Hi Everyone,
I am new to the teaching realm and am curious about effective techniques for note taking and summarizing that are more effective than just copying down what is on the board?  Thanks for your help.

Christina Kemp

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I use Kidspiration for K-5. Students create a concept map and code each box with a number. As they take notes the number relates to the note. I would prefer a drop and drag tool to organize/reorganize notes, ideas, see relationships, and be able to share. Many of the tools I like require accounts; our students do not have email at school. I'm glad that more developers are offering educator K12 accounts. Let me know any web-based tools that you are using in elementary.
Wow, I am going to learn so much in this forum. I agree that notetaking on paper with bullets has its drawbacks. We have used colored highlighters and even physically cut the paper apart to categorize into sub-topics. I love, love, love the idea of using web applications, and have tried to Kidspiration for this purpose, but find the kids often get sidetracked with learning the program and then creating the web to look cool, rather than focusing on the notetaking. This is probably a "teacher" problem that I need to work on! Are you thinking of Kidspiration as a mind-mapping software? It does all of the things you mentioned. What others do you know of?
Interesting application. We don't have to do things the way to accomplish the same task. We find the tools that work for us.
This is something that I work on every summer in order to try and find more and more improvements to my instructional strategies. I work with middle school age students. To me taking notes and summarizing are two different skills.

Taking notes is something that I do when I listen to someone else speak or if I am reading something to gather specific bits of information. Summarizing is something I do when I read a passage or an article or listen to someone speak and I want to get down the big ideas...or the take aways from what I've read or heard. I know that it may be a little nit picky but I think it's important, to me, to know what I mean so I can define instructional pieces that will get that learning accomplished.

Taking notes from written materials is a matter of teaching kids to look for the big ideas. There are lots of places to look for ideas....Stephanie Harvey's work has a ton of great ideas for teaching kids to eliminate the repetitive words, for using post-its and so on. Her book "Nonfiction Matters" would be a terrific read. With the age of students I work with, the biggest hurdle is that they think EVERYTHING is important. They'd underline everything on a page to the point it looks like the highlighter attacked the page. So I think the big thing is to model, model, model. I use my SmartBoard and just go over it and over it as a whole class. They just need to see you do it a milliion times before they can be discerning, I think.

I've tried using Cornell notes. For me...it doesn't work too well with this age student unless I scaffold the page. By that I mean I outline the big things they should look for and then make copies/templates for them to fill in. They are still too young to get it. An alternative to this is to use Dinah Zike's Foldables. She has an electronic version so I can customize what I need so that it fits my objective. So if I'm working on the Three Laws of Motion, I use a three flap organizer. I think the reason why kids love these so much is that they get to draw, there aren't "lines" for them to write on, and it's just different. The big thing that will make Cornell or Zike work......well, it's the discussion after they take their notes. Do I give them time to process what they thought was important, what/how did they write it down, and what does it all mean. If I do this as a whole class and let them revise/edit their work...well, their notes get better and better. Then if I add a summarization of everything they've learned (Cornell does it at the bottom, Zike I do on the back)...well there's the power.

Once we have all this done, then I start using the concept mapping softwares to put it all into some kind of visual picture that creates more meaning for them.

If you are tlaking about summarizing, then I think the Rick Wormeli book Summarization in Any Subject is the Holy Grail. It will give you more ideas, variations of those ideas than you could ever use. Students love the techniques he suggests. You can use the ideas either in old fashion paper form or adapt them to technology software.

Taking notes from a speaker or a lecturer is beyond my scope. My students are too young to do this well. If I am going to ask them to do this for me, I create an outline they fill in. Or if we are listening to a guest speaker, I again provide bullet points or things they need to listen for. Then they fill in the chunks they can remember as they hear them. Really, though, if the speaker doesn't pause a bit they are so busy trying to remember exactly what the speaker says that they miss a minute or two or even three of what the speaker says next while they are writing down. It mostly seems counterproductive to me.

Thanks for asking this question. It's something I feel like I could use a ton of help on.
I have used Dinah Zike's tab books for notetaking as well and it is very helpful to young kids! Thanks for reminding me of this. I couldn't find the electronic version, though.
The electronic version comes on a CD with one of her books. I don't think it's online because she sells it. I checked the website listed below and it has many of the same things...the difference really seems to be formatting. Zike's CD formats the sheets to fit inside a spiral notebook.
This is a fabulous conversation about teaching and learning. I will read some of the resources that you mentioned. Now, our question will be how will we teach this in a paperless classroom with web2.0 tools; what will it look like, how will we teach. We will need to move between both worlds, depending on schools and access. I've attended conferences with K12 teachers, and highered; the same response is that students don't know how to take notes, do research, etc. Defining processes, refining, and empowering students to develop new ones will help achieve this goal.



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