For today’s Teach It Tuesday I wanted to write about the not so exciting task of note taking. Note taking is a valuable skill to teach but it definitely isn’t the most thrilling part of the curriculum. So whether it is in Science, Social Studies or any other subject here are a few ways to make note-taking more interesting for your students.

1. Four Corner Notes:

For this type of note taking I have students divide their paper into four quadrants and then I give the four topic headings for each quadrant. Then as they read the text they need to make notes for each of those four headings. (I usually set a minimum number they need in each one to make sure they are looking at all the sections.) I have used this method with the titles being obvious from the text (titles of sub-sections, etc.) and also by having the titles be a little more subtle or interwoven (key ideas from throughout the text) so that it is more like a hunt for the information they need.

2. Give Me Five:

For shorter readings this is one of my favourite methods. Have the students trace their hand onto a piece of paper and then they need to find the 5 most important points from that section and write one fact on each of their five fingers.

3. Venn Diagram:

By having students compare and contrast while they are taking notes you are automatically encouraging a deeper connection with the material being read. Choose two topics that you know will have a variety of similarities and differences so students can easily fill out the Venn Diagram without too much teaching time.

4. Read/Reflect Notes:

Have students divide their pages in half (“hot dog” style) and use the first half for taking important notes. On the other half they need to make notes that relate to their lives – like a connection to their life or a connection to prior knowledge. I usually give a specific goal for the notes that they take so it’s not too much to do both the notes and the connections.

5. Graphic Notes:

I have to admit I’ve never tried this in class but I’m absolutely dying to try it with the right lesson! (If you try it please let me know how it goes.) I’ve seen these with meeting notes and research projects but I would absolutely love to see what kids can do with these notes! Here is an example of graphic notes (basically they are artistically illustrated notes) and here is a link to the website with a few tips.


How do you make note taking more interesting?

Has anyone tried Graphic Notes with students before?