Marzano: Summarizing and Note Taking

This post is part of a series on integrating the McREL research on classroom instruction that works with videoconferencing.

Summarizing: Generalizations

  1. To effectively summarize, students must delete some information, substitute some information, and keep some information.
  2. To effectively delete, substitute, and keep information, students must analyze the information at a fairly deep level.
  3. Being aware of the explicit structure of information is an aid to summarizing information.


Use these to improve your practice.

  1. Teach students the rule-based summarizing strategy.
  2. Use summary frames.
  3. Teach students the reciprocal teaching strategy (Pitler, et al., 2007, p. 119-120).

Notetaking: Generalizations

  1. Verbatim note taking is perhaps the least effective way to take notes.
  2. Notes should be considered a work in progress.
  3. Notes should be used as study guides for tests.
  4. The more notes that are taken, the better.


Use these to improve your practice.

  1. Give students teacher-prepared notes.
  2. Teach students a variety of note-taking formats.
  3. Use combination notes (Pitler, et al., 2007, p. 120).

Brainstorming for Videoconferencing

Do your students ever take notes in a videoconference?

  • MysteryQuest. Kids take notes in the MysteryQuests and all the spin offs. They have a note-taking sheet and try to write down all the clues. However, the way some of the clues come, it’s hard to write down the right information. If students had practice with summarizing, they would be better note-takers in the MysteryQuest. This page on integrating tech in the summarizing and notetaking strategy has a great little handout on the four rules for summarizing.
  • Lest We Forget. This year, I decided to beef up the learning in the Lest We Forget programs. I created a little note-taking worksheet to guide the students listening process. I haven’t seen any classes using it though. Maybe this needs a little more polishing.
  • Content Providers. Every time one of our classes connects to the Columbus Zoo, I see them taking notes. The presenter shows the sheet on the document camera, and students fill in information throughout the program. What a great example of structured note-taking. The instructor has provided a scaffold for the notes, and the students are given opportunity and time to process their new knowledge. What other content providers give students a structured way to take notes? Comment and share some others.

New Ideas

  • Combination Notes. What if students took notes on the other class’ presentation, instead of just listening? They could use the Combination Notes strategy to document facts, a drawing, and their summary. This page has a great sample template. I’m thinking, in particular, of our upper level projects like Eco-Conversations.
  • Sharing and Creating Summary Frames. I’ve always thought it would be neat to get 1-to-1 laptop classes together via videoconference. But what could they do that would be a logical way to use the laptops during the VC? What if, again, students were presenting to each other, but the other class was taking notes. They could use one of the Summary Frames formats. After one class presented, a couple students could volunteer to bring up their laptop and show the summary frame they created. What a great way to review and also check for understanding! More summary frame templates on this page.

Today my brain is excited about the possibilities of professional development and improved teaching practice that can happen in classroom-to-classroom collaborations. Just imagine how two teachers could improve their practice working together!

Did this post inspire any new ideas or thoughts for you? Please comment.

Reference: Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

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