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Note-Taking

post #1 of 41
Thread Starter 
I'm curious to hearespecially from the students herehow you take notes and, more importantly, why you do it that way. Spiral notebook? Loose-leaf paper? Circa system? Moleskine? Laptop?

I ask because every semester is pains me to watch my students take notes in absolutely horrible and useless ways.... I actually joked this semester with one class that I wish I could take away all their crappy note-taking systems (invariably in dilapidated spiral-bound notebooks) and replace them with ones that actually work.

When I was in college, I took notes with a legal pad and a manilla folder. Each class day got a sheet of paper and the paper went in the folder, and I'd review them in reverse come the end of the semester.

These days I use a couple of moleskine notebooks for my meeting notes and whatnot.

For my lecture notes, I use a modified Levenger circa systemportrait-oriented 5x8 notecards printed with a template. I store the notes in a file box

And while we're on it, I use the following writing implements:

Parker Sonnet rollerball

Parker Jotter ballpoint with gel refill

Rotring mechanical pencil

So....how do you take notes? Why do you do it that way?
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post #2 of 41
I tell my students to make sure NOT to think that merely taking notes means you are litening, and to make sure to listen first, understand, and take notes when the points are salient, or to fill in the narrative.

Usually with an important point that I think they should note, I scribble on the board . . . or now I am using quite a bit of Powerpoints. (History course and an Aesthetics course)
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"They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
--George W Bush

"Narrative is what starts to happen after eight minutes
--Franklin Miller.

"Nothing...

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post #3 of 41
Thread Starter 
I encourage my upper-division students simply to jot down questions or thoughts that they have during class, not to take notes on whatever crazy thing comes out of my mouth.
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post #4 of 41
It's been a long time since I was in a formal class setting. When I was I used a spiral notebook and wrote pretty illegibly in it. I tend to remember things though just from writing them down. Now at work it's legal pad all the way. I need to find a good pen though, my last one just died.
post #5 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by trick fall
It's been a long time since I was in a formal class setting. When I was I used a spiral notebook and wrote pretty illegibly in it. I tend to remember things though just from writing them down. Now at work it's legal pad all the way. I need to find a good pen though, my last one just died.

If you want a cheapie that's refillable, pick up a Parker Jotter ballpoint somewhere (they're about $4) and stick a gel refill in it. I've kept a Jotter since about 1991 or so, and they're great. If you want something nicer, I'm pretty sold on my Parker Sonnet roller ball, but I can't get a gel for it, which sucks.
Gangs are not seen as legitimate, because they don't have control over public schools.
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post #6 of 41
Regular Bic Blue Ballpoint Pen +
A Spiral notebook for each class, different colour. On the left side I doodle, on the right side I actually write notes. On the side I actually write notes, I usually write stuff on 2/3rds of the page, and then on the other 1/3 use it as a sidebar for writing other tid bits down. ( I think I inherited that from web design, maybe.) It does make for interesting reading of notes, instead of just bullets, they are chuncks of text.

In tech classes, I like to tout my PowerBook, so I will use TextEdit to take notes, and if the power points are made available before the class, I can open them up in Keynote and type into the Notes area for each slide, matching them up easily.

post #7 of 41
I kill trees.

Lots and lots of paper trees.

Oh, and ink trees too...
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post #8 of 41
Quote:
Parker Jotter ballpoint somewhere (they're about $4) and stick a gel refill in it.

Do those smear? I'm a lefty and that's an issue for me.

I actually wound up taking notes last night after my post on a banana paper notebook I bought in Costa Rica. I was working on a Pro Tools problem all night and after reading this thread thought, gee it would probably be a good idea to take notes on the solution so I'm not fumbling around for hours next time!
post #9 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by trick fall
Do those smear? I'm a lefty and that's an issue for me.

I actually wound up taking notes last night after my post on a banana paper notebook I bought in Costa Rica. I was working on a Pro Tools problem all night and after reading this thread thought, gee it would probably be a good idea to take notes on the solution so I'm not fumbling around for hours next time!

