Sunday, January 23, 2005

Note-taking Strategies, Teachers Notes, and Disability

Here's a very nice link providing examples of different note-taking strategies. Failure at note-taking may be the final common pathway for many disabilities - dysgraphia or writing disability of course, but also students with auditory processing disorders, visual processing disorders (students with visual memory problems may need to subvocalize to remember- so they get into the "I'm swamped" situation described in today's other article), and those with sustained attention or working memory limitation problems.

All that being said, in the school system we have often found it to be very difficult to allow students to have a syllabus or 'Teachers Notes'. A syllabus is available in most college courses, so what's the problem at the middle or high school level? We hope this will change. Some thoughtful teachers make their notes or syllabi available to all the students - with the idea that they may make additional notes while listening. One high school near to us has even set as a goal to place all upcoming assignments and classroom requirements on Teacher Web pages.

When one stops to think about all the processes required for listening, looking, and taking notes, it's easy to understand how many students can be left behind. Many students can make excellent progress experimenting with note-taking strategies, using visualization methods like Lindamood Bell's Visualizing and Verbalizing, or practicing abstracting or distilling down verbally what was heard. However, some may never be able to do this, although intellectually they may be able to learn all the same information of their classmates. For these students, strict accommodations need to be in place, and a regular system needs to be in place that does not place an undue social burden on the disabled student (e.g. having to ask another student for notes every day).

Notetaking Strategies

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