Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Note-taking Strategies for Informational Writing

This is part two of my take-aways from Chris Lehman's section at the TCRWP Writing Institute.  For Part 1, click here.  

In addition to discussing ways we can support both striving and disengaged writers, we also spent a lot of time talking about informational writing and student research.  During informational writing units, it never fails that we face the challenge of note-taking vs. copying.  When students are researching a nonfiction topic, their notes sometimes look a lot like text whether they copied verbatim or restated the facts.   Chris taught us a strategy called, "Read, Cover, Jot, Reread," that helps deter students from copying and teaches them how to take notes effectively.  This is a simple, yet powerful strategy that I am definitely using with my students this year.  

To bring this strategy to life for you, here is a snapshot of what your demonstration may look like: 
  • Read - Model reading a page from your nonfiction text using a document camera if you have one.  As you read aloud, model how you visualize as you read because getting images in our minds helps us understand our reading better.  
  • Cover & Jot -  Cover up the page you just read and jot down, on the document camera or chart paper, your notes of what you remember from the text. 
  • Reread - Stop jotting notes and open up the page to reread, looking for key concepts or vocabulary you may have missed the first time you read it.  Then model adding in the technical vocabulary to your notes so you can sound more like an expert when you share your learning with others.  
We also talked about teaching students how to determine which note-taking strategies to use for different texts.  For example, if we are reading a compare/contrast article, we may want to set up our notes using a two-column chart or a venn diagram.  Chris shared a lesson we can use to help our students get their minds ready for note-taking.  During this lesson, you can read aloud the beginnings of different sections and ask students to turn and talk after each one to share how they might organize their notes for the text.  You can continue this to teach students how to determine which note-taking strategies to use for different text structures.  You can also have a bulletin board displaying different ways students are taking notes and how it matches the text structure/purpose.  

We explored other challenges we face during informational and essay writing during the week and shared strategies we can use to support all writers in our classrooms.  If you wish you were in Chris Lehman's section at the TCRWP Writing Institute, or want more information about teaching students how to research nonfiction, then check out his brand new book Energize Research Reading and Writing! It was just published by Heinemann this past week and I am anxiously awaiting mine to arrive in the mail - hopefully very soon! :)

Happy Reading and Writing! :)


  1. Note taking can be very useful for a certain writer to do some good writing's in a manner of taking some good notes and tips on essay writings that can help them get good output in their different writing's they made.

    review on paper writing help websites.

  2. Note-taking is indeed a very useful skill up to now. I mean, yeah, technology is pretty much advanced and there are a lot of new inventions that makes note-taking pretty easy to do especially for paper writing services. However, if you're a person who enjoys just listening but not taking notes then it's up to you.