Saturday, February 23

Cornell Notes: Beyond the Lecture

 This blog was originally published at on December 17, 2015:

This post was inspired by collegial conversations with +April Holder and by watching the amazing Jessica Langdon. 

I love it and think it is great when a school adopts a way of doing something across grade levels, subjects and content.  When this is done, however, it is easy to get stuck with the one way it was taught, modeled or introduced.  Sometimes this happens with the popular and organizational way of taking notes. Cornell Notes, that is.

Cornell Notes is a way to divide a piece of paper and organize note-taking.  You can read the interesting history behind it HERE.  As we adopt technology in our schools and classrooms, we begin to substitute the paper with online versions.  You can use Google Doc Templates (Or Microsoft Template) or create your own to share.  You can even differentiate Cornell Notes for your students.

And I know having the students do the summary at the end can be… frustrating at first for both the teacher and the students, but stick with it and set high expectations.  They will meet you there.

But the point of this blog is not to introduce Cornell Notes.

This blog is an invitation to move outside of lecture when using/teaching Cornell Notes.  While lecture is a great way to learn and practice Cornell notes, and is an important skill to use when a teacher is lecturing, there are other ways students can practice Cornell Notes.

Note Taking: Using a Variety of Sources

Jessica Langdon asked her students to use a variety of sources to complete Cornell Notes during their unit on Native Americans.  Results?  100% engagement as students moved through their textbook and a Symabloo of resources.  No lecture required:


                           Kid Example                                                               Kid Example

Note Taking: More than texts and lectures

Here’s a great resource for using Cornell Notes for Discussions, Field Trips, Guest Speakers and more.

Note Taking: Videos

Cornell Notes can even be used for summarizing and comparing video! Try BlendSpace (New to BlendSpace? Watch next month for a blog post on the GCCS Teaching Through Technology page by Teacher Librarian +Jill Sceifers  and a Teaching Tuesday session by +Melissa Stewart!)

Have students take notes as they watch with VideoNot! It connects with your Google Drive.  Have a click and take a look. (I learned this from an awesome Demo Slam by the infamous +Kyle Pace at a GAFE Summit).

Cornell Notes are grand, but don’t get stuck in a rut.  No one-trick ponies here.  Stretching is just as important for the mind as it is the body.  Happy Cornell Noting!

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