In order for note taking to be a positive skill for our students, we need to make sure that we connect it to a useful, purposeful goal; I love to do this through writing in response! When I give my students a note taking assignment, I like to make sure that I can connect it to a writing prompt- this gives them a purpose for note taking, and gives me something I can assess. I think it is important that our students enjoy taking notes and also benefit from using their notes to create a wonderful final product!
This is a whole group lesson, so students will be seated in front of me on the carpet.
I will begin by doing a bit of a review, as this is the second step to my students' initial experience with note taking. Prior to this lesson, students will have participated in the Introduction to Taking Notes from Informational Text Lesson. Students will use the notes that they wrote in that lesson (plus extra information, if applicable), to create writing with this lesson.
"Today, we are going to be working on using the notes that we took yesterday. We are going to use them to respond to a prompt and, in essence, answer a question or tell about something!" (wait time)
"Yesterday, we read an informational text about... (wait time) Ants! When we read about ants, we took notes. Remember: it is important to take notes because it helps us remember and summarize the important information. Today, we are going to take those notes and use them to create writing. And, guess what..." (wait time) "If I forget something that I was wanting to write...... all I have to do is use my notes! My notes are there to remind me of all the things I want to say in my writing!" (wait time) "Now, I am going to show you how easy it is right now to use our notes when writing! But first, let's go over some great strategies to use when turning notes into writing!"
"I am going to tell you about some great things to do when we are using our notes, so turn your ears on and listen closely to hear some strategies you will be able to use!"
At this point, I will take out and utilize my using notes to write anchor chart.
"First, I always read over my notes. (wait time) Look at a partner and tell them that in your own words." (wait time for about ten seconds)
"Also, I like to number my notes- I think about the order of my information and how I would like to read my writing. (wait time) Look at a partner and tell them that in your own words." (wait time for about fifteen seconds)
"My last strategy is to add any extra information to my notes I may have learned but did not write down. (wait time) Look at a partner and tell them that in your own words." (wait time for about ten seconds)
"Good job! Those are some great strategies to use when turning notes into good writing. It is smart to use any of these strategies, but it is smartest to use ALL of them!" (wait time) "When you use your notes well, you will have some good writing!"
At this point, I will have my students get their notes from the previous day's lesson (We will have used the attached form for taking notes).
I will remind students that most of our notes came from the book, Ants and their Nests. I will add any additional pertinent information that I think students might want to include in their notes. Also, since I will likely have given my beyond-level group some more information, I think that I should share the same facts with ALL of my students.
At this time, I will be sure to set my expectations for my students; I will do this through modeling the process. I will have my notes (very similar to students' notes) and I will use them to begin to create my writing piece.
"Right now, I am going to show you how to use my strategies when looking at my notes... (wait time) I have to do this before writing."
"Remember, first, I always read over my notes." (I will read over my notes to show my students how I want them to be able to do it.)
"Now, I am going to number my notes... as I look at my notes, I want to think about the order of my information and how I would like to read my writing. So... let me find that I want to write first." I will model for my students how I would go from step to step with my writing and would number each piece of notes for easier use. I will also model for them how I will use my "Notes on Ants" title to create my topic sentence. I will then go through and talk about which supporting sentences should be listed where and why. I will do this so students will understand my thinking process, in hopes that they will mirror my thoughts when they try!
"Now, I told you that my last strategy is to add any extra information to my notes I may have learned but did not write down. So... I am going to think of something or some things that I have learned about ants but I haven't put in my notes yet... Hmmmm." I will model this idea for students as well.
After all of this modeling, I will begin to use my ordered information (that I have numbered) to create my writing.
"We are going to write about ants. I want you to tell me about ants. First, I will need to come up with a sentence that will show me you are going to be writing about ants!"
I will model using my #1 (my title: Notes about Ants) and turning it into a topic sentence, such as, "Let me show you everything I know about ants!" Or, "I know a lot about ants!"
I will then model listing each of my numbered notes by creating a small piece of information into a sentence. For example, I can turn, "build nests" in my notes into, "Ants build nests to live in." Or, I could turn, "queen lays eggs" into "The queen ant is in charge of laying the eggs."
After I have modeled turning all of my notes, in order, into writing in response to the prompt I give, I will let students go write independently.
"Now, go use your notes to create writing and show me what you know!"
Students will be at their seats with their notes and a blank sheet of paper. They are in charge of using their filled out note taking form and using it to create a piece of writing that addresses this prompt: "Tell me everything you know about ants." (This prompt addresses the RI.K.2 standard.)
*This prompt is worded intentionally- students must KNOW something to write it down; therefore, the information must be gleaned from the text, as no personal opinions or stories are allowed.
For this portion of the lesson, students will be working, independently, and transferring the information from their notes to writing in response to my prompt.
As students work, I will be walking around to monitor and adjust. I will be looking for good writing and for writing that needs support.
Some students will, of course, fly with this and need no help; I will likely have them help students who are approaching-level when they get finished.
Some students will really just need to be reminded to re-read their notes and number them in order to visually show them steps they need to take.
There will also be some students who are stuck and who are unable to form solid sentences from their notes; with those kids, I will have to pull a small group. I will re-teach them my three strategies for making their notes ready to use and then I will go along with them, number by number, and prompting them to use their notes to create complete sentences.
Here is an example of notes that I numbered and how I helped the student use them. Sometimes, unfortunately, some kids just need us to walk them along and pull them for re-teaching later. It is evident here though, that I did expect this student to complete this assignment and to complete it well.
This task will be easy for some and very difficult for others. In the end though, all students are expected to come up with a high-quality product (whether they needed help or not).
I will assess students' writing for only one thing in this lesson. Since I am not really looking for writing techniques or conventions here, I am only going to be assessing for students' abilities to use their notes appropriately to create writing.
Students need to 1) use their notes, 2) include enough information and, 3) write their information in complete sentences. Also, if presenting, I look for quality presentation skills to be evident as well. I really like to assess this task by using my rubric for using notes to respond to a writing prompt.
If I need to pull students for re-teaching on how to use notes for writing, or additional work on their writing, I will.
Here is some student work!
Here are the initial notes and the writing created from those notes. This was done by an on-level student!
Here is another example of the initial notes and the connected writing from those notes. This was done by a beyond-level student.
Here are the notes initially taken and the writing created using those notes. This was done by an approaching-level student.
There are a couple of fun ways I like to extend this task!
First, I really like to let students present their work. I think this is a wonderful way for students to "show what they know," while also practicing their speaking and listening skills and making the idea of taking notes come to fruition.
Also, I like to keep my students writing projects and notes. After I keep about five sets of notes and writing, I will let students look at them side by side and compare and contrast them. Students typically love to see how much more they have in their notes and their writing as time goes by. This is also something that can serve as a portfolio to send home!
In addition, I like to challenge students to go back and check out their own work. With this assignment, I ask them to go back and find connections between their notes and their final writing- I think it is important that they see where they may have missed information! I like to have students hold their work up side by side to compare.