Thursday, November 19, 2009

Class Notes: approach to our notetaking lesson

I decided that I should probably start keeping entries on the lessons I have been teaching the last 3 years so that I can see what I can update and improve upon. Sometimes teaching the same lesson over and over again gets pretty stale and of course, it shows. (sorry children!) And sometimes I will attempt to switch it up a bit to make it more enjoyable for me..and hopefully, the kids.

Today was the notetaking lesson where we teach children how to properly take notes. Yes, kids still need help with how to properly take notes. I know, I was never taught how to take them and not until college did I really get a grasp of what the importance of proper notetaking (organizing, evaluation, putting things in my own words, etc.) Normally, I go through our slideshow and make the kids practice with my own generic topic and encyclopedia article. This usually takes about 15-20 minutes which leaves about 15 minutes for the kids to work on their own project. I tend to want to give them as much time working in class so I can walk around and help them and see how they are doing then lecture them for too long.

This time, I did use my generic article but I also had the follow along with their own articles. I thought it was a better approach. One of the first things we talk about is skimming and scanning to get a overall picture of what the article is about and to find keywords or phrases. I used our lovely document camera, which is one of the best tools ever and should be in every classroom, to show the kids my article. I demonstrated how reading the 1st and last sentence of a paragraph gives you an idea of what's in the body of the paragraph and then had them do it with their first article. I also had them take out their brainstorming worksheets to see the kinds of questions they came up with at the very beginning of the process. This was great because it gave them a little guidance as they worked and also tied in the lesson from a week and a half ago to what we were working on in class today. As we worked, we also formatted and discussed why notecards and these formatted cards were important.

After that step, I had them write 1 fact per card and discussed how these were their notes so whatever symbols or abbreviations they came up with, as long as they understood them, wasa good approach. Another difference in how we taught these lessons is that we had them create bibliography cards before their first sets of content cards. This was a better way to showing them how the 2 different types of note cards are connected.

A great question from one of my students (remember, I teach 7th graders for the most part) is why they need to write an author and page number on the card. I explained that 1 reason is when he's evaluating his cards and he reads something and it does not make sense, he knows exactly which book he used and which page to turn to. A light clicked (i think. i hope!)

Overall this was a pretty great lessons. I do have some glitches to work out, mainly with timing and I also need to update the slideshow I use because I was missing some information. I updated it and then ended up not saving. I know! that's the biggest mistake ever and I stress that with the kids but hey, I'm human!

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