Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cognitive Note Taking

Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski wrote about cues, questions and advance organizers (2007) as a single chapter, and for good reason.  A cue has the ability to preview the experience (p. 73), just like a posing an essential question can do (p. 74).  These lead-off devices help students to get focused on important details.  Because some information outlined in a lesson is simply supporting context that is not significant on a grander scale, these appetizers allow students to cognitively recognize where their focus should be.

Organizers are also a great way to aid students down the correct learning path.  By using structures such as a concept map, ideas can be built of a main idea, outlining the importance of each portion of the unit as well as putting it in context.  A note-taking skeleton, or outline, helps to set up the information in advance for the students and allows them to stay up to speed during a lesson (p. 76).

To organize even further, technological devices foster more organization and can help create things such as brainstorming sessions (p. 75).  Beyond brainstorming, integrating multimedia interface creates a mental picture that students can draw back on when recalling this information down the road (p. 82).  A new way to help build a memorable image is known as a Virtual Field Trip.  This cyber journey brings images to life and gives a student a stronger emotional connection with the topic.

Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski also paired together summarizing and note taking in a chapter (2007).  While note taking in Physical Education classes is rare, it is important to summarize to condense content so that important details are focused on and maintained (p. 119).  As mentioned earlier, it is essential to delve deeper than just the surface when discussing a topic, but some of what is explored must then be forgotten (p. 119).  With this said, bringing the lesson or concept back around at the end of the class or of the unit helps to drive home the important points.  This is why a concept map can be so beneficial, because it has the ability to lend greater weight to a part of the map by making it larger, more central, or higher up, depending on the outline.

Students learn in a variety of ways, and it is important to immerse them in the topic to allow them to connection with the lesson.  However when taking details away from the episode, they must be able to grasp what is the most important and these strategies are a great way to enable that.

Pitler H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.


  1. Richard,

    I can also see the benefits of using the essential questions in science and social studies in order to get the students focused on what exactly they need to learn. Using the concept maps to help the students organize their thoughts and answer the essential question is a very effective tool. I also feel that using short video segments can help the students build background knowledge on topics that are going to be discussed in class. I am not sure if the website that I use would anything pertaining to PE on it, but it would be worth giving it a try. The website is

    Thanks for your input. I always find it nice to see how realted arts teacher view and make use of some of the regular classroom tools.


  2. Heather,

    I can completely understand how the essential question is key for all lessons. I saw a history class the other day where the students were learning about China, but the key was not to remember the names given to certain groups of people, but the lasting impact the river valley settlements had. It is like that in P.E. too because we want to paint a colorful picture, but make sure we get the black and white out of it.