Monday, November 21, 2011

Cornell Notes: An upgrade from brussel sprouts

You know you're passionate about a topic when you're willing to share dorky graduation photos with teenagers to make a point. This is totally how I feel about Cornell Notes.
To refresh your memory, I'm teaching study skills to a group of 9th grade pre-AP Global Studies students. So far I've brainstormed different note-taking strategies, and taught them how to make concept maps.

For the second strategy, I taught students how to use Cornell notes. I'm personally indebted to Cornell notes, as the method definitely contributed to my success as a student. When I was a know-it-all 9th grader, my mom, a study skills teacher herself, showed me how to use the strategy. Even though I rolled my eyes, and did my best to ignore her, something clicked for me. Cornell notes got me through high school, and then undergrad, and eventually my Master's degree.

Out of the 140 kids I met with this month, only 2 had ever heard of it before. Here's a quick graphic that explains Cornell notes:
Image from:

The best part about Cornell notes is that if you use this strategy, you're ready to study for tests -- no flash cards to make, no outlining to do -- it's already right there in front of you.

I LOVE this YouTube video about Cornell Notes. The video's best line: "I like my summaries like a mini-skirt - short - enough - but still covers all the important stuff."

Even with all my love for the subject, some of the students still wanted to know when they got to take "plain old notes." If concept mapping was like getting them to eat brussel sprouts, Cornell notes are like getting them to eat carrots; it's still a vegetable, but at least a more popular one. : )

If you're interested, our Cornell notes PowerPoint is available here and the rubric is available here.


  1. To refresh "your" memory...
    Please use proper grammar and spelling.

    1. Oh man, you caught me! Thanks for pointing out that slip up.

  2. Thanks so much for the PowerPoint and graphics you put together here. So very helpful!