Note-Taking: Purpose, Problems and Proposals
Drawing on classroom experience, Viv Sanders offers advice and seeks answers.
As talking about note-taking in a vacuum can be difficult, I refer here to an exercise I set my Year 12 students every June: taking notes upon Martin McCauley's 148-page The Origins of the Cold War, 1941-49 (Longman Pearson, 2003). They are given several weeks to do it, with the option of doing some work in the summer vacation. In the first week of the autumn term, I read and try to make helpful comments on their notes. This note-taking exercise causes some students great problems, despite my efforts to explain and justify the task as fully as possible, both orally and in a written booklet. I would like to be able to make this note-taking exercise go more smoothly.
Purpose of Note-Taking
I always hope that explaining to students why I am asking them to do a particular task makes the task more acceptable. I explain why I am setting them the note-taking task on McCauley.
(a) General purpose of note-taking