Note taking is a crucial skill that is rarely taught. While shorthand or abbreviations, keywords, and pictures are useful when listening to a talk and making notes, you can become bogged down if you try to write everything that is said!
If you are listening or reading to learn, a learning log will be helpful! My daughter brought this idea home after listening to a lecture on note taking at Northern Virginia Community College. She found the method invaluable to her success!
This simple method is superior to the pre-printed “learning log” worksheets available online because the purpose is for your child to “think,” not to have some other source ask their questions for them.
The Learning Log
1. Fold your notebook paper in half. At the top of the page write the name of speaker or book topic and the date.
2. In the first column (left side of the fold) at the top, write “Source”. On the right side of the fold at the top, place the word: Response.
3. You may also want to have a narrow column for referencing the page /paragraph or minutes into the talk. This can be left of the margin.
4. Don’t bother to take notes on things you already know and have no issue with.
5. As the speaker or text addresses something you want to remember (and don’t already know enough about), put their quote or keywords about it on the first line. Be sure to number each source reference. If you have more information to locate the original idea (such as a page number or name of a famous person being quoted), write that down too.
6. On the right side of that quote or information – under “Response”, write your question, comment, disagreement, or points you want to look up in reference to point one. Label responses with the corresponding number. Quote #1. will be lined up with Response #1. Continue doing this for each point you want to examine further.
For each session of study or lecture, be sure to come up with at least four details in your learning log. The purpose of this is to interact with the text or the speaker on paper, thus keeping your mind in active learning mode.
If you really feel you need to have the full context of the speech, record it while taking your Learning Log notes, to reference later or to listen to while doing a mindless task. Extensive notes are rarely gone over again. However, if you do write down questions or disagreements with the text or speaker, these will be interesting enough to you, and sufficiently brief, to encourage you to review them, filling in the missing pieces to your learning.
Note taking does not have to be daunting. The Learning Log just may be the tool you’ve been looking for!