What an adventure it is to venture into a teenager’s bedroom to retrieve their washing or a pile of mugs. Sometimes the surprises you get are rather pleasant however, like today when I happened upon a beautifully organised A4 notepad containing a set of notes on the opening chapters of ‘The Great Gatsby’. What’s more, it was a Cornell notepad, the best £5.99 I ever invested pre-lockdown to support said teenager rationalise the volume of notes she was making whilst revising for GCSEs, now repurposed for A level preparation.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about note-taking. Lockdown has afforded me the time and energy to do a oodles of online CPD. Hours of the best teacher development I have EVER undertaken and so I have notebooks full of excellent advice to share with my colleagues and students.
I’ve started writing a manual to support the A level English students at my new school get off to the best possible start to their A Level studies, when we return to face-face teaching in September. It will be supported by some Loom videos – because, frankly, teachers are now pretty expert at teaching online as well as in person. It’s uber-sensible to have the wherewithal to switch seamlessly between the two. And why wouldn’t you give yourself the pleasure of being able to say “here’s the link to what I covered in class” for anyone who is absent or ‘here’s what I would have taught if I wasn’t suffering from laryngitis’ to a supply teacher in November.
Handwritten notes are the bread and butter of the knowledge- acquisition part of A Level courses. In fact the knowledge-communication part (the end of course exams) is handwritten for most students too, so it makes sense to get as much practice as possible with a pen and paper.
Take a look at this article on the reasons why you shouldn’t use a laptop or tablet to take notes in class. I’d long suspected that ditching the tech and engaging in the physical act of writing engaged the parts of the brain that make sense of the information you receive and that you listen more actively if you are having to summarise the lecture notes in your own words or images (ideally both).
Doodlers, list-makers, Cornell-note takers you rule the world – or soon will. And yes, here is the proof that you should turn off the tech and reconnect with the real world some of the time, at least. Live in the moment but plan for tomorrow is one of my mantras. Handwriting your notes allows you to do both. Job done!