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Putting pen to paper effectively
July 10, 2016, 10:21 am

Notetaking is a skill that students will take with them into their careers. Whether they are in meetings, participating in brainstorming sessions, or making annotations during reading, notes are an effective way of learning, retaining, and recalling ideas and concepts. This article talks about the three best techniques for taking notes in the classroom and how your students can benefit from them.

The most common mistakes

Before getting to the techniques, here listed are three major mistakes that students makes when taking notes in class.

Mistake #1

Writing down every single word the teacher says without listening: Taking notes should be 75% listening and only 25% writing. When listening, students should constantly be working the new concepts in their head in order to solidify them. This is the best time to consider questions that they may have about ideas they do not completely understand. When writing, notes should be short, and right to the point. Each sentence should be no more than 1-5 words long. This forces students to record only critical information.

Mistake #2

Students do not think about the topics their teachers are saying: It is important to take notes in order to remember ideas, but it is more important to understand the new complex ideas that are being introduced at a fast rate. Notes are useless if you do not understand the underlying concept.

Mistake #3

Students do not ask questions in class: This is so commonly said that it is almost cliché, but if a student has a question, it is likely that another student has that same question. Regardless, questions show the teacher that the students are actually listening and not pretending to.

Note-taking tips every student should follow:

  • Pay attention to what the teacher says and does, such as writing on the board or repeating information. This is usually important information, which means it is likely to end up on the exam.
  • If possible, do some work before class, whether it is reading or looking at a set of math problems. This primes the brain and prepares it for class by familiarizing it to the topic.
  • When taking notes, write in your own words. This reinforces understanding of the topic and strengthens the memory.
  • Use a shorthand system that makes writing notes quicker. One technique is to remove all vowels from words. For example:

Without shorthand: Drinking water will improve your health.

With shorthand: Drnkng wtr wll imprv yr hlth

Doing this allows one to nearly double your note-taking speed, which means that students are better able to listen and take notes more efficiently.

Notetaking is an important skill that is useful in school as well as in many careers because it helps one remember important information. Notetaking is a very personal practice, so methods will vary from person to person depending on personality and so it is important for students to explore own their style.

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