How to Teach Note Taking Skills in Middle School

In middle school, children are at a critical learning stage. Their middle school learning forms the basis of further education, and the sooner that skills are introduced, the more likely the student is to succeed. Note-taking skills are extremely important. All too often, a student can forget that one vital piece of information which makes or breaks their assignment results. This article is written as a general guideline to teachers on how to teach note-taking skills in middle school.

*Devoting one class to note-taking.

*Testing the children to see if they are observant.

*Showing them salient points missed.

*Demonstrating the importance of notes.

*Getting groups to take notes together.

*Showing how groups perceive things differently.

Devoting one class to note-taking.

At the beginning of term, a teacher can introduce note taking techniques to help the student succeed with their learning within that class. This may be a distraction from the main curriculum but it sets the student in good stead for their studies within that class and strengthens their abilities. Setting aside one class to talk about note taking and showing a student how to use the tools available to them can in the long term save time. Teach students to always have their pen or pencil at the ready, and to have notebooks. Teach them the relevance of notebooks, and how they can improve results, simply because students will not always remember everything they are told within a class.

Testing the children to see if they are observant.

An observance test is a fun project. Run over a small lecture, and ask the students to take notes on what they feel is important. The children will have different levels of skills and also different retention levels. Explain that a student’s notes should suit their own ability level and if they think they will forget something, note it. The test can be followed by a series of questions, which reinforces the idea that insufficient notes help no one.

Showing them the salient points missed.

After the test, running through what each student missed is a good idea. They learn from the process and can relate to why they missed something. This makes them more observant and open to taking in and retaining information in note form.

Demonstrating the importance of notes.

A child who is shown why notes are vital will go on to use them, because students want as clear a passage through their learning as they can get. Show the students which points they missed the the relevance of these. Show them what the outcome would be if these notes were not taken during the classwork.

*Getting groups to take notes together.

This is a fun exercise. Get a group of students to take notes, and then to pass their notes to another student within the group, until all students have read each other’s notes. This shows them how others use logical thinking and what they missed on their own notes.

*Showing how groups perceive things differently.

Gather the notes from each group and discuss how some students took notes on some elements and how some did not. Discuss rather than criticize and talk through with students why they took particular notes. It helps the other students to get a better overview of what notes are taken for what reason.

Note taking skills are vital to success, since in the future, these students may have to sit through complex lectures at University level. They will also begin to learn that often it’s not enough to rely upon memory, but that note taking is the professional way to ensure that all salient points are covered, and act as an aide memoir.