This post originally appeared on the blog Math Giraffe.

Have you ever had a class that actually enjoys lectures and taking notes? Probably not, I’m guessing.

In my experience, note days are the some of the most dreaded days among most students. Middle and high school students hate when they walk in the room and realize it’s note day. There are so many pain points of lecturing while the students take regular notes; it just seems like such a struggle for everyone.

​If we zero in on all the problems with standard note taking, the biggest challenges are that it’s “boring” and dreaded, not effective, and information is not retained as much as we need it to be.

But, I believe sometimes lecture really is necessary.

Sometimes students just need some teacher explanation in a lecture setting.  Even with inquiry lessons, everyone still has to come together to sum it up, share the properties they discovered, and clear up any confusion. Kids need a written guide to reference later.

So, I have broken down the areas in which we need to improve note taking for you to take into consideration and make note day a day the students (and you) look forward to!

Make Note Taking More Effective
Note taking is so essential to your students’ educational success, especially when done in the most thoughtful, effective ways.  There are some concepts you should think about incorporating in your lessons to make note taking the most efficient for student learning and retention!
             
Visual Connections
Visual connections make a huge impact in note taking and retention.  The key to creating good visual notes is incorporating what I like to call “visual memory triggers.”  These triggers are graphics or other images that contain or represent an analogy that helps the student understand and retain information. 
 
Click here to read a post all about How to Create Visual Memory Triggers.
 
visual connections in note taking - how to make lecture more enjoyable and increase student retention at the same time
Explicitly Teaching Note Organization
Note taking does not come easily to some students, so it’s necessary to teach some organizational skills in taking notes.  Students should be able to understand what information they should write down, and what information is okay to skip.    
 
Secondly, it is helpful for them to be able to go back and easily find a certain piece of information. We want note taking to be helpful for learning during the lecture, but we also want them to be able to refer back to clear, cohesive notes. 
 
Teaching your students to take highly organized notes is so important, especially if they are planning on attending college!
doodle note stickers - a twist on a graphic organizer
Incorporate Color
Incorporating color in some way during your lectures is so beneficial for students! Different colors, their combinations, and their placement can have an effect on attention, memory, feelings, and behaviors of students. Check out one of my recent posts, How Color Affects Student Learning.

Doodle Notes - now in DIY stickers!
Notes by Hand
There is a lot of research out there that shows notes are so much better when taken by hand, rather than digitally. Scientific American tells us that even though people generally type faster than write, more notes aren’t necessarily better.
In three separate studies that compare students taking notes by hand vs. students taking notes by laptop, they found those who wrote out their notes had a stronger conceptual understanding and were more successful in applying and integrating the material.
 
Specific Strategies for Note Taking:
 
Color coded notes
As mentioned above, color has a huge impact on learning and memory. It is helpful for your students to use a specific color for different kinds of information. 

For example, if they use blue for all vocabulary words and definitions, they can better recall the words and definitions, or efficiently find it in their notes, later.

Graphic organizers

Graphic organizers are great for note taking because they can help with showing relationship, visualizing and simplifying ideas, and organizing information. According to Teach Hub, “Since graphic organizers present material through the visual and spatial modalities (and reinforce what is taught in the classroom), the use of graphic organizers helps students internalize what they are learning.”

Doodle Notes

Doodle Notes are amazing, because they are a blend of the best of the two strategies above! (Click here to read more about the Doodle Note strategy and the research behind it!)
 
The perfect way to get started and decide if Doodle Notes is right for your class is downloading this FREE “Engage Your Brain” Doodle Notes! This page is a perfect way to introduce your class to a new strategy for taking effective notes and how their brain works! They can learn a little about the way the brain reacts when you integrate the left and the right hemispheres. You will quickly realize all of the benefits and your students will be begging for more Doodle Notes!
 
Outlining/Cornell

By taking notes using an outlining method, students are organizing the material on their page, which makes it easy to identify main points, subtopics, and details. 

Cornell notes have been proven to be effective in student learning. This method involves recording notes during the lecture, asking questions after the lecture, reciting notes aloud, reflecting, and then reviewing.

Make Every Note Day a Great Day!
Make note-taking fun for the students and let them use any of their coloring utensils; this actually helps them remember better! As mentioned earlier, color helps students materialize the content.
 
Another perfect, simple solution to livening up note day for you and your students is to implement Doodle Notes! When students use doodle notes, the two hemispheres of the brain collaborate to increase focus. They become excited, engaged, and attentive, so their retention is increased.

Students interact with visual triggers that boost their memory for the lesson material. They become proud of their creative work on their page and suddenly begin pulling out their notes sheets consistently to review, show them off, and reference them as a study guide.

Added bonuses include relaxation, coordination, and a boost in problem solving skills.  Once students, try it they will be excited to try more! Doodle Notes Days will be days to look forward to. You can download a free handbook on Doodle Notes here!

Make it a goal of every note taking day to engage student brains just as much as you do on an activity / practice day. Be sure that they make solid mental connections and then walk away with a clear, colorful graphic organizer that can become their reference guide to look back at later.

Doodle Notes for Geometry Proofs
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Brigid has taught a range of middle and high school math courses, but her real passion is Geometry! She loves to teach proofs, and enjoys blending fun and rigor into math class. Discover creative and unique strategies for teaching by stopping by her blog. Or visit her on PinterestFacebookInstagram, or at her TpT store Math Giraffe.