Reading and Note-Taking

Why Reading and Note-Taking? Why for Homework??

Primarily, I know students need to be given this skill. I will not assume that students know how to study for deeper understanding nor challenge them to demonstrate meaningful comprehension of complex reading material without teaching them how to do so. 

Through modelling, direct instruction, peer support, practice and accountability, students will strive to build the foundations of this necessary skill in 8th grade science. In this way, students not only learn the content they need to master, they also learn to read effectively and ultimately come to value reading and learning across all subject areas. 

Through reading, students learn essential content knowledge and master critical concepts in all their classes. The Common Core State Standards for reading is that “all students must be able to comprehend texts of steadily increasing complexity as they progress through school. By the time they complete the core, students must be able to read and comprehend independently and proficiently the kinds of complex texts found in college and careers.” The Common Core State Standards require students to read considerably more nonfiction than fiction. The objective is to 1) engage students in increasingly complex texts as they move through school and 2) help them conquer literacy skills specific to disciplines such as history and science. 

I will model for students how it is done. We will start together, and then they will continue at home. Why at home? Class time is a time to explore learning together, to ask questions and engage in deep learning. Note-taking in class would take-away from this precious time. If I taught your child in 7th grade, you may know that I am not a ‘believer’ in homework. If we are focused and work with intention, there is enough time in the school year to learn what we need to learn in the time we have. In 8th grade science, the exceptions to this are note-taking, test preparation (which only happens a few times a term), and conducting research on a topic in order to answer a specific question or support claims with relevant evidence in class. 

The student’s notes are for their benefit, not mine. I will check that they are completed with care, provide feedback for editing and give credit for their efforts, but I will not ‘grade’ them. I know it is more effective to allow students to use their notes on assessments. This provides the most individual and accurate response to the student’s level of mastery of this skill. Students are permitted to re-do notes and re-take assessments in almost all cases. 

Ok, so what are ‘good notes’? 

  • handwriting is legible, or technology is used
  • Using graphic organizers, point-form lists, signalling and highlighting to indicate relationship between content
  • Main ideas are clearly present
  • Key words and key points are included. Unimportant information is not. 
  • Simple, individualized language is used, not verbatim text. 
  • Attention is paid to lay-out

I will teach outline format, but will also provide guidance on other methods, such as….

    • Cornell Method
    • Two-Column Method
    • REAP Strategy
    • Outline Format
    • FORM Strategy
    • Topic and Concept Cards