Note taking in lessons/lectures and from written texts
Traditional note taking is not usually taught in a formal way at school. As a school inspector and teacher over the course of a year I see many hundreds of different sets of notes created by pupils of all abilities.
More often than not the notes are traditional written notes in a prose or list format. Much of the information that has been recorded by the ‘note taker’ is not very useful. Look back a set of your own notes and try and identify how useful the notes are.
I have found that MindMapping is an excellent diagrammatic way of organizing key ideas or concepts from lesson notes, texts or meetings.
Simply take the essential elements from linear material (textbooks, your lesson notes or the agenda) to generate your MindMap. In this way, you can capture all the information on one page or screen, enabling you to see the interconnections of ideas. What’s more, MindMaps encourage you to utilise the power of images to add emphasis and association to your notes. Using graphics in this way enhances the memory’s storing and recalling capabilities. They even look better.
Tips for making notes from a textbook or course material
- Textbooks are usually neatly structured into chapters, topic headings and sub headings which can provide an easy framework for creating your MindMap branches.
- Build your Mind Map as you progress through the study text. Every time you read an idea that strikes you as important or interesting, just add it to your MindMap in the appropriate place. You can also add your own thoughts and ideas as they arise while you are reading.
- Add detail such as images, shapes, highlights and colors to help you organize the material better and commit it to memory.
- When you have finished reading, you will have generated a single Mind Map which summarizes everything of interest from the text. The act of creating the Mind Map will have greatly increased the volume of information that you absorbed from the text.
- If you created your Map with MindMapping software you can review the topic at any time by referring back to your MindMap. It is easy to make any changes or restructure your map without the hassle of recreating all of your work.
- You don’t need pages and pages of notes for effective study!
Try this technique and let me know how you get on.
Tips for summarizing a lesson, lecture or meeting.
- Start by entering the subject matter in the middle of the map with a central idea.
- Create the main branches from this subject/agenda item, each labeled with a key topic or theme that was covered in the lesson/meeting. Remember to use single keywords in keeping with MindMapping principles (where possible).
- Next draw connecting branches to the main branches and label these with sub-topics. If you have any of your own ideas during this exercise, add them to your MindMap.
- Add images to help make the MindMap more visually memorable for revision.
- While it is necessary to be brief in order to create an effective MindMap, you may wish to include more comprehensive notes at this early stage of study. Some MindMapping software i.e. iMindMap allows you to add notes to your branches or link them to external files such as Word documents or spreadsheets which you can open up when needed. After you have studied this information, you will only need the keywords of your MindMap to bring it back to memory.