Not taking notes

Discussion in 'High School' started by newbie1234, Nov 28, 2008.

  1. newbie1234

    newbie1234 Companion

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    Most of my students won't take notes during class. Does anybody know why this might be, and/or can suggest ways to encourage them to take notes? Thanks!
     
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  3. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    With NO notice, make your next test "Open Notebook" as a special bonus to all those students who work so hard.

    Don't phrase it as punishment, phrase it as a gift, as though you don't know that some aren't taking notes.

    And make sure that the questions are phrased exactly as you did in class, preferably in the same order.
     
  4. Brendan

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    My kids' notebooks are graded if they don't take notes that will be reflected in the notebook check at the end of the unit. These grades amount to 10% of the student's grade so it won't flunk students, but it is a great gift to those student's who took notes. If you didn't put notebook checks on your syllabus, add them for next semester and for this sesmester give an open notebook test.
     
  5. Sheba

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    That is a brilliant idea. I really don't like the idea of grading a student's notes per se. Each one has a different potentially most effective learning strategy and it's pretty well impossible for a teacher to know what's an appropriate way for each particular student to record information. When I taught undergraduates, who were used note-taking without having to be told, one thing I noticed was that many of the top students were the ones who paid attention carefully but only jotted down the occasional thing. The students who tried to write down everything I said were usually B-students.
     
  6. HMM

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    outside of Mathematics, I rarely took notes. If the quizzes/exams covered material in the book then I just paid attention in class and looked over the book.
     
  7. Brendan

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    What if the quizzes didn't cover material from the book? Many of mine do not.
     
  8. HMM

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    Then you wonder why the class has a book :p


    I usually figured out pretty quickly which teachers/profs got their material from the book or not. Obviously if the material covered did not come from the book then one should take notes.

    I tell my students if the material I'm talking about is covered in their book. If it is in the book and they don't want to take notes I'm fine with that as long as they pay attention.
     
  9. MsMar

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    I agree with Alice, surprise them with an open note test.
     
  10. HMM

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    If you really want them to take notes then tell them that on future exams and quizzes that you will have material on the quiz/exam that is not in the book. Then if they decide to not take notes then they only have themselves to blame.

    Surprising then on a quiz or exam is not the way to go.
     
  11. TeacherGroupie

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    When I was a grad student, Way Back When, I was a teaching assistant in a large lecture class for a professor who was both rigorous and popular. He'd found in large lecture classes that two-thirds of the students reliably got little or nothing out of the lectures: students in the back third were busy reading the school paper or socializing, and students in the front third were so very busy taking everything down that, it seems, the information was going in the ears and out the fingers without stopping by the brain en route. His solution was to give class outlines that spelled out a good deal of information, so students could actually attend to what he was saying without worrying so much about committing all of it to paper.
     
  12. Sarge

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    One semester I had two history professors - one who's class I'd emerge from with at least five pages of lecture notes and one that I'd be lucky to have a page.

    Both were great professors, they just had different lecture styles. One was very straightforward and linear, and the other very circular and full of analogies, anecdotes and comparisons.
     
  13. Brendan

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    I respectively disagree, if you tell them to take notes and they do not they are disobeying you. My students know they need to take notes, if they are not it will reflect on their notebook check. They know this and if they choose to disobey me, their grade deserves to suffer.
    Students should know that taking notes is not an option, its a requirement, if you want to give an open-notes test, if the students know the material they should be able to perform regardless if they took notes.
     
  14. HMM

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    Why should their grade suffer. Isn't the main goal here to get them to learn something. It shouldn't matter if they take notes if they know the material. There were many classes I had where I took little to no notes because I found it to be distracting. I would try to write something down and then I would miss something else that the teaching was saying. Even when I took note I usually never used them...I used the book.

    I had a math professor in grad school that did the same thing (esentually). He just gave us the notes that he used for his lecture. Then we could follow along and add small notes when we needed too.
     
  15. Brendan

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    I believe the process of mastery is just as important as mastery itself. Taking notes (in my class) is a part of this mastery. Some teachers choose to grade on class particpation, which is not a reflection of mastery, I choose to grade on organization. I think organization is a life skill, that MUST be taught.

    Most of the time when I have seen kids not taking notes they are either not paying attention, doing homework, or sleeping. In my opinion notes help students focus during lessons.
     
  16. HMM

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    I guess we just disagree on this.
     
  17. Brendan

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    I guess so, I was not a student like you who could understand math without notes. I need notes to master the material and have yet to seen a student who could do so otherwise. I am glad though you realize that some students need notes and still give them--many teachers who don't need notes themeselves to learn just don't bother with them.
     
  18. HMM

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    I did take notes in my math class...though i didn't usually use them (except a couple times when there was no book for the class so the only thing I had to go by was my notes)

    I just don't like the Idea of esentually punishing a student because they don't take notes (they are punishing themselves if they need to take notes and their not doing it).


