Five Methods Help You Plan

Five Methods Help You Plan

When you start dealing with notetaking, you encounter five major methods. They are:

Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages. Personally, I like to use outlining where Roman numerals, letters, and numbers are employed. It helps me organize my notes and put in subdivisions as I go along. It does have the disadvantage of taking time to think about organization during the lecture or presentation. It also requires a more finite type of thinking of what is important as you listen to a lecture or a speech.

Charting is a much more comprehensive and detailed way of taking notes. Some people may like charting after they read a book chapter or look over their notes later. It involves column and row work. For example, if I wanted to organize a lecture about some Great Books a lecturer had been talking about, I might organize the columns in the following way:

The Cornell Method of notetaking has been with us for at least 40 years. It was pioneered through several editions of Pauk's How to Study. The Cornell Method is named after Cornell University where the notetaking system was quite popular. To experience the Cornell Method you need to divide your 8 1/2 x 11" paper the following way:

The Cornell Method allows a thorough kind of notetaking. You understand more what you write. You are constantly prompted with your questions from the left column. You can completely cover up the right column and see if you can answer your own questions. The bottom part allows you to summarize the entire page of notes. For people who desire a more thorough kind of notetaking, Cornell may be for you. You can see that Cornell is more time consuming, say than initial outlining or simply writing sentences of what the professor said.

Sentences and paragraphs are exactly what the words imply. You write entire sentences of what the professor said. Eventually, those sentences become paragraphs. You can imagine how you might get behind as the professor is talking. You may not want every word the professor said. You may only want signal words or cues.

Mapping or clustering means you build a mindmap as the professor talks. The notes make sense to you, not necessarily everyone around you. You place one idea or noun in each bubble, circle, or rectangle. You draw arrows to the different understandings. Please see the mindmap discussion and Buzan's ideas as well as how to use the Inspiration Software to create your own mindmaps of notes from your texts or other sources. Clustering requires right brain thinking where you are visually oriented. Mindmapping or clustered notetaking is for everyone. It depends on whether you enjoy drawing and placing your ideas in some kind of storyboard or cluster. You have to decide as a notetaker what method you prefer.
Last updated July 22, 2002

(c)copyright G. Jay Christensen

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