NOTE THIS DOWN

Under Ofsted 's new inspection framework, schools will now be inspected on the learning behaviours that students display and their awareness of 'how to study effectively '. Whilst embarking on something new for Ofsted alone isn 't always wise, focusing on students ' familiarity with learning concepts is a sensible goal. And a key strategy that students can be taught in this area one that 's applicable across the curriculum is Cornell Notes. Cornell Notes is a simple, but powerful way for students to learn the all-important skill of effective note-taking. It provides a clear structure for note-taking which we, as seasoned subject experts, may take for granted. Students are novices, and we need to explicitly teach them strategies that will help them strengthen their study skills. How does it work? The structure of Cornell Notes involves organising pages into four distinct sections: a title at the top; a main panel to the right for making notes on the subject in question; a narrower question column to the left for key questions that arise from the learning; and a section at the bottom for a summary to prompt recall of what 's been learned (see Fig 1 opposite). When introducing this strategy to students it 's vital to start with these four sections, as they need to understand the different foci of each one. A typical lesson outline might go as follows: Step 1: introduce the concept of Cornell Notes. Step 2: Divide your page up into the sections and have the students do the same. Step 3: Explain the 'title ' part of the page, and model how to write a title that will be helpful for future study or revision. The key to doing this well is to identify the topic as speciically as possible for example, 'Context: Dickens ' views on society '. Step 4: Move on to the 'main notes ' section. It 's useful at this stage to have hardcopies of some core knowledge you have recently taught the class. Using these, make use of the 'I do, we do, you do ' modelling strategy to help students see how to do it and gain conidence, while moving them towards taking notes independently. You may ind you need to be very clear in your explanations of how to take notes making your thinking process explicit will give your students a valuable insight into the processes involved. Step 5: Now move to the 'questions ' in the left-hand pane. Before writing anything, explore the purpose that this section serves with the students. Put simply, it provides them with a future revision aid so that when the time comes to check their knowledge, they can simply cover the notes and try to answer the questions. It 's therefore important at this point to show students how to write good recall questions the 'I do, we do, you do ' method will again be helpful here, but it can be a tricky part of the process, and it may take some time until the students are able to generate questions conidently. Step 6: The inal stage involves focusing on the 'summary ' section at the bottom of the page. This is intended to serve as a current study aid, helping them process the knowledge they have learnt while highlighting core learning for future revision. This part can also be hard at irst teaching students how write their summaries succinctly will take some deliberate practice. Long-term retention Once students have mastered the Cornell Notes strategy, the next stage for you, as their teacher, is to build it into your classroom routines and expectations. Sticking to one coherent strategy will ensure that students have an excellent back catalogue of revision notes for the future. It will also enable you to set high impact, low workload homework, such as self quizzing from the question prompts, or total recall of notes followed by self checking in a different coloured pen. These types of tasks will contribute to ensuring that students are focussed on long-term retention of knowledge. A concern some teachers have over teaching strategies like Cornell Notes is that doing so takes up lesson time that could be spent actually teaching the subject. In fact, the opposite is true. Whilst it may initially feel slightly distanced from the teaching of core subject content, in the longer term the Cornell Notes strategy will help to strengthen students ' ability to study and revise that content. Having a strategy in place that underpins your students ' long-term learning will ultimately pay dividends. As a teacher, it 's more than worth setting aside the time needed upfront to ensure that your students are as well prepared for their future learning as possible.