Note taking: is important or not? (a skill for adults)

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Linguist92021, Mar 11, 2016.

  1. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Mar 11, 2016

    In my last meeting we were brainstorming for very important strategies to focus on school-wide. We basically want to pick 3 strategies and roll it out as all teacher will be teaching and using those (although the method doesn't have to be the same).

    Note taking came up. I feel that note taking is an important strategy, in school for sure because it is a good way to retain information, and it does involve critical thinking skills (only important parts to write down, decide what details are important, what are not, summarize things so it's shorter, etc). It is also of course important for college. As far as beyond, in our daily life, I can't really say why it's important or that I use it (taking notes) but I'm really convinced that is important for our high school students to learn.

    My principal suggested that it is not really a life skill our students will use after they're out of school, so we don't necessarily need to focus on it. It was up for discussion and it was just a comment / suggestion, but I was surprised to hear it.

    Thoughts?
     
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  3. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    I take notes all the time - in meetings, in church, when I'm reading, etc. I think it is vitally important and applicable to any number of other skills or content areas.
     
  4. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    It is invaluable in HS and college, and only marginally important once you have passed those barriers. I even used it considerably less working on my masters because the instructors handed us the powerpoints to take notes on. Where does this leave it as a skill set for those who will not continue on to college? If what I have seen is an indication, the incorporation of tech, bring your own devices, 1:1 computer to student ratio, then note taking drops in importance. Many of our students type much faster than I do, and I took all my notes on my laptop during the last classes I have taken, meaning that many of our students, with a computer keyboard could easily take notes more efficiently than I was able to. That said, many of the BYOD technologies that come to school are cell phones and tablets. No way that I could type efficiently on a tablet or phone, so the make up of the school and the depth of the tech may either float or sink your proposal.
     
  5. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    ,I don't think I understand your post, you seem to say note taking becomes less important with technology, yet they are using the technology to take notes?

    I use note taking ALL the time. I don't see how people learn things with depth without reading, taking notes, synthesizing information...etc. I have never stopped taking notes since elementary school.
     
  6. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    If note taking is a method to help students retain and synthesize information the question should be asked is it working? If it is working and students are showing more growth than some other method then it could be deemed a valid approach to skill/concept attainment. On the other hand, if students are taking notes and showing no growth or falling behind the method may be in need of scrutiny or abandoning altogether. As for "not a life skill" it would be hard to shrug it off when many situations, as others have pointed out, demand the ability to save information that doesn't depend on one modality such as hearing or seeing.
     
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  7. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Mar 12, 2016

    Times I have used note taking not related to school. Note taking at doctor appointments when it is more than routine. Note taking when evaluating insurance or other services that require thought and analysis to choose the right one. Meetings at work.

    Most people will or should take notes on things during their life. It won't be as often or as much as using it for academic purposes, but it is a good skill to have even if it is just the skill of listening, analyzing, and determining the most important points.

    If we used the measure regarding what people will use after formal schooling is over, we wouldn't really have to teach much, especially if we added in what technology can do for people now provided you can afford the technology. As of now, technology could replace reading, writing, and math.

    It concerns me that more and more basic skills are on the chopping block as things to cut using the excuse that people won't use it later on when many of those skills are ways to enforce sub-skills that everyone will use in some way or another.
     
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  8. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Please let me clarify. When I consider note taking, I am thinking about the kind of notes such as I used for lectures, filling spiral binders, often rewritten after the lectures. These notes were invaluable to being able to pass exams. I still have some of those binders, although I am not sure that I would go to them for information, since I can find more current information online.

    Do I take notes on a daily basis? Yes, but not those kind of "give me a binder, and then let me rewrite my notes" kind of notes that I took in school. My response was to these lecture/notes that I use, and yes, I do take notes on my computer, but I do find that increasingly I am handed copies of the information. I didn't consider that note taking, but rather reading for comprehension.

    I didn't mean to insult note takers of the world, but in my experience, I was thinking of binders of notes, not just comprehension of what was said. If what you are teaching as note taking is comprehension, that is a must. Do I use intense, written note taking, such as when in school, well, I don't, but maybe that is how my brain works, or maybe what I am thinking of as comprehension is what you are attributing to note taking. Yes, I consider and evaluate all of the same things the prior posters have listed, but I was thinking more of those binders of notes in my attic that are basically useless. Now I do use technology to find answers or expand what was said, and I think that what I consider "learning how to learn" may be what OP is talking about. What is a fact today may not be by tomorrow, so I am better served knowing where and how to find the answers to my questions, IMHO. I am never going to question how students apply critical thinking skills that build comprehension, I only pointed out that I don't use the same kind of note taking, and yes, tech has changed this, that I used in college and before. I agree that if the note taking is making a difference in how well students are learning, by all means teach it. However, I suspect that intensive note taking might be more effective taught before HS, perhaps, as Pashun alluded to, in elementary.
     
