Teaching Note-taking Skills to High School Students

Teaching note-taking skills to high school students

Note-taking skills are an invaluable asset for the academic success of your students. Effective note-taking goes beyond scribbling down words; it’s a powerful tool that can significantly enhance your students’ learning and comprehension. Let’s be honest, notetaking is not a skill that comes naturally to most students. They can quickly become overwhelmed and that could end in mountains of chaotic notes and scribbles.

Get them organized!

One of the most important steps in taking effective notes is organization. Help students choose between the tactile experience of traditional pen and paper or the convenience of digital tools. Personally, I prefer good old pen and paper and I’ve found that most of my students do as well. Introduce them to the wonderful world of organizational tools such as dedicated notebooks, labelled folders, or note-taking apps that can keep their notes structured and easily accessible. Confession time – sticky notes and highlighters are a big part of why I became a teacher!

Strategies to help your students with Note-Taking

1. So many techniques to choose from!

Expose students to a variety of note-taking techniques. Help them to choose a note-taking style that suits them. Experiment with the Cornell method, outline method, mind mapping, or visual (doodle) notes to discover them discover their preference. It’s important to remember that different techniques could work better for one subject than another.

2. Keep it simple!

Show them how to develop abbreviations and symbols that streamline the note-taking process, allowing them to capture information efficiently. I love using arrows to show increase and decrease, square brackets for concentration, the @ sign and much more! Remind them that they don’t need to write in full sentences. Show them how to format their notes with headings and bullet points. No need to write an essay when a few keywords and bullet points will do.

3. Not another textbook

Emphasize the importance of summarizing complex ideas in their own words. No point in rewriting the textbook! This is probably the area that most students struggle with. Take a section from a textbook on an unrelated subject and get them to summarize the key points. Share your own summary with them and have a discussion about why you included certain points and not others.

4. make it your own

Biology Scribble Notes

Employ color coding and highlighting techniques to focus on key points, making notes visually engaging and aiding in a quick review. Time to get out those highlighters and sticky notes!

Utilize diagrams, charts, and visuals to represent concepts visually, making abstract ideas concrete and enhancing recall.

Transforming Notes into Effective Study Tools

Once students grasp the concepts of note-taking and have developed their note-taking skills, it is important to take it one step further and teach them how to use those notes. This could include:

  • Showing them how to create concise summaries that condense complex topics into manageable chunks.
  • Tips for generating flashcards featuring key terms, concepts, and corresponding explanations.
  • Sharing and collaborating on notes with peers to gain different perspectives and fill in any gaps they might have missed. Using digital tools such as Google Docs is very effective for collaborating on notes.

Developing good note-taking skills in high school will set your students up for success in further studies after school. It is not something that will be perfect overnight, but with continued reinforcement and repetition, it will quickly become a very important and useful habit.

I hope you found some useful ideas!

PS – If you would like to introduce your students to visual note-taking, remember to grab these free Scribble Notes pages for Biology and Chemistry.