Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sharing your ISN with Parents

So the past few weeks, I've been dealing with a parent. You know the type. She emails you within 30 seconds of your response. He checks online grades 4 times daily to see if anything has changed. She wants a detailed explanation of at least 3 sentences beside each grade. He organizes Junior's notebook for him every night at home because "he's just not great with organizational skills." 

Honestly, these types of parents don't usually get to me. Until last week. I finally just gave in and decided to post my ISN pages - yes, every single last one of them, online. Because otherwise, I was never going to hear the end of it. And quite honestly, I think it will help my students keep track of everything. I'm envisioning a student that was absent pulling out their phone or any other internet-connected device, and updating their notebook at home based on what's online. Last summer when I worked with a middle school teacher to present on interactive notebooking for our district, I was inspired by the fact that each day, she posted not only their topic, homework, and a link to a video daily, but also pics of her ISN for each prep. 

(I said inspired - that's definitely teacher-code for saying WOW she must be awesome, and then I did nothing to improve my own system. SMH.) 

But talking with this parent finally motivated me to get it done. I've seen lots of teachers with ISNs use Slideshare with pictures, I've seen them take doc cam screenshots (which in my opinion, is probably easiest), and I've even seen some walk downstairs and scan each page every day to post it. 

My doc cam is barely good enough to use for notes - so that wasn't an option. Not to mention, I knew for sure that if the method I chose took ANY work at all, it wasn't going to happen. 

So I chose Evernote. I'd already been using it a little (I have the free version) for organizing some online resources. But I'm fairly new to it. But in about 5 seconds (literally) per prep per day, I post my pages for the day. 

I downloaded the free Evernote app onto my cell phone. I added the "widget" to my home screen. I set 2 notebooks up called Algebra 1 ISN and Algebra 2 ISN (one for each prep). I copied the link to each notebook onto my class website so students can access the notebook as public. That's it!

This is the widget on my home screen. When I want to post new pages, I click the camera button, which opens a new "photo page," and automatically starts the camera.

This is the camera started - you take as many photos as you need (I do 1 per page)
by hitting the green button.

Once you've taken pictures, it shows the number you've taken in the bottom right corner. 
Select the check once you've gotten that day's pages.

Hitting the check brings you to the "note" that contains all the pictures. 

All that's left to do is label the note with a title and place it in the correct notebook.
In green, it lists the notebook - this note is set to go into Algebra 1 ISN.
Below is the space for the title.

 I use the page numbers as the title (here, I put 65 for page 65.) 
Then hit the check, and it saves automatically. It syncs as soon as you
connect to wifi or turn on data. 

So you can see what students/parents see, click the link below - it will take you to the Algebra 1 or Algebra 2 ISN online notebook.
 (Keep in mind I JUST started doing this - there aren't many pages up yet. We started our 2nd 6 weeks notebook on Pi Day.)

I know if you're unfamiliar with Evernote, this process can seem like a lot. But once you get started, the daily upkeep takes only a few seconds (which is what makes it worth it for me). Email me through my profile if you want/need more info to get started, or post questions in the comment section. 


  1. I love this idea. Win Win for everyone. Thanks for sharing
    Cheers Belinda

  2. LOVE LOVE LOVE this!!! Thank you for sharing! I often loan out my ISN when absent students return so they can update their pages. Time saver and everyone wins!

  3. Thanks so much for sharing this tip. I think I'll have a class website this year for the first time and posting pictures of my pages might really improve the home-school connection as well as help students who don't take their notebook home. I'm excited to give this a try!