The gel dries *very* quickly and will not smear, depending upon the paper. In my moleskines it works great. I think you can get a gel pen like a G2 for about $5. I like the Jotter simply because it's refillable.
Gangs are not seen as legitimate, because they don't have control over public schools.
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Gangs are not seen as legitimate, because they don't have control over public schools.
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post #10 of 41
Quote:
Originally posted by midwinter
I'm curious to hearespecially from the students herehow you take notes and, more importantly, why you do it that way. Spiral notebook? Loose-leaf paper? Circa system? Moleskine? Laptop?

I ask because every semester is pains me to watch my students take notes in absolutely horrible and useless ways.... I actually joked this semester with one class that I wish I could take away all their crappy note-taking systems (invariably in dilapidated spiral-bound notebooks) and replace them with ones that actually work.

When I was in college, I took notes with a legal pad and a manilla folder. Each class day got a sheet of paper and the paper went in the folder, and I'd review them in reverse come the end of the semester.

These days I use a couple of moleskine notebooks for my meeting notes and whatnot.

For my lecture notes, I use a modified Levenger circa systemportrait-oriented 5x8 notecards printed with a template. I store the notes in a file box

And while we're on it, I use the following writing implements:

Parker Sonnet rollerball

Parker Jotter ballpoint with gel refill

Rotring mechanical pencil

So....how do you take notes? Why do you do it that way?

I use Voodoo Pad for all my classes. It's not good for being able to print out one day of notes, but allows for much better organization of info, wiki-style. You create a page for anything you want, then eveyr timeyou type that phrase or word it backlinks to your specific topic page. Best of all, you can export to iPod and have all your notes in website-form anywhere you go. Voodoo Pad is best for history or theory classes where you often reference previous course materials to address other issues in the course.
post #11 of 41
school is for losers
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post #12 of 41
VoodooPad is a great app... add flysketch and you have a real set!

MindMapping is the way to go... it is very simple and far easier than taking extensive notes. It also makes reviewing a walk in the park: everything is on one page.

Here is MindMap on Wikipedia.

I use ConceptDraw MindMap for everything from making shoping lists to planning my textbooks and classes as well as running my business. The Pro version is great for making interconnected MindMaps.

Link: http://www.conceptdraw.com/en/products/mindmap/main.php

They also have some good links to other sites.

Curio is also an interesting app for brainstorming and notetaking in the form of chuncks as mentioned by someone above. Chunks and keywords are easy for the brain to grab...

I encourage my students to review something each day... with a mindmap, i is as easy as looking at a picture for a minute or two, not flipping through pages of not-necessarily organized material. Maps also allow linking between items that would normally be on very different pages; just draw a line between them.

Also see:
http://www.mind-map.com/EN/index.html

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

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Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply
post #13 of 41
Notes are for losers.
Reading is understanding.
Classes is for context and questions.
Exam periods are for the hard work...
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post #14 of 41
As a former student and current teacher, I would like to say that exams should be the easy part. If a student has read, listened, taken notes, done his homework and reviewed properly, then the exams should not be that hard. The problem is, most students can't be bothered to review. They just cram the night before the exam, which overloads the short-term memory, fails to produce long-term memory cells, creates a sense of panic that blows everything to hell, and exhausts them so they can't think straight during the exam.

The headmaster of my personal junior highschool (where we learned about MindMapping) actually told us to take it easy the night before a final, have a long dinner chat with the fam, review for about 45 minutes, watch a comedy on TV and then hit the hay early.

The most successful students at a school I currently teach at are quite relaxed during exam period because they put the work in when they need to and then perform well when it really counts. In Japan, two exams and just two determine where you go to university and whether you have a decent future. To be at ease during these exams is essential to doing well. (One is the national entrance exam that all senior sit, one is for whatever college the kid wants to attend; they can take several of these, but the first exam weeds the patch for who can and can't take which second exam).

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply
post #15 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Bergermeister
As a former student and current teacher, I would like to say that exams should be the easy part.

One of the things that was emphasized for us when I was in grad school was that exams weren't about testing knowledge; they're about giving students a chance to show off. I tell my students that my exams are about testing what kind of "game" they have, not about some kind of gotcha.

Now, granted, my exams in English literature are different from lots of others, but the principle should be the same, I think.

