Let the Notes Do the Work

by Becky DeSmith | 1 | 0 Comments

You just never know how a student will respond when given choices.

I recently spent a week in Pennsylvania doing reading comprehension model lessons in grades five through nine.  Using the topic “the purchase of a new cell phone, “ I modeled how to use two-column notes to create a summary. I then engaged the kids to apply the process to the content they were presently studying.

If students are familiar with taking effective notes, summary writing is, (dare I say???) easy.  The process we teach in The Key Comprehension Routine takes students through:

  • identifying main ideas,
  • creating an introductory sentence,
  • putting the main ideas into sentences with a few relevant details,
  • adding appropriate transition words.

If you already have your main ideas and details in notes, the hard work is done. Mission completion!

At any rate, at the end of my lessons I asked students to reflect on what they had learned for the 45 minutes I was in their classroom.  I made it clear I was looking for thoughtful, serious, honest reflection.  Out of the mouth of a ninth grade young man came:

“If my notes are good, my summary will be good, huh?”

I reached into the apron I traditionally wear when I do model lessons.  Out of it I pulled a high-end metallic marker set popular with students, and a reading rubber duckie.   Looking the student straight in the eye, I commented that he had made a solid reflection, and offered him a choice of the two objects.  Without a moment’s hesitation, he reached for the duck.

“Good choice,” I smiled.

Great reflection from a student – priceless.
Rubber reading ducks from Oriental Trading Post – $6.95 per dozen.

Becky DeSmith

Becky DeSmith Becky joined Keys to Literacy in 2007 and has been a literacy educator for over 35 years. She has taught at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, and been involved in many school and district-wide initiatives that address core literacy issues. She has been recognized as a Teacher of the Year by the International Reading Association.

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