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aspiecat
05-10-2014, 09:58 AM
It seems to me that once a kid has reached high school level, they are automatically expected to (a) take notes in class, and (b) know HOW to take notes. This is a puzzle to me, as I was NEVER taught how to take notes in high school and wondered how on Earth other kids were seemingly able to. I came to the conclusion by university that it's a skill one simply has to pick up as best they can, and it comes more naturally to some people than others. Not only that, I found that a lot of other people at university with me had struggled with note-taking until they were older, ie at a maturity level where they finally find their own way to master this skill.

Throughout university and since then, I have taken notes like a bloody pro. I do it all the time when taking interest courses nowadays. I do it mentally when watching documentaries, and can fool people into thinking I know more than I do about something because I latch onto key facts in something and can discuss it as if I had known it all along. It's a great feeling, but bitter-sweet as I see DS struggle to retain knowledge about something he has heard, watched or read, and gets so many comprehension questions wrong, and will confuse facts as he's mixed up what he HAS written, if at all.

Why do schools and even homeschooling programs NOT teach note-taking? It's really not something that comes naturally to a lot of people, yet for some reason it's assumed that kids "just will", even without being told they need to. I have luckily found a great science program for DS that has assisted note-taking print-outs for each lesson, and we'll be running with that for his Sophomore and Junior years. But no other program I have found in any subject provides this.

What are others' thoughts on this skill?

Aspie

panama10
05-10-2014, 10:13 AM
Honestly hadn't thought about this until this past year when we started homeschooling.
You are absolutely correct. I work outside my home and my coworkers are often baffled that I keep detail notes of meetings and can go back to look and see what was discussed. I always assumed everyone knew how and did it.

I've been trying to get the kids to start taking notes. If we watch a documentary they are to take notes. Nothing formal. Just something to get us going. My two younger ones are 8 so I have time with them. My oldest is starting 7th so I'm going to focus more on her this year. Maybe read the lessons and have her take notes.

Thanks for bringing this up. Something to think about.

MNDad
05-10-2014, 10:22 AM
It seems to me that once a kid has reached high school level, they are automatically expected to (a) take notes in class, and (b) know HOW to take notes. ... What are others' thoughts on this skill?


Agree. I have two sons who are in public high school. Neither takes great notes although there is a course on academic skills that I believe touched on these sorts of synthetic skills. In my own experience in public school, I never learned proper note taking. Late in college I learned about the Cornell note-taking system which I used thereafter through college and med school. I still use it.

I also wonder if technology is somehow interfering with note-taking abilities... I ran across an article recently that showed handwritten notes lead to better retention of information when compared to typed notes.

I think that note-taking is simply one of those activities that anyone can do, at least superficially; and since the skill is not widespread, people just assume that there's not any skills to be learned. Although DD is still young, we've definitely thought about how we want to teach these sorts of academic skills in a way that builds these sorts of abilities.

hockeymom
05-10-2014, 10:23 AM
History odyssey 2 teaches outlining, a skill very much like note taking. Copywork and taking dictation would also be good introductions. I've been modeling note taking when we watch online lectures, not yet with the expectation that he should do it too, but just to start the conversation.

aspiecat
05-10-2014, 10:53 AM
Interesting comments. I basically forgot that kids aren't taught this skill, so I sorta kinda forgot that DS wouldn't necessarily be taking notes in class when in regular school, and believed that most homeschooling programs would simply take the need to teach note-taking into account.

MNDad, I do have to disagree with the idea that anyone can take notes. I have seen too much bewilderment in my son's face and the faces of my high school and university students over the years to believe it to be so. Some people do it automatically, some take to it on seeing it being done, some take to it on being actively taught. It also might take a looooong time for some kids to get used to the skill. My own son cannot, for instance, take notes while listening or watching something very well at all. His Asperger's manifests in such a way that he cannot multitask easily, so must watch/listen OR write. Not two things at once. And he is 15, so he will be starting late by the time he finally gets it. IF he gets it.

