Students Don't Know How to take Notes...

Discussion in 'Middle School / Junior High' started by Nino, Oct 22, 2015.

  1. Nino

    Nino Guest

    Oct 22, 2015

    Hi everyone, first post (hope it's in the right place),

    So I long-term subbed last year for a 7th grade English class (where I'm licensed), and now I'm co-teaching Science 7th grade (where I'm going for a generalist license). This is my second year teaching I couldn't be happier than I am now, but I noticed the kids don't know how to take proper notes with dashes, stars, topics underlined (basic outlining) and it's becoming the downfall for some of them. They write down what's on the board, but they don't have a clue where to find those notes later on. I'd love to take a day out to teach them, but there is none, to be honest. Is there anything I can do to give them a crash course?

    Thank you!!
     
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  3. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    Oct 22, 2015

    Model your expectations.
     
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  4. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Oct 22, 2015

    Not only model, as teacherintexas suggested, but scaffold their learning. Provide them with cloze notes or some other structure and gradually fade it out until they are independent in their note taking. On top of that, since you mentioned them not knowing where to look back and find the info later on, provide opportunities for modeling and guided practice in going back to look for information in the notes. I think you'll have more success in scaffolding their learning to take notes over time than you would with a one-day crash course anyway.
     
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  5. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Oct 22, 2015

    It's just as important to teach study skills (including note-taking) as it is to teach the content itself. You have to explicitly teach them and show them what you want. I'm sure a quick Googling of something like "note-taking lesson" or something would give you all sorts of ideas.
     
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  6. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Oct 23, 2015

    Yup -- in middle school, you aren't just teaching content, you are teaching kids how to learn. Note-taking is something that is probably still pretty new for most middle school students. They need so much structure -- you need to teach them to write the date, page numbers, title, what to write and what not to write, how to look for main ideas and details, etc. Even in a Science class, if you want them to take notes, you will have to teach them how to go about doing this, which is really a higher-order reading skill.
     
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  7. teacherpippi

    teacherpippi Habitué

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    Oct 23, 2015

    What is the expectation at your school? Many around here do not expect that level of notetaking for 7th grade. Most kids haven't have a lot of formal experience with note taking. You have an opportunity here to teach them how to take notes and how to be effective learners. Scale back immediate expectations and lay the foundation for lifelong learning!
     
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  8. carolinafan

    carolinafan Rookie

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    Dec 20, 2015

    That's a problem I've encountered during my first few months on the job. I teach 7th grade as well. I really am having to change my way of thinking, and realize that these kids really don't know how to do a lot of things I feel like they should be able to do. When I've had them take notes, not only are they SUPER slow at writing things down, but they feel like they have to copy down every single thing on the slide. I'm changing the way I give notes once we come back from winter break. I'm going to try to use more resources like cloze notes, and more fill in type things.
     
  9. jadorelafrance

    jadorelafrance Cohort

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    Dec 21, 2015

    I teach foreign language in HS and I've always used guided notes and graphic organizers. I also require a binder for my class and the students have tabs that separate each chapter. That way, all their notes are together in one place and I can refer back if I need to (go to unit 1 and pull out the past tense worksheet). It's very basic, but I have never relied on kids taking heavy notes. I figure they have enough of that in their history and math classes, plus I want to spend more time on practice and application.
    I still use PowerPoint or project the guided worksheet so that I can present the lesson and students know exactly what to fill in, and we do practice exercises along the way.
    Of course there are some kids who don't follow protocol and have their notes all over the place (usually freshmen who haven't had me yet) and I will do random binder checks for a grade (not a fan, but it helps).
     
  10. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Dec 21, 2015

    For a note-taking practice lesson, I played a subject
    -related You Tube video because it was a natural thing for the student to focus and I thought it would be easier for note-taking. It worked pretty well.
     
  11. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Jan 2, 2016

    Before you start using fill-ins ask yourself carefully what your purpose in having students take notes really is. Fill-in notes are terrible as a learning/comprehension tool.

    One thing I've found success with is color-coding my presentations. I have red which is copied (definitions mostly), yellow which must be put into students' own words (general story beats and info) and then green which isn't written at all. The longer I've taught the less "green" I have as honestly it was mostly there to remind ME to include it.
     
  12. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Jan 2, 2016

    This is a really great idea. Thanks for sharing. So, do you spend some time at the beginning of the year teaching the students what the colors mean and how to use them to guide their note-taking process?
     
  13. MLB711

    MLB711 Comrade

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    Jan 2, 2016

    I like the idea of color coding your notes. I have done similar with bolded and italicized notes - bold things they had to copy and italics had to be in their own words. I also give my students a reasonable time limit. I put the slide up for about 30 seconds, then talk for a few minutes, then move onto the next slide. If they weren't done, they had to get it from someone else.

    One strategy I have done with my 8th graders is to compare and contrast their notes with mine. This was incredibly successful with last year's group. I told them we were going to have an experiment. I lectured to them for about 10-15 minutes. Then I let them compare their notes with each other while I typed my notes on the computer. Then they compared their notes with mine. I highly encouraged them to make corrections on their notes instead of just copying mine. Like I said, it was very successful with that group of students. This year's 8th grade is very different so I'm unsure if it will work as well. Worth a try though!
     
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  14. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Jan 3, 2016

    Agree with the ideas from MLB for sure.

    The first two times we take notes we do all the "yellow" ones together. I'll put it up on the screen, have each student write something and then have volunteers share what they wrote. There's no right answer, which is good. It shows the kids that their notes don't have to be exactly like the person next to them to be useful. Every now and then I'll randomly pick a student to share later in the year as well just as a refresher - and certainly will with our first notes back after break.

    As far as color reminders, I put one at the beginning of each unit as an intro slide but it honestly doesn't take them long to get it at all.
     
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  15. carolinafan

    carolinafan Rookie

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    Jan 7, 2016

    I had another teacher I know mention that he does that too. I guess it's a pretty popular thing lol. I'll have to look into implementing that with my notes.
     
  16. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Jan 7, 2016

    I was so happy to see this follow-on as I was reading through the posts. Great way to do notes and great way to show the importance of using their own words.

    How do you address this with the students who still don't know how to summarize ideas because they are behind and sitting in a class way above their ability level? Do you have specific strategies to help them learn how to put things in their own words or is it just modeling?
     
  17. Susan W

    Susan W New Member

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    Feb 19, 2016

    Not exactly an answer to the last questions, but an additional suggestion is that I do open-notes quizzes and tests. Frequent short quizzes, especially at the beginning of the year, is a strong incentive to improve note-taking skills.
     
  18. JaySilver21

    JaySilver21 Rookie

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    Aug 5, 2016

    I plan to teach Cornell notes.
     
  19. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Feb 13, 2017

    Studies have shown that Fill-in-the-blank notes are one of the least effective methods of delivering content to students. The brain does almost no processing so the material is rarely learned.

    Also, if any notes are going to be of value students need to have them and work with them nightly. Keeping them in a bin away from the student would prevent that.
     
  20. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    Feb 13, 2017

    FACT! LOL My history teacher in college would give us 50+ fill in the blank on test. Didn't do so well. Other formats were more effective. True/False - I hated.
     
  21. Committed2DaProfession

    Committed2DaProfession Rookie

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    Mar 16, 2017

    As others have already mentioned, you should model your expectations. Talk some time out before and during class to show them how their journals(notebooks) should be set up when you grade them. You can even leave little notes when you grade their journals(very time consuming, but worth it)...assuming you do this.
     

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