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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Taking Notes in the Middle School Math Classroom


Interactive Math Notebook: NO PREP Notes FREEBIE
One question I was always asked by other teachers was, "How do you take notes in your classroom?" This may seem like a simple question, but it's one that I'm passionate about my answer and want to share with you how I teach students to take notes. Notes are the vessel that drives instruction in a middle school math classroom and a practice that needs to happen regularly in your classroom.

Did you know that Notes can yield a 34% GAIN in your students' learning achievements {Marzano 2001} and should NOT be ignored for the simple fact that they are one of the highest yielding strategies available to teachers teaching new concepts. That statistic is important to know and apply to your math classroom today. I want to share with you my Interactive Math Notebook Notes FREEBIE to help you teach your students to own their note-taking and be responsible for retaining the knowledge from their notes.

How do I use this NO PREP Notes template?  First students write in their name and topic at the top of the page. Then let the students follow your own note-taking process {Write out the notes yourself and allow students to copy your notes. Hint: Always write MORE as students will write LESS in their notes and MORE detail is always better to show students.}

What is the column on the left and the lined column on the right?   I created my NO PREP Notes to be similar to AVID notes. If you're familiar with AVID notes, you write the subtopic/question/main idea on the left, and then on the right you write the answer/math problem/definition/detailed response.

Why is there a summary at the end of the notes?  Students need to review and reflect on what they have just learned by writing three detailed sentences. I have had students write "I learned Math" which is not acceptable. To get the students thinking I would ask 3 different students 1 sentence to summarize what they had learned from note-taking. I would then write those 3 sentences at the end of my notes to show the students how to summarize notes. By Thanksgiving the students would be independently summarizing their notes and I would not be scaffolding this part of the note-taking process.
I hope this is a valuable resource for your Middle Math classroom too. Over the years I have had students come back and tell me that I was the one that taught them to take notes and that they now know how to take, use, and study notes! WOW!  The best compliment a teacher can receive is knowing that your teaching strategies work and that the students are grateful to you for imparting your skills and knowledge to them.