dbmamaz
05-10-2014, 11:35 AM
I've been trying to get Orion to take notes, but he says its hard to focus on the book or lecture and also take notes. I'm getting him a laptop to take to community college, but I was also talking to him about him about highlighting books and recording lectures so you can take notes later. I do think its easier for some people than for others. I did give him a lot of opportunities the last 2 years of high school

farrarwilliams
05-10-2014, 11:41 AM
Yes, technology is interfering with everyone's ability to take notes:
To Remember a Lecture Better, Take Notes by Hand - Robinson Meyer - The Atlantic (http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/05/to-remember-a-lecture-better-take-notes-by-hand/361478/)

There are programs that teach note taking and outlining, which is a form of note taking. There are guidelines in TWTM and Writing With Skill teaches outlining explicitly, I understand.

freerangedad
05-10-2014, 12:30 PM
Yes, it should be taught. I like that HO2 teaches outlining. I have been trying to teach it, but it is a difficult thing to teach given that it is normally done in a class room setting (vs 1 on 1). The question to me is, "How do we HSers teach note taking skills outside of a typical classroom experience?". I think I stumbled on to the answer when DD started taking an online HTML/CSS class. On line classes are a great way to practice the skill.

I would like to add that teaching note taking skills is only the beginning. It is surprising how many students study their notes simply by reading them over and over without any technique for digesting the information.

murphs_mom
05-10-2014, 01:43 PM
We started teaching DD how to take notes on written material about 2.5yr ago when she started doing book reviews. We also went over the fine art of summarizing. When Cosmos started running, we began introducing her to note taking from a non-book source. That's much tougher for her because she's just not an auditory learner/person. She's getting better, but the first couple of shows were more about us asking her leading questions so that she could pick out what info was 'note-worthy'. She is slowly getting the hang of it. Given that she's 8, I'm hoping that the next decade of practice will have her ready to breeze through note taking once she's in college.

My only experience w/note taking in high school was a couple of classes that had teachers who wrote things on the board that we were supposed to copy into a notebook. Not a single teacher expected us to take notes from lecture. I was screwed when I went off to the 1st year of college. Took me a while to get the hang of it. I don't want her having that 'fish out of water' feeling.

As a side note, my sister (has masters in nursing and is finishing phd in edu) stopped taking written notes about 4yr ago. She bought a digital voice recorder and started recording all her lectures. She listens to them in the car on the way to everywhere. The only written notes she does now are the ones she makes when reading her text or supplemental books. So even though she's not taking written notes in class, she still has to have that skill that allows her to pick out the critical information. I hope to get DD to a point where it's just a piece o' cake.

ejsmom
05-10-2014, 02:11 PM
Aspie, if your kid is a visual kid who struggles with multi-tasking, as many on the spectrum are, I highly recommend highlighters. And multi-colored sticky note type page markers. You can let him highlight books he owns, or worksheets or just print or copy anything he can't highlight. I was fortunate in that I was always taking classes when ds was younger (3-7ish) and he saw me studying daily. Even for my own enjoyment or benefit, I will copy something down, or highlight it. Ds sees me with magazine articles torn out and key passages highlighted or circled or underlined, literature where I have marked up a book to remember a particular quote or phrase that means something to me, and I have books on homeschooling ideas that I mark up.

DS has his own highlighters and I tell him to mark up his books, it's fine. I'll see him use one particular color highlighter to mark up stuff he printed from internet, or photocopies from books, magazine, etc. a for a particular vein of thought he's on (say what type of habitat coyotes like, for example) and then a different color for another train of thought (maybe changes in coyote populations over the years). Sometimes I have to help him organize the info later, but the colors really help him.

My kid has file folders of info on all his many interests, though. Frogs, salamanders, different birds, fish, worms, etc. He is that weird kid who writes reports about whatever animal (or plant) he is currently interested in, for fun. I haven't really turned it into a school requirement yet because he willingly does it and I figure I'll just keep teaching him skills and he'll add those into his process over time. I hope.

