How are we introducing note taking and research skills into our homeschool?
One skill that middle and high school students (and beyond!) need is the ability to take notes–either by picking out important key points from books and resources they read or from listening to a speaker or lecturer. In the elementary years, I’ve slowly been trying to help the kids build these skills.
I wanted to write this post to explain the “why” behind some of the resources I make/share on the blog since obviously you can’t read my mind! As my kids get older, I’m trying to make sure they develop skills they need to do research and to take good notes.
In the past year I have shared a number of notebook pages. Sometimes they are in a fill-in-the blank type format. Others, like the one I shared just a few days ago about the medieval church, serve as the basic outline/skeleton for the kids. Here is an example of one of those pages:
How do we use notebook pages? We usually read material aloud together. Another day we review the material. Then finally, we pull out the notebook pages. Before they start filling the sheets out, I have them tell me what they know. I add to what they’ve said. Then, I give them time to write things down. Once they’ve had time to write down their own key points, I go over the key points one more time and give suggestions on what I think they should have covered. They add in any information they might have missed. None of this is word-for-word. In this way, they are having to synthesize the information and then figure out the key points they should jot down.
This may be more information that you need, but since I’ve been pretty deliberate about helping them gain these skill, I wanted to share what’s in my mind.
I’ve talked a lot about our daily writing workshop, which is primarily self-directed writing. They choose the topic, theme, and style. But I also have different activities and projects during the year to help them learn basic research skills.
One of the first activities I introduced were little information cards with pictures, like the wonderful world animal set made by Erica over at Confessions of a Homeschooler. We used the blank lines version. Pictured here is the set for younger kids which requires tracing and copy work:
Here is an example of one of the blank cards that LD filled out:
I have the kids find information online or in books and fill out the cards. At this point, I’m not incredibly worried about plagiarism (copying word for word), though I do explain what that means and to “write things in their own words.”
Sometimes when LD has been “stuck” in writing workshop, I’ll suggest that he does an information card. He’s done research on different diseases (that seems to fascinate him!) and other non-fiction type writing. He really enjoys these and I think the small size felt less overwhelming to him than being faced with a giant blank paper!
Currently, ED is working on a similar activity using the Dinosaur Information Cards that are in the Dinosaur Packet I made (I’ll be sharing that next week!). She read a book on Quetzalcoatlus (the largest of the flying reptiles) and will write an information about that (today/Friday). (It’s not pictured below.)
Some other projects they’ve done in the past couple of years that have focused on notetaking and research include
- Biography Research Paper – This project in particular focused on how to write a bibliography, note taking and writing a more “formal” research paper. I shared a packet there that you can download.
- Animal Portfolio Project
- World War II Portfolio Project
- Free Units on Pets and Pet Diseases from the CDC
- Science Ambassador Program CDC Projects — They did one on animal diseases and one on West Nile Virus. These are free units put out for middle school students/educators.
So that’s it in a nutshell! Hope someone finds this useful!
See you soon here or at our Homeschool Den Facebook page! ~Liesl
And that dinosaur packet I mentioned? It should be ready this next week! Hooray!!