student taking notes on tablet
Inside the Classroom

5 Tips for Taking Better Notes

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Research shows that note-taking enhances learning, but how can you be sure your students are taking notes effectively? Because everyone learns differently, that’s a hard question to answer, but you can start by sharing some of these note-taking tips with your students, and exploring how technology can help with taking better notes.

1. Take notes!

Because taking notes requires action, “the act of encoding the information into words or pictures forms new pathways in the brain, which stores it more firmly in long-term memory.” And because students have the information stored somewhere they can refer back to as opposed to only (maybe) having it in their memory from when their teacher said it, having notes can help cement learning.

2. Take more notes.

The more information students interpret and write down, the more information they’re likely to retain. As an instructor, you can help them do this by speaking more slowly, taking pauses, and giving them the time to jot down what’s being said and what they’re reading on the board. Plus practice makes perfect, so taking more notes can lead to taking better notes.

3. Familiarize your students with different note-taking strategies and systems.

For some, writing in shorthand or typing can help. And this is one area in which having a cell phone in the classroom can help! Being able to photograph what they’re seeing can give them the opportunity to go back later when they have more time and write down what they found to be important but didn’t have time to jot down. Of course, more formal note-taking systems, like the Cornell System, outlining, and mapping, are out there, so spend some time exploring these different systems to determine if one might be better suited to your subject matter and teaching style.

4. Offer note-taking guides.

Providing an outline or worksheet can help students more easily identify important information that they should work to retain and reduce the cognitive load of listening and taking notes at the same time.

Edgenuity® recently started offering ungraded, printable worksheets for select high school courses to act as note-taking guides. These Guided Notes are designed to help students stay actively engaged in the lecture while still taking notes, and teachers can provide these worksheets at their discretion.

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5. Consider the use of technology.

Most students can type faster than they can write, so allowing devices in your classroom could help students with taking better notes. An alternative is digital notebooks, which are becoming more prevalent and budget-friendly. Digital notebooks, like the popular Rocketbook, work like regular notebooks, but sync up with Cloud storage so you can take a photo of your notes to upload them to your storage. Notes can easily be cleared, making this an endlessly usable notebook.


There are numerous resources out there to help you and your students with taking better notes. What’s most important is teachers and students coming together to determine what works for your class and teaching style, as well as their learning style. Whether that’s drawing, charting, or simply writing words down, so long as it helps your students learn, that’s all that matters.

Sources

Gonzalez, J. (2018, September 9). Note-taking: A research roundup. Cult of Pedagogy. Retrieved from https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/note-taking/

GoodNotes. (2018, May 9). The best note-taking methods: For college students & serious note-takers. GoodNotes Blog. Retrieved from https://medium.goodnotes.com/the-best-note-taking-methods-for-college-students-451f412e264e

About the Author

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Laura Almozara

As a child, Laura spent a lot of time reading and telling stories, at one point reading a new book every day. She took that interest with her to college, where she studied English and journalism. She then started working in publishing and eventually made her way to edtech. Laura is excited to be a part of the Where Learning Clicks team, helping to provide innovative education tools to some of the people who need them most.