How to Take Notes

     Academic studies have shown that the average middle or high school student will forget large amounts of stuff hours after leaving school for the day.  Some students convince themselves that they can remember all of the information that teachers cram into their heads each day but science has proven otherwise.  Your ability to adequately prepare for a test or exam will depend on the quality of your notes.  Don't fool yourself, this is a study skill that you will use for the rest of your education.

     Whether you are watching a video, listening to a podcast or reading an article, you must be able to quickly and concisely capture key points and record them in a simple, easy to read format.  You do not have time to worry about sentence structure, punctuation or spelling and much of the trick is learning how to identify what information is important and that which is not.  Don't worry, it takes practice and we are here to help!

  The Secret
        This approach to taking notes is easy to use and my students have found that it is just as effective as the Cornell Method and others.  Your goal is simple: create a shopping list of key facts such as people, places, dates and events that are relevant to your topic. We call these "factoids".  Record these factoids on a separate piece of paper using a simple outline format.  An appropriate outline format includes the following:

                    *  Identify important factoids such as important people, places, dates or events.

                  *  Skip a line in between each factoid

                  *  Use "bullets" 

                  *  Don't worry about spelling and try to abreviate whenever possible.

                  *  Do NOT use complete sentences.  You don't have time and you might miss an important piece of information

  The Challenge: Practicing your skills
        Listed below are links to a variety of subjects featuring invasive species, unusual marine creatures and Alien visitation.  Click on the picture to access the article and  worksheet of your choice.

The Amazing Octopus (
     The octopus is one of the most intelligent and unusual creatures in the marine ocean realm.  It has a wide array of talents and abilities which has allowed it to adapt to a variety of environments covering a period of almost 500 million years.  This YouTube video features one of the most comprehensive studies on octopus intelligence conducted by a group of scientists in the Mediterranean Ocean.   Click on the tab in order to access the video, design activity and the worksheet.



Sharklet Industries (
     The very mention of the word "shark" evokes images of a fiercesome oean predator with mandibles of death and lifeless black eyes waiting for its next victim.  These creatures have ruled the oceans for millions of years and yet they possess some very interesting adaptations.  In this brief but information packed video we will learn more about shark skin and man's efforts to learn more about this remarkable shark feature.  Click on the image of the shark in order to access the video and the worksheet.

 Strange Days on Planet Earth- Invaders
     This video series produced by National Geographic and narrated by Ed Norton features a variety of case studies revealing the dangers of introducing an invasive species into an ecosystem.  In the first video students will learn how the introduction of the water hyacinth into Africa's Lake Victoria seriously affected the health of those people living on its shoreline.  Click on the tab in order to access the 53 min. video and the worksheet.
 Raising the Hunley (
      On February 17th, 1864, the H. L. Hunley became the first successful combat submarine in world history with the sinking of the USS Housatonic. After completing her mission, she mysteriously vanished and remained lost at sea for over a century. For decades, adventurers searched for the legendary submarine.  Over a century later, the National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA), led by New York Times-bestselling author Clive Cussler, finally found the Hunley in 1995. News of the discovery traveled quickly around the world. A ground breaking effort began to retrieve the fragile submarine from the sea.
 The Greenhouse and Global Climate Change (
      If you were to interview a small crowd of people at the local mall and ask them to explain the Greenhouse Effect or define Global Climate Change, most people would be unable to do so.  Many of us are familiar with these terms but really dont have a fundamental understanding of what they mean, their causes and how these phenomenon affect our daily lives.  In addition, many people have grown so used to hearing about GCC that they have become insensitive to the reality that it is here to stay and is having a terrible impact on the environment and ultimately our quality of life.
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