Introduction to Note-taking
Take a moment to reflect on when you learned to take notes. Did you receive formal note-taking instruction in school? Did a family member or friend help you? Or, did you figure it out by yourself?While many students learn techniques to understand texts and write texts, few students are taught note-taking strategies and skills. Many students may find themselves taking pages of notes and are then unable to discern important information from unimportant information, while others simply take no notes at all.
Why Take Notes?
Research has shown note-taking and reviewing of notes has a positive impact on student learning. Note-taking stimulates critical thinking skills, helps students to review and recall what was taught in class, and provides students with tools that can be used to complete homework, study for tests, and complete research projects.AVID teaches a variety of systematic approaches to note-taking, which provide students various formats to note-taking to chose from. The goal of teaching note-taking is not to take for granted that students know how to and understand the process of note-taking, but rather to provide instruction, guided practice, and opportunities to practice note-taking skills to move towards independent note-taking. Overtime, students will learn not only how to take meaningful notes, but learn how to use those notes as a study tool to aid in their academic success.
For research on note-taking please visit: www.crlt.umich.edu/publinks/CRLT_no16.pdfhttp://wac.colostate.edu/journal/vol16/index.cfm (Boch article)
AVID Note-taking Strategies
AVID teaches elementary students two note-taking formats: two-column and three column notes, both of which can also be used for middle school students. Each format can be adapted to any content area and requires students not only to actively read, but to also process their learning. In order for students to become independent in note-taking notes, the process must be modeled and practiced. The AVID note-taking methods are especially useful strategies for both detailed and technical information. Students learn to separate main ideas from details, which enhances their understanding and memory of content.
The STAR Strategy
To help teachers scaffold note-taking into their classroom and to help students learn how to take notes, AVID has created the STAR Strategy. The STAR strategy provides teachers and students a framework for taking notes, which involves both in and out of class components to help students learn to use their notes as a study aid. STAR stands for:S- Set up paper T- Take notesA- Add to notesR- Review notes
STAR- Set-up Paper
The first step in the note-taking process is to teach students how to set-up their paper for note-taking. Teachers should model for students how they would like them to set-up their page. The teacher may have students write their name, topic of the notes, date, and/or subject in the upper right or left hand corner of the page. They may also have a topic or title for the notes in the center of the page. At a minimum, the date and topic of the notes should be on the page if the notes are in a spiral notebook. Loose leaf notes should include name, date, and topic. This helps to build the routine of putting ones name on papers and alleviates mix-ups.DateTopic of notes
STAR- Take Notes
The second step in the STAR strategy is to take notes. In order for students to begin to learn what information to write down, note-taking must be modeled. Students should be encouraged to use drawings and graphs in their notes to help them understand and remember information.
STAR- Add to Notes
The third step in the STAR note-taking process is add to notes. Teachers can ask students to use critical reading strategies such as rereading, marking the notes, pause and connect, or summarizing as ways to add to their notes. When students review and reflect on their notes, they may highlight, circle or underline important information, write a summary, or make connections. These strategies help students to further understand the material and help to clarify information. Teachers should model each of the various strategies to students.
STAR- Review Notes
The last step in the STAR process is review notes. Research* has shown that retention of information decreases over time, and that students can combat this learning loss using repetition and repeat strategies. When students study their notes using repetition and repeat strategies, they are able to retain information at the same, or higher rate, than after their first exposure to the material.When students review their notes once (repetition #1) they retain 70% of the information, with two repetitions it increases to 80% and with three repetitions retention increases to 90%. Thus, the more repetitions the greater the retention. For highest retention of information, the 10-24-7 rule should be applied. Students should: review their notes within 10-20 minutes of their first interaction of the material have their second repetition of information within 24 hours of their first interaction have their third repetition of information within 7 days of their first interaction
* Memory: A Contribution to Experimental Psychology by Hermann Ebbinghaus
STAR- Review Notes
Students can review their notes in school and at home. Students may be asked to write a brief reflection or summary of their notes as a review, to place a ? by concepts they do not understand or add additional information to their notes as review. Teachers may also choose to use collaborative learning strategies, such as study buddies or think-pair-share, to have students review notes. Students can quiz one another on their notes, discuss main ideas, events, how to solve an equation, and more.
Two column notes provide the easiest format of notes to introduce students to. For two column notes the page is divided in half. The left hand column becomes main ideas, vocabulary, key words, steps to a problem, etc. The right hand column is reserved for notes pertaining to the left hand column.Example:
Left ColumnRight ColumnImportant Terms
Steps to the problemDefinition of terms Examples of how to solve the problem
Three column notes build off of two-column notes and provide a third column that can be used for drawings, graphs, answers, questions, native language cues, etc. Below are topics typically found in each column:
Left ColumnMiddle ColumnRight ColumnKey concepts/Main ideasNotesVisual representations (drawings, graphs, etc.)Steps to a problemExplanation of step, workQuestions or AnswersDates/conceptsSignificance of information, factsReflections or connectionsVocabulary Definition in the students languageDetails and/or examples
Strategies for Reviewing Notes
Critical Reading StrategiesHaving students go back and add-to, review and study from their notes is a very important component to note-taking and also serves as a time when critical reading strategies can be embedded into note-taking. For all formats of note-taking teachers can choose one or more of the following strategies for homework or independent work time. Teachers should model each strategy to students. Re-reading the Text/Notes Students reread their notes and make additions, clarifications, connections, and write down questions they may still have.Marking the Text/Notes Students circle key terms and underline the arguments/claims which support those terms. Students can also highlight key terms, main ideas, etc. Evidence Analysis Students write a summary of their notes. Teachers can provide students with a prompt for their summary, such as The main point of the text is, First, .., then, .., and finally., The author says, The most important thing, etc.