Taking good notes is essential for junior high students; the material becomes exponentially harder at this level, and students who used to rely on the rote memorization of a lecture or text have trouble doing so. Rather than blindly writing down everything a teacher says or every fact that is read, there are several techniques that ease the process of taking notes.
Two-column notes work well with content area vocabulary and are similar to making flashcards without the risk of losing them. Students can divide a notebook page in half and write the term in the first column and the definition in the second column. When students go back to study their notes, they can fold the pages in half and hide either the term or the definition, making this a more effective way to study than just reading over notes in a notebook.
Beginning with a notebook page, students can divide the page into three sections by folding the page once vertically about 2 inches from the left side of the page, and once horizontally about an inch from the bottom of the page. The left section is for questions, the main notetaking section takes the majority of the page, and the bottom is the summary section. During a lecture or reading activity, students take notes in the main section. As soon as possible afterward, they write questions in the left section to help clarify what they are thinking. Finally, they summarize the material in their own words in the bottom section.
Students can use SQ3R for active reading that facilitates learning; SQ3R stands for "survey, question, read, recite and review." First, students should survey the text, looking at headings, pictures, or anything that stands out. Second, they should write questions they have about the material. Third, they should read, and they should answer the questions they wrote as they read. After reading, they recite the information aloud to promote learning, and then students should review the material on a frequent basis.
Power Notes help students see relationships between ideas and differentiate between main ideas and supporting details using a visual hierarchy with Roman numerals (Power 1), capital letters (Power 2), and numerals (Power 3). Students should set up an outline with the main idea at the top. For example, if the main idea was "food," it would be labeled a Power 1 using Roman numeral I. The next tier of the hierarchy, words like "protein" and "carbohydrate," would be labeled Power 2 using capital letters. The third tier would be more specific descriptors of food such as "meat" and "beans" under the protein section, and these words would be labeled Power 3 using numerals. Students learn that Power 1 words are the most important elements.
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