    It reminds me of my C++ programming classes. I'm a pretty good programmer so I found the class to be pretty easy so I didn't go to class that often (mostly exam days). Unfortunatly the prof would have pop quizzes where he would actually give you the answers (either by telling you the answers right before giving the quiz or by actually leaving the answers on the chalkboard). So these were free points that I never got...so in the end I got a C in the class just because I didn't go to class. It didn't matter that I did well on the exams and that my programs always worked perfectly. If I had gone to class I would have gotten an A easily. This was a year long class so for the next semester I went to every class and I got an A. Did I learn anymore...NO. In a sense I was punished because I was good at programming. I see the note taking issue in the same light.
     
  19. Brendan

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    I respectively disagree, we must show students how not only to master the material, but to be good students.
     
  20. HMM

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    What is a good student...one that jumps through the unnecessary hoops of the teacher?
     
  21. Brendan

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    I don't think being organized is jumping through hoops.
     
  22. HMM

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    I don't think taking notes makes you organized
     
  23. Brendan

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    I should of phrased that taking notes and keeping organized is too much for me to ask?
     
  24. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I didn't say to surprise them with a quiz; I said to surprise them with the idea that it's open book. It should still be do-able to anyone who has been paying attention, just a real bonus for anyone who has been taking notes.

    High school kids are still learning to learn. A lot of them (particularly the smart kids) suddenly find a class- say Geometry or Physics-- where they suddenly have to actually study, where just paying attention is no longer enough. I think that we as educators need to concentrate on helping them learn to learn. It's not all about the information I'm presenting; sometimes it's also about learning how to absorb and organize new information.

    Anytime I teach a new concept, I also give "process" notes that guide my kids through the "how tos" of the problem. I never test on those notes. It's my intent to help them learn how to take notes in math-- how to describe to themselves how to get from point A to point B. Learning how to learn is probably one of the most important aspects of a high school education, and taking notes is part of that.
     
  25. Teacher2Be123

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    How are the students doing that aren't taking notes? I would think if you had a student sitting in your class who doesn't take notes but as an A isn't the problem.
     
  26. HMM

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    Why not let them use their book (and notes)? If the student hasn't been paying attention or reading the book then having the book in front of them probably wont help. This way you reward the people that have been studying.

    I'm not just saying to pay attention. It's pay attention and use their book. In the end this is what we want them to be able to do. They won't always have someone there to tell them how to do things. They will have to learn to absorb information from books and journals.


    Is this kind of information not in their book. If it isn't, you should adopt a new book.
     
  27. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Good high school math books are notoriously hard to find. The information IS in the book, but rarely worded in such a way that a struggling student would be able to to get through it. Even if I were to let kids use their textbooks, the ones who needed the help would NOT get it from the textbook.

    For example, we recently covered division of polynomials with my below-level freshmen. You and I know that it's basically the same as long division of numbers. That's no help; if they ever knew long division it's long since forgotten. I don't think I've ever seen a textbook that does an adquate job of explaining exactly HOW to do it. But my kids have great notes. When June rolls around and it's been a while since they've seen problems on this, they'll be able to look at their notes and decipher them.

    I'm working with a new teacher. She recently covered Synthetic Division in Precalculus. The textbook isn't much help here either; if you were absent the day it was taught in class, there's no way you would get the information from the text.

    The wonderful world of high school math textbooks is NOT always about imparting information clearly. It's frequently about providing lots of 'white space" and making the book less intimidating for those who preview texts. It's something I was told when I did freelance math writing for a major publisher. I wanted coherent explanations and tons of examples. They wanted lots of pictures of CA and TX (The 2 big textbook buying states) and 3 sentence explanations.

    So we adopt a textbook that has lots of practice examples on the topics we need to teach, and assume that the teachers will cover the material in class.

    And, for the record, we're only allowed to change textbooks once every 5 years.
     
  28. HMM

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    That's too bad. You would think that since there are so many books out there that one would be able to find a good one (I know this is not always the case...still looking for a good upper level undergraduate book on probability and statistics). :(

    I guess I'm spoiled since I change books a lot. Either there is a new edition or I change the book all together.
     
  29. TeacherGroupie

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    More often than not, when a new edition of a college text comes out the changes are primarily cosmetic (except when it comes to the price).

    The process of el-hi textbook adoption is, I am told, terrifying.
     
  30. newbie1234

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    This is my feeling as well. Taking notes is part of the learning process, and an essential part for most students. When students aren't taking notes, they're rarely using their time wisely.

    I disagree about class participation. I use a rubric for class participation and give points for focused reflection on the assigned reading.
     
  31. newbie1234

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    I'm not a professor, and I'm not teaching at a university. I'm teaching high school students. Do you know the expression "you have to know the rules to know how to break them?" Part of my job is to teach these kids foundational study skills including organization, adherence to deadlines and critical reading. They need to know how to take notes before they can decide that they don't need to take notes. Frankly, I hazard to guess that you're an anomaly; the vast majority of my students need to take notes to master the material.
     
