My co-teacher and I have been concerned about our students’ note taking skills this year. Perhaps not surprisingly for eleven year old children who complete much of their work using computers, they are fond of cutting and pasting whenever possible. We have discussed extensively with them the need for them to develop note-taking as a skill. How plagiarism is illegal and how they will be severely penalised if they plagiarise in high school and beyond. Yet still we come across them thinking it is okay to copy a chuck of text and then change a few key words. As if by magic that makes it their own! As we increase the amount of choice our students have, this is becoming more of a problem to spot. Gone are the days when all students wrote a report on the same Antarctic animal, making it easy to spot similar sentences.
So we are on the hunt for note-taking skills and strategies for primary students. This year we have used the following:
- Insisting they note take using only bullet points by hand into a notebook.
- Using Microsoft One-note. So that they have a page for bullet point notes, another for their draft copy, another for published work and finally a page of bibliography links.
- Using Microsoft word and asking them to hand in a sheet of notes, as well as their final documents.
Note-taking by hand worked well, especially if we insisted on bullet points, forcing them to be concise. Using One-note also worked well but some primary students found it difficult to master and forgot to use it. Using Microsoft word did not work for us. Many students failed to supply notes as well as their final copy and we were forever having to remind them to do this.
Yet we do not want to insist that they must take notes by hand. As we move increasingly into a digital age there must be new and better ways to learn this vital skill? Ways that maybe you know of or are using?
So my question today is, how can we teach primary students how to take effective notes without copying directly from their research sources?