Friday, March 28, 2008

Content vs. Process

It is interesting that I focus on content almost exclusively in this early posts of this little experiment, but I value process almost as much, if not more, in my teaching. So in an effort to make sure that I open the discussion about processes. I am posting a short little article that I submitted to a virtual teaching newsletter. It is about note taking routines and structures with an example from a math class. I will open a conversation about note taking/summarizing at the wiki.

Note-Taking in a Hybrid Classroom

By Roland O’Daniel, CTL

This article features strategies from the Collaborative Model for Content Literacy developed by
the Collaborative for Teaching and Learning


In the hybrid classroom there is a unique opportunity for students to explore mathematical concepts on their own using on-line tools and then come together in a face to face setting to share what they have observed and learned. In the hybrid setting students often struggle with working in the independent, virtual learning environment and gathering important information while in that environment. Information must be synthesized in a very different way. Students have to identify what is important, what they understand, do not understand, and questions that they have. It is important to intentionally and explicitly develop structures in the classroom to help students interact with the material.

Note-Taking Skills and Strategies

Marzano, Pickering, and Pollock (2001) have identified nine strategies that work most effectively in their book, Classroom Instruction That Works. Among those essential strategies are summarizing and note taking. These strategies promote greater comprehension and understanding by inviting students to analyze a concept to interpret what is essential and then put the material in their own words. Skills that are utilized in good note taking structures include; substituting, deleting, and keeping some things and identifying the important components of the material presented.

In order to develop these skills in the hybrid classroom, teachers create intentional and thorough routines with the students. The routines must be supported and scaffolded in the face–to-face setting so that students will be able to understand the processes well enough to use on their own in the independent virtual environment. For instance, teachers might ask students to question what is unclear, to identify important topics, and to predict what will happen next in the material. One tool for helping students create these types of interactions with notes is a Double Entry organizer. In the left column students take notes as usual and in the right hand column students identify questions, make connections to previous material, and identify material that confuses them.

Teachers who use a Double Entry organizer allow students the opportunity interact with the material by stopping, have students review the their notes for interactions, and during lesson closure follow up with the interactions very intentionally through whole group discussion or small group share out. Teachers introduce and support this structure while in the regular classroom setting and then transfer the process to the independent learning environment. Doing so reinforces independent student learning and also models for students who are struggling with working in a virtual environment.


When students are in the virtual environment, providing the expectation that the same note-taking structure as the classroom is used will help reinforce the understanding and create better note takers. If students are not in a lab setting, providing note-taking guides that have prompts for interactions will help reinforce the process with students. It is imperative that teachers support the process in classroom discussions when the classes are back together, so that students see value in taking the time to review and synthesize the notes. The importance of note taking is more than just remembering the highlights of class. A good note-taking routine sets a tone of communication in the classroom and provides students a tool for learning the material more effectively.

Classroom Instruction That Works by R. J. Marzano, D. J. Pickering, and J. E. Pollock, 2001, Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Subjects Matter, Every teacher’s Guide to Content-Area Reading, Harvey Daniels and Steven Zemelman, 2004, Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann Publishing.

Attachment A


Sanford said...

For good ideas about teaching in a classroom, and how to study, see the new book on "Teaching and Helping Students Think and Do Better".

RolandOD said...

Thanks for the information. I'll be sure to check it out.