  32. newbie1234

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    I'm going to do this.
     
  33. Brendan

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    What about shy students. They may ace the tests, but just not feel comfortable particpating.
     
  34. HMM

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    need...I doubt that. There are many ways to learn. My way of learning might be different, but I wouldn't classify myself as an anomaly.
     
  35. HMM

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    Obviously we should dock them 10% in order to try and force them to participate. ;)
     
  36. newbie1234

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    Shy students have to overcome their limitations in order to participate in class discussions, just as disorganized students have to overcome their limitations in order to pass notebook checks, students who struggle with writing have to overcome those limitations in order to master writing assignments, students who struggle with objective exams have to overcome those limitations in order perform well on multiple choice assessments, etc.
     
  37. Ross

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    I also have found many students to have poor skills at taking notes.

    For me, I have found taking notes essential for detailed learning of most subjects. I attended classes regularly right up to my retirement and always took copious notes. In my reading, studying, attending lectures, or even going to a luncheon with a guest speaker, I continually take notes.

    To encourage students to take more notes, I show them examples of my note taking, an explanation of where I got the information, and how it has helped me. I always have notes of some kind with me. I let them know that without my ability to take great notes, I don't think I could have done as well as I did in learning.

    Whenever a students asks a question that was already addressed, I tell them if they had been taking notes, they would have the answer available to them at any time they needed it.

    I saw Apollo 11 Astronaut Michael Collins recently as a public forum discussing the space program. I was happy to see him taking notes the entire time. Reading about his life, I discovered he is also a consummate note taker.
     
  38. manatee23

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    There has been a lot of discussion here, but I thought I would just throw out my system into the mix. I admit my class is note heavy (I teach Reg. Bio and Marine) I do not use the county assigned text book for much but rather a combination of many sources and examples during my lectures. The students I have are pretty aware of this by now, so that might also help in a few cases, definitely not all of them however.

    BUT what I do for most lectures is send the PowerPoint to a word document as an outline, format it so it smaller and better aligned, then cut out important chunks that I make as fill in the blanks for them. The actual note taking time is cut down, I know they have every thing needed to succeed, but most importunately they aren’t spending the whole time writing, but rather listening. The down side is it can be hard to get them to go back and read the parts they didn’t write themselves, but I guess every system has it’s flaws. I do often tell them to add this to the side column, or draw this extra image next to a definition. Then I give them a small grade on it (they will not receive full credit if the extras are not there). I don’t do notebook checks and I don’t give participation grades. I found that, for me, it was too hard to be objective and consistent in those types of grades even with a well written rubric. But I throw at them a few points for the notes. Normal class work is usually about 30-40 points, and the notes are anywhere between 10-25. It’s just a little EASY boost to the grade and knowing that I have very few students who don’t take notes. I just collect them on test day, but I usually give them a few days to hand it in for credit. Sorry this got so long, hope you find a solution that works well in your class!
     
  39. CanukTeacher

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    I would like a definition of taking notes. Are you talking about (I think) talking at the kids for 10-30 minutes and having them write their own notes?

    If so, how much time have you spent modeling how to take good notes? Many kids may not know how to take good notes. Depending on how often you do this you may also just be loosing 1/2 your class. For example, I have 1 student who is an excellent student but has no attention span for reading. I'm teaching history. While we work on our reading skills and I want him to become a more focused reading, my standards say that I am evaluating him on his historical knowledge. So unless your standards include note-taking I don't think you can use a test to essentially test their note-taking.

    I actually think learning how to take notes is not a skill students need to learn unless they are going to university. Even if they are, any 1/2 decent typer can keep up with a university prof and go through the notes to determine what is important after the fact.

    I completely disagree with suddenly telling kids they can use their notes. Their academic grade should reflect their knowledge. Their organization and work habits should be reflected on another part of their report card (comments, for example).
     
  40. MathNrd

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    I really dislike using grades as a punishment or as a reward. If you feel that it is important that they take notes then I would suggest that you tell them that you will be collecting and grading their notes. If you do this I would also suggest he check mark system and actually give them feedback.
     
  41. dovian

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    Dec 24, 2008

    I teach 9th grade (and some other stuff). I feel that learning appropriate organization and study skills is extremely important in their first year of high school. When I went to college I had NO IDEA of how to take notes effectively. I don't want that to happen to these kids, so I teach them a modified Cornell system. As we read, we practice taking notes on the literature, talking about what's important about each text. As we go through the year I ask them to write more and more notes on their own, instead of just what I say is important. I haven't been teaching long enough to send any of them off to college, but I hope that it will help them in the long run.

    I find that there is a direct correlation between organization and success in 9th grade English - nearly all of the students who do poorly in my class have atrocious notebooks - no organization, papers everywhere, and notes that are either not present or are poorly done. Overall, although some may not "need" to take notes to understand the class, I am trying to give them a tool that they can later choose to use or not, as we do in teaching different prewriting activities or different ways to solve problems.
     

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