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I moved up the post scheduled for today to last Monday because I wanted to give new college instructors at least a week to integrate my top ten teaching tips. Today, I’ll keep things brief by going over some basic details about the three digital notebooks I’ve created for any of my website’s visitors. The hyperlinked PDFs are all available on my “Create” page, or you can grab them all here: vertical one, vertical two, and horizontal. They work in a similar manner as my digital academic planners, so you can find tips on using a hyperlinked PDF here and here. [Also, I have a video on reasons why a digital bullet journal is better than a paper one.] If you’re already familiar with using hyperlinked PDFs in annotation apps like GoodNotes, I hope you find these notebooks useful! [They’ll work on desktop PDF annotator apps, but the portability advantage of these notebooks is limited to those with access to tablets/iPads, or perhaps a smartphone).] If you’d like a few basic tips before getting started, though, keep on reading this post.
Question You Might Be Asking Yourself:
How can I make my own digital notebook?
I used the free Keynote app on my iPad to create my notebooks. You can use more advanced apps like Procreate, but I prefer to keep it simple. PowerPoint might work well, too.
How do I add more pages to the notebook?
I’m sure you’ll notice immediately after opening the PDFs that I only included one blank page in between each section divider. I chose to use this minimal design because you might not need to use all six sections of the notebook. If that’s the case, there is no point adding blank pages to sections you won’t be using. That’ll just take up data on your device unnecessarily. The second FAQs page in each planner goes over the steps of adding new pages in GoodNotes. You can see an illustrated version of these steps here. If you’re not using GoodNotes, just go on YouTube and search for “how to add pages in [insert app name here].” More likely than not, plenty of tutorials will be available.
How can I make it easier to remember what each section of my notebook is about?
You can add labels to the circles at the bottom of each page. Just type/write the labels above or below each circle on each blank page in the notebook, including the template blank page that appears after the FAQs pages. Now, every time you add a copy of the template page to your notebook, the labels will be included. You can also add a bookmark to each section’s divider page in GoodNotes. I go over that process in the FAQs section (or you can find tutorials on YouTube).
Do I lose all my work if I lose/break the digital device I’m working on?
You can, if you don’t back up your app’s data to an iCloud service. For GoodNotes, you can add an iCloud account and set it as the back up location for all your GoodNotes files. There’s also an automatic back-up function.
Should I use the vertical or horizontal design?
It’s up to you. I created a horizontal version because I use the textbox tool in my notebooks rather than write by hand with a stylus. Since I use a bluetooth keyboard case for my iPad, it’s much easier to type in landscape mode, rather than portrait. However, if you are using a stylus to write in your notebook, you might feel more comfortable using the vertical versions of the notebook, as they more closely match a regular, paper notebook. Experiment with both, if you’re not sure which you’d prefer.
Does the notebook take up a lot of space on my device?
The blank notebooks are each smaller than 1 MB. Unless you’re adding large images to your notebook, it shouldn’t take up too much space on your device. I suggest checking the size of the PDF after you use it for a couple weeks. See how much larger it is at that point and then decide if that growth rate is acceptable to you.The blank notebooks are each smaller than 1 MB. Unless you're adding large images to your notebook, it shouldn't take up too much space on your device. Click To Tweet
What’s the benefit of using this notebook rather than just a regular notebook or Google Doc?
This digital notebook has six different sections for notes all in one PDF. So, instead of carrying around six different notebooks, you can just carry your tablet/ipad and not worry about forgettting the right notebook at home. As for Google Docs or another iCloud doc service, the main benefit of using a digital notebook instead is the knowledge that you have all your notes in one easy to customize PDF. You can add new pages into your notebook wherever you want and bookmark them, you can add images and handwritten notes easily, and you can guarantee that all your notes can be found among your files without difficulty, because they’re all in one document. Of course, if your notes have to be sent to someone else, using Google Docs is a better decision. But if your notes are for personal use only, I recommend trying out a digital notebook.This digital notebook has six different sections for notes all in one PDF. So, instead of carrying around six different notebooks, you can just carry your tablet/ipad and not worry about forgettting the right notebook at home. Click To Tweet
I hope you find these notebooks useful. Keep in mind, if you’re a student, you likely won’t be able to use them for any classwork or homework that needs to be turned in. You can ask your instructor, or you can just use these notebooks for note-taking, outlining, brainstorming, etc. for classes where that type of work doesn’t need to be submitted. Of course, you can also use these notebooks for non-school writing, too. If you’re a teacher, here’s a post I wrote about the benefits of keeping a teaching journal. You could use a digital notebook rather than a paper one and keep track of multiple classes in one PDF.
If you have any questions, let me know in the comments section below. I’d love to hear about how you’re using the notebooks, too!
>>If you found these notebooks helpful and want to make sure you don’t miss any future content on my blog, here’s the link to subscribe to my blog’s email list. As a subscriber, you’ll receive access to my resources library, which includes all my blog-related PDFs.<<
Great info, thanks for sharing this!
You’re very welcome! I’m glad you found this information helpful.
Thanks for all of this great information, Erika. Do you have more information on paper notebook teacher journals? I read the one on the benefits, but I can’t find what information you suggest writing in the teacher journal or how to set one up.
I’m glad you enjoyed this post and checked out the other one on teaching journal benefits. As someone who uses a bullet journal, I tend to suggest being pretty flexible when organizing your teaching journal. But, in mine, I tend to start by writing out the basic information of my course. So, course title, catalog number, and semester/year, the major assignments and required booklist, and policies I’ve created and included in my syllabus (late work, attendance, etc.). Then, I create my attendance sheet over a double-page spread (or two) and the following two pages are left blank so I can jot down any notes about individual students that pop up as the semester begins (also, I like knowing my students’ majors and what year level they are in, but I note down accommodations that are needed here, as well). After that, I start with the information I mention in the second, third, and fourth benefits of teaching journals. I lesson plan the semester in the next section of the journal, setting aside one double-page spread per week in case I’m not planning the whole semester at once. Then, in the main section, I start again with week one and write out the tasks and other information that connects to each individual day of class. This section is the most important section for me, as I write out my plans for each day, and then follow that information up after class with any changes made during that class period. As per the fourth teaching journal benefit, I often reflect at the end of each day on how I might tweak that day’s activities in future semesters.
So, in a nutshell: basic course information, lesson plans, and then weekly/daily breakdowns and reflections of coursework. Using a digital notebook works well because I don’t have to worry about setting aside the right number of pages for each course taught in one semester. I just use one section for each course. But, I originally started with paper notebooks. You can use a different paper notebook per course or use a larger notebook that allows for leaving plenty of space in between each course. For me, I only used 1 or 2 double-page spreads per week when recounting my daily course activities and reflecting on them, so that’s how I estimated how long that section would likely be per course. I hope this description helps, but you might find another setup works best for you!