We write to remember our nows later.
When I was in graduate school in the 1980s, I was fascinated by the research project of my favorite English professor. Dr. Rogers spent countless hours studying the notes written in the margins of novels by women reading during the Victorian era. Those scribbles were one way for many quiet voices to express the hopes, dreams, and frustrations of a mostly silent generation.
I’ve always enjoyed scribbling notes in the margins of my favorite professional books. I can look back at these notes and trace my emerging beliefs about how to teach reading and writing. Sometimes when I was writing in a required text that I disagreed with, it was a way for me to talk back at the author. I worried over the past few years as I made the switch from mostly print to mostly electronic versions of professional reading that I would miss jotting down notes with ink in margins. But it’s easy enough to copy and save passages from ebooks and type in my thoughts as I read. The trade-off with being able to see what others have noted seems well worth it. I often begin a new professional ebook now by scrolling through the most-highlighted quotes from readers, to see what others before me have valued in the text. It’s a far cry in just a few decades from Dr. Rogers sitting among the dust motes of the Michigan State library, carefully paging through 100-year-old books and deciphering scrawls in margins.
Technology makes it a snap to create notes and save them on texts in many different ways, and to access the thinking of others. It’s the “why” and “what” that are the challenge for teachers and students. I’ve been surprised in searching the web to find so little on notetaking instruction, given how much time students spend taking notes. This week we’re sharing a wealth of resources on student notetaking, chockfull of strategies and tips. Plus more as always – enjoy!
Founder, Choice Literacy
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Here are three features from the Choice Literacy archives focused on notetaking.
Suzy Kaback leads students and colleagues through the process of synthesizing understanding in Important Book, Important Notes: Guiding Students Through Notetaking:
Heather Rader shares lessons and activities in Helping Students Build Notetaking Skills:
Jim Burke describes some of his favorite notetaking techniques to teach to high school students, with examples from his own classroom:
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Gretchen Taylor explains how she uses that old chestnut The Outsiders with her sixth graders for shared reading and to build skills in annotating text. The article includes a video example of a small group:
Why is Leslie Woodhouse so forgetful? It’s all part of a not-so-devious plot to teach her preschool students the power of creating and leaving notes throughout the classroom:
Katie Baydo-Reed finds the start of a new semester with her eighth graders is the perfect time to begin teaching them about annotation. This is the first video in a series:
Some of the most treasured notes for many of us are the inscriptions in books that are gifts from others. Meghan Rose shares why inscribed books have lasting value for families in a new installment of our Home is Where the Books Are series:
The seasons are like bulbs, fat and full underground. In their time, they edge up and unfold with meaning. Shirl McPhillips finds inspiration from the darkest days of winter in her latest poetry offering:
That’s all for this week!