We often read or hear of methods to help students study. Many include reviewing their notes, such using the SOAR method that involves
Selecting and noting the critical lesson information
Organizing it using graphic organizers such as hierarchies, sequences, matrices, and illustrations
Associating it with other information, both inside and outside the lesson
Regulating learning through self-testing
The SOAR Method is all very well and good, but the student must capture the information in the notes in the first place. If the student comes home and is missing large concepts that were shared in class, they are not going to have the foundation they need in order to learn the material. How do we turn the SOAR method into a practice—we teach notetaking first.
The way notes are usually organized is as a collection of facts, but not thoughts. This can run contrary to gifted students who are constantly thinking, sometimes to the detriment of their paying attention and getting what they need to get. The teacher has brought up something, the gifted student begins to wonder about all the cause and effects of such a thing, meanwhile the teacher has moved on to something else important that the student is now missing. How do we allow gifted students to capture what they need, but still allow them to explore their thoughts and feelings? What if we taught them a notetaking method that provided them with the ability to collect the information, but also the opportunity to give their thoughts or insights to the information?
I was always very purposeful in teaching my students how to take notes. Part of the reason is because I got all the way through high school and into college without anyone showing me how to take proper notes. I just listened in class and captured enough of the material in my head in order to pass the test. Unfortunately when I got to college, I discovered this was no longer going to work. I remember my very first class in a lecture hall with 300 students, the professor began to speak and, like Pavlov’s dogs, 299 of them opened up a notebook and began to scribble furiously. I on the other hand sat there wondering what everyone was doing. It was then I determined I would have to learn to take notes in order to survive. I didn’t want any of my students to find themselves in that position, so even for young 3rd graders, I made sure they knew how to take notes.
I always liked to present my students with choices. I would show them the outlining method of notetaking, one of the more commonly used, where ideas were organized in sections and subsections. I presented the mapping method for my more visual learners, during which students place a concept in a bubble and then attach terms and examples that connect to the concept But the method I always made sure to show my gifted students was the Cornell Method.