Assessment has a new look! Consider the following excerpt from Teaching Literacy in Fourth Grade, a book I wrote in 2008:
Julie keeps a notebook with a divider for each child in the class. Each time she meets with a child individually or in a group, she places her sticky notes or observation sheets in the notebook with the appropriate child. Each day, she looks over the notes she has made in order plan for the next day’s instruction. Julie knows that keeping track of her students’ literacy development is important to providing the appropriate support for continued progress. (p. 93)
Today, assessment is just as important in Julie’s fourth grade classroom, but she no longer uses notebooks, dividers, sticky notes, and observation sheets. Julie keeps the same information online for ease of access, plus she is able to include many more types of artifacts. Julie uses Evernote to capture her students’ learning.
Evernote is similar to an online notebook in which you can save almost anything from anywhere. On the left side of the image below, all of the media that has been saved is displayed and when one item is selected, it is shown in the main frame. Web pages, emails, written notes, images, links, text messages, scanned/PDF documents, videos, audio notes—almost anything can be sent to Evernote from a computer, iPad, or cell phone. Notebooks are created for each student and items or “notes” are stored within each notebook.
Cathy Mere, a first grade teacher in Ohio, has also moved away from keeping paper copies of ongoing assessment. After using a spiral notebook for 10 years, Cathy now uses Evernote to capture student learning and recording her conferences and notes. She believes that the use of Evernote has caused her assessment to become much deeper and richer. Evernote can serve as a central space to house a vast collection of multimedia assessment data for each child—including audio recordings, snapshots, scanned work or images, webpages, written notes, video, and Google documents and forms—and supports a number of ways to organize and access information by tagging and sorting.
With one click, Evernote displays all the assessment data for one student or all students. This allows for analysis across multiple sources and types of data, providing a deeper, richer picture of student learning. It is also helpful for sharing with other teachers, school personnel such as reading specialists, and parents. Cathy Mere has written about her use of Evernote on her blog Reflect and Define. In response to one of Cathy’s posts, teacher debf (2012) left the following comment:
My newest love is emailing parents directly from EN [Evernote]!
I have added all the parent email addresses to my contacts making emailing from EN seamless! In addition, I added a Parent Communication note for each child. This note contains all parent contact information and a family photo. I find having the photo handy helps me to remember my parent communications. I can email parents note, photos, videos or audio clips as I sit alongside the child!
The kids LOVE this, I even let the kids hit the “send” button.
Assessment is a critical aspect of teaching and learning. Using tools such as Evernote can make the process easier while extending the depth and complexity of analysis. It also makes it easier to share assessments with other stakeholders.