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Help with workflow: Teaching planning


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Hi all, 


I have been using Evernote for the last few months as my teaching planner. I teach a 5 period day 5 days a week, I have a workflow that *nearly* works and am sure there must be a way to automate some of it, so thought I would ask!


Firstly I have a set of notebooks - one for each class I teach, i.e.






I then have a notebook called weekly timetables, in this notebook I have a note for each week I teach.  Each of these notes follows a template which contains my teaching timetable. i.e. A 5*5 table, with the name of each class in each cell.


I then make a note for each lesson in the class notebooks, with a title that represents the date the lesson will be taught, and the name of the class:


In class_1 notebook:

5/1/14 - Class_1

6/1/14 - Class_1


In class_2 notebook:

6/1/14 - Class_2


Lastly I then paste note links of these class notes into the weekly planner in the relevant cell.



Once this is all set up I have a diary where I can click on the note link for any day to get a note relevant to that lesson in which I can do my planning.



My problem is that setting all of this up takes a fair bit of time, and so I am liable to make mistakes.  If anyone can understand what I am doing, can anyone suggest automated methods to improve the set up?



Any ideas?

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  • Level 5*

Hi - not sure I can help;  only suggestions would be - if you can set up a 'template',  like a note containing the 5x5 table,  you could create as many notes as you need with a Copy Note.  Depending on how much detail you go into,  you could maybe set up everything from Class 1 and then simply clone it and do 'find and replace' to change all references from Class 1 to Class 2.


And - set up your tables in a spreadsheet and copy/ paste into notes.  You could maybe use the calendar and copy abilities of the spreadsheet to fill in some dates...

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I have a simple solution for you when it comes to cutting out the admin (completely). The only admin involved would be adding one additional element to your note title at the time of creation, which you have to do either way... and it will mean foregoing your beautiful setup. Your setup is a fantastic one visually, however, you can achieve the exact same dynamic with what I'm going to show you... BUT you're going to have to sacrifice tables. The good thing about sacrificing your tables is that there are zero note links involved. Also, you're going to have to rewire your notebooks. I'm going to share a public notebook with you which you can tinker with in your browser - or you can download (join) it and copy the contents to your own notebook if you would like to use it. If you like the setup, your admin would consists of putting aside no more than 2 minutes a week to create a new set of 25 notes for the following week/ any week. It is based entirely on what I believe you need, and in fact, centers around your tables that I'm going to eliminate. There is a different way to mimic your tables.

One thing before I move on: You're using "Class" in terms of a group of students (I think) and also as a lesson on a specific day.This is what I've done. I've distinguished between "Class" for a particular group of students ... and "Lesson" for a specific lesson number for that group of students on a specific day.

I'll do the telling first and then the showing. You can adjust any of the names... I'm just running you through what I set up:

  • Set up a stack (not a notebook): "Weekly Timetable"
  • Create notebooks for weeks (as opposed to notebooks for classes)
    • Week 1
    • Week 2
    • Week 3
    • ...
  • Each "Week" notebook will be the equivalent of a table (serve the same purpose), containing the actual 25 notes previously linked to.
  • Your note titles will all include 2 alphanumeric elements and the date. (the alphanumeric combinations will mimic what a tag does - and either way you need to give your notes some sort of a title).
Here's the setup part of a set of 25 notes for each "Week" notebook, all titled for the system I'm going to show you in a bit (it took me about 7 minutes to set up on desktop):
  • Set your sort options in the Note List to "Title", preferably in ascending order (toggle reverse sort order on Windows desktop)
  • create these 5 note titles in the Week 1 notebook (I'm going with your date format preference, which works):
    • 5/1/14 - C.L
    • 6/1/14 - C.L
    • 7/1/14 - C.L
    • 8/1/14 - C.L
    • 9/1/14 - C.L
  • Select all 5 notes in the note list - Ctrl + A (Windows) or Command + A (Mac) then right click and select "Copy to Notebook" - copy to the same notebook (Week 1). Repeat this process 3 more times, which will give you a total of 25 notes now. (Each time you copy a new set of notes to the same notebook, the original 5 notes you highlighted will remain highlighted. Make sure you right click each time on one of the highlighted notes to copy exactly the same set of notes each time. This will give you 5 sets of 5 identical notes - i.e. 5 sets of notes for each date. Now you can go through the notes one by one starting on January 5th and adjust the "C.L" suffixes (Class1.Lesson1, etc.)
    • 5/1/14 - C1.L1 5/1/14 - C2.L1 5/1/14 - C3.L1 5/1/14 - C4.L1 5/1/14 - C5.L1
    • 6/1/14 - C1.L2 6/1/14 - C2.L2 6/1/14 - C3.L2 6/1/14 - C4.L2 6/1/14 - C5.L2
    • ... until you complete each of 25 notes (done for you in the shared notebook)
    • It is important to separate, for instance, "C1.L1" with a period so that both Classes and Lessons are individually searchable in an Evernote search. If this is not done, one will not be able to search/ filter notes according to Lesson number (day of the week).
  • Once you've got a complete set of 25 class notes titled, copy ALL 25 notes to a new notebook (Week 2, 3, 4, etc.)
    • All you need to do now is change the dates of your notes accordingly for the following week. You already have 25 unique Class/ Lesson notes.This should take you a minute or 2.
    • Keep a copy of a set of 25 note titles (with blank note bodies) in a template notebook, so you can copy them to a new Week notebook when you need.

