Reflections from PETE&C – Taking Notes

*Cough *Cough *Brush the dust off this blog.

*Clears throat. I had the great pleasure of attending PETE&C last week, the statewide educational technology conference in Pennsylvania. Where we live in WV, the conference is about 90 minutes away and always provides a quality experience for educators. I was part of a number of teachers, technology integration specialists, and district-level instructional technology staff that attended from my district. Before we left, my team and I shared a OneNote Notebook with those attending from our district and challenged them to create new pages in the notebook and capture some of their learning during or after the sessions they attended.

Screenshot of a section in the notebook

We returned from the conference Thursday February 10. On that day, Matt Miller at DitchThatTextbook released a blog post titledĀ Is Student Note-Taking Relevant in Classes Today. It’s an incredible post and you should check it out. Matt’s post caused me to reflect on the reasons why myself and others in my team engaged in note-taking during PETE&C.

When we consider the value of note-taking for today’s students, I think we’re sometimes guilty of imposing our own history of schooling and what worked for us, on the learners in our classes today. I find myself doing that in other circumstances as well, but we need exercise caution because today’s students are growing up in and preparing for a world vastly different than the one we experienced in school. One idea Matt posed in his blog post was this understanding that educators attended college and received a degree, so we have a tendency to lean on the “note-taking prepares students for college” reason for copious note-taking in our classrooms. But college isn’t for everyone and college courses can sometimes represent the worst in pedagogical practices. When I think back to my own college courses and the ones that stuck with me. They included hands-on labs, field experiences, observations, and clinical work. I recall sitting in a lecture hall with 200 other students in Biology 101, but I couldn’t tell you a single thing I learned in there.

I think we owe our students rich opportunities to activate the brain in complex ways during class. This can include forms of note-taking. I also think we owe ourselves the chance to step back and reflect on how our students take notes, the reasons why we’re taking them, and if there’s any value in that experience.

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