MNDad
05-10-2014, 03:02 PM
MNDad, I do have to disagree with the idea that anyone can take notes

What I was was trying to convey was that there is a range of skills in note taking but students on the lower end of competence at note taking may not recognize that there is actually a skill to be acquired to do it more effectively; it's like the ubiquity of an activity leads someone to believe that it's a no-barrier, no-learning curve skill. I'm pretty sure if I asked my DS if he knows how to take notes, he'd answer "Sure" even though he could still takes note much better by focusing more attention on it.

MNDad
05-10-2014, 03:06 PM
It is surprising how many students study their notes simply by reading them over and over without any technique for digesting the information.

Indeed. That's the advantage of the Cornell, and related, systems. It's a visual format linked to a related learning tasks.

ikslo
05-10-2014, 03:25 PM
I went to PS in MA, and I clearly remember having to have 3 ring binders for subjects in Jr. High and take notes in classes. I took really detailed notes, and my friends made fun of me. Half-way through the year, the teachers started to allow us to use notes during tests. All the sudden everyone wanted to copy my notes. :) High school was also a lot of note taking. I remember being utterly surprised my first year of college in MD by all the students who were never taught to take notes.
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I don't know if there is a correlation or its just coincidence, but my colleagues always pick me to be the note taker during meetings.

farrarwilliams
05-10-2014, 05:06 PM
I think nearly anyone can learn to take notes, just like nearly anyone can learn to read or do basic math. It's not rocket science, nor is it all that mysterious. It mostly just takes practice, IMO.

What's fascinating to me is that in every conversation I've had about taking notes since I read that Atlantic piece about the study that said you're basically crap at notes on your laptop, someone always disagrees. Oh no, I do fine, you just have to learn. But that was the whole point of the study. You think you're doing fine, but statistically speaking, you simply aren't.

aspiecat
05-10-2014, 05:34 PM
Agree. I have two sons who are in public high school. Neither takes great notes although there is a course on academic skills that I believe touched on these sorts of synthetic skills. In my own experience in public school, I never learned proper note taking. Late in college I learned about the Cornell note-taking system which I used thereafter through college and med school. I still use it.

I also wonder if technology is somehow interfering with note-taking abilities... I ran across an article recently that showed handwritten notes lead to better retention of information when compared to typed notes.

I think that note-taking is simply one of those activities that anyone can do, at least superficially; and since the skill is not widespread, people just assume that there's not any skills to be learned. Although DD is still young, we've definitely thought about how we want to teach these sorts of academic skills in a way that builds these sorts of abilities.

It's an extremely good point you raise about regarding writing notes rather than typing them. I have informed DS many times that writing something out reinforces it more than just reading, hearing or watching it.

Only real issue with hand-written notes for DS is that he has hypermobility and he cannot write effectively, nor at any great speed, without his joints - wrists and all knuckles - aching within a few minutes. Typing is a method better for any writing for him, which means his longhand is incredibly deficient.

dbmamaz
05-10-2014, 07:36 PM
Yeah, my boys are awful and writing by hand. Using a computer was even in Orion's IEP when he was at school. Of course, my hands hurt when I write, too, but I learned because I had to - and I cared. The boys dont care enough to overcome the pain.

aspiecat
05-10-2014, 07:50 PM
I hear you...

roy.speed
05-11-2014, 12:50 PM
Thanks, MNDad, for mentioning the Cornell note-taking system, which I just googled and found here (http://lsc.cornell.edu/LSC_Resources/cornellsystem.pdf), for anyone interested in taking a look. Really helpful.

I suspect that the most underestimated aspect of the value of note-taking is something you touch on, MNDad, with your reference to handwriting. That is, I suspect that the physical act of handwriting (much more so than, say, typing) helps drive knowledge into long-term memory.

Aspiecat is raising issues important for all homeschoolers, and especially for those of us trying to get our kids ready for college (and for life). Such study skills are vital and easily overlooked.

Here in CT, my wife and another mom are delivering a study-skills course they've cobbled together to a group of local teens.

Also, in an unrelated class I myself am trying to teach highschoolers to annotate their texts, i.e., take useful notes in their text.

roy.speed
05-11-2014, 12:55 PM
Thank you so much, farrarwilliams, for posting the Atlantic piece. Really helpful.

roy.speed
05-11-2014, 01:17 PM
Aspiecat:

I'd like to second two points that you make:

Note-taking doesn't come naturally to all students. (To some, perhaps.)
At the heart of note-taking is multi-tasking.

