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  1. #1
    gatorsmom is offline Pink Diamond level (15,000+ posts)
    Join Date
    Oct 2003

    Default Better note taking tips needed for my middle schoolers...

    Since our kids are zooming classes virtually everyday, and I'm required to proctor their tests, I"m getting a much better sense of how well they take notes. I'm also getting a better understanding of how quickly their teachers speak and the amount of information they are giving. I'm also seeing first hand how much the teachers rely on their notes, even smallest details, to create their tests. Most of my kids' teachers provide a study guide for the tests however, i'm finding that they leave little details out that end up on the tests. I'm not really complaining about any of this since I know my middle schoolers will run into fast-talking, tricky teachers in high school and in college so taking detailed notes is a skill they will need to develop. However, my 7th graders are not fast notetakers. I'd say they were average, with my dd being a much better note taker than her twin brother. Right now they are fortunate in that they are virtual learning together so while she is taking detailed notes, he's taking screen shots and fewer notes. Both of them say they have to work quickly to make sure they don't miss any details the teacher is providing. I frequently hear DD give an exasperated sigh while she tries to keep up.

    Do any of your schools offer note-taking courses? Do you have any suggestions of books or online courses we could take? Fast note taking was something i struggled with in college although I did well and kept up in high school. I've always thought that learning a short hand method would have been helpful. I've looked into it recently for my twins but there are different types and some take months to learn. I'd prefer to try something easier if possible. We did talk about using more symbols and abbreviations in their notes. I just think they need a better system.

    Any suggestions?
    "People are made for happiness. Rightly then, you thirst for happiness. Christ has the answer to this desire of yours. But he asks you to trust him." -St. John Paul II

  2. #2
    jgenie is offline Red Diamond level (10,000+ posts)
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    East Coast


    No suggestions but great question! I’m following along.
    for Carmen

  3. #3
    lizzywednesday is offline Red Diamond level (10,000+ posts)
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Central NJ


    Note-taking is a hard skill to learn - DD needs to learn it, but she's not engaging in anything that will help right now and I'm catastrophizing, which doesn't help either.

    A large part of note-taking isn't so much being fast or learning to write every little thing down, but more figuring out what works for an individual.

    In middle school, I found different color pens helpful - I'd take science notes in pink or social studies in blue, with math always in pencil, for example. I'd use the ENTIRE page, including margins (often doodling there, which sounds unhelpful, but it wasn't), and a lot of white space. If I used felt-tipped pens, I might write on alternate pages to account for bleed-through.

    In high school, I learned the Greek alphabet & would use it phonetically (along with felt-tipped green pens) to take notes in classes where I didn't like the teacher's lecture style, like Chemistry my Junior year.

    For a long while, I used an outline format, except for Psych 101, where the prof encouraged us to draw "mind maps" for our notes.
    DD (3/2010)

    "Make mistakes! Get messy!" - Miss Frizzle

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2008


    I will be following this post but my friend recently highly recommended these two classes from Outschool

    Effective Study Skills : A Key to Outstanding Grades

    Taking Notes Like a Pro

    I plan to enroll my 7th grader who is still experimenting with what works best for him take one or both of these classes soon....his handwriting is pretty atrocious especially when he is trying to listen and write so he is trying at the moment to retype them at the end of the day but it is too time-consuming. So I too am looking for ways to improve this important skill for him.

    I agree that each student needs to find the method/format that works best for them. At least I saw with my two older ones it evolved over time and it reflected the best way they learned...and even their personalities. For example, my oldest has a great memory and is more of a "listen and learn" student so his notes were pretty condensed but his study guides were more detailed since he would take notes on the material they needed to read. While my DD needs to write and maybe even rewrite and color code to feel like she understands. So in MS and HS she would take detailed notes using abbreviations/or her version of shorthand and she would then come home and rewrite her notes or highlight the notes in different colors depending on the course. Her notes were always the ones that her classmates asked to copy because they had almost everything that the teacher said in class and were very well organized. She unlike her brother was a slow reader so she preferred to get the material from the teacher's lectures. They are both in college now and my oldest likes his Remarkable for note-taking while my daughter is still note-taking on paper with her favorite pens and highlighter.

  5. #5
    squimp is offline Diamond level (5000+ posts)
    Join Date
    Jan 2004


    My daughter’s middle school taught the Cornell notes system, and it has worked really well for her. They also teach it in the AVID classes, to prepare kids for college. There is a lot online about this notetaking system.

  6. #6
    WatchingThemGrow is offline Pink Diamond level (15,000+ posts)
    Join Date
    Jan 2008


    Quote Originally Posted by squimp View Post
    My daughter’s middle school taught the Cornell notes system, and it has worked really well for her. They also teach it in the AVID classes, to prepare kids for college. There is a lot online about this notetaking system.
    Our amazing French teacher taught this system to DD and I should get up to speed and teach my DSs.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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