The teachers I was working with had students take notes by copying an outline, or by writing down what they saw on a slide-show. In both cases, students only wrote down what was on the board. The details were limited to what was posted for them. My goal was to have students create their own notes and still cover the needed information.
To begin with, I demonstrated one of my methods, a wordless presentation shared through Google Drive. Since students today are more visual learner than we ever were, I wanted to emphasize how important pictures are. They say a picture paints 1000 words, but it also helps students connect ideas and concepts. By using pop-culture images to tie to the past, students work in this game like scenario where they have to figure out how the images relate to the topic at hand. Did I also mention it is a lot of fund to create? In addition to the presentation, I also shared my lesson plan and a Cornell note template for students to copy and use. I am a fan of Cornell notes as it really helps students to organize ideas. (Click here for the template).
In-between topics, I stopped the class and let the students create their own notes. I had to walk them through the first two sections, asking them what was the main idea we spoke about and what were the supporting statements. This was new to the students. When you introduce something of this nature, it is imperative to step students through the process. At the end of the day the teacher asked how the students liked taking notes this way. Out of 27 students, 26 said it was a lot better.
For the other teacher, I asked if we could simply freestyle it for the blend class approach. I had my outline, but I was not going to give students any information. Instead, I provided the students with the Cornell notes template, a TodaysMeet.com website link and a very specific search phrase for information on cowboys. Students had to post what they thought was interesting (Note: I did not ask for things that were important). Each time a student came across something they felt was interesting, they posted it to TodaysMeet.
Within a couple of minutes, posts were flying in, and not just any post, but quality posts were we could then disseminate and have students create their own notes. Before the class had ended, we covered the same notes we went through in the other class, but I gave the students nothing. I also noticed students actually taking more detailed notes in the "freestyle" method than in the other classes.
While freestyling is not something you can do daily, it is a nice change of pace and you can really get into depth on a topic. It also prompts a terrific discussion. The students did create their own notes, and notes with meaning. I have used this in the past for a class that was filled with second time around students; I have used this with AP students. It works, but only if you, the teacher, is able to release all control.
So you need to ask yourself, are you ready to let go?