If you’re anything like me, you know that one of the highest priorities right now in education is to prepare kids for critical thinking and deep analysis.

As I watch kids struggle to critically think or deeply analyze something, I realize that whether they’re reading something, listening to someone give a speech or viewing a piece of multi-media they’re missing something big: jotting down the most important information!  There is just no way that they can go deep on their thinking when they missed the basic gist of the topic to begin with.

What I’ve realized is that kids are doing either two things when they should be jotting down info: writing everything or writing nothing.  Do you see that, too?

The antidote for writing nothing or writing everything is to teach kids to take notes.  Yep – teach them that speakers and writers typically give them HUGE “gimmes” when it comes to highlighting the most important information.  We can really help contribute to higher levels of comprehension and analysis in our kids by teaching them what to do when they take notes.

I suggest that you start by teaching three simple note-taking steps:

  • Teach students how to setup their notes: date, format, columns, colored ink, page numbers
  • Teach how to determine what constitutes important information versus trivial or non
    note-worthy information
  • Teach the clues that a speaker or writer gives when he is sharing important information

Whether you model this for kids in the early elementary classroom or you take just a few minutes each time to introduce new content, flip on a video demo or start a mini-lecture to teach these three simple steps, you will be taking a big step toward getting kids to remember the most important information.

I see this as a necessary and truly important step in getting kids closer to critical thinking and deep analysis.  It’s funny, when I’ve shown kids how to do this, there is a HUGE light bulb moment and I’ve heard a bunch of times, “Oh, I get it!” – and this coming from high schoolers!

I see note-taking as one of the time saving things that make the rest of my teaching go more smoothly and much faster!