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Note Taking – A lesson that is getting closer

July 3, 2010

When I introduce note taking, I like to use an image like this one:

I believe I got the idea from John Medina’s book Brain Rules. I use it to reinforce the purpose of note taking in classes. The note taking the students do for my class is mostly done on their own as the watch videos in preparation for tests on the videos given in class. I have neglected this element of class and sometimes have barely talked about note taking, but I wanted to put together a better lesson for the students. I think I only halfway made it.

Before my recent class in which I was going to introduce note taking, I read a twit about My six favourite Mario Rinvolucri activities on the blog Six Things. I liked the post because I had seen Mario Rinvolucri at a conference in Japan many years ago and thoroughly enjoyed myself as well as learned a few useful things about teaching activities, which over the years had fallen into disuse. So I pulled out a book of his, The Q Book, which Amazon says is out of print, and prepared the activity called a memory dictation for my class. The memory dictation involves dictating 17 sentences about remembering information and include having an alarm clock to get up in the morning. For each sentence, the students write the sentences and fill out a grid: always, often, sometimes, seldom, never. They compared their results and I handed out the sentences I dictated. I also followed up with a few quick memory tests from the directions. We discussed memory some after that.

I used the memory activity as a way to introduce note taking. Students did the dictation activity with more enthusiasm than I expected. Next, I moved into my presentation about note taking. In the presentation, I showed how to use the Cornell Method of note taking.

Then I showed them a video of another method, which is probably more a review method than an on the spot note taking with Mind Mapping

At the end of the presentation, I gave them a chance to practice with a video from TED on the marshmallow effect. The speaker is Joachim de Posada.

The students took notes on the presentation, and we followed up with a discussion of the presentation.

As I look back on the class, I believe it would have been stronger without the video on mind mapping. Second, I think either I or the students should model taking notes during the Posada presentation using the Cornell Method. I think I got caught up in the use of a nice video and an interesting technique but overloaded the students with too much information. I will have to think of ways to show them real note taking and not just talk about what they should be doing. Third, I haven’t done a dictation in my advanced communication class in years because it was not something we did here. Not using activities like the dictation have made the classes perhaps a little more academic, but not using these types of activities has stultified some the classes.

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