I am absolutely convinced that most students are never taught how to make notes in a style that suits how they learn. All right, maybe that was a strong statement and one that might be changing, but when I taught a high school level social change class, I watched students struggle with note taking. What was important? What wasn’t important?
As a teacher, I found myself going old-school, writing on a white board and I heard myself saying things like, “This is important.” I believe that I was responding to the high school student that lived inside of me, the one who was concerned about what would appear on the test in a few weeks. My complaint even in university was that if I only knew what the teacher wanted, I would give it to him or her. As an adult and as a librarian AND as a teacher, I feel that these concerns had more to do with marks anxiety than about learning and retaining.
Tell me that kids don’t have marks-anxiety today and I will ask you what planet you live on! Yet, as an educator, I am more concerned that learning be more than regurgitation and I’m far from being alone in this. It is very rewarding to see the projects, essays, and use of technology make this happen. One way that we can prepare students for the next step in their academic careers is to provide them with note-taking tools such as graphic organizers.
Last month, I suggested some apps in my monthly newsletter to my schoolboard, but at this web site, http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2012/02/list-of-free-graphic-organizers-for.html you can find a list of various graphic organizers that are free to download. Pick the right one for the right project, whether it’s flash cards or a timeline template, and you’re giving a student a leg up in organizing and retaining facts.