Question Detail

Notes vs. Note Taking

Dec 30, 2013 6:14pm

I am a Special Ed teacher who team teaches 4th grade. My co-teacher believes in student's taking notes during instruction. Many of my students have difficulty with written expression and/or writing in general. While they attempt to take notes, the writing is illegible and not useful for them. How can the information be presented for those students that is beneficial? Can I supply them with notes or a study guide during instruction?

  • 4
  • Differentiation / Planning / Special Education


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    • Dec 31, 2013 11:36am

      Something I find to be effective, especially in the beginning months of the year, is to directly teach several ways of taking notes. Then when I teach a unit and write the notes (or display the notes) as I talk, students are able to write along with me, as well as respond or ask questions. Familiarity with the style of notes helps them to anticipate how they will proceed (bullet, Princeton, outlining, etc.) I move on to the next section when about 1/3 - 1/2 of the class is ready.
      Students who need to catch up or have difficulty writing are provided with a hard copy. In this way, they can underline or highlight important points, jot down questions or anything else which will help them later.
      Regardless of the style of note taking, I have found that the real learning happens when students summarize each section of notes; the share-out afterwards deepens understanding and gives another chance to add to their notes.
      I hope this helps.

      • Dec 31, 2013 6:05pm

        One thing I think is helpful for all students is to have them listen during direct instruction making sure they know their purpose for listening. Then stop teaching every 10 minutes and have students record what they remember. After they have worked individually, have students consult with each other to see if others can help them or clarify confusing things. The teacher can circulate to find out what students are discussing or unclear about. The teacher then goes back to direct instruction.

        I find that if students are busy taking notes while the teacher is talking, they are only focused on writing things down (often trying to write everything said or seen) rather than focusing on what their purpose is.

        This helps insure that students are actively listening. Students may need to listen and write simultaneously in high school and college, but in my opinion, 4th graders are too young for this.

        • Jan 11, 2014 9:29am

          It is essential for all students to take notes as it aids in memory, eye hand coordination, and a necessary skill of note taking that they will need throughout their school years. My suggestion is that you modify the note taking for the special education students by providing them pre-printed notes that the rest of the students will be writing, but leave blanks for the most important words. This way they are doing what the other students are doing, practicing the skill of handwriting and note taking as well as learning the information.

          • Jan 15, 2014 10:59am

            We use guided notes; notes with blanks provided for all students to fill in.

            • Dec 31, 2013 11:37am

              Oops, I use a document camera as I write the notes/lecture.

              • Jan 6, 2014 2:47pm

                I work in special education resources classes at the high school level. We have experimented with various note taking options for our students in 9 and 10 grade LA classes. Most recently my teacher and I decided to make a study guide/note taking guide with strategic blanks for the students to complete as a class after a brief review.
                We noticed that when the students are pre occupied with note taking, they often were not listening and missing important details or not taking notes at all.
                *So we display the text by projector and read while students are simply listening for details. *We highlight vocabulary or key information in the text that will be addressed in the questions, and require students to do the same on their copies. *Then we move the screen up to expose the questions one at a time and read them out loud. The kids have to take a brief time to silently review their notes and then raise hands to answer. This allows everyone a chance to respond. (Depending on the length of the items we will use 3 to 5 per section.)
                *Next we ask the students to recall the answers to complete the blanks and we complete them together. The students also need to show where there answer was found in the text by underlining it.
                *Once we have completed a section of the guide, we thought it would be helpful to leave white space in the study guide for the students to do their own visual summary of what was just covered or a significant point that was covered in the section.

                By chunking the materials and using multiple ways for the students to obtain the information there is the possibility of greater clarity and retention. It is time consuming, but at the same time it is a confidence booster for our population. It’s inclusive and provides opportunities for diverse learners to be successful. Additionally, it provides excellent alternative and or informal assessments for the teacher.

                1. The students will hear the information being relayed.
                2. The students will have an opportunity to verbalize their understanding as the questions are asked and answered out loud.
                3. The students will see the answers written in a different color text on the screen making them easier to read.
                4. The students will write the answers in the blanks without being rushed or left to their own interpretation of important details. (Those who cannot keep up will be given a hard copy at end of class.) 5. Students will gain experience in searching for answers in the text.
                6. The students will have an opportunity to represent thier understanding of the information in their drawings.
                7. The students will have an opportunity to build and or demonstrate critical thinking skills through their drawings and by discussing their interpretation with the teachers in individual conferencing as we walk through the classroom. The drawings could also be used to share with classmates in a gallery walk for review.
                The cumulative study/note guides can then be used for formal assessments in the future as a test review guide, for open book quizzes and more. Despite the formats presented, some students will still be unable to successfully complete a formal assessment on their own. However, it is an opportunity for all of them to have access to materials and hopefully, increased reading and comprehension moving forward.