Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

In this lesson plan which is adaptable for students in grades 3-12, students will explore various styles of note-taking and develop their own unique and effective note-taking system.

Students will:

  1. Identify the importance and usefulness of note-taking skills in real-world contexts.
  2. Evaluate the accuracy and efficiency of various note-taking strategies.
  3. Develop and refine a personalized note-taking strategy and utilize it during instruction.


  • Computers with internet access for BrainPOP


Preview the lesson and prepare photocopies of any BrainPOP printable resources you wish to use.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Ask students to raise their hands if they feel confident in their note-taking skills so you can determine their prior knowledge. Invite them to to share what works and what doesn't for them. Ask students: Is it possible to write down everything a speaker says? How can you tell what's important enough to write down?
  2. Explain that you are going to show the class a variety of note-taking strategies and help students develop a system that makes sense for each one of them. They will be able to use this system all throughout their education, future careers, and personal lives.
  3. Play the Note-Taking Skills Movie for the class.
  4. Talk about the principles for note-taking that were covered in the movie. What are some good indicators that what students are hearing or reading is important enough to write down? How does the information in the movie fit with their personalized note-taking strategies, and what they already know works (and doesn't work) for them?
  5. Tell students you are going to play the movie again, and this time, students will need to take notes on the tips and tricks given (such as drawing lines through mistakes rather than erasing and using abbreviations.) Encourage students to take notes in whatever format feels most natural for them.
  6. Have students pair up (or get into small groups) and compare their notes from the movie. What are the similarities and differences between their note-taking styles? Were there strategies that were more or less effective? What strategies might students like to "borrow" from their peers?
  7. Introduce the note-taking system that you typically find helpful for your course content. Allow students to work with a partner and choose any BrainPOP movie to watch together. They should use either the Cornell Chart or the method you've demonstrated to take notes without pausing the movie.
  8. When the movie is done playing, have students compare notes and note-taking strategies with their partner, and then write down the key points from the movie.
  9. As you teach your lessons throughout the following weeks, model or suggest various note-taking strategies that students may want to adapt into their own personal note-taking system. Include strategies for color-coding, using drawings, incorporating graphic organizers, and so on, and encourage students to make their own choices from the selection of techniques. You should also model digital note-taking strategies so that students can develop a technique for typing notes and/or using an app (such as Evernote) to collect and organize ideas.
  10. Re-visit the topic of note-taking later in the month or semester. Encourage students to reflect on how their note-taking strategies have evolved over time, and allow students to share some of their best tips with the class. You may also want to have students test out the accuracy and efficiency of their system through the Note-Taking Skills Worksheet.