How to Teach Note Taking | For Teachers

How to Teach Note Taking | For Teachers

There’s no doubt that these days, no matter what class, kids are having to take in a ton of content. 

One of our biggest struggles is figuring out not only how to teach kids to take in a bunch of content… but then actually remember it too! 

In my experience, note taking needs to go way to the top of the priority list of things to teach kids so they can actually access the content and be able to remember it. 

Here are three things I think we need to teach students about note taking so they can take in the most important information: 

  1. What authors put at the beginning. Authors will often put the main points of what they’re going to say right at the very beginning, which will help your kids identify the most important points and structure their notes. 
  2. Look for repeated information! Authors repeat the most important stuff over and over again. 
  3. Lastly, look at where the author spends a lot of time. If the author overdevelops one thing, that’s probably important for kids to write down in their notes. 

For more info on how to teach student note taking, check out the books:

Books can be found on amazon.com or at our store.

How to Teach Note Taking | For Teachers

Don’t Take Their Word For It | For Teachers, Coaches, & Principals

When I go into classrooms to demonstrate a lesson, teachers can be really quick to tell me, “Oh, this particular kid is special ed, or this particular kid doesn’t like to talk out loud.” 

Sometimes even the kids try to regulate me! If I call on a certain student they might say, “She doesn’t like to talk in class.” While I know they’re trying to be helpful, sometimes I wanna say – well, I’m the teacher for the next 30 minutes, and she’s gonna talk! 

It got me thinking about how often we “pre-teach” each other and assume things based on a student’s past behaviors that might not be true this year. Really, it’s a waste of time and a waste of energy worrying about worrying about what kids did last year, when it could be that they’re going to make up their mind to have a completely different year when I get them. 

Here’s my encouragement to you: be careful about what information you take in from last year’s teacher, so that you can have a fresh start with your kids for next year.

For more help and tips on how to give each student a clean slate, check out the books:

Books can be found on amazon.com or at our store.

How to Teach Note Taking | For Teachers

How to Teach Discussion to Kids Who Don’t Talk Much | For Teachers

Today I want to talk about the difference between a response and discussion, and how to teach your kids how to actually have a discussion. 

A response is simply an answer to a question, while a discussion is a back-and-forth dialogue with one or more other people about a topic. 

So when you’re teaching kids how to have a discussion, you need to teach them to do three things: 

  1. How to give quality comments and contribute to the conversation using complete sentences and the language of the text or the conversation piece that they’re discussing. 
  1. How to give text dependent responses and use the text that they’ve read prior to the discussion in their response and root their discussion in that text. 
  1. How to actively listen! We need to teach kids to not just listen so they can say the next thing, but to actually listen to what the other person is saying, pick up the most relevant information, and then respond. 

And that’s how you teach discussion!

For more help and tips on how to engage your students in discussion, check out this book:

  • How to Teach Students to Critically Think About Text 

Books can be found on amazon.com or at our store.

How to Teach Note Taking | For Teachers

Lesson Planning Hack | For Teachers & Coaches

I used to lesson plan like this: think about what I want the kids to do, what I would be doing, and what I’d want them to turn in at the end – pretty traditional lesson planning, right? 

But there’s a better way! One that saves time, energy, and frustration. 

Now I start lesson planning by asking myself, ‘What mistakes do I know, or expect, my kids to make? And how can I fix those before even getting into the lesson?’

I focus on fixing up the common mistakes or trip up points that kids will likely have and then getting into teaching the lesson. It might sound like, ‘Hey guys, today I’m gonna teach you how to do [blank], but here are some mistakes you’re likely to make. So first I’m going to show you how to not make those mistakes.’

And then I get into the lesson! It works like a charm. 

For more help and tips on how to de-stress lesson planning, check out these books:

Books can be found on amazon.com or at our store.

How to Teach Note Taking | For Teachers

Teach the Formula, Not Just the Recipe | For Teachers

Recently, I learned the difference between a recipe and a formula: 

A recipe is all the pieces and parts that you need in order to make something. 

A formula, however, is all the pieces and parts you need to make something and the order in which you should use those parts and pieces to get the best result.

I couldn’t help but connect that analogy to our writing instruction. We teach a lot of little nitty gritty things to kids when it comes to writing, but are we doing it in a way that teaches them how to do things in the right order and get a great result every time? 

With writing instruction, we need to give the kids the recipe, but we also really need to focus our teaching around the formula and how to put all the parts together so they get the best result again and again. 

For more help and tips on how to simplify teaching writing, check out these books:

Books can be found on amazon.com or at our store.

How to Teach Note Taking | For Teachers

How to Build Trust with Teachers | For Coaches, District Leaders, & Team Leaders

Whether you’re an experienced coach or brand new to the job, we all need some tricks of the trade that allow us to build relationships with teachers. Here are three that I think will serve you well: 

  1. Have a process for coaching! A lot of the struggle that teachers have with coaching is they don’t know what to expect. If you can say to them ahead of time, ‘Here’s what’s going to happen before, during, and after the coaching cycle,’ they’ll know what to expect and that will help them feel a lot more confident and comfortable. 
  1. Vary your approach! Some teachers are experienced and need to be coached into coaching other teachers, or maybe you can use their classroom as a demo room to bring another teacher who’s inexperienced in a particular area. That form of coaching helps your experienced teachers feel like they really bring value to the table, which they do! 
  1. How do you go with your gut? If you’re feeling like things are funky with the teacher, talk to them about it. Don’t just try to work through it by not discussing it. 

For more help and tips on how to improve your coaching practice, check out these books:

Books can be found on amazon.com or at our store.