Teacher Tap

activitiesIdeas for Note Taking

Like cats, young people are curious. Design motivating activities that engage learners in meaningful tasks.

Let's explore two online tools for note taking. Use the PDF files to see how the tools might be used in teaching and learning.

Consider the following two examples for projects.

Elementary Example


Scholastic Junior Reporter Assignment
The article archives at Scholastic is getting old. They want to update some of their articles. Your job is to take notes and create a new article for our Junior Reporter wiki. Follow these steps:

  1. Set up your NoteStar account following the NoteStar handout.
  2. Read an article from the Scholastic Article Archive.
  3. Take notes about this article.
  4. Read additional articles from Scholastic. Or, find your own articles and books.
  5. Take notes using NoteCard on at least two online articles.
  6. Take notes using NoteCard on at least one book.
  7. Write your teacher a NoteStar message when your NoteCards are done.
  8. Write your own article for Scholastic about your topic.

Middle/High School Example

poetry reading

Powerful Poems
Some poems leave a lasting impression on the reader.

  • Which poems do you find particularly powerful?
  • What poetry approaches and techniques are used? Why?
  • What do you find interesting about the poems?
  • How do they connect with your thoughts or life?

Your Mission: Share Powerful Poems with your Peers

Follow these steps:

  1. Explore poems at http://poets.org
  2. Bookmark at least three poems using the Diigo tools. Be sure to share with the group.
  3. Annotate these poems using the Highlight and Comment tool. Be sure to share with the group.
  4. Use the Send tab to Get Annoted Link and use it in your assignment.
  5. After taking notes on the poems, use the Send tab to Extract Annotations and write about your favorite poem.
  6.  Go to the class Group and post your poem entry as a Reply in the Powerful Poems class forum.


Scaffold Inquiry

Think about unique tools that will attract young people to reference materials such as visual tools.

Use Visual Thesaurus, VisuWords, and Lightweight Visual Thesaurus to search for a word such as creative, imaginative, or innovative. Think about how you might use this tools in your classroom.

Provide young people with lots of practice using pre-selected websites. This allows students to focus on the key ideas. Then, ask students to develop questions and use note taking to address questions.

When selecting websites for use with online notetakers:

Go to the Focus on Inquiry page. Use these materials to develop your own activity related to wolves.

Explore Resources

Explore the following resources, select one, and design your own notetaking activity.

Some students have trouble reading pages, consider using Readability with some of the following resources. Add the button to your Favorites. Find a page to read and select the Readbility option from Favorites.


See websites that provide interactive experiences in note-taking:

Elementary Suggestions

Middle/High School Suggestions

For other great sources of nonfiction reading, go to my online workshop Straight from the Horse's Mouth: Nonfiction, Technology and Information Fluent Thinkers.


Consider some practical activities for notetaking in the digital age.


Notemaking from English Companion

Big 6 Resources

Thinkfinity - do a keyword search for note taking

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