Chapter 3 - Note Taking & Organization
In this section we'll help you and your students with notetaking and organization with computers. We have valuable resources, tips, and tutorials to share here.
- Recommended Sites for Note Taking
- Note Taking Templates
- Inspiration and Mind Maps
- Using Tablets in the Classroom
Many teachers expect their students to be able to take good notes, but we too often assume that students know how to take notes effectively. Here are some great sites for learning about effective Note taking.
- Dartmouth College Academic Skills Center: Taking Lecture and Class Notes - This site offers handouts and advice on taking notes in class, listening effectively, and using notes for exams and studying.
- CalPoly Academic Skills Center: Note Taking Systems - This site offers an introduction to five types of note taking systems from the Cornell method to mapping and more.
- St. John's University: Lecture note taking - This site has a particularly good list of "signal phrases" that students can be listening for when lecturers are moving from one topic to another.
- Education World: Note Taking Lessons - Education World offers a number of different lessons for grades 3-12, as well as some additional information on plagiarism.
While lectures are an efficient way for teaching, they are not always an effective way for learning. Consider using these tools for having students build knowledge collaboratively rather than trying to absorb it from the teacher.
- Blogs: Chronological, journal-style web pages for classes or students
- Wikis: Spaces for collaborative writing
- Other Ideas for Student Projects
Here are a few different templates that your students can use for note taking. The first two are PDF files as examples of templates to use with word processors. The third link is to a template created with a free mind-mapping software, FreeMind, which will let your students take notes in an entirely different way.
- Note taking template for an individual student
- Note taking template for a class scribe
- FreeMind Note taking template (You must download this zip file, open it, and then use FreeMind to view the file.)
Word processors are good for taking notes in outline or chart form, but what about students that don’t think in boxes or subjects where relationships are more tangled and interconnected? For those people who like a more visual presentation of their information, mind-mapping software can be very helpful. For students who don’t intuitively understand information in tables, these mind maps, or concept maps, of information can lead to breakthroughs in note-taking, studying, and writing. Inspiration is a great program designed to help students and teachers make concept maps and graphic organizers. The interface is intuitive, and the software offers an extensive array of features for customizing mind maps and outlines.
Inspiration is a terrific software application. Both teachers and students can use it creatively and efficiently to organize ideas, illustrate themes, explore relationships between all sorts of objects both imaginary and tangible - and many other things, as well.
We also recommend FreeMind, a free application that you can download and run on either a Mac or a Windows computer.
For more information about teaching with Mindmaps, especially for history classes, visit the Center for Teaching History with Technology.
Tablets are equipped with software that can convert handwritten notes to digital text in a searchable format. They enable underlining, circling, highlighting, and inserting words in ways that are often impossible when projecting a document. Consequently, they can add a great deal of flexibility and innovation when it comes to classroom presentations and note taking. Furthermore, anything written into a document on a tablet can be saved and sent to students.
Here are five ideas for how you could use tablets in the classroom:
- Take advantage of the ability to make drawings. In Tom’s World History classroom, students are required to graphically represent the Hindu cycle of life. Specifically, they are asked to draw the voyage of the Hindu soul in order to test their understanding of the cycle of life concept.
- Have students create their own mind maps. One class activity for middle school students is to have them visually represent the checks and balances of the three branches in the American political system.
- Project a lesson on the board and have students edit the material. One effective technique to increase student participation is to present a PowerPoint slide show with strategically placed blank slides or empty spaces. The teacher asks students to contribute ideas or questions.
- Present an editorial cartoon or a historic image with an empty box below it and ask students to create a caption or title. Students could work in small groups to brainstorm ideas for their captions and present them to others for comments and suggestions.
- Track Class Participation. Create a bubble for each student in the classroom and put his or her name in the bubble. Arrange them in a circular, semicircular, or horseshoe fashion, and make a bubble for yourself somewhere in the middle of the diagram. During class, draw a line from your bubble to whomever answers a question or otherwise participates in the lesson. This visual representation of class participation can provide you with a quick snapshot of who is participating, how often, and the quantity of student-to-student interactions.