For students, in other words, note-taking requires simultaneously 1) listening to what's currently being said, 2) recording what was said just moments ago, and 3) selection, i.e., distinguishing the unimportant (and not worth recording) from the important (worth recording).

This multi-tasking challenge definitely hits kids with a touch of Asberger's, but the difficulties are by no means peculiar to them. Teenage brains, I suspect, are undergoing rapid change, and some abilities race ahead of others. Some kids struggle to translate information in audio form into concepts and knowledge, so they miss the current point while struggling to process the previous one.

I've recently had a really interesting experience: I'm delivering Shakespeare classes online, and among my students was one with cerebral palsy. I record each class and post the videos online, and his mom discovered that while her son might get lost in the live classes, his experience with the recorded classes was completely different: he could pause, go back, re-listen at will.

What she and I learned was that, as long as my content was solid well designed, logically sequenced, new terms well defined, each concept delivered clearly and without mysterious allusions or pretentious language her son could not only process the material; he delighted in, was thrilled by the material.

I guess the lesson for us homeschoolers is that we must take seriously the multi-tasking challenges and find the medium/approach best suited for where our student's brain is right now, today.

roy.speed
05-11-2014, 02:12 PM
ejsmom:

I especially like that you model the skill yourself. Bravo.

CrazyCatWoman
05-12-2014, 03:00 PM
I second use of History Odyssey level 2. It is great for teaching outlining and summarizing. My older kids also use Khan Academy, and I have them copy examples of what is put on the blackboard during the explanations. They also love that even if they can't get answers immediately if they have questions, they can go back and review the video as many times as needed.

aspiecat
05-12-2014, 09:54 PM
History Odyssey looks interesting, however for their high school level coursework, they suggest buying Bravewriter Help for High School. On top of that, there are all the books to buy for each level as well, making the whole thing rather costly, I would think! Plus at high school level in HO, they suggest doing an outlining course for note-taking.

So perhaps I ought to look elsewhere for note-taking. But HO looks so good!

GThomas
05-17-2014, 09:03 AM
There are several programs out there that teach note taking to kids. I have bought one but we haven't cracked it open yet. I can't recommend any yet.

They are teaching it in middle school. I can't remember where I saw it but in the eclectic mix of stuff we do, I do remember one writing program we did for a short while that was teaching several different methods (mind maps, etc.) I felt like they were quite sophisticated methods.

I did learn note taking in high school back in the early 80s. I learned a form of short hand as well as how to listen and pick up key points, how to go back and highlight your notes, then put them into flash cards. Maybe they don't do this in schools anymore?

I just did a search on Amazon and came up with several. Also search online--lots of articles and how to's there.

Good luck!

aspiecat
05-17-2014, 10:59 AM
Yeah...there seems to be no attempt nowadays to teach kids how to (a) take notes, or (b) study. It's assumed they have that skill within them, however the truth is far from that - kids need to be shown, as very few even realise they ought to, let alone know they should and just do it. In all honesty, when I was in high school in the mid-80s, the other girls at my school (single-sex school) all seemed to just be able to do it once they realised it was a good thing to do. I would sit there, thinking, "How on Earth do they know WHAT to note down?"

For those who find it easy to take notes, it is incredulous to them that others cannot. And after years of training myself how to do this task, I find it VERY easy to decipher what I need to do and what I do not, but I am reticent in teaching DS what I learned, as it was something that came to me after years of struggling and finally "getting it" on my own. I didn't find a program and I wasn't taught by anyone - I simply found a way through trial and error and I don't want him to have to wait as long as I did.

farrarwilliams
05-17-2014, 12:41 PM
Yeah, I know in an abstract way that taking notes is really hard for many people. But I find it difficult to fully get beyond the pre-note taking skills (as in, if you don't have good writing fluency, or good spelling or so forth) missing. Like, if you can do all the things you need to do to take notes, why can't you take good notes? Yet some people can't.

dbmamaz
05-17-2014, 01:23 PM
well, there's also the ability to filter out the important from the not-important, to be able to split your focus between listening and writing, and even to just stay focused on the task at hand

murphs_mom
05-18-2014, 10:23 PM
I equate good note-taking skills to good baking skills. Just because a person can crack an egg, measure out flour, set the temp on the oven (write, spell, form sentences), it doesn't necessarily mean that they're going to bake a great cake (take good notes).

