As a high school teacher (with a majority of honors students each semester), there were things I took for definitely granted which I didn’t realize until the last few months. Among those things were students wearing deodorant, working on a task the first time I said to start, and remembering to bring their assignments to class the next week. Probably the biggest thing though was my kids’ ability to take notes from a variety of sources/lecture.
My current students had 0 note taking abilities in September. The kids were divided into 2 mindsets: “I can remember everything so I don’t have to write anything down” and “I need to write every word down because I won’t remember it otherwise.” Well, neither of those mindsets did the kids any good. I didn’t have any tips or tricks to teach them how to take notes so I kept just trying to show them how I had been taught and what I would have written down if I were the student that day. Well, that only worked for a couple of kids, and even then it barely worked.
I knew I needed to start the second semester reviewing (teaching really) the basics, especially note taking skills, because regardless of what my kids end up doing in a few years (traditional high school, college, a job), at some point in their lives they’ll need to be able to take notes efficiently and they’re not as likely to figure it out on their own. After winter break we spent a whole class discussing the value of note taking, how it will play into their lives outside the classroom, and practicing taking notes.
Now, I admittedly had no idea where to actually begin with this since I’ve never had to teach students how to take notes. Thankfully, there is an amazing seller on TpT (Apples and Bananas) who has THIS incredibly useful “learn how to take notes” resource and it gave me the confidence to get this process started.
A select few reasons as to why I LOVE LOVE LOVE this resource and will use it at the start of every school year from now on:
–it gives students a detailed step-by-step guide for how to take notes
–it covers notes from a book and notes from a lecture
–it explains the value in taking notes by hand, especially for retention
–it gives students examples of when and how to highlight, underline, use bullets, use graphic organizers, use abbreviations, etc
–it even goes into what to do after the notes have been taken
–it is exceptionally thorough and I wouldn’t have thought to tell my students half of what’s included in this resource
–students are shown a common problem they might encounter and a variety of solutions for each problem
—it has worked equally as well for all my students, whether they are in 6th or 10 grade, and not many resources out there can say that
–it has staying power: students can refer to the “how to” sheets as often as they need
–parents can use this to teach/reinforce these skills at home (especially useful in the homeschool co-op)
This resource has absolutely changed the degree of engagement my students have during the direct instruction parts of class. They no longer scramble to get every word down, my one really stubborn student who thought he could remember everything now enjoys making his notes quite personalized (turns out he’s a super visual learner so his drawings and diagrams have been driving the nature of his notes) since he realized he doesn’t have to take notes the same way as his peers, and their overall retention from week to week has increased.
If your students struggle with taking notes, I strongly recommend taking a look at this resource! If you don’t know how to effectively teach students how to take notes that’s ok! I was never taught how to teach this skill and I imagine I’m not the only one. I knew I wasn’t going to wake up one morning and all of a sudden have figured out exactly what to do for my students, so I found a resource that would help my students way more than I could in this given situation. So if something this amazing exists, why should we try to re-invent the wheel?