Monday, November 28, 2016

Note-taking in Mathamatics

Analog, Drafting, Bring On The Paper  I grew up in an age where you wrote down everything the professor wrote on the board in the hopes you got it all, it made sense later, and you could decipher those same notes when you read them over.

I never learned to take notes properly but with today's technology, I can open an app, record, and go back later to take notes at my own pace.

The other day, I was working with my seniors and realized they do not know who to take notes as they read the textbook.  So  we took a class period to go over looking for information you want and how to go through examples.  I showed them my thought process involved in working through examples.  Most of them sat there and tried to write everything down but one girl watched and listened and heard what I was saying. 

I found two videos on note-taking on you tube.  I went straight to the videos because these students can watch for themselves or you can show in class to give students a better idea of how to do it.

1. Math notetaking from the textbook.  The creator of this video uses colored sticky notes to designate vocabulary, key concept, direct quote, equations and she writes on these notes, sticks them to the pages as she reads the book. This is the first step in note taking.

2.  Next is the lecture notes from class.  She uses highlighters which are the same colors as her sticky notes.  She goes through her lecture notes highlighting certain concepts, then adds the appropriate sticky note to the page.  She shows how to combine the two for a set of well done final notes.

Cornell note taking is often recommended to students because it divides the paper into three sections.  The right hand side is for key points or topic headings while the left side is for the notes and the bottom part can be used to clarify and identify the main points or summarize the notes.  In math, we find that harder to visualize but it is possible to do it.  If you check this site , there are great examples of both good and bad note taking using this system in math.

This pdf shows how to set the page up with notes on how to use the three column note taking method which is very similar to Cornell.  To follow up, this 20 minute video shows how to use the Cornell format in Math done by a teacher who has her students use this method.  In addition, she includes information on how to use the notes later. 

As for the actual notes, it is recommended students:
1. Ask questions to clarify the material as needed.

2. Identify important elements of the lecture - could be done by reading the material before coming to class.

3.  Review notes after class.

4. Consider using a tablet or computer to take notes if you feel this would allow you to take notes better. (my students often snap pictures of notes for later.)

5. Record the lecture for use later.

6. Skip words, not numbers.

7. Use color for emphasis.

8. Use a form of shorthand.

9.  Use a three column paper for notes.

These suggestions are strongly recommended as a way of helping students take better notes in math.

Check these out or have your students check these out if they need help learning to take better notes in math.  Let me know what you think.