forgot-valentineSummarizing and Note Taking

Effective requires analysis that leads to deeper understanding. Students benefit from taking notes in both linguistic and visual forms. -Northwest Regional Educational Consortium

All of us know how to summarize and take notes, but most of us only use those skills in certain situations. Ponder these examples…

Example 1: So, okay. To get to the grocery store, take a right on Graham Road out here. And then you’re going to go down, past the next couple of streets, down about a mile, past the park on the left, to the four-way stop. Take a left there onto Longmire. The grocery store is about half a mile down on the right.

You write, “Rt. on Graham to 4-way stop. Lt. on Longmire half mile. Groc. store on rt.”

Example 2: Uh. Well, uh, I was thinking about you the other night, and I know how much you love Valentine’s Day, so, uh, I was going to head over to the mall and get you, like, something really nice. Only, on my way over to the mall, Jonesy texted me and he had free tickets to the hockey match, only I had to go right then, or he was going to invite someone else. So I figured I could run to the mall right after that. But then, after the game, my engine light came on, and I had to take my Buick to Burt’s Beaters. And then I was so upset about how much the repairs were going to cost, I forgot all about the mall.

You think, “You forgot Valentine’s Day, didn’t you?

Bully for you! You already know how to pick the meaty morsels of meaning out of the surrounding souffle of static. Apply those same skills to class notes and readings. The research on this? ROCK SOLID! Summarizing and note-taking beef up focus, increase your comprehension of lectures, and super-charge your reading comprehension.

Here are some great tools to help you with summarizing and note-taking…


  • Summary Frames – Don’t be fooled by this deceptively simple tool. Summary frames have an excellent track record of increasing student comprehension. See the pdf.
  • 3×5 Card – Take your chapter or notes for a particular class and make a “cheat sheet” on a 3×5 card. See how much you can get on there. Write small. Abbreviate. Use symbols. I had a chemistry prof one time who allowed us to bring this card to the test. I found that I rarely had to use the card on the test because I had spent so much time and mental energy building the card.
  • Black marker – Make a copy of your text and then use the black marker to mark out all non-essential words. Go over it several times. How much can you mark out and still keep the essential points?

© Cody Blair, All Rights Reserved.


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