One of my aims for the coming September is to start the school year with my sixth form students looking at different approaches to note taking.
At present my common experience is that students write down the majority of the information on the board whilst adding a few additional notes from our verbal discussion. Not that there is anything wrong with this but I feel confident I can help them to create better notes and use class time more effectively.
Therefore I’ve been doing some research in note taking strategies and thought I’d share a few with you. All of these I will be exploring with my year 12 students in September before helping them to choose a suitable approach.
1 // Cornell method
The page is split into 3 sections, prompts, notes and summary.
Prompts – key terminology from the lesson, questions, dates, names etc. that can be reviewed at a later date
Notes – main notes are taken here
Summary – students review the notes and resources after the lesson and summarise. Key points are highlighted ready for revision.
2 // Outline method
With this method, students indent their notes with each step becoming more specific. They can split the page into three columns like so.
General information – brief, concise notes on the general content of the lesson
Specifics – concise notes on the specifics of the lesson
Details and examples – facts, stats and specifics to be included here along with any examples or comparisons given
The end product may look something like this…
3 // Highlight and annotate
Before the lesson students will print off the PowerPoint slides or download the PowerPoint to their personal device if they use one. Then quite simply, rather than trying to copy down notes from the board and resources that are provided in advance, students simply listen and annotate them. All too often I find students copying down information that I’ve already provided them with online in advance of the lesson, therefore more time can be spent of using lesson time to deepen their knowledge and understanding through higher thinking tasks, debate and discussion.
4 // Flow based method
The flow based method requires students to write down the main ideas rather than paragraphs and sentences, similar to mind-mapping. Once initial notes are written down, students connect ideas, concepts and specifics by drawing connecting arrows to associated content, key terms and diagrams. This method forces students to consider the inter-connectivity of what they are learning and bring in knowledge from outside the lesson. This form of note-taking is very personal and demonstrates the students flow of thinking.
This method can easily be turned into a visual format as well.
5 // During-After method
The during-after method involves students splitting the page into two columns like so.
During – students take notes on the content.
After – students write questions either during or after the lesson to test their understanding of the content after the lesson.
For me the key point of these methods will be that students review their notes after the lesson in some way; whether it be summarising, self-testing or simply reviewing their notes. It’s vital that students use and return to their notes regularly.
Hope you’ve grabbed an idea or two. Feel free to provide further suggestions in the comments.