Notetaking is an essential skill students must develop in order to be effective readers and learners in the content areas (Broz & Simpson, 2007). The sheer volume of information, vocabulary, and concepts students are expected to learn will be easier if they develop a notetaking system that facilitates meaningful reading and listening (Faber, Morris, & Lieberman, 2000; Lebauer, 2000), leads to an organized record of learning (Titsworth & Kiewra, 2004), and makes review and study efficient (Williams & Eggert, 2002).
1. Present a section of the material to be covered in the split-page format (See an example). This is done by drawing a straight line from top to bottom of a piece of paper (preferably a sheet of normal sized, lined notebook paper) approximately 2 – 3 inches from the left edge. The page should be split into one-third/two-thirds. In the left column big ideas, key dates, names, etc. should be written and supporting information in the right column. Students should be urged to paraphrase and abbreviate as much as possible (See example).
2. Discuss the advantages of taking notes in this way. Show students how they can prompt recall by bending the sheet or using another sheet of paper so that information in the right or left columns is covered. The uncovered information is then used as prompts for the information in the column that is covered.
3. Next, present another section of the material while students attempt to take split-page notes on their own. In advance, a model of the information in split-page format should be prepared and used to compare with the organization of the content with students’ attempts.
4. Continue to guide students in the process of taking split-page notes by modeling the format with notes of the content and eliciting similar styled notes from students. It will take time for students to become comfortable with the format and develop their own individual styles within the split-page structure. This guided practice time is the best way to ensure students learn and take full advantage of the notetaking system.
Brozo, W.G., & Simpson, M.L. (2007). Content literacy for today’s adolescents:Honoring diversity and building competence. Upper Saddle River, NJ:Merrill/Prentice Hall.
Faber, J.E., Morris, J.D., & Lieberman, M.G. (2000). The effect of note taking on ninth grade students’ comprehension. Reading Psychology, 21, 257-270.
Lebauer, R.S. (2000). Learn to listen: Listen to learn. Academic listening and note-taking (2nd ed.). New York: Longman.
Titsworth, B.S., & Kiewra, K.A. (2004). Spoken organizational lecture cues and student note-taking as facilitators of student learning. Contemporary Educational Pscyhology, 29, 234-237.
William, R.L., & Effert, A. (2002). Note-taking predictors of test performance. Teaching of Psychology, 29, 234-237.
CONTENT LITERACY STRATEGY DESCRIPTIONS for the 2008 LOUISIANA COMPREHENSIVE CURRICULUM, Dr. William G. Brozo, May 2008