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Bruno: Teaching Students Guided Note-Taking

If you haven't already, you should check out Jay Mathews' discussion of note-taking skills and the AVID program. It's easy to underestimate how many skills kids may lack when they enter school and how important explicit instruction in those skills can be. 


When it comes to helping students make sense of a lecture, though, there's another option that deserves more attention: guided notes. Guided notes are notes that are pre-formatted and partially completed by the teacher, with blank spaces for students to fill in as the lecture proceeds. Guided notes can serve dual purposes, both helping students learn what good notes should look like and helping students process challenging new information without the distraction of having to format notes themselves.

My experience is that educator views on guided notes are mixed, with many teachers deriding "fill-in-the-blank" notes as merely "spoon-feeding" kids. Certainly, it would be ideal for students to be able to generate their own notes, but research does indicate that guided notes can improve students' academic performance and may be especially helpful for students who may struggle to process complex new content (like English learners or those with learning disabilities).

Lecture has been a huge part of education for thousands of years. Even most modern educational trends - like "flipped" classrooms - don't really do away with lecture-type learning. It makes sense, then, to think a little harder about what we can do to make lectures as helpful as possible for students. - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)


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Advised notices can serve double requirements, both assisting learners learn what good notices should look like and assisting learners process complicated new information without the diversion of having to structure notices themselves.

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