Note taking can be a difficult process for any student at any time in their school career; with that being said, why not make it a little easier? It is important that we introduce our kindergarteners to note taking. When we do this, students get used to listening to and thinking about information while also re-wording it for themselves. When students re-word information they have heard, it gives them an extra exposure which aids in processing and remembering the information. In the end, taking notes is a great idea to really push our students into owning their learning!
This is a whole group lesson, so students will be seated in front of me on the carpet.
"Today, we are going to be working on a special task." (wait time)
"We are going to take some notes!" (wait time)
"Now, note taking may sound hard, but we will definitely be able to work on it together! Also, it'll be helpful for us to learn how to take notes because it will help us with our writing!"
"We are going to be working on taking notes about" (wait time) "a certain type of insect... Ants!" (wait time) "In a few days, we are going to write our own books called, 'Everything We Know About Ants.'" (wait time) "In order to write about ants, we will need to learn new information about them! So, we are going to read to gain our information! We are used to doing that already! Now though, we will just add the extra step of taking notes while we read!"
"I am going to show you how to take notes while we read; but, first, we have to learn the rules! So, turn your ears on and listen closely to the rules for note taking!"
At this point, I will take out and use my note-taking strategies anchor chart.
"First, listen to the text.... Repeat that please." (Students will repeat, "First, listen to the text.")
"Next, decide if something you hear is important... Repeat that, please." (Students will repeat, "Next, decide if something you hear is important.")
"Last, write down the important terms you hear... Repeat that, please." (Students will repeat, "Last, write down the important terms you hear.)
"Good job! Those are the rules for note taking. Listen to the text." (wait time) "Decide if something you hear is important." (wait time) "And, write down the important terms you hear." (wait time) "Then, you will have some good notes to use when writing!"
I will begin reading the book, Ants and their Nests to my students. As I read this book, I will stop and take my own notes. I will model for my students how I take something from the text, listen to it for important information and then write a little reminder in my notes.
For example, when I read, "Ants build nests underground," I am going to stop and do a think-aloud. "Hmmm... there are two things I heard there- I heard that ants build nests, and I heard underground." (wait time) "Hmmm... I think maybe the "ants build nests" part is more important, so I am going to write the short version of those words to remind me... Since I know we are writing about ants, I don't have to write that... I am just going to write build nests." (I will write that down on my chart.) "Now, when I go back and re-read my notes later, I will remember that we are talking about ants and that they build nests."
***It is important to model this step a few times. I want my students to remember that hey don't need ALL of the information in their notes. Also, I want students to be listening to the story and not just writing the whole time and missing information. This takes a lot of patience to talk them through, but it is worth it. After 3-4 examples, they are ready to take their own notes!
I will use my note taking form- As I go through my think-aloud-model, I show the students how to use this page to take written and drawn notes. I will talk my way through everything while showing them the same page they will be working with, so students will know my expectations.
After I have read the book about half-way through and have done my think-aloud-models on my version of the chart, I will be ready to begin allowing students to take notes. So, I will pass out my note taking form to each student (with a clipboard) and I will start the story over again so they can take notes from page one on!
The book, Ants and their Nests, will be used for the student practice portion of this lesson as well. I think it is important to connect students' practice with my modeling because it allows them to have a solid place to draw their information from.
I will begin re-reading the book at the beginning.
(I start the book over again here because I want students to begin taking their own notes. Since I want students to have success and work with an idea of what to write from the beginning, I want them to start back on page one with me. This way, even the students who may not be able to take many notes for themselves, will start with the re-written notes that I modeled.)
As I begin the book again, I will remind students that they are going to have to, "Listen to the text." (wait time) "Decide if something you hear is important." (wait time) "And, write down the important terms you hear." (wait time)
I will also remind students that they can take notes via words and phrases OR pictures when needed. "Make sure that you write down simple words or phrases; you don't need complete sentences written down with out notes, because we can do that when we get to our actual writing piece!"
As I read, I will scaffold- I will suggest notes for students at the beginning of the book. But, as I read more and more, I will make less suggestions.
*I NEED to allow students to have a lot of wait time here, as I read- they have to have time to think and write while taking notes, so I need to make sure students have ample opportunity for each.
As students take notes, I will walk around to monitor and adjust. I will pay attention to students who are taking notes with words/phrases only, pictures only or words/phrases AND pictures.
I will also pay attention to students who are taking copious amounts of notes, versus little to no notes. According to these informal assessment strategies, I will be able to form re-teaching groups as well as extension groups.
Students will be using these notes for a connected writing assignment, in order to respond to the prompt, 'Everything We Know About Ants.' I will check students' notes to see how well they can be utilized for writing purposes.
Here is a great example of a student who took notes that were simple, not too detailed (but detailed enough) and able to be used very easy when transitioning to a writing assignment. I am proud of this great note-taking!
To show students how exactly note taking can help them, it is important that this lesson be connected to another lesson where students can show their use of their notes.
I like to connect this lesson to a writing lesson using these notes where students can respond to the same prompt and use their information. By connecting these two lessons, students will be able to 1) take notes, and 2) show students how to use their notes to show what they know!
After I finish this lesson, I like to take my high flyers and use some more informational texts with them so they can add to their notes. I think it is important for my students (who are able) to have as much information as possible in their notes. With that being said, I like to use two or three additional texts if possible, before they begin their writing process in our following lesson.