Do you child’s class notes look more like a novel than quick notation? Effective summarizing should focus on the facts, not the details. If your child is still writing too much in his class notes, help him with this fun activity. Challenge your child to a word count war, and get in a screening of his favorite movie at the same time!
Sit down together and watch the first 30 minutes of the movie. After 30 minutes, have your child take notes on what he has seen so far using a word document on the computer. Remind him to focus on the basics: Who-What-When-Where-Why. When he has finished, use the word count tool to count how many words he’s written. Record the number.
Sit down to watch the next 30 minutes. When you’ve finished, it’s your turn to take notes on what happened! Your goal is to be under your child’s initial word count by as many words as possible, but to still retain all the important information necessary to understanding what happened. Record the word count, and subtract it from your child’s initial word count. That number is your score.
Watch the next 30 minutes of the movie together (now’s the time for a popcorn break). After 30 minutes, pause the movie and challenge your child to take notes on what happened, following the same strategy that you did, and trying to keep unnecessary details out, and important ones in. When he’s finished, have him subtract his word count from his initial number, just as you did. The resulting number is his score.
Compare your scores. Whoever has the higher number wins! But wait: first make sure that each set of notes contains all the necessary information about what happened, who did what, and why. Whoever did the best job of keeping word count down, while still keeping all the important information, is the word count war champ!
Watch the rest of the movie, and enjoy!
Kate Smith has been a teacher since 1997. She has taught in New York and California, with experience in all subjects and grades from 1 to 12, but the heart of her expertise lies in middle school, primarily English and Journalism. She has a B.A. in English and a Master of Science in Teaching from Fordham University.