  9. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I feel the same way. For me to understand something, I have to take notes. My note taking involves writing, drawing, diagramming, but those are my notes and they help me make sense of what I'm trying to understand. And somehow writing it down helps it stay in my memory.
    I was raised to take notes. In my country we would take notes and / or do a formal outline of most lessons. For history, we would do a formal outline of every lesson (to understand the big picture) and highlight in the text and take notes.
     
  10. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    It depends on the person. Note taking does nothing for me, but I know it's very valuable for others.
     
  11. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I also want to add that we all agree at my school that our kids do not knw how to take notes. They have the mindset of "tell me what to write". I have had pretty good success with just having the question on the board, we discuss it and they write down the answer, in their own words. I do not tell them what to write word by word, I do summarize it, kinda long and fast and tell them to put it in their own words. So they got a lot better.
    These are at-risk kids who have mostly failed most of their subjects at regular school. Then in alternative ed most of the time the teachers water down instruction because of the many grade levels and skill levels in the same classroom.
    I have always had high expectations for them, but note taking was always a struggle.
    We did do Cornell notes once (I don't think cornell notes works for everything) recently and that worked out great.

    I feel that we should focus on explicitly teaching them how to take notes, well, I, as the only English teacher could do that, and the rest of the eachers could enforce or teach it in their own ways. Like I said the P is looking for 3 strategies that we would agree on and roll it out across the school.
    I also feel that note taking is important because with Common Core verbalizing ideas is one of the focus. For example even in math, instead of just doing the problem, they should be able to tell what they're doing, using academic language and terminology. On my tests I always give them a lot of short answer questions. If they cannot even take notes, if they always just follow and write down what they're supposed to, how are they ever gonna be able to put things in words, the right way?
    Their tests show a huge improvement with how they express themselves, a year ago most of them would shut down and not even try. Now, there are only a few, but it's mostly because they really don't know the answer (lots of absences, not paying attention, etc)
     
  12. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Too often I think in education, we can go to the extremes on issues. Note-taking probably has less importance than in the past, and should be done a bit less. However, it does have some importance. I love using Notability on my IPAD to take notes at meetings, and I know other professionals take notes. I think note taking should include up to date strategies and technology. The way I teach notes is much different than I learned 30+ years ago--and it should be. Note-taking must represent the modern workplace of today.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2016
  13. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I remember from GATE training the presenter said there are 3 ways that we learn and retain information.
    1. write about it
    2. talk about it
    3. make something(about it)

    I don't see how note taking has lost ANY value over the years, you are taking information that you have read, seen, or heard and want to learn and are synthesizing that information...how is this skill diminished over the years?
     
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  14. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I agree that note-taking is very important at the high school and college level. I still take notes (I think as teachers, we take more notes than most people) but my notes are greatly simplified. More often that not, my notes are simply annotations on handouts someone gives me. I do keep a notebook that I fill with notes, but again, they're mostly diagrams, and a few comments here or there. I do not use the cornell note system or other note-taking systems that we learned (or teach) in school. I also use my phone to jot down notes on note-taking apps like Google Keep.

    I think the difference comes when you shift from being a student having to acquire new information that is being given to you by an instructor to becoming someone who does not need to acquire a lot of new information and instead has to apply information to your practice. There are some meetings and PDs where I write down more and some where I write nothing at all. It's all about the importance I place on the information being presented. Most of my notes are about how I will apply this in my classroom, and less about what the person is actually saying.

    There are some teachers who write down every single word the presenter is saying and are taking millions of photographs with their phone of each slide the presenter shows. This is highly inefficient in my opinion, and I doubt the person ever returns back to their notes after taking them.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2016
  15. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Thank you for saying this much better than I could or did. Some of my notes are even just a few words that I want to research/look-up when I have the time. You guessed it - I love Google. I like to take my imagination and wonder to Google and wander, much the same way I get lost in a library. I am the first to admit that this could just be my learning style, but I have seen students with tech in the classroom who tend to do similar things, following clues through the browser. It is note taking in an active form. I don't know how it impacts their lives long term, but if they are learning and exploring similar to what I do, they will be fine and stimulated. Is it note taking - that is the question I wish I could answer.
     
  16. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Just wanted to add that note taking has nothing to do with an instructor or a person presenting information to you. Note taking taking is taking ANY information(videos, television, articles, conversations..etc) you want to learn and using and putting it in a different form which helps you learn, retain, and apply it.

