Biographies: Note-Taking

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SWBAT take notes while listening to a biography read aloud. They will also be able to take notes while reading "Who Was Dr. Seuss?" together as a class.

Big Idea

This lesson teaches students how to take notes by giving them an outline of key ideas to look for and also a place to put thoughts and ideas down as they read.


Adventures in Notetaking

15 minutes

What's the first thing you think of when you hear the term "note-taking?"  If you are like me, a boring college class comes to mind.  The kind of class where you were required to take notes and you had to guess what it was the professor wanted you to write down.  This lesson is an attempt to create enthusiasm for note taking.  

To start the lesson out, I am going to pass out a sheet of lined paper and ask the students to take careful notes.  If they do not take careful notes, they just might miss out.  I will then announce that our class is having a party.  

Our class is having a celebration!  Our celebration will be next Thursday, the 5th of December from 2:00 -2:30.  During that celebration, you are welcome to bring a snack, and a clear drink if you would like to.  Come prepared to be entertained!  YOU will be the star of the show!

After I have given out the information, I will ask some of the students to share their notes with the class and tell the students that it is a good idea to look through their own notes and add anything important that they may have missed.  

Almost every time I mention to the students that they can bring or need to bring something specific  to class, they ask for a note to take home.  This activity will hopefully teach them that not only can note-taking be fun, but it can also be useful.


Let's Practice Note-Taking

20 minutes

Now the kids will get a chance to practice these new found note-taking skills.  I will provide them each with a note sheet for biographies.  It has a place where students can quickly fill in dates and places and also leaves ample room for additional notes on information that the student finds important.  

I am going to allow the students to use the notes they take during this biography unit on the end of unit test.  I will let them know that so that they are motivated to take good notes. 

For our first note-taking practice, I will read "Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists: Picasso" by Mike Venezia to the class.  

After we get done reading, I will ask the kids to share some of the important facts that they wrote down in their notes, reminding the students that if they hear something that they too think is important, but didn't write down yet, it is not too late.


Venezia, M. (1988). Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists: Picasso. Chicago, IL : ChildrensPress

"Who Was Dr. Seuss?"

20 minutes

Now that the students have experience in note-taking, we will begin reading the biography that will be the focus of our unit "Who Was Dr. Seuss?" by Janet B. Pascal.  I will pass out an additional copy of the biography note sheet.  I will let them know that we will be working on this and the notes for this book throughout this unit.  

We will read this book together as a class.  We have enough copies of the book for each student to have their own copy.  We will focus on the first chapter today.  The first chapter is heavy.  It talks quite a bit about prohibition because Theodore Geisel's parents owned a brewery that went under during the prohibition era.  Having taught this lesson before, I know that the students will have a lot of questions.  This chapter will take us a while.  :)