Monday, December 2, 2013

Note Taking, Moleskines, and Modeling

I am working with students on note taking skills. (I don't know why I waited so long, but better late than never.

Today we started with watching a couple videos on taking notes and I had some real, personal discoveries.

1) Note taking is a life skill. There is absolutely no reason we need to emphasize note taking in schools as a thing we do in schools. We need to be much more deliberate about teaching it as a positive lifestyle choice. Why should note taking only be done at school?

2) Note taking is an act of learning. Mind blown! While the implication that all things we do in school are directed toward learning, how often do we really think about what we have students do in class as an act of learning? This concept will change both how I teach note taking and how I personally take notes.

3) Note taking should help with big ideas or concepts, not emphasizing facts. I used the analogy of knowing when Columbus 'discovered' the West Indies instead of the cultural implications. The former is an answer on Jeopardy, the latter a way to understand our complicated society. If the students take notes to memorize facts they are doing it wrong. If you model note taking as a way to record facts you are doing it wrong.

4) Note taking is personal. What works well for the person sitting next to you may not (probably won't) work best for you. Of course if you insist on copying notes instead of making your own you probably aren't interested in learning the stuff anyway.

Have you heard the expression 'Do as I say, not as I do'? I may not have coined it, but I sure exemplify it. I need to model note taking keeping in mind the four things I outlined above. Instead of modeling learning, it is about time I model authentic learning.

Here are the two videos we watched today. 

TEDGlobal 2011: Tom Wujec on visual note-taking from TED Blog on Vimeo.