Lessons

NOTE-TAKING LESSONS

Students are regularly required to take notes. Many don’t do so effectively.
Here are six carefully structured lessons to help teach this difficult skill.

Supplies:
– a way of projecting a page of information and various coloured pens
– an excerpt on a relevant nonfiction topic or your own relevant nonfiction story
– a copy of the excerpt for each student

Lesson One:

  1. Copy a paragraph or page of information from a book; use a document camera or some other device to display your copy. Give each student a copy. Explain that today you are going to do some spring cleaning and get rid of many of the words.
  2. Let a student read the first paragraph aloud.
  3. Then let another student read the first sentence again.
  4. Demonstrate on the screen how to cross out the extra words (e.g. the, an, and, then, so, those) and have students use pens to cross out the words on their sheets.
  5. Go over the entire excerpt, crossing out the extra words. Let students predict which ones will be crossed out but only let them cross out the ones that you first cross out on the overhead. In other words, all students will do is think, predict, and copy your work.
  6. Record marks as follows:
         1/3 = behaving inappropriately or not participating
         2/3 = participating and behaving appropriately
         3/3 = participating and behaving enthusiastically

Lesson Two:

1. Display a new article or excerpt. Provide copies for each student. Explain that today they are again going to cross out extra words. Prepare, in advance, a handout that lists all the words that need to be crossed out. Encourage them to frequently refer to this list. (A sample list of words that can commonly be crossed out can be found at the bottom of this page.)

2. Let a student read the first paragraph aloud.

3. Then let another student read the first sentence again.

4. Ask each student to cross out, with a pencil, the words they think you will cross out. (Note, don’t ask students to cross out the words they think should be crossed out. Instead, ask them to cross out the words they think you will cross out. In other words, ask them to predict what you will do! That way, there will be fewer arguments about how every opinion is of equal value.)

5. Once they’ve had time to cross out words, cross out words on copy you’ve displayed and let students mark how well they’ve matched your judgement. This means you need to be very specific about what words they need to cross out so they don’t feel it is impossible to guess what you will do. This requires a lot of teaching.

6. Go through the entire excerpt in this way.

7. Record marks as follows:
     1/3 = behaving inappropriately or not participating
     2/3 = participating and behaving appropriately
     3/3 = participating and behaving enthusiastically

Lesson Three:

1.  Copy a short paragraph of information and distribute.

2. Give the students a quiz: they must cross out all the unnecessary words.

3. Mark as a class and record the marks earned.

Lesson Four:

  1. Display a new article or excerpt. Provide copies for each student. Explain that today they are going to  pick out the important words.
  2. Let a student read the first paragraph aloud.
  3. Then let another student read the first sentence again.
  4. Demonstrate on the screen how to circle the important words. Have students copy your work.
  5. Go over the entire excerpt, circling the important words. Let students predict which ones will be circled but only let them circle the ones that you first circle on the overhead. In other words, all students will do is think, predict, and copy your work.
  6. Record marks as follows:
     1/3 = behaving inappropriately or not participating
     2/3 = participating and behaving appropriately
     3/3 = participating and behaving enthusiastically

Lesson Five:

  1. Display a new article or excerpt. Provide copies for each student. Explain that today they are again going to circle important words.
  2. Let a student read the first paragraph aloud.
  3. Then let another student read the first sentence again.
  4. Ask each student to circle, with a pencil, the words they think you will circle. (Note, don’t ask students to circle the words they think should be circled. Instead, ask them to circle the words they think you will circle.)
  5. Once they’ve had time to circle words, circle words on the overhead transparency and let students mark how well they matched your judgement. This means you need to be very specific about what words they need to circle so they don’t feel it is impossible to guess what you will do. Think about how you choose what to circle and explain your thinking to them.
  6. Go through the entire excerpt in this way.
  7. Record marks as follows:
    1/3 = behaving inappropriately or not participating
    2/3 = participating and behaving appropriately
    3/3 = participating and behaving enthusiastically

Lesson Six:

  1. Copy a short paragraph of information and distribute.
  2. Give the students a quiz: they must circle all the important words.
  3. Mark as a class and record the marks earned.

WORDS COMMONLY CROSSED OUT

Articles:
a; an; the

Pronouns:
he; it; she; they; us; we

Adjectives:
some; that; this; these; those

Verbs:
is; was; were; had been; indicate; feel; makes; combines; seems; appears; contains; discovered

Prepositions:
above, across, at, below, during, from, in, of, over, toward, until

Conjunctions:
and, because, but, either, for, however, or, since, while

Transition words:
again; also; besides; briefly; but; consequently; finally; here; for example; furthermore; however; generally; in summary; so; then; therefore

Headings:
phrases that tell you what is coming in the text

[This page may be copied if the following credit is provided: ©2009 Sophie Rosen.]

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