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I recently decided to give using Google Keep in my classroom a try. Typically, most teachers that I have talked to about using a digital note taking platform espouse the greatness of Evernote. I’ve used Evernote, and it’s a decent enough tool, but I wanted to try something different. Something that the kids might enjoy as well.

My current group of students have very little background with technology. Sure, they have phones, and most of them can use them with efficiency. They can’t, however, effectively decide what apps/tools to use for various tasks in school. That, after all, should be a part of our job… to teach them how to select tools that work for them.

We began a novel as a class today. While many teachers do a novel for the sole purpose of the class reading a book together, I wanted to do something extra with it. I wanted to use it to teach students to take effective notes. Something that many students lack as they reach high school. I also intend to use the novel to discuss various literary elements.

I introduced Google Keep to the class today. Instantly, the kids loved it. They quickly discovered that they can color notes various colors. After the initial wow factor of that (yes, they got excited over that) we discussed that we could color various areas a different color. For example, we decided that we would color any notes to do with vocabulary green, because if they have a good vocabulary, it helps them go places.

Google Keep looks like it is going to be a great tool. The students quickly asked if there was an app for their phones so they could keep up with their notes at home. What teacher in their right mind wouldn’t love to hear kids asking to keep up with notes at home? Seriously?

We went through and explored some of the tools available in Google Keep. Obviously, the color coding is there. What is nice about color coding is that you can filter your notes based on the color of the note. In the example below, I filtered by the color green for vocabulary. All other notes were filtered from the display, giving me only the screens with vocabulary. We discussed making various literary elements different colors, so that they can easily review their notes.

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Another great feature of Google Keep is that is is searchable. Yes, I know, truly surprising that Google would make something searchable. This is a great tool. The students are going to keep notes by chapter as we progress through the book. Anytime they wish to find a certain event, it is made easier because of the search engine. Simply type what you are looking for in the SEARCH GOOGLE KEEP box at the top, and it filters your results as you type.

You can also share Google Keep notes. Simply click the share icon, type the email address of the person with whom you wish to share, and it appears in their Google Keep. No worries, if something shares something with you you don’t want, just remove yourself by selecting that option in the note.  Now, the sharing idea seems simple. It is one of those things that we take for granted with Google. But take a minute and think of the power here. A student is absent, it is now a simple task for a friend to share the notes for what they may have missed. You, as the teacher can also share notes with your students.

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Another great feature of Google Keep is that you can copy things from a note straight to a Google Doc. This is a nice feature, and extremely simple to do. Simply click the three dots at the bottom of the note, and make the appropriate selection.

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You can also add a label to a note. I introduced this as being like a hashtag. We discussed the purpose of hashtags, and the kids can relate to them. We quickly related them to keywords and how having common keywords helps to find information quickly. The students took to this idea well, better than I expected.

Google Keep also has an app for the phone, like I mentioned earlier. With the app, you can make an audio note as well. This is great for students. Students spend a lot of time writing various things in school. Often, they get an idea they want to remember. Google Keep provides an easy way just to record your idea and keep going. As someone who is writing a book, this is invaluable. I hate forgetting what I told myself to remember.

If you have not given Google Keep a try in the classroom, you should look at it. It is a great note keeping tool that can be easily adapted for any subject area. If you have used it in the classroom, please, share what you did with it. The spreading of ideas is the only way we get better at what we do.