Teach note taking - even in Physics

Many teachers believe that by the time students get to high school they should know how to take notes.  True, but not reality.  Mr. Mulligan, physics teacher, takes the time to teach students to use an Interactive Notebook (see chapter 3 of Minding the Achievement Gap One Classroom at a Time) that emphasizes students using the 9 high yield strategies.  

Here are a few end-of-year comments on student evaluations:

*The notebooks were very good along with the objective sheets because for me I am very unorganized but with the notebooks and the objective sheets it made my physics binder the most organized of any of my other binders.


*The major thing that helped me learn in this course was the binder and how Mr. Mulligan explained to us the organization of a binder. I learned great organization skills and know which notes are better to take.


*To the best of my ability I tried to complete those objective sheets and all notes on either side of the notebook. I thought these were really helpful and I enjoyed what Mr. Mulligan did with them.


Thanks, Mr. Mulligan -- your attention to teaching note taking and organization will serve those students well.



  Sometimes teachers ask if they should GANAG lessons in P.E., the arts, Tech Ed.  Why not?  GANAG is simply a schema to plan a learning experience.  The Gs provide the learning goal, the first A is neuronal courtesy to help students focus and retrieve memories, the NI is the new information and second A is the independent thinking or doing, followed by the G or goal review, self assessment.  

I know of camp couselors, pastors, & adult educators who GANAG their learning experiences.  It is a simple tool to help learners learn better, based on research of what works.  



Results - High School 

I received this email from a high school administrator and it makes me smile because it is one of the schools where the leadership decided to sustain the staff development for three years and watch the gains happen.  All of the teachers over the course of three years participated, systematically changing one classroom at a time:


I hope all is well.  The school received this year’s results for their year 12 cohort. It was the best result achieved in the 20 years that I have been here.

All subjects are give a score out of 50 and the school is ranked on the % of subject scores that exceed a score of 40.  We have never reached above 9% this year the school has achieved 11%. The state average was 8%.  In looking at all of our student results, more that 50% of them are in the top 20% achievers in the state.  The best performing faculty was English, this will probably be no surprise to you because of the time that you spent with them moving from local to the national standards. Overall, all our teachers can be congratulated.  One thing I can tell you is that the whole normal distribution shifted to the right, not only the low performers which is what Classroom Instruction That Works and GANAG said would happen.

 Your work with our teachers over the last three years has been invaluable and we are now seeing the rewards.


Every week I receive emails from teachers, school leaders, and curriculum coordinators sharing similar results - elementary, middle and high schools.  It can happen.



Presenting using Technology - Skype Development!

So you have heard about using blogs, webinars, etc.  But, the other day, when I presented at the ASCD conference on the topic of using technology in the classroom to teach critical thinking skills, teachers and a literacy coordinator Skyped in to us so that they could describe the changes and student achievement gains using the techniques we discussed.

So thank you so much to teachers, Frank Korb (HS Art), Ian Mulligan (HS Science), Jenny Humble (5th Grade), and Susan Hensley (Literacy Coordinator).  It really helped to hear from you live during the session.  

And thanks to ASCD for providing such an amazing conference venue in Chicago that allowed for us to have ubiquitous WiFi and support to be able to use technology effortlessly.  



Setting Objectives using Technology

Frank Korb, art teacher at Waterford Union High School in Wisconsin, uses his blog to provide the goals and objectives for his students every day.  You can follow Frank or visit his site:

In addition to his talent in art, Frank generously shares his teaching techniques, so go to his website and send him a note.