There are 4 phases of notemaking and notetaking. By mapping these phases to the information literacy process (Building Blocks of Research), we teach the intellectual, creative and ethical use of information school-wide and assure that all students can find, understand, evaluate, and use information in various forms to create and contribute for personal, social or global purposes.

Phase 1: Prepare for notetaking

The first phase maps to the early stages of engaging and defining the information literacy process.

What are students doing? Students focus on their personal resources, knowledge and interests.  They make notes to evoke their prior knowledge of content and their understanding of the structure (medium or genre) and purpose in which the content is presented. As they respond to questions of personal relevance and spot ideas that intrigue them, their interest and motivation increases -- curiosity grows.

What big ideas should I teach? Early notemaking is a form of brainstorming that "sets the table" by engaging the researcher in considering what is known, what is worth investigating and why.


Phase 2: Organize for notetaking

The second phase occurs during the planning and locating stages of the information literacy process.

What are students doing? As students read strategically, they make notes to record their thinking about the content, to refine their search process and even to preassess the quality and value of their results.   In anticipation of the need for documentation, students record their "working" sources using bibliographic software. 

What big ideas should I teach? The second-phase of notes supports the gathering process by organizing thinking, increasing awareness of ongoing learning, and structuring a preassessment of both the sources found and the process used.


Phase 3: Design and use notes as thinking tools

The third phase corresponds to stages of information literacy where notetaking is usually taught:

What are students doing? The student designs or selects forms to collect, compare, analyze, evaluate and reflect on data, evidence and concepts, and to examine his/her research process.  The student reviews and analyzes previously-taken notes, adding new notes in order to:

What big ideas should I teach? Notes are tools for thinking, not forms to complete.  Notetaking is a metacognitive process in which the researcher designs or chooses, then uses and reflects, on a particular notetaking format based on cognitive style, skills and abilities, the source's text structure, the medium in which content is delivered, and the requirements of the end product.

Early notemaking supports topic exploration and relevance, prerequisite to finding a focus.  Later notetaking structures collection, organization, analysis and reflection - the wellspring that nourishes a personal perspective.


Phase 4: Assess notetaking

The fourth phase maps to the final stage of information literacy in which the researcher evaluates how well his/her end product meets the original information need and gains insights relevant to future work.

What are students doing? By self-assessing how one's thoughts, feelings and actions have contributed to the problem-solving process, the student learns how to learn.

What big ideas should I teach? The researcher analyzes mistakes and misunderstandings in order to gain wisdom which can be transferred to future learning.  Notes act as a structure for this essential reflection about one's product and process.


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