Now lets take this for a test drive. First the screenshots:

  • Click on your notebook (Week 1) in the notebook list (Left Panel) or choose it from the drop-down menu in the note list)
  • Now you have a list of 25 lesson notes for this particular week (just like one of your tables)
  • If you type "C1" into the search bar (top right) your note list will show 5 notes for Class 1, according to date and lesson number (M-F next week). This is the same as looking at your Class 1 row/ column in your Week 1 table.


  • Similarly, If you type "L4" into the search bar (now having selected your Week 2 notebook) your note list will show 5 notes for Lesson 4, which will give you all 5 classes for Thursday 15th. This is akin to consulting your Lesson 4 row/ column in your Week 2 table.


  • I thought about going with actual tags (which would require unnecessary additional work), but that is not required here, since basically you're just adding one extra element to the note title you gave: 5/1/14 - Class_1
    • ​Instead of filtering by tag via the Note List or consulting a list of nested tags in the tag list/ menu, all you do now on absolutely any client is type in any category (C/L) you want into the search bar.
    • You can also filter for a specific class on a specific day: C2 L5 (This will give you a Friday lesson for class #2)
  • NOTE: If you need to see a complete list of all lessons for a specific class across all weeks in a semester, for instance, all you do is click on or select the "Weekly Timetable" stack. Then you just type your Class number into the search bar. This will give you all lessons by date (sort by Title first) for that particular class.
  • You don't have to tag anything... neither do you have to create any note links or tables. Just a 7-minute initial setup, followed by 2 minutes weekly... and you will have a complete set of notes by week to edit and prep your lessons. That's the only time spent in creating this setup.
  • Also important to keep in mind is that you can search as described above on ALL of the clients. If one had to set up an equivalent tag-based system with actual Evernote tags, you would not be able to easily search multiple tags specifically on iOS (iPad and iPhone). You would have to use the search syntax: Tag:C3 Tag:L4 to go directly to your Thursday lesson for class #3.
Here's the public notebook for next week's 25 lessons you can tinker with:


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I'm a teacher using Evernote for all my planning. In fact, I've found it the best, most flexible tool for this purpose. You didn't say what you teach; your subject /grade might influence the way you plan. I teach English in an urban high school and do something similar to what you do:


I create a note for each week. I title them so they automatically fall into chron order: eng12.Y1415.GP3 = English 12, Year 2014-15, Grading Period 3. I use unit tags so I can quickly pull up what I did last year and all the resources I used. 


I tried using tables to make a week grid, but Evernote's tables were sort of wonky when I started doing this, so I just use dividers. I observe that tables have improved a lot, so you may find that a good method.


My template looks like this: 

  • Class / Dates
  • Aims: [here I put the standards I'll teach and the learning targets I'm aiming at.]
  • Resources: [Here I put links to any materials I think I might use. I became a premium user in order to keep word and pages documents in my account.]
  • Activities: [Here I put a section for each day, where I list the specific activities I'm planning to use.]
  • Assessment: [Here I make a note of any assessments I'll use]
  • Notes: [Here I make notes on anything that went well or poorly, any adjustments I'm making, anything I want to think about for next year.

I don't make individual notes for each day, but print out the week note with space between the days and write on it to make notes and adjustments, which I then transcribe into Evernote. I've been teaching a long time and have taught the same classes for several years, so I my lesson plans are pretty minimal, just a few lines. I'm not required to submit lesson plans unless I'm being observed, in which case I will make a separate note for that lesson and print it out for my admin.


I do make a note for each unit I teach, with a detailed list of standards, learning targets, resources, activities, and assessments. I also make notes, which I look at each year when I get ready to teach a unit.


What works for me might not work for you, but I found that daily lesson plans took a lot of time and were so frequently changed that I was forever revising my notes. I don't use an ipad or any technology in class - my students are so distractible that I don't need that distraction for myself - so all I have is a printed copy of my week plan. I've learned to think in terms of units / standards rather than individual days because it's hard for me to make a detailed plan more than a couple days in advance. 


Why I've stuck with Evernote for lesson planning: I've used different methods ranging from legal pads to software designed for lesson planning to online planning sites, but I always come back to Evernote because of the flexibility of notes. A note can contain other documents and notes about them, it can contain checkboxes, dividers, and especially links - and I can revise it from my phone or on the web. It's a great way to keep unit materials together with notes on the lessons. I download articles for my students to read, bookmarks for research, and drag in Mac Pages documents for printed documents like tests and worksheets. And make extensive notes on what works, what doesn't. That is invaluable when next year rolls around.


If you are a mac person, you might want to look at Jeff Hellman's lovely Planbook for Mac. I used it for a while, but got tired of all those little boxes to fill in. Too restrictive for me, but if you like that level of organization, it is a well-made and very usable app. I've also used online solutions like planbook.com, but we don't have good internet access at my school, so it was frustrating (it's like we're still in the 20th century, tech-wise). 


TLDR: For me, it's more flexible to plan units than days; Evernote is a good tool for this because of links. Plan down to whatever your comfort level is - daily, weekly, lessons, units. Links are awesome!

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Wow - Thank you so much for your suggestions and advice. Especially the amount of time you have put into making an example notebook for me Frank.dg.  There is a great deal for me to read and try - will let you know how I get on! 


Thanks again!

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Oh... one more thing... here's a graphic I created in Penultimate at the time of writing the above post, so that I could visualize your current setup... which is a well-thought-out one - just a lot of admin, as you pointed out:




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Hi. I'm not a teacher, but I do have a few thoughts about where to find out how other educators are also using Evernote in their teaching.

Another EN user, also a teacher, has blogged extensively about using Evernote in teaching. Below are two links copied from a post she made here in the forum last August:



The link to the actual Forum Thread where other users chimed in and had a good conversation is:


Also, I came across this link while surfing the web recently and thought it might prove helpful:


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