    I don't think this is minimized AT ALL as an adult. As long as one has hobbies and interests of some kind and understand what it means to learn and improve at that hobby or interest.
     
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  17. anna9868

    anna9868 Habitué

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    just curious, how is it different from 30 years ago?

    is it, what vickilyn was referring to, more of scribbling down words to later research using Google, kind of thing?
     
  18. anna9868

    anna9868 Habitué

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    When I was working as a Substitute TEacher's aide I once worked with a boy With Tourette's syndrome in high school and I had to take notes for him when he had particular tough time and had to step out of the classroom.

    Oh, wait. There was another boy too, in middle school. Like it often happens in middle school I wasn't told much, here is the schedule, his name is this, good luck!

    It took me a while during science class to figure out what, in the world, is wrong with this boy! The teacher started teaching a class, asked everyone to start taking notes. I believe it was a combinatation, copy from the board, then take notes on the explanation that she was giving.
    My boy was forever taking out his pen saying "I'm going to take notes now"

    Until I realized nothing would happen and I started taking notes myself. Later asked his classmate to share the beginning so I can copy it.
    Turns out the boy had emotional disorder and someone needed to write notes for him. They just forgot to tell me that. :(
     
  19. anna9868

    anna9868 Habitué

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    I take notes all the time. I needed it in school, in college, in graduate school, even when I was taking a course towards a certificate. No, wasn't a requirement. Everything was on slides, you could follow them, look at them at home. It's just that I'm a paper person. While I like slides, I also like to have the same materal explained in my own handwriting in the way I heard the teacher explain it.
    it just makes it easier for me to understand it.

    well, I also note-take in life. A lot. I guess, I'm a note junkie!
     
  20. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    Marzano names note taking as one of nine (I think) vital skills for learning. That alone ought to be reason enough to teach the skill. Not to mention that people of almost every profession from military to medical, academia to zoologist, plumber to police will at some point need to sit in on and take notes in training or meetings of some kind. It makes the information stick much better to write it as opposed to just seeing it on a screen.
     
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  21. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    30 years ago, there was no internet and if you didn't write down the definitions or key ideas in class--you had few other places to go for the info. I remember trying to get important info from the library after not taking good notes in class one time. It took a lot of time. Today...Google allows you to find so much if you miss a few notes in class. Also 30 years ago, space was a priority. You only had one notebook/subject and notes were taken page after page after page. Today I can teach students to have different pages for definitions, different pages for important dates, add pictures and videos to add to their notes.. Limited space and limited materials aren't a problem while using Notability or other software note-taking apps. How we take notes is changing--but it is still very important.
     
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  22. anna9868

    anna9868 Habitué

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    that's true! and you know what, I can relate to most of what you are describing 30 years ago... to my college experience 20 years ago ('95-'99)

    Even though I went to college here in US, and even though I went for my Computer science as an undergrad (hard to believe now!) I still remember note taking, page after page, in every class, even my computer classes. Even if some search engine was available at that time, I don't think it was popular.

    I believe I still have some of my notebooks from college saved. Was hard to part with some of them after I've been painstakingly taking notes for a number of months. :)
    * * *

    Who knows, maybe when my own kids (nay, probably grandkids) go to college I'll dig out those notebooks, show them and they'll wonder
    - what is it?
    - Oh, I'll explain, there was such a thing in "old days" as note-taking.
    - "Really?" they'll wonder, "how was it done?"
    - "Oh, there was such a thing as pen back then. We used it to write down what the teacher said"

    For a long time my favorite cartoon was Flinstones :)
     
  23. fjaravata

    fjaravata Rookie

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    Mar 19, 2016

    Hello all,

    Being the Educational Innovation Coordinator at my K-12 school, I've taken tons of notes on my laptop for the past 17 years. And I don't remember any of it! I furiously tried to type every word in whatever important meeting and the like, but once I saved, i rarely went back to to my notes. I didn't retain much.

    Since 2014, I've tried something called, SKETCHNOTING (and DOODLING!) where I only write/sketch out the most important concepts the way that works for me. Now, sketchnotes isn't about art. Its about ideas. Its similar to GRAPHIC FACILITATION, but in a more personal scale. Its meant really for me. It has helped me considerably in remembering important concepts and thoughts within myself and from those important admin/faculty meetings. I think its the brain, hand, paper, pen connections that happen that helps me. Kind of like handwriting ;)

    Is it for everyone? Nope. But it is another way to help you with retaining important content. Just remember, its about ideas--not art!

    Here are some examples in my beginning journey in sketchnoting. Hope this helps!
     
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