Monday, February 14, 2011

Various Note Taking Method for Middle & High School

There are so many fun and creative teaching techniques I could share, but I think taking and using notes are just as important in a classroom as a fun lab. Notes are taken in a lot of classroom and most students to do not use their notes to study or prepare for class and tests, especially in middle school. However, I believe good note-taking skills are important and there are creative ways to teach and explain notes to engage students in their own learning process.

I remember taking notes in middle and high school and zoning out. As long as the students were quiet and were writing, the teacher would go on and on with their lecture, and I never understood the importance of taking notes until college. So when I became a teacher, I change up my notes to keep the students engaged.

During the process of going over notes, I make sure to have pictures, video clips, and visual aids to help make science fun and exciting. To this day, I still have students singing a bacteria song from August, I found on You Tube when I was explaining prokaryotic cells to them. Although students know "note days" introduce new concepts that may take the whole period, they always look forward to the fun and various ways I make science interesting and engaging. Sometimes I find T-shirts and songs that go along with what I’m teaching and students always try to figure out how my shirt or song connects with the science concept they are learning. (Having copies of the notes makes it easier for absent or new students to have access to the information. The notes can also be given to my RSP students or any student who struggles with writing to keep).

One way is through interactive notes. I give the notes to the students in advance. Students are to copy the notes in Cornell note style (a school wide system). Throughout the notes, I will ask them simple questions that ask them to reflect back on the notes they are taking. I feel it is important for students to be thinking about the material they are learning, but the questions should not be too difficult since we haven’t reviewed the concepts as a class yet. I feel front loading the students with the notes makes it a lot easier for me to break down and explain the science concepts to the students the following day.

When we go over the notes, I break the notes into short segments, and use power teaching to have students repeat the vital information back to their partner. During power teaching, students are to share the information and use coordinated gestures I have them taught them with their lab partner, and their lab partner, is to repeat back the information in their own words. I call on students randomly to make sure the vital information was learned and shared. If the student is not able to explain the concept back to me or has a weak answer, I will review the material in a different way and then ask for students to explain the concept to their partner again.

Another way I will format my notes is to place the note information into question and answer format. One partner reads the question, the other partner reads the answers in 30 seconds (or whatever time frame I feel is needed for the notes). The next time we read the notes, I have the students switch roles or we start reading at a different section of the notes. I use this technique as a way to start or end class to help review the important concepts we are learning in science.

A third technique I use reviewing notes is using the summary box in Cornell notes, in various ways. I believe it is always useful for students to learn to summarize their notes and what they have learned, but sometimes I feel it is necessary to take their learning a step further to see how well they have mastered the science concepts. For example, in learning about cell organelles, I may ask students to explain what would happen in the cell if we were missing one of the organelles? Sometimes I will ask students to create a Venn Diagram to compare 2 concepts or make predictions based on their current knowledge.

Another technique in using notes is using their lab partners to check their work. Students will read their summaries, or answers to questions, to their partners to make sure their summaries make sense. If their lab partner doesn’t understand their summary, the students are encouraged to discuss the summary, clarify the concepts, and to make sure the sentences are written clearly. Then I call on students randomly, sometimes using playing cards with their names on it, to make sure that I am calling various students of different skills. This way I can determine if the students truly understood the concept I taught in class.

1 comment:

Anastasia said...

If I had more teachers who did that when I was in middle/high school, I would have done so much better in class. Mr. Reda was the only teacher who made math fun and made fun of Geometry/Algebra II (particularly Geometry because I generally don't understand math that isn't Algebra) to make things easier to remember things.