Note-Taking Tips for Virtual School Students
Note-taking skills are invaluable in the classroom, whether at a traditional or virtual school. Taking notes effectively helps students sift through a large amount of information, determine what is important, and organize it into clear and easy-to-review chunks. Effective note taking helps students focus on what they are learning, helps them remember what they have read, and assists them in successfully studying for exams. A student who takes notes becomes actively involved in his or her learning, rather than passively reading or listening and hoping that somehow he or she will absorb or retain the information.
So, what exactly are the best note-taking techniques? How do you convince your student that taking notes is important? Find the answers below.
Why Taking Notes Is Important
Taking notes essentially helps students understand and study the main ideas. It also:
- Gives students the chance to practice their listening skills during LiveLesson® sessions or while watching videos
- Teaches students how to multitask by listening, thinking, and writing
- Boosts comprehension since students are absorbing information through multiple methods
- Develops students’ organization techniques
- Helps students learn faster
- Teaches students to identify main ideas and summarize information
If you think back to your school days, you may remember that your note taking looked different than your classmates’. Note taking becomes very personal: not everyone will understand your student’s notes, but as long as he or she does, that’s okay. Here are some tips to guide your student to develop effective note-taking skills.
How to Take Notes
The following tips are advice specifically for students.
Take notes often. Get out your pen, pencil, or keyboard whenever you’re learning. This means that you can take notes while listening to a teacher, watching a video, reading course materials, or even doing an experiment or other activity. If a teacher repeats certain information or tells you flat-out that something is important, pick up on these cues and pay attention.
Don’t try to write down everything. This might help you take in the details, but it prevents you from seeing the big picture. Instead, focus on the main points. Examples of things to include are:
- Mathematical and scientific formulas
- Sample problems
- Key names, places, and dates
- Vocabulary words and definitions
- Theories or opinions
- Literary symbols, themes, characters, and plot points
If you’re taking notes while reading, pay attention to headers, bold or italicized words, illustrations and photos, the first and last sentences of paragraphs, and so on.
Being prepared pays off. If you have assigned reading, do it before your lessons and take notes on the text. This will make it easier for you to identify the important ideas covered by your teacher. By taking a lot of notes during the learning process, you’ll understand your lessons faster and need to study less before quizzes and tests.
Find the method that works for you. Taking notes is only helpful if you have a process that helps you prepare for exams. Once you find a method you can stick to, get in a routine and stay organized. Keep a separate notebook for each class and write the date and topic on each page so you can find specific notes later.
Besides figuring out when to take notes and what to record, decide how you want to do it. For example, would you rather take your notes by hand or by using your computer?
Digital Note Taking
The trick to digital note taking is knowing when technology helps and when it doesn’t. For example, typing notes on your computer is probably faster than writing them by hand. On the other hand, copying and pasting information into your notes isn’t the best method because it skips the rewriting and summarizing process, which helps you absorb key concepts.
Overall, computers make note taking easier for several reasons. Typing allows you to edit and organize your notes. A program like Evernote [http://evernote.com/] or OneNote [http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/onenote/] can serve as a customizable notebook that you can access from multiple devices.
Keyboard shortcuts offer a way to take notes quickly and organize them simultaneously. You can make some text bold or italicized, for example, which you can’t do in handwritten notes. Some shortcuts for Microsoft Windows include:
- Ctrl + B = Boldface
- Ctrl + I = Italics
- Ctrl + U = Underline
- Ctrl + Z = Undo
- Ctrl + C = Copy
- Ctrl + X = Cut
- Ctrl + V = Paste
- Ctrl + Shift + L = Bullet list
Using bullet lists and other types of formatting can help you highlight certain information and make your notes easier to review.
Once you finish taking notes after reading or listening to a lesson, go back and make sure they’re clear. If you have any questions about the material, write them in the margins and then go look for answers. You can always ask your teacher for help in filling in any holes in your notes.
Does your student have trouble with any aspects of note taking? Have you found any tricks that work especially well? Share your experiences with us.