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How to Make Guided Notes for Students

Feb 25, 2020

Even as a high school teacher, providing guided notes to my students is always something I have done.  I do NOT remember that being a tool I was given as a student, and I never thought I would like or appreciate giving students that type of scaffolding as a teacher, but it has been something I've done since day ONE of teaching.

When I first started, I probably couldn't even tell you why I did - it was probably a control thing.  I wanted to control exactly what they got out of the slides I worked so hard to create.  But as I progressed in my career I realized students appreciated these notes, and not just students who truly needed the accommodation, but almost all students.

Students appreciated the structure of guided notes because,

  1. It allowed them to focus on what they were hearing without FOMO.  And it's not the kind of FOMO for Friday night's party you have to miss because you have an early ACT the next morning.  No no, it's more pressure of missing something the teacher says as if you'll never get the chance to hear it again.  This means they could truly digest the information, then write down what allowed them to remember the content.  Rather than writing every word that was said.
  2. It gave them ideas to eventually structure their own notes.  They became rather creative in their notes when they did it on loose leaf paper.  They saw how visually organizing the information on paper allowed them to cognitively organize the information as well.
  3. It allowed for better organization in their binders.  I required each of my students to have a binder where they housed all of our class materials, and even the most reluctant organizers began to appreciate how tidy things were... cleared out some of the physical and cognitive clutter.

The top priority when making guided notes for students is to find the happy balance between enough structure and not too much writing, so that's why I like to give them a lot of shapes and graphics to both write in when necessary, but also to divide up their thinking so they understand the categories or shifts in the notes when we transition to new concepts and vocabulary terms.

Rather than writing all about HOW to make guided notes, I made a video!  I'm super pumped to bring you a video as part of this blog series so that you can really see the ins and outs of how to make this happen in your classroom.

It is a 15 minute video, which I only tell you so that you know it really is a tutorial and so that you know it's not a super small video.  Because of that, please fill out the form below, and I won't just send you this one video tutorial, but I'll be sending you all three videos that will eventually be a part of this How-To series.


Stay tuned for next week's How-To Tutorial where I show you how I create digital activities that are quick, almost zero prep (as far as copying goes), and a breeze to GRADE!

Until next time,


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