Summarizing and Note-taking
How do I decide what to include and exclude?
What's the best way to paraphrase so I'm not copying?
Why is note taking important?
Summarizing involves analyzing information, identifying the essential elements, and communicating these elements in a personal and meaningful way. Note-taking is the process of organizing and writing pieces of information that can be used later. Summarizing and taking notes are important activities throughout the inquiry process. Students modify, substitute, delete, and select pieces of information. Involve students in categorizing and prioritizing information. In their book What Works in Classroom Instruction, Robert Marzano (et. al.) identified summarizing and note-taking as one of nine key instructional strategies.
Rather than simply taking verbatim notes, ask students to transform the essential ideas into a form that makes sense to them. Consider using PowerPoint as a notetaking tool. Although you can create templates for students, think about ways to get students involved with developing a personalized notetaking system. Students can print out the screens and the speakernotes. They can also print the slides 4-6 to a page and create flipbooks for review. I've developed the following examples to get you starting thinking about this approach.
- Grades K-2 Primary Writing Spaces: 1 line (PPT), 2 lines (PPT), 3 lines (PPT), 4 lines (PPT), and 8 lines (PPT)
- Grades 3-12 Notepaper Writing Spaces: Sidepage (PPT), Bottompage (PPT), fullpage (PPT), halfpage (PPT), all 4 in one (PPT) file
- Novel Notes (PPT) - Whether reading a novel online or on paper, develop a strategy for taking notes. Using PowerPoint, create a slide for each chapter. Write about character insights, changes in setting, and key plot events. Write questions about those things that are unclear. Predict what will happen next. Write about connections within and outside the novel.
- Desktop Sidekicks from High Tech Learning - explore more examples of using PowerPoint for notetaking
There are many online resources to help young people take and organize their notes.
- Digital Index Card from Landmark
- Google Notes - create notes
- Online Outline Generator from 2Learn
- NoteStar from 4teachers - tools for teachers and students
- NoteTaker from ReadWriteThink
- Cornell Notes (PDF)
- Effective Note Taking from Virtual Learning Commons
- How to Take Notes from OPENC
- Paraphrase: Write it in Your Own Words from OWL
- Maintaining a Research Notebook During the Research Process (Grades 2-12) from 21st Century Literacies
- Highlighting (Grades 2-12) from 21st Century Literacies
- Note Taking (Grades 3-12) from 21st Century Literacies
- Note taking on Sources Other Than Text (Grades 4-12) from 21st Century Literacies
- Research Building Blocks: Notes, Quotes, and Fact Fragments (3-5) from ReadWriteThink
Examine the suggested website resources. Then, design an assignment that focuses on good notetaking practices. Create a starter resource to provide scaffolding for students notes using PowerPoint. For example, adapt ideas from the Cornell Notes (PDF) approach to create your own PowerPoint starter.
Compare the notetaking tools. How are they alike and different? How would they help your students organize information?