In a discussion on documentation, Brie responded to these statements:

Brie talked about the Evernote system a while back and that sounds really cool.

It is, but I want to caution folks who don't need to document for the government, that breaking things up as I have by "subject" could very well slow down deschooling. It's a Procrustean bed of sorts ( wherein the forced categorization may blind you to other, bigger and brighter realizations about learning in general, and that learning is happening all the time, even where it isn't expected.

It is a great as a multi-text journal for photos, thoughts, links.

If your purpose is to keep the family informed by offering exciting photos and discoveries, and maybe links to things the kids are learning from, a blog might suit you better as you can jazz up the presentation.

You could begin by noting all the skills Meredith and Brie discussed in their email in regards to Pokemon.
I was curious if "educators" had looked at Pokemon. Among the few things I found was this, which has some good edu-speak language you could lift:


Pam Sorooshian had further suggestions in the same exchange:

It is, but I want to caution folks who don't need to document for the government, that breaking things up as I have by "subject" could very well slow down deschooling.

Don't do it by subject—do it by more real-life categories. Use: listening, watching, speaking, conversing, reading, writing, visiting, playing, building, inventing, creating, thinking, puzzling, organizing, joking, observing, and so on.

Then, later, the parent can put all that into whatever documentation is needed. The advantages are many: 1) kids who become aware of the documentation aren't edged into thinking in terms of school subjects; 2) parents don't revert to or hang on to the idea of school subjects but really come to embrace the reality that kids are always learning; 3) parents don't start getting worried that a kid isn't doing enough in some particular subject and try to push that on the kids (oh so subtle as it may be); 4) it can actually help a parent really see what the kids are doing and help the parent let go of biases in favor of certain ways of learning (reading, writing) as opposed to others (playing, constructing, listening, watching); and 5) when the parents do put the material into documentation that is "by subject," things can almost always go into multiple categories and you can choose so as to fill all the categories and satisfy the authorities.

If you try to record activity with these kinds of categories, you'll find that any one activity can go into multiple categories. It doesn't matter which category you put it into - the categories are just "ticklers" to help you recognize that the kid IS doing something that you can record and use (later) for documentation.

These kinds of categories are also a pretty good way to start out unschooling for those who have the urge to keep records of some kind. I used this kind of thing to keep a journal for about 3 months and then converted it to slightly more educationeze language and showed it to my husband who perused it and said I could "make anything sound educational." I just smiled and said, "Yep, that's pretty much true because, y'know, everything they do does actually involve learning." He didn't have an aha moment, but it got him on the road to seeing that learning didn't have to look like a result of school-style teaching.


If a Portfolio or Log is Required

Note from Sandra:

I'm willing to host this on my site with the disclaimer that 95% or more of unschoolers Do Not Need It.. If you live in Pennsylvania, New York or Iowa this might be of interest. Mississippi or New Jersey, perhaps.

If an unschooling family focuses on documentation unnecessarily, it can compromise the learning and the relationships that can grow without being measured and recorded every day. It is not provided to spook people, but to provide tools for those whose homeschooling legality requires such documentation.

Here is an exchange between Brie and me just before this was added to the site in August 2011:
There's been a lot of local (Pennsylvania) brouhaha the past few weeks about documentation and unschooling because of a new Dept. of Ed website, so I finally got around to making a few video tutorials (Noor had to help figure out how to make them!) that show how I use Evernote and EasyBib.

I was going to post a link [on the Always Learning list], but thought I'd clear it with you first as I know that thinking about documentation when one doesn't have to (as in "have to" to comply with local laws) can be really harmful to unschooling.

So, I'm leaving the following for you to decide to post or not....or, if you think it is helpful info for a majority of folks, let me know and I can just repost.

No. Too local. Too structured. VERY few places have the requirements pennsylvania has.

Put the at familyRUNning in a Pennsylvania folder, or maybe in its own topic, but please preface it with the fact that VERY very few people need to use it.

I was thinking along those lines too, but wanted to check, as I know documenting for those who need to, puts (too) huge a strain on many unschoolers. It can be quite simple and low-key. But locally, I continually see the act of documenting damage parents wanting to deschool themselves. I was also hesitant to post because I wonder if seeing others document can push those who don't have to toward feeling less confident, or like they're doing something "wrong" by not taking copious notes.

Unfortunately, though, if what is happening in New Jersey becomes of consequence, it seems like more regulations, at least in the States, may be on the horizon :(

Do you want me to add it to the unschooling curriculum pages?
Sure, that sounds like a helpful place for it to live.

Evernote and EasyBib as (FREE) Tools for Keeping an Unschooling Portfolio/Log

Not long ago, I posted about two wonderful FREE applications I've been using for state-required documentation. I received a lot of emails with questions about how to set up Evernote: and Easybib:, and thought it would be helpful to make a video tutorial (my first, ever...Noor, my 7(almost 8)yr. old daughter had to show me how to screen-record and post to YouTube!).

Here's a link to the tutorials, as well as links to see what our Evernote and EasyBib notebooks look like:

Evernote will probably be enough for most states/countries, but some also require a log of material used by date and title. EasyBib is wonderful for this and there is a place for notes as well.

Wishing everyone who has to deal with government-compliance, fun and easy documenting,


I'm moving the blog post here, too, just for backup. —Sandra
Keeping an Unschooling Portfolio with Evernote and EasyBib

After I sang the praises of Evernote as a tool for documenting the learning that goes on around here on a few home/unschool lists recently, I received quite a few emails asking how we use the application, and how to set it up as a portfolio for un/homeschooling. Following are two tutorials I made that explain how to set up Evernote as a portfolio, and copy/paste information and how to use EasyBib as a dated reading/media log. If you click on the subjects under "Bibliography" on the right-hand side of the blog, it will take you to my EasyBib notebooks and you'll be able to see what our log looks like. Click here to see what one of our Evernote notebooks look like. Wishing everyone fun and easy documenting!

Evernote as an Unschooling (homeschooling) Portfolio

EasyBib for generating a reading/media log
(It just occurred to me that folks who need to keep a dated log could add a few notes:
question that led to looking info up, thoughts, observations, connections, etc.,
under the "add annotation" link I discuss, which is where I add the date the material was used.)

Unschooling Curriculum Temporary Checklists for Unschoolers Don't let all this keep you from Deschooling