I will, of course, remember all the questions asked of me in my exit exams, for which I studied constantly from April through August and took 400 pages of notes.
Gangs are not seen as legitimate, because they don't have control over public schools.
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Gangs are not seen as legitimate, because they don't have control over public schools.
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post #16 of 41
Exams are the best way for a prof to know if the information they are attempting to convey is actually getting learned...
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post #17 of 41
I've learned that I take in more information when I'm not copying shit verbatim. Just listen to what the teacher/board of directors/plumber has to say and jot down complete thoughts and not bulleted segments.
post #18 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Placebo
I've learned that I take in more information when I'm not copying shit verbatim. Just liten to what the teacher/board of directors/plumber has to say and jot down complete thoughts and not bulleted segments.

Yes.
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Gangs are not seen as legitimate, because they don't have control over public schools.
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post #19 of 41
Do people actually think that if they rattle down what a Prof/TA says verbatim they're actively learning?

I think schools need to do a better job teaching people how to learn. Smart kids will figure it out (hopefully) but I expect many slip through the cracks and merely get by, later bitching about their surprise as to why they didn't get that A++.
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post #20 of 41
Particularly in my biology class, knowing the given biological process is more englightening than knowing the terms for the individual components of the process and what their definitions are. Once you have the concept in your mind you can start to detail it out and assign labels to it. I think you need to understand it first though.
post #21 of 41
it depends on the individual. No universal law can be applied.

I draw drawings instead of taking notes. And fill them with tiny bits of information I know I cannot remember. I mark impotance with stars, relations with arrows and so on. And I decorate with cats.

I tried mindmaps and other digital stuff, but it sucks. My pencil or ballpoint or ink pen doesn't stall or crash, or gives me stupid messages when I try to be creative.

In the office, all our walls are covered with whiteboards. When I explain an idea, I always draw it. It really works.
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post #22 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Xool
Do people actually think that if they rattle down what a Prof/TA says verbatim they're actively learning?

Last year, I was teaching a course on Jane Austen. On the first couple of classes, I lectured about the history of the English novel leading up to Austen. I noticed as I was talking that students were furiously writing notes.

I said "Stop. Just listen. I'm telling you a story."

And I'll be damned if they didn't retain that information better than if they'd taken notes.
Gangs are not seen as legitimate, because they don't have control over public schools.
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Gangs are not seen as legitimate, because they don't have control over public schools.
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post #23 of 41
Writing notes is one thing, by attempting to scrawl the instructors teachings verbatim is useless. I'd go on to say that the fewer notes the better, but a pithy summary or diagram is definitely a good thing.
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post #24 of 41
When I was an engineering student I chose not to take the more demanding, high-level humanities classes, and during these I rarely took notes. It seemed kind of pointless, since lectures in beginning and intermediate classes were often self-explanatory as long as I did a good job studying the material. I always had the feeling that almost no-one in those classes cared at all, and that they just feverishly recorded whatever was said in the class in order to be covered for the exam. Now, these busibodies all did great on the exams, and I usually didn't do as well, but it seems like I have retained more of it. Whether that's related to my less aggressive note-taking, more-aggressive independent study, or something else entirely is up for debate.

For engineering classes I took some notes, mostly to the tune of: "What the hell are all those fucking, Greek letters? Tonight, learn what these mean. . ."

All notes I took then, and all I take now are done on white printer paper, preferably on a clipboard. If I think the note is worth saving, I scan it. I absolutely hate paper unless it's bound to a spine. Incidentally, I scan everything: big receipts, financial docs, vehicle registration, etc.
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post #25 of 41
Quote:
Originally posted by midwinter
Last year, I was teaching a course on Jane Austen. On the first couple of classes, I lectured about the history of the English novel leading up to Austen. I noticed as I was talking that students were furiously writing notes.

I said "Stop. Just listen. I'm telling you a story."

And I'll be damned if they didn't retain that information better than if they'd taken notes.

When the focus is on taking notes, there is less focus on what is actually going on. I remember friends in college coming out of classes saying, "Man, I took seven pages of notes today", patting themselves on the back for their hard work, then failing the exam.

