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  How to Take Notes

How to Take Notes

Notes are a valuable entity to classroom learning. They accompany your textbook knowledge and complement the teaching. Classroom learning comes from a combination of textbook information and outside information from the teacher. It is necessary to take notes in class because not all of the information you will learn will come from textbooks. Consequently, in high school, college, and graduate school classes, you will "take notes" or jot down information for yourself to study at a later date.

In today's day of changing and transforming technology, people are taking notes in various methods. Many people still take notes in the old fashioned method of shorthand (pen on paper). Others record lectures and listen to them at later dates, jotting down the information they believe to be important. And, now students are bringing their laptops to class and typing directly into their computers.

  • Shorthand
  • Shorthand note taking is still the most popular and foolproof method of taking notes. Students bring pens, pencils, and paper (notebook ruled paper) to class and listen to the teacher lecture. They write down important information in specific codes that they understand. Handwriting becomes illegible to everyone but the student. Eventually, students re-write and copy their handwritten notes into legible copies.

  • Recording
  • While discouraged, this method of note taking is prevalent in schools. Students sit in class to listen and soak in as much information as possible. They bring in a mini recording device and tape the lecture (as discouraged as this practice may be). Later, they listen to the lecture and slowly write down the important facts.

  • PowerPoint Presentations
  • Lucky for students, some professors now utilize the PowerPoint functions on their computers to give lectures. Notes are given directly to the students, as the PowerPoint presentation serves as an outline for the lecture. If your teacher gives you a printed copy of the presentation (an outline for the lecture), use it as your baseline for note taking. Write little facts given in lecture directly on the outline provided.

  • Laptops
  • While laptops in class are not especially prominent in high school, they are growing in college, and are ubiquitous in graduate school coursework. Students bring laptops directly to class and take notes on their computers. The benefits of note taking on computers is that many people type faster than they can hand write, and consequently write down more notes (and take in more information). Another benefit of this type of note taking is that the notes will be legible later on when you study your notes.

If you are unsure as to what information to write down (in hand or on a computer), then simply ask your teacher. Generally, the teacher will tell you if information is important for you to write down. If the teacher does not tell you, then you should not write down everything said in class. It will be virtually impossible to write down everything said. Therefore, you must write down just the bare minimum. You will know what is important to write down because it will be written on the board, on a transparency, or the teacher will tell you. It is far better to sit in class and understand what is being discussed, then try to write down every word from the outside. You may look at your notes and understand nothing.