Meet Nilda – And Her “Teaching Encyclopedia!”

Jan 22, 2013

Maybe it’s the fact that I’m having this baby in five weeks. . . or maybe it’s the fact that I’m trying to get my act together to write a “booklet” titled The Together Leader. . . or maybe it’s just my perpetual dream of one-day reorganizing my entire hard drive with consistent file-naming conventions. . .  Whatever the reason, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to store and archive materials in a way that is actually USEFUL.

I recently got some fantastic inspiration from Nilda V., one of my favorite Together Teachers (she’s featured in our book!). Nilda described how she gathered a decade’s worth of professional development materials and put them all in one place to make planning easy, efficient and effective!

Nilda used Evernote to build her “Teaching Encyclopedia.”  We’ve covered Evernote before on our blog, but Nilda takes this tool to a whole new level.

Nilda, we are drooling! How long did it take you to pull everything together?

There’s really no answer because it was a process over time.  As I attended workshops, had PDs at schools, and brainstormed with teachers, I saved all of my resources to Evernote.  I didn’t need to be picky at the time because it’s all digital.  If I felt like I didn’t need it later, I just deleted it.  What is important is creating meaningful titles and a good tagging system so you can always find what you’re looking for.

This feels DAUNTING. Help!

It literally takes a few clicks to get started. While it takes time to build your professional library, adding one item takes seconds. Think about the number of great PDs, conferences, and meetings you attend in one year. By June, you will already have a wealth of information at your fingertips! 

Can you briefly describe your “Tagging” system?

I have several Tags for my Teaching Notebook: Assessments, Reading Taxonomy, Books, Project Maps, etc. Even if I don’t pick the best tag or I choose to leave an item untagged, a very specific title makes it a breeze to find the note when I need it. As an English teacher, these specific tags make sense for me. You will need different tags depending on your role. I advise you consider how you would file paper in an old-fashioned file cabinet, and start there. 

Do you take notes right into Evernote at PD?

No, most professional development sessions still ask for participants to use pen and paper. Still, many people e-mail out their materials. I archive the PDFs right into Evernote. This allows me to be a more active listener, instead of living in fear that the current PowerPoint slide has all the answers to teaching I’ve ever wanted and I need to scribble them all down before the presenter moves on! When I’m working at school, I do revise and create notes. My school just allowed synching to Evernote, but if your school does not, you can access all notes offline.

Let’s be real. How often do you actually go BACK to use the materials in your “Encyclopedia?”

Every single week! There are some key points for lessons I’ve revised many times, and I keep the near-to-perfect versions in my Evernote notebook.  I keep my unit essential questions here, as well as good mentor texts.  This is also important when I’m sharing resources with my team. There is an easy “share” feature via email, and other teachers can get all of the same documents that I have. I also REALLY value the time I put into this when I’m teaching the same units a year later. I’ve logged all of my revisions, so I don’t need to wade through a pool of various versions in Microsoft Word. I can just search for the one unit in Evernote and see the most current version.

Let’s get technical. How do you scan documents into Evernote?

I use a free app on my phone called CamScanner. It creates PDFs of pictures snapped with the phone’s camera. This is best for multipage documents. You can upload to Evernote straight from the app. You can also take pictures of a single page of a document or a classroom chart right from the Evernote app on your phone. (Maia’s note: CamScanner is also available for both Android and iPhone, and if you sign up with an .edu email address, you can upgrade to the full version for free!).

Oh, and by the way, Nilda recently got married, and spends good out-of-school time writing her blog, The Crying Cook. Check it out!

Together Teacher Discussion Question: How do you store your PD materials so that they can actually be useful to your planning in the future?

P.S. Click on any image to view an enlarged version.