Lesson plan

Fill in the Shape Notetaking

Notetaking doesn’t just have to fit in a square! In this lesson, students will use different shapes to help them take notes and remember what they should be paying attention for as they read.
Grade Subject View aligned standards

At the conclusion of this lesson, students will be able to take notes about an age-appropriate text using a graphic organizer.

(5 minutes)
  • Call students together.
  • Ask students to think about signs and shapes in their lives that help them remember to do something. (If students need help coming up with some, suggest the red octagon as a sign to stop, the little hand that tells them not to cross the street, the X on railroad crossings, etc.)
  • Tell students that today they are going to use shapes to help them remember key things they should be taking notes about as they read.
(10 minutes)
  • Pass out the Shapes Notetaking worksheets.
  • Go through the worksheet as a class, looking at each shape and discussing the type of information to include inside it.
  • Open the book that the class is currently reading and read a few pages. Ask students to raise their hands when they hear a new word, interesting fact, or have a question. Demonstrate how to enter this information on the worksheet.
  • After a few pages, work as a class to write a brief summary of the key information in the rectangle.
(10 minutes)
  • Break students up into small groups or partners. Have each group work together to fill out a Shapes Notetaking worksheet for the next set of pages in the book.
  • After everyone has had time to work, compare and share what information students choose to include on their worksheets. Did students include the same types of information? Similar words and facts? Were there any outstanding summaries?
  • Ask students if they have any questions about how to use the chart to take notes. Tell students that they can add extra stars, squares, and circles on the back of the page if they need more room. Remind students of any applicable classroom rules for independent work periods before sending students off to continue reading the story and taking notes using the Shapes Notetaking worksheet.
(15 minutes)

As students are working, any adults in the room should be circulating, assisting students as needed. It can be useful to periodically remind students that they should remember to fill out all the shapes and not just get into a groove of filling out one. Also, if students find themselves reading for long periods of time without writing, the class as a whole may need a reminder to take a break and fill out some of their chart.

  • Support: The use of peer or adult transcribers can be very beneficial to students who struggle with the physical act of writing. Allowing pictures on the chart in addition to words can aid students who struggle to express their thoughts. Having bilingual dictionaries available for English as a Second Language students can be a huge aid to both the reading and writing aspects. Additionally, the use of peers to scaffold the assignment through either conversations or joint worksheets can be very beneficial to those needing just a little extra assistance.
  • Enrichment: For those students needing a greater challenge, writing a story using the new facts and words they listed on their charts that also strives to answer some of the questions from their charts can be a lot of fun.
(5 minutes)
  • An informal assessment can be done by observing the level of student engagement and enthusiasm during whole group discussion and activities.
  • A more formal assessment can be done by observing each student’s worksheet. Adults should look to see that all the shapes are filled in with relevant information.
  • For an additional form of assessment, students can be assigned to fill out anotherShapes Notetaking worksheet for another text.
(10 minutes)
  • Call students back together.
  • Discuss as a whole group the types of information included on the students’ charts. Do they have a lot of the same questions? Similar new words and facts? Does anyone have a really great key idea from the text?
  • Tell students that now they can use these shapes as signals in their own notetaking. They can star new words, box new facts, and have a circular area for questions, and even include a rectangle summary every so often.
  • Remind students that there are many different styles and ways to take notes and that some styles will feel more comfortable than others: Ask students who liked this style of notetaking. Why? Are there students who would like to change something about the worksheet? What?
  • A fun way to conclude is to choose another text as a class to try taking notes on!

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