Friday, July 27, 2012


Think about the students in your classroom. Have you ever noticed what they do while you are giving the lesson? Do they listen attentively? Do they stare off into space? Or do you watch them attempt to copy your every word? What do you as a teacher, expect your students to do?

Most teachers expect students to pay attention to the lesson and take notes but what a lot of teachers forget is that note taking does not come easy for children, especially English Language Learners (ELLs).The concept of recording information in a way that helps them recall that same information later may be difficult for students when they have never been taught how to take notes, do not understand the language of the classroom, do not know what you expect of them, or are unsure of what important things in the lesson they should be taking note of.

This Webquest contains a few different resources on note taking strategies that you can teach to ELL students, as well as native speakers of English, across most grades levels that will help them record and organize their notes.


Your task is to compose a list of strategies from the resources available online that you would like to implement in your classroom. Once you have your list of strategies, you will choose a minimum of four lessons that you have previously taught and in the course of two weeks you will  model how to take notes on those lessons using each of the strategies you have listed. Once all of the strategies have been modeled, ask students which one they found to be the most useful. As the year progresses, note which strategies the students continue to use and record your insights on its effectiveness in the "Evaluation" section of the Webquest.


As mentioned in the introduction, note taking can be a challenging task for ELLs for various reasons.Think about the ELL students in your classroom. What do you see them doing during the delivery of the lesson? What sort of information do they take note of?

1. Take out a folder and a sheet of notebook paper. Draw a vertical line down the middle of the paper. In one column write down some of your previous observations of these students during the delivery of the lesson. In the next column write down measures you have taken to ensure that these students are taking notes effectively. Hold on to this paper.
2. Next, browse through the resources available for the different content area courses. (The strategies are not limited to any one content area).
3. On the back of your observation sheet, list the strategies that you would like to teach to your students.
4. Take out a second sheet of notebook paper and begin to compose a lesson on how you would teach students to use these strategies. Be sure to address:

  • The purpose for note taking
    • to review important information from the class lesson
    • to have a guide to study from 
    • to reflect on the lesson that was given 
  • What  you expect students to take note of
    • information that you have highlighted as important (through explicitly saying "this is important",  have written on the board, etc.)
  • How students should take notes
    • explain the diagram/strategy they should be using
      • point out its different components
      • explain terminology (ex. summarize, describe, etc.)
    • model how to use the strategy 
      • give a lesson and take notes yourself using a projector. Prompt students to add to the notes you are creating so they can gain practice.
      • have a ready made example and explain how you took notes
Keep these notes in your Webquest folder.
5. Deliver your composed lessons in the course of two weeks. Afterwards, ask your ELL students which strategies worked best for them. Record this information on a separate sheet to keep in your folder.
6. Over the course of the year take note of which strategies your students continue to use.


Note taking Strategies:

Tree Strategy (video clip)
Summary Format (pdf)
Guided Notes
Cornell Notes (pdf)

Social Studies:
Tree Strategy (video clip)
Guided Notes
T-Chart (pdf)
Cornell Notes (pdf)

Problem/Solution Frame (pdf)
Guided Notes
Visual Vocabulary
T-Chart (pdf)

Frayer Model

Multiple Strategies:
Specific Note taking Strategies

  1. Two-Column Method
  2. REAP Strategy
  3. Concept Cards
  4. Graphic Organizers


Tell us about your experience!

In the comments below tell us which strategies you found to be the most helpful for your ELL students. How is your approach to note taking different from when you first began the Webquest? What insights can you share with us to make this site better for future users?


Congratulations! You have completed the Note taking Webquest for ELL Students in Content Area Classrooms.

It is important to remember that note taking is a strategy that many students struggle with and it can be even more difficult for ELL students. If they receive the tools and instruction they need to be successful at this task then their overall comprehension and study skills can be improved.