|Image: 'Notes' http://www.flickr.com/photos/49503078599@N01/63823366|
Scenario: A student has located what he/she considers to be a great resource for their research. Faced with many pages of information from a lengthy journal article or website, the student is uncertain how they should take notes.
When asked how to decide what is important information, typical responses from high school students may reveal obvious shortcomings in note taking strategies. Some respond that they need to write down all "the important points" but when questioned about what is important, lack of strategies in determining what may be important, become apparent.
This is a good teaching moment no matter the topic. A quick revision lesson on what to look out for is an important pre-reading and pre-class strategy. It helps students focus and prepare for note taking from the written, aural and visual media. Here's a document I use with classes to remind them of what to capture.
The tools to use for note taking are indeed another topic. With the proliferation of online tools such as the popular Evernote and Diigo we are still doing our students a disservice if we do not teach them how to discriminate between the important and the trivial. In a world awash with information this is a critical skill. A collection of other note taking tools and strategies are collated on this research guide.