Putting Pencil to Paper in the Blended Learning Classroom

May 20, 2014

It’s tempting for students in blended learning classes to type notes rather write them by hand. The students are already using computers, plus typing eliminates the problem of messy handwriting.

student note taking
Our students love taking notes.

Not so fast, according to a study released last month, which found that students remembered and understood more when they took notes the old-fashioned way. Researchers from Princeton University and the University of California-Berkeley came to this conclusion after comparing the quiz scores of students who took notes by hand with those who used a laptop after watching a 30-minute TED talk. After looking at the notes themselves, they concluded that students who type notes are more likely to copy content down verbatim. The better strategy: rephrasing the content into their own words, which the longhand note-takers did. This forces the learner to listen intently in order to process the information.

At Reasoning Mind, all students take Cornell notes by hand. Here are a few best practices we have identified to get students started:

  1. Clearly label the title and date at the start of each session. Notebooks and binders are difficult to keep organized without a timestamp.
  2. Separate the examples from the initial instruction. This keeps the notes pages logical and easily digestible.
  3. Talk it out. It may be difficult for some students to get into the habit of explaining each of the steps in their thinking process, but reluctant note-takers may benefit from sharing how they did the problem to a class or peer, and then transcribing that into the notebook.
  4. Signal to students when a definition or problem should go into their notes. In Reasoning Mind, a friendly reminder from the Genie to “write this down” lets students know.
  5. Review notes with students. Encourage students to make frequent use of these learning aids.

Another reason to take notes by hand? No technical malfunctions the night before the test, unless of course, the dog eats your notebook. 

If you are interested in learning more about Reasoning Mind’s math class strategies, be sure to check out our FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest pages.

Post by Jessica Johnson, Implementation Coordinator

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