Notes and Summaries in the Classroom

Note TakingStudents need tools to improve their ability to gather information in meaningful ways. In the book Teaching for Deeper Learning: Tools to Engage Students in Meaning Making authors Jay McTighe and Harvey Silver share the following tools of note taking and summarizing that can take place in classroom:

  1. Window Notes – Using a sheet of paper divided into four sections (windows), students provide information regarding facts, questions, connections, and feelings or reactions as they relate to the big picture concepts being studied.
  2. Math Notes – Again, using a sheet of paper divided into four sections, students respond to similar prompts regarding the components of mathematical story problems.  The windows are used to identify facts, clarify the question, create a diagram, and identify steps.
  3. Interactive Note Making – Students turn chapter headings into questions that will guide their note taking.  Students are encouraged to remember the questions as they read and take notes. Once they have read, students provide details that answer the questions they ask
  4. Webbing – Webbing allows students to make visual representations of the connections between concepts.  One technique is similar to interactive note taking in that students provide topics or subtopics based upon a skim of the chapter.  Students create concept bubbles and then connect the bubbles and provide further detail that connects to the concept.
  5. 4-2-1 Summarize – Students individually record the four big ideas from the text they have read or the lesson they have just experienced.  After they complete this task, the students pair up and they share and compare responses. From the responses, they choose the two most important ideas expressed.  After they complete the task, students change up pair partners and identify the one most important concept of the lesson.  
  6. AWESOME Summaries – Students provide information about the big picture concept that is Accurate, Whittled Down, Enough Information, Sequenced, Objective, My Own Words, and Essential Ideas.  

As you plan for next week, think about how you can incorporate these methods into your classroom.  Create opportunities for students to practice their skills, so that they improve. You and your students will be glad they did!

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