This Week's Tips

This Week's Topic

Note-Taking: An Essential Learning Tool
Note-taking is one of the most important skills students can use to improve their understanding and retention of material they read and are taught in class. Yet it is also one of the most erratic and unmonitored student activities that occurs in the classroom. You can improve students' note-taking skills by explicitly teaching them how to do it effectively. This week, we focus on concrete ways to improve student note-taking skills and enhance their classroom learning.

This Week's Tips


Give Students Teacher-Prepared Models (Monday)
Give students a copy of teacher-prepared notes. Explain the method you used to prepare the notes (outline, webbed, etc.) and allow them to follow along, adding their own notes during class. This gives students a model of how organized notes look and work. Explain that notes taken during class will probably not be quite as organized, but should follow the same general principles.


Teach Students Basic Note-Taking Principles (Tuesday)
Students need direct instruction on what to include and what not to include in their notes. Many students try to write down every word the teacher says or try to busily copy an overhead while missing the most important aspects of a lecture or class discussion. Help students learn basic strategies for taking notes, such as coming to class prepared, listening for facts or main ideas, and using abbreviations.


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Note-Taking Frameworks Help Students (Wednesday)
Expose students to different note-taking frameworks and formats. Show students different frameworks for note-taking, such as classification schemes or sequencing frameworks that can be applied to most subjects. Give students templates for different types of note-taking, such as outlines, graphic organizers, and combination notes.


Give Students Guided Practice in Note-Taking (Thursday)
Gradually introduce students to different note-taking methods. Sometimes students need guided practice in taking notes. The first few classes, give them suggestions for the type of information they can expect and the note-taking strategy that will work best with the material. Ask students to review one point and write a summary based on their notes as homework. Use this opportunity to give students feedback on their note-taking skills.


Incorporate Note-Taking into Your Assessment Criteria (Friday)
Ask students to re-write and re-organize their notes as homework. This allows students to review both the material and their note-taking skills. Ask students to hand them in for credit (no grade) and give written feedback to them, keeping in mind that note-taking is an art, not a science. Students will need to adapt basic note-taking skills to their own learning styles.