Focused Note Taking

  • Five-step Process


    1. Taking Notes

    First, set up your notes by using either the printed outline or creating your own on a piece of loose leaf paper. Set up the page by writing the objective, essential question, your name, class and period, and date all at the top in the appropriate space.

    Second, take notes on the most important information when you are reading, sitting in a lecture, watching a video, or listening to a podcast. If you are unsure about what is important it usually sounds and looks like the author making a claim (argument) about the topic. When reading, this frequently comes at the beginning of a paragraph.

    2. Revising Notes

    Revising your notes is like annotating (marking-up) a text. Examples of this include: underlining the important information, color-coding/highlighting major themes, circling vocabulary, adding detail where desired, deleting unimportant information, etc. The purpose of this is to clarify in your mind and on paper what is important and relevant to the objective and essential question.

    3. Connecting Thinking and Collaborating

    Write questions in the Questions/Cues column to help you connect what you just learned to what you already know. This column will help you study later! This process is collaborative and students are encouraged to work with others to review their notes while they develop questions.

    4. Summarizing and Reflecting

    Summarize your notes and write a reflection that answers your essential question and responds to your goal. This summary/reflection should fill the entire summary box.

    5. Reviewing and Studying

    Read through your notes periodically to study. Try to answer your questions from the Questions/Cues column without referencing your notes. You should spend at least 5-10 minutes per day reviewing your notes.