TECHNIQUE 22: Board = Paper
I’ve begun professional and personal conversations with people about note taking as of late. As teachers, or as learners, when did you begin taking notes, when & how did you learn to take notes, and when do you insist that others take notes? After spending a great deal of time, unexpectedly, at the middle school level in a wide variety of classrooms, I realize I’m witnessing the making of future note takers. Where and when is this inception to become scribes happening, and of course, how? Again, this is another topic that I initially wanted to heave onto the pretentious “I know that already” pyre; but then again, I taught at the secondary level for more than a decade,and, as far as note taking is concerned, I’ve been spoiled with all these prepackaged note taking zombies. Before this post gets too cumbersome, because is really is a simple, yet fundamental skill; ask ourselves as teachers: How do I model and shape how students take notes in order to represent the material you present? Teach Like a Champion 2.0¹, declares that students “should” and “must” take notes and be directly directed as to how, other wise, “…students will produce a haphazard series of scrawls scattered across the page.”, (p.169)¹.
‘Board = Paper‘ recommends an intentional system of note taking; that this skill must be assimilated by modeling. One administrative para educator explained to me, at the 6th grade level, “Far-Point copying” is in order. What is written on the board should be written, in a specific, targeted location, exactly as it appears on the board. A very common TLAC saying in the classroom is “Make your paper look like mine“. Little room for autonomy and creativity here, but at a certainly grade level, it makes good sense. This, I never really considered. “To model good note taking more deliberately, expecting students to track what you are writing on the board and record it diligently, (hence the name of the technique)…” (p.170)¹. Until students have been allowed to model competent note taking, what ever the medium, Board = Paper is essentially the repetition, by the teacher to students, of the phrase below. Make your paper look like mine. Teach Like a Champion 2.0, recommends that students, initially use a standardized form, one which replicates the teachers notes (on the board/over head projection) only with blank spaces which allow students to fill in critical terms, vocabulary, formulas or concepts.
A very current and critical discussion happening now in education is the use of personal devices to “take notes”. Is this a legitimate vehicle with which students should be taking notes? I have observed many of today’s digital native’s using cell phones, smart phones, tablets, iPads et al., to take pictures or capture images of notes from the board or snap shots of homework assignments posted in classrooms. Do you retain any record of that knowledge, on an individual basis, a retention of information and how much is happening when students use devices to record data in lieu of copying or writing content down manually? Big question. What is less rote, low maintenance; the standardized graphic organizer/fill in the blank with key vocabulary words or creating a file for note taking and capturing the teacher’s notes. Is it COPYING either way? I know how I feel. As a devotee and strong advocate for technology in the classroom, this is a tough one. I do know that the manual, physical endeavor to copy down words, (especially in a foreign language classroom) does aid the retention of material; taking knowledge from short term memory to long term practical memory requires some sort of personal commitment or interaction.