Summarizing and Note Taking (Module 4)

This chapter starts off with a story about a freshman who is attending a lecture at a state college. He sits down to take notes and uses that strategy of taking quick informal outlines and summarizing key points. One of his classmates looks on with envy and this boy realizes that he is quite good at taking notes. This whole chapter reflects on how to better teach note taking and summarizing skills.

I related to the peer at the beginning of this story who had notes that were a failed attempt at copying down what the professor said word for word. I have a hard time sifting through the non-essentials and getting down to the information that is relevant.

Summarizing, as described by Dean, “is the process of distilling information down to its most salient points to aid in understanding memorizing and learning the relevant material”. Note taking “is the process of capturing key ideas – through writing, drawing, or audio recording – for later access” (Dean, 2012). This skill of both summarizing and note taking is a way for students to take in large amounts of information and glean only what is important. This is incredibly important especially with the way that our society is shifting to constantly be throwing information at us. Not only will our students be better able to understand what is going on in the academic world, but also the social one.

Being that I was never taught the art of summarizing or note-taking, I found the sections for classroom practice to be extremely helpful. When summarizing information, it is important to “take out material that is not important to understanding, take out words that repeat information, replace a list of things with one word that describes them, and find a topic sentence or create one if it is missing” (Dean, 2012). If students are having difficulties with this, there are several different frames that a teacher can present to aid in the summarizing process; narrative frame, topic-restriction-illustration frame, definition frame, argumentation frame, problem-solution frame, and conversation frame.

As for note taking, Dean reminds readers that there is not right way to take notes. There are many different types of note taking methods, it differs from students, schools, ages, and culture. Some suggestions given by Dean, were to give students teacher-prepared notes. This is a way for students to know what they should be listening or looking for when information is being provided. This can be given in the structure of an outline or some other format.

Dean, C. B., Hubbell, E. R., Pitler, H., & Stone, B. (2012). Summarizing and Note Taking. Classroom instruction that works research-based strategies for increasing student achievement (2nd ed., ). Alexandria, Va.: ASCD.


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