They're both an art form. :) Some are naturals, some have to be taught, and some will struggle.

aspiecat
05-19-2014, 07:57 AM
murphs_mom, that's a great analogy. My DH and his parents (we live with them currently) ALL prefer me to cook the meals here because although my MIL and I will often use the exact same recipe, for some reason my food turns out well and hers does not! I don't think I do anything in particular that ought to make a difference, and I like cooking about as much as she does (read: not much). However even my FIL, who previously was NOT wanting to eat anything I cooked as he was afraid my tendency to cook low-fat, low meat-content meals would equate to horrible dinners, well, now he asks me what is for dinner and he rubs his hands in delight when I announce what I will be cooking LOL.

So absolutely, note-taking is similar to cooking insofar as some people are just able to perform certain skills with great ease and in a way that seems flawless.

crunchynerd
05-22-2014, 08:00 AM
This sounds just like how I was in school. I saw other kids, in high school at least, taking neat, tidy, notes (a few, not most of them!) and I didn't get it. I tried jotting down really important stuff from a lecture, but how much of it was "really important" really depended on the lecturer. I had one Organic Chemistry teacher who was SUPER efficient, organized, had the neatest, nicest cursive, even on the board, I ever saw (he went to Catholic School I think) and his lectures and notes, were so dense, streamlined, and not a single word wasted, that ALL of it was important. One would have to copy him verbatim to avoid missing anything. As a courtesy, he often gave us copies of his handwritten, neat cursive notes, so we could pay better attention while he was talking, and participate, instead of sitting there madly scribbling away.

But he was the extreme exception.
In most other classes, IF the teacher got up and lectured at the board, very little of it was actually note-worthy; most of it was already said better, in the book. So I largely got by without note-taking.

I do recall note-taking skill being at least presented to us, and discussed, in a lower grade (6th? 7th maybe?) and at the time, I just didn't get it. In one ear and out the other.

I think the big problem with younger kids taking notes is, that to be a good note-taker, you have to have the cognitive sophistication to tease out the outline form of something someone else is saying, no matter how disorganized or rambling, and congeal it into something sensibly organized, with meaningful details only, on paper, on the fly. That is EXTREMELY advanced thinking for a kid. Most of the "good note-takers" I saw evidence of in high school, had really fast, neat handwriting (had somehow developed cursive fluency...private school for elementary, perhaps? A lot of them were rich, after all), and could essentially keep up enough, with the speaker, to just record verbatim everything said.

But if that's all it is, why not just bring a recorder to class and record the lecture?

The most I did in high school was occasionally listen for what I thought were key points (or in the case of teachers who did this, suddenly start writing when they said, "Now, this is important, so write it down:") and hope it was enough. But in most cases, in-class lectures didn't provide anything not already in the book. Sometimes, they did, but not most of the time. In the cases where the teacher wanted us to be sure and know what would be on the test, because it wouldn't necessarily follow the book that closely, they usually gave us a heads-up, "This is going to be on the test, so listen up!"

It's good to learn how to spot key points amidst the dribble, but a good textbook or lecturer won't have a lot of pointless dribble, and a bad one isn't reliable to even cover what will be on the test, so even if you manage to take a verbal or printed jumble or mishmash and turn it into something organized, chances are, you're still going to miss some important topics, because the speaker/writer did also!

All I know is, being "taught" to take notes didn't help me, at the ages it was actually covered. Later on, I became able to convert things to outline form and identify key points, organically, so I don't even really know how to teach it, or whether it can be successfully taught as a subject.

I think verbally summarizing a paragraph read, or a paragraph spoken/lectured, uses the thinking skills necessary for good note-taking, later, and is enough for us, for now.