The Key Word Notes strategy allows students to restate information from readings and lectures in their own words to increase comprehension and retention.
Strategy Step by Step:
- Students make a chart of boxes (see above) in their notebooks.
- The teacher divides the reading into four sections.
- Students read the first section of text and then stop to reflect. During reflection, teachers may want students to discuss the reading with a partner or base group.
- After reflection and/or discussion, students write just a few words in the appropriate box. Alternatively, students could write the key words first and then discuss with a partner about why they wrote those specific words.
- Students repeat the process with the next three sections until the top four boxes all have key words noted in them.
- Then in the bottom box students write a summary sentence (two at the most) about what they learned in the reading. Students may or may not incorporate the key words from the top boxes in this sentence.
The Key Word Notes strategy also works with lectures. Students may be taking detailed notes on one page of their notebooks, but then on another page they have their Key Word Notes chart. This chart will provide for summary and reflection as the teacher pauses four times during the lecture to let students jot down and discuss their key words.
Key Word Notes also works well for students during a research paper or project unit. Students simply record a few key words from each source in a box. In fact, this strategy was devised from a high school teacher concerned with plagiarism during a research paper unit.
The number of boxes can also be varied if a reading or lecture fits logically into 6 sections, etc.
Chris Dalki, KC West and Sarah Burgess (nee Striffler) have all reported great success so far this year with Key Word Notes. Enriched Sociology students used the strategy with a nonfiction piece.
Enriched English 10 students used the strategy to share information from their summer reading journals with a partner. Students wrote down ideas after their partner sharing in a Key Word Notes chart set up with boxes labeled: main character, other characters, images and big ideas. After writing their summary sentences, students then discussed the themes that they saw in the book. KC and Sarah reported that this was an awesome lesson.
I will try this strategy in a few days during a discussion of Brave New World to give students a chance to reflect on the discussion occurring in the classroom and to capture those key ideas.