive (formerly Google Documents) and Google Hangout invaluable resources to connect with students and colleagues.


Dan Krutka, Ph.D. is middle level/secondary social studies chair at Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas. He taught high school social studies for six years previous to beginning in his current position in 2011. He can be followed/contacted at www.facebook.com/WSUSocialStudies, on Twitter @WSUSocStudies, or by e-mail at [email protected].  

#sschat has made me a better teacher!

Unfortunately, teaching has the potential to be an isolated career in terms of collaboration and support. Before I discovered Twitter I felt alone with my teaching and was most certainly not as reflective. I feel extremely privileged to have discovered #sschat on Twitter. I love observing people’s reactions when I say I use Twitter for professional development. When I was interviewing for my job my husband and I sat down and carefully constructed how I was going to approach the way I introduce twitter as a PLC. I wish more preservice teachers knew about this wonderful asset.  Twitter has provided me with a wonderful opportunity to connect with dynamic educators from around the world and learn interesting ways to engage my students.


Twitter (#sschat) has truly become one of the most inspirational ways I have created my own profesional learning community. Every Monday night at 7 PM EST teachers from around the country log into their twitter accounts and follow the hashtag #sschat. Every week there is a new discussion prompt or topic. It’s pretty AMAZING to say that I connect with hundreds of AWESOME social studies teachers from around the country EVERY week… actually everyday.  Some people joke that #sschat is one massive department meeting, one in which I truly enjoy “going to.” Monday become my favorite day of the week, which is pretty rare for most educators.


In addition to the wonderful #sschat discussions and the #sschat Ning Website  has become an amazing resource! If I am teaching a lesson and need help I can post a question or a problem and I instantly get a response and resources from teachers who teach the same subject. My lonely job is no longer isolating but inspiring! I hope to “see you” Monday Night!

Video Introduction to  Twitter #sschat - http://www.screencast.com/t/GmZv1qmfrneH


Create an Infographic for your Classroom!

I learned about infographics from Twitter’s #sschat. Before Monday I had no clue how to make an infographic. Information graphics or infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge. Here is more information: What is an info-graphic?

Easel.ly is one of the simplest websites to design an infographic for your classroom, a lesson, for a school poster, and the ideas can go on and on. Easel.ly is ”easy to use,” free, and within a matter of minutes you can make an infographic, unless you are a perfectionist like me, in that case it will take you a few hours.

Once you create an account you select a theme, select objectives and shapes, design the layout, add text, and you can create an infographic is a short amount of time. Easel.ly is not the only website that allows users to create infographics, another is  visual.ly, which seems to have a fewer resources. I seemed to prefer Easel.ly.

According to Jamie Forshey author of Edutech for Teachers blog, Infographics can be used as a “visual to show students and educators the way that technology is projected to continue shaping our lives, world—and education! What a great way to motivate, encourage, persuade and guide students in post-secondary career planning! It’s also an excellent visual for stressing the importance of exposing students to relevant, real-world tech tools in the classroom setting.”

Here is a sample infographic I made for my classroom. I brought it to staples to enlarge it or you can use the Block Posters web tool to create your poster. I also embedded it on my blog.


Reflection: #EdCampNYC and #sschat

Unfortunately, teaching has the potential to be an isolated career in terms of collaboration and support. I feel extremely privileged to have discovered #sschat on Twitter and the EdCamp conference model. I love observing people’s reactions when I say I use Twitter for professional development.Twitter has provided me with a wonderful opportunity to connect with dynamic educators from around the world and learn interesting ways to engage my students.  Twitter (#sschat) has truly become one of the most inspirational ways I have created my own profesional learning community.


On Saturday, May 5th, 2012 I attended EdCampNYC at Francis Lewis High School. EdCampNYC was one of many unconferences occurring in the United States. For me, EdCampNYC and EdCampSS was an amazing experience and one in which expanded/reinvigorated my  teaching methodology and repertoire. It is important to remember we are all learners – teachers and administrators as well as students and we must constantly adapt and reflect on our own teaching and learning. Here is the reflection page from EdCampNYC, where there are free resources, websites, presentation links, etc.

I plan on attending two EdCamps this year: 

  • EdCamp Lower Hudson Valley (New Paltz, NY) August 14, 2012 website
  • EdCampNJ (North Brunswick, NJ) December 1, 2012 website

I led the session about mobile devices in the classroom at EdCampNYC. Here is my Powerpoint from the session.

Photo Credit 


EdCamp Social Studies the Best Professional Development

I am attending and participating at  EdCamp Social Studies in Philadelphia PA on March 24th. I am excited to learn from innovative social studies teachers and improve my teaching. I agree with Ron Peck in that an “amazing group of educators from  around the country are working together to put on a one of a kind EdCamp for Social Studies Teachers. It doesn’t get any better than that!” I hope to see you there!


What is EdCamp Social Studies? 

EdCamp Social Studies is an unconference, inspired by similar events being organized around the country.  Our goal is to bring  together educators to discuss social studies instruction that works.  It’s a day for educators, by educators.  In fact, all of our sessions will be facilitated by our attendees.  So come with an idea for a session that you would like to lead…or a suggestion for one you would like to see.



Citation: EdCamp Social Studies