---
Another good way of studying is presenting. A student two years ago asked me how he could do better in history. We looked at his material (it was tough for me because it was all in kanji!) and then I asked him to present it to me the following Monday, a week before his test. I showed him how to make a simple 1 or 2 card presentations and then focus on describing what was on the cards. The next Monday I expected a presentation in Japanese (Japanese junior high, Japanese history, and he had only been studying English for a a little over a year), so I was very surprised when he came in with several cards for each topic, well-illustrated, all written in English, with a special print for me explaining several terms he thought I might not know regarding Japanese culture. He actually gave a better presentation than the history teacher who's test he was studying for! He continued making presentations to me once a week for the remainder of the school year, and ended up really enjoying history, and getting a lot of ice cream from his peers, who all photocopied his presentation cards to help them study.

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply
post #26 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Bergermeister

Another good way of studying is presenting.

Yes! I've taken to having my students give presentations about historical context or issues surrounding some topic we're discussing. I didn't do them this semester in my upper-division class because I thought the material would have been too esotericand my students who'd had me before were actually upset about it.
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Gangs are not seen as legitimate, because they don't have control over public schools.
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post #27 of 41
When I was an Undergrad, in general, I only took down notes when my prof wrote something on the board, continually emphasised a certain idea or topic and when s/he told us to make note of something. I always laughed at the folks who struggled to try and write every word uttered from a prof's mouth.
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post #28 of 41
Thread Starter 
I'm kind of curious...I was an undergrad pre-powerpoint (the early 90s) and so when I wander the halls at work now and see people teaching with PP, I always wonder whether students just write down the bullet points.
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post #29 of 41
Quote:
Originally posted by midwinter
I'm kind of curious...I was an undergrad pre-powerpoint (the early 90s) and so when I wander the halls at work now and see people teaching with PP, I always wonder whether students just write down the bullet points.

I've resisted it. I use it for professional presentations, where you don't usually have questions during the presentation. But in a class, even a large lecture hall, I want more flexibility than presentation software allows. I do have several mini-lectures on Keynote that I use in class - like 15 minutes. But not whole lectures. I seriously can't imagine it in your area.
post #30 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by BRussell
I seriously can't imagine it in your area.

No. It's nearly impossible, depending on what I was teaching. I have given, I think, two or three powerpoint presentations in my entire teaching career (10+ years now), and they were always just a bunch of information about how I wanted something done.
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post #31 of 41
I am currently a grad student in the sciences, and I actually prefer the free form feel of overheads/whiteboard. Powerpoint presentations can be done well for professional talks, but good ones are an art form.
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post #32 of 41
Quote:
Originally posted by Splinemodel
All notes I took then, and all I take now are done on white printer paper

ditto for english literature. i just have to remember not to lose all those sheets. although i just have a few weeks of college left so eh.
post #33 of 41
Quote:
Originally posted by midwinter
I'm kind of curious...I was an undergrad pre-powerpoint (the early 90s) and so when I wander the halls at work now and see people teaching with PP, I always wonder whether students just write down the bullet points.

Powerpoint is satan.
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post #34 of 41
square paper and a red and a black pen.
post #35 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by soulcrusher
square paper and a red and a black pen.

yes, but what KIND of paper and what kinds of red and black pens?
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post #36 of 41
Quote:
Originally posted by midwinter
yes, but what KIND of paper and what kinds of red and black pens?

black cross pen, red Papermate el cheapo pen and Duke-branded square paper spiral notebooks (that one sold at the University store).
post #37 of 41
Thread Starter 
I prefer the ultra-fine uni-ball red pens. Scratchy, but I like the line they draw.

And GRR! A spiral-bound notebook! I threaten to take them away from my students once a week.
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post #38 of 41
Quote:
Originally posted by midwinter
And GRR! A spiral-bound notebook! I threaten to take them away from my students once a week.

Why is that?
post #39 of 41
Quote:
Originally posted by midwinter
I prefer the ultra-fine uni-ball red pens. Scratchy, but I like the line they draw.

And GRR! A spiral-bound notebook! I threaten to take them away from my students once a week.

I agree... they do not allow students to reoganize their notes, without re-writing.

Using a binder allows notes to be re-ordered, combined with similar items, homework and tests to be included in the notebook in a time-line fashion. For starters.

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply

 

Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

Reply
post #40 of 41
My last semester in college! I have always used a white binder from Office Depot with loose leaf paper; the whiter the better. I have always taken down notes with the same style pen all 4 years: a blue Papermate ball point pen. Never once thought of using my iBook.

One of my professors gave a PowerPoint presentation once. Of course he borrowed it.
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