January 6, 2016

How I Use Evernote - Part 2

Read Part 1: Introduction first and follow the links provided so you are familiar with the terminology and basics of Evernote.  It will be time well spent.

How I Use Evernote - Part 2: Homeschool planning and Resources

I'm going to walk you through the elements of my planning for an AmblesideOnline year with Evernote, with some tech tips here and there.  Please do ask questions if something doesn't make sense to you!

The best thing about Evernote is that I can save everything in there and not run out of space.  At least, I haven't run out yet, after five years of homeschool planning and using its storage for all aspects of my life.  This means you can research as much as you want, anywhere you want and still find it when you want it later.  Even if you aren't good at using Notebooks and Tags in Evernote, the search function is amazing and can even read your handwriting.  No joke.  You can take notes at the homeschool conference, come home and take pictures straight into Evernote.  The next time you look up the subject or keyword of that conference, it will be there for you. Although sloppy cursive does confuse it somewhat. :)

Now, my basic homeschool plan is already laid out for me at Ambleside Online.  I do save the pages for the upcoming year into EN, for ease of finding while I'm out and about, and just in case the site goes down.  It is SO easy using Web Clipper.  This is a free browser extension that allows you to save an article, section, or entire web page directly into EN, even letting you choose the Notebook and Tags without leaving your browser.

Go ahead and download Web Clipper, and give it a go by clipping this blog post.  See, isn't that fun!  Now tag it as "how-to" and put in your Homeschool notebook.  Just kidding, you can delete the Note.

Now on to the specifics!

First, I pull up the schedule for the year (let's use year 5, as that's the next one for us).  I save the 36-week Detailed Schedule page into EN using WebClipper.  Then I open EN and edit the text in the note, if needed - taking out any book or subject we won't be doing, for instance.  I also save the PDF schedule or any other format I want to have on hand.

You can save all the file formats into EN, then open them from there!  This keeps me from having to use complicated file storage structures on my computer, and keeps space freed up as well.  I just download the file, then drag it into the EN note for the year's schedule, but you could make a separate note for each file format you want. You cannot, however, edit the Word doc, PDF or other files in EN.  When you go to open it, it will basically re-download it to your computer.  If you will be accessing it regularly for editing, just keep it on the computer and back it up to EN when your plans are finalized.

Next, I go to the Art, Composer, Folk and Hymn pages, highlight the text for the upcoming school-year and save the selections with WebClipper.  For Composer in Term 1 of 2016-17 school year, that would look like this:

the browser page while clipping
my Evernote window after clipping and syncing - the highlighted words I added to show that editing is simple

As I gather information about the composer - a wiki bio, a link to a book, a photo, or my music options -  I can paste that in the same note, just below the AO information.  Typically, music links and the like are already linked by AO and are handy there (web clipper keeps the links in your note), but if I want something more or different, I just add to it!  Repeat for each subject in each term and collect all of this in your Resource notebook.

Some people might prefer a resource notebook for each school year.  I prefer fewer notebooks and more tags, so I have a single Resource notebook within the Homeschool stack (see below).  If a resource is for one year, it will have the corresponding tag (AO5, in this case).  If it will be for multiple years (or perhaps if you have multiple children in different years and want them all to use it the same time), you just put several tags on it.  For instance,  Parables from Nature is used in years 1-3, so information on that book would get tagged 'AO1', 'AO2' and 'AO3'.  This is great for forward planning.  If I'm already in the current school year, I may add the note into the Current School Year notebook.  (Or not.  I just search anyway to find stuff most of the time, but its nice to have a general idea of where your stuff goes.)

I have a Homeschool stack (which I think of as a shelf filled with Notebooks, which in turn get filled with Notes) with the following Notebooks in it:
  • Book Lists - AO lists, bookmark schedules, ideas for holiday reads, etc.
  • Current School Year - progress reports, exams, notes on books, local opportunities
  • Curriculum - curriculum ideas, alternate schedules, actual curriculum PDFs
  • Homeschool Other - school supply lists, inspiration, whatever
  • Records (from past years) - you can move "current school year" items here when its over!
  • Resources - ideas past, present and future for both local places to visit and online sites
  • State Requirements - the legal stuff
  • Weekly Log - where I store the photos or our completed weekly checklists, math sheets, copywork samples.  At the end of a term or year, this would combined into a larger note and get moved to Records
So, I gather and plan and dream, then as it all comes together I can make detailed daily plans.  This year I have a weekly checklist with suggested days on it, and a separate daily reading list on the back, as you see in these photos.  I like having it right in front of me with my dry erase pencil, but you could do the same thing in EN, using the check-boxes and saving that note each week into the Weekly Log notebook. Or printing it out from EN, and daily logging what actually happened into EN and saving that into the Log.  Or, you could do a Daily Checklist for each child or for the family as a whole, in EN, and reference that.  (You would want an iThing, though, so you aren't tied to the computer.) There really are many possibilities!  
Our weekly checklist, done in Excel, because I haven't figure out how to do columns well in EN yet
Another way I have done it is to put each day of the entire term in to one note.  Then you can print out however much of it at a time you need.  Here is a shot of this method:

I think this has gotten quite long enough!  Let me know your questions and I'll try to answer them in the next post.

Upcoming -

Part 3: Homeschool record-keeping and exams
Part 4: Household and other uses


  1. Did you know that Evernote does tables?

    1. Yes, I use a table for attendance keeping - see part 4 - but I haven't found the EN tables very easy to use, honestly. Do you like them?

    2. So far, I've tried Mac desktop and web versions of Evernote. One was fine for tables, one wasn't. Of course, I can't remember which was which.


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