The Answer

I have had this question rumbling around in my mind lately. “How can I use Simplenote for classroom instruction?” I have scratched my head again and again during the last few days. Then I decided to get more brains involved.

I asked my family to help me with this question. First, I described the Simplenote program to them. I told them the following information about Simplenote:

  • Simplenote is a place where you can keep your notes online.
  • Simplenote is also available in app form for iPhones, iPads, etc.
  • Automatic synchronization occurs whether you are entering notes on your PC or mobile device.
  • Simplenote is free.

The brainstorming session that followed really encouraged me. My family and I had a discussion about the technology involved with Simplenote, and a wonderful list of ideas sprang up. We assumed hypothetically that a teacher would have a Simplenote account opened and displayed on the screen, and that the students in the class would have the SAME Simplenote account opened on their laptops or mobile device. Here is the list of lesson ideas:

  • a KWL chart generated by the students – they type in the note, and they see the synchronization results on the screen, since they are using the same account as the teacher
  • the math teacher poses a math question, and students type in their answer, which then displays on the screen
  • mental math contests
  • collaborative research  –  example: students are studying Abe Lincoln, and they are each given a different aspect of his life to research. They type in the results of their research, and a class discussion follows
  • vocabulary review – the teacher asks for the meaning of a word, and the students type what they think
  • students annotate a poem or other piece of literature – this way, other students benefit from their thoughts
  • students type in what they did this weekend, summer, etc.
  • cloze passages – students type in what they think goes in each blank
  • somebody, wanted, but, so, then
  • flash card answers
  • multiple choice assessments
  • test review
  • quizzes – teachers would turn of projector for this one
  • prewriting ideas
  • teaching outlining
  • teaching note-taking – students get to see other people’s notes

I am hopeful that Simplenote can be used profitably in the classroom. I know there are also many more ways to use this technology in education. Let me know if you use it, and please share your ideas.


Addendum – The Simplenote Discussion

So some time has passed since I wrote about the Simplenote/Evernote debate clanging around in my head. Although I refuse to give a definitive cut-and-dried answer regarding my preference as to one more than the other, I will say (for now) I have settled on Simplenote. My decision is based on its simplicity as compared to Evernote’s robust abilities.

I really like the ability to save a web clip, upload a photo, and search text in photos, all in the confines of my personal notes, but I also like just being able to type notes into a simple text file that is searchable by keywords and tags. The simplicity of it all brings me relaxation and satisfaction.

So for now…I am using Simplenote. Case (sort of) closed.

The Burning Question

In the last post, I asked how apps like Simplenote might be used in the classroom. I have given this much thought, and I have some ideas, but I decided to Google the question, and I found some cool stuff.

Here is a link that you might like to check out:

Simplenote and Collaboration in the Classroom

Here is an excerpt from the link above:

To make this work with the students, we developed a lesson to model effective collaboration using Simplenote. We begin by talking to students about how they usually share ideas with one another. Students say that they turn and talk, or talk in their learning groups, or listen to other people when the teacher calls on them. Then we explain that the iPad can give them a new way to share their ideas with one another. Using a document camera and projector, we demonstrate how to create a note in Simplenote. Then, we have a student use another iPad to create a note. Students notice instantly that the student note appears on the teacher’s screen. The teacher then goes in to the student’s note, reads it, reflects on a new idea, and then incorporates that new idea into his or her own note. We explain that the purpose is for everyone to generate ideas about a particular topic, but at the end of class, we want students to be able to share one idea they got from another student’s note. We also make it clear that they can only write in their own note and talk about how it would negatively affect our ability to work together if people don’t follow that rule.

In summary, Simplenote becomes the vehicle for immediate feedback, and thus, collaboration among peers, and from teacher to student or student to teacher. By using a single Simplenote account, a whole classroom begins to build a thought database that anyone in the classroom may access and contribute to.

Whether you are teaching science and are asking students to comment on a recent laboratory experience, or whether you are an English teacher assigning a haiku to each child, and asking students to comment on another’s work, it makes no difference.  It all seems very real-world, and engaging to me. I like it a lot.

I am really excited about the possibilities of using Simplenote in the classroom! Stay tuned.

Personal Note-Taking


If you are like me, your short-term memory fades with each day. Should I be worried? Anyway, I have found a solution for this. I take notes.

My problem with traditional note-taking is that I lose the paper the notes are on, or I get flustered with the amount of notes through which I have to sift just to find the tidbit I seek. Enter digital notes.

I have been using what is called Evernote since March of this year, although I admittedly have not used it enough to praise its abilities or criticize its shortcomings. So I turned to Google to find out more about the program.

Most blogs I read seemed to echo the same thing; Evernote is too clunky. Simplenote is, well, simpler.

I also read a blog post that speaks to the possibilities of both worlds. Basically, Simplenote allows you to send each note you take to an email address, and Evernote gives you a free email address when you sign up. What this means is that you can automatically send each note you type in Simplenote to Evernote. This is a handy feature for those who like the simplicity of Simplenote, and the organization methods of Evernote.

I have been trying this feature today to see if I like it. I’ll let you know. I will say that what I like about taking digital notes is that they are searchable, they sync up with the server when I get online if I add notes while offline, and you can add tags to each note to help with the search feature. I already think I am sold on the idea!

Now the burning question arises…How do we use this in instruction? Glad you asked. I am mulling over that thought as I type. Can I get back to you on that?

I encourage you to try both of these alternatives, and let me know what you think.