Note-Taking Shouldn’t Be Just “Copy the PowerPoint”

A big thanks to Val McElhinney for sharing this link (via Rob Behrens, PVHS science teacher) that provided the topic of this week’s post. Here are her comments: “I absolutely love the first paragraph and feel like the whole blog connects to the “Thinking Classroom” focus we have.  I also love this last sentence, “I only want to challenge teachers to think about how they really want to spend their precious time with their students.”

Copying Notes from a PowerPoint – Not Enough

When you think about the ideas of the Thinking Classroom, one of the guiding concepts is that “facts are free” and students can access them instantly from their phone or tablet. Learning needs to be about applying facts, or knowledge, in a new setting or authentic purpose. This leads one to wonder about the use of the age-old classroom tradition of note-taking.

In this recent blog post by Susan Lucille Davis–Why We Need a Moratorium on Meaningless Note-Taking–the author shares her “distaste for mind-numing note taking sessions”.  Her thoughts about what makes note-taking effective:

  • Note-taking should have an authentic purpose.
  • Note-taking should be the beginning, not the end, of knowledge curation.
  • Note-taking should be interactive and absorb multiple formats.
  • Note-taking should be shared.

Referenced in the post is a new study released January 9th by the Association of Psychological Science on learning techniques. Here is another article referencing the same report, with another take: Highlighting Is a Waste of Time: The Best and Worst Learning Techniques.

Our take from skimming the report, is that ultimately, passive techniques aren’t the most effective for students in creating meaningful learning. Active learning, requiring students to interact with information rather than just copy or memorize, is a best practice, and we all know it. Isn’t that one of the hallmarks of the Thinking Classroom?

Today’s “Strategy Spark”

Here are some suggested active learning techniques from Virginia Commonwealth University you might want to check out.


photo credit: English106 via photopin cc


Posted on March 15, 2013, in Thinking. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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