As we reach the halfway point of the school year, it would be a good time to try to release some of the note-taking responsibilities to the students. It’s a perfect time to transition from the “I” to the “we” (or even “you”) version of the notes. Presently, in our science classes, it has primarily been the teacher providing the students with a scaffolded version of notes to follow along with while the information is being presented. Now, we think it’s a great time to make the students utilize this KTL strategy. First, you can continue making scaffolded notes, but start with removing all the left-hand side information; have the students start coming up with ALL of the main ideas. Then, once they get the hang of that, start removing more of the details on the right-hand side as well.
We have found that reading from a text is a simple way to begin this gradual release of responsibility from the teacher, as it can be difficult to give students a mostly blank sheet of paper when you are lecturing (or in science classes when completing a lab). Additionally, it is hard to give up control and allow the students to think for themselves about the main idea or to decide what is important to write down from what you say. A second idea of how to release responsibility would be to show the students a top-down web of what the unit is going to be about and have them create the 2-column note boxes. This is a simple way for them to know some of the basics ahead of time such as how many boxes to include in their notes and what main ideas they should be including.
In conclusion, releasing responsibility will most likely be a slow process as the teacher learns to give up some control, and the students learn how to be more proactive in their classes. In the end, the goal is for students to be able to take notes from anything read, said, or done on their own and not rely on the teacher to spoon-feed them all of the information. As we start the new term, we think it’s a perfect time to relinquish some control in our classrooms and encourage our students to use their critical thinking, application, and analysis skills!