Learn with Reading Notes
I can remember times when I had read a chapter in my textbook and the next day, I had no idea what was in it. Sound familiar? I have also read library books, and a week or two later, I found I’d forgotten nearly everything.
Actually, I have had the experience of reading mysteries when at the fifth or sixth chapter, I get the feeling that it seems familiar. I recognize occasional exciting event but, since I couldn’t remember who was the killer, how they did it or why, I would continue to enjoy the story again.
Nikola is reading with a pencil in her hand. She tried taking reading notes for her classes. She would tell you that it’s easy. She now has no problem remembering what she read.
The best part, however, is that when she is preparing for a test, she doesn’t need to read the chapter again. She just read her notes. It doesn’t take much time but, since she started doing this, her grades have improved.
You CAN Remember what you read
The method is very simple. You should have a reading notebook for each class where you have a lot of reading. When you are ready to read a chapter, put the heading on your page in the notebook with the chapter, title, and date.
1. Skim the chapter quickly reading an introduction and summary, looking at headings and words in bold print, and taking time to check out any diagrams and looking for the main ideas. In your notebook, write – This chapter is about ——, trying to include the main ideas.
2. Most textbooks are divided into sections with headers. When there’s a header write it down. The first section can just be called the Introduction. Read the section, and write few sentences in your notebook including the main idea, important vocabulary terms, and a few important facts.
3. Continue doing this for each section of the chapter.
4. When you finish, you might try to create a Concept Map, Outline or summary of the chapter.
As a result, you will
a. have paid better attention as you read
b. understood what you read
c. remember most of what you read and not need to read it again
d. and when you prepare for a test, all you need to do is go back over these notes.
Sure, it takes a little extra time to read this way, but this is reading combined with study and you save a lot of time in the long run. You will also understand more in class because you remember what you read. And, of course, you’ll need less time for study and you are likely to make better grades.
Reading Books that are not textbooks
If you are reading a novel for a class, you still want reading notes. You might list the characters and describe each one and the role they play in the story.
You might trace the plot with a short summary of each chapter.
You could take notes on other interesting details. If your teacher talks a lot about setting, take notes on the setting. If the teacher has just explained foreshadowing, list examples of foreshadowing.
You will be surprised at how helpful these notes are.
With books you read only for entertainment, there is no need to take notes, of course. I sometime make a note to myself to read other books by that author if it was a great book.
If you read nonfiction books and want to remember more of what you read, treat them like textbooks, taking notes on each chapter and including details you most want to remember. You might use these notes for an essay or as background research for a Science Fair project.
If you think you might want to use any of this information, be sure to include
a. Bibliography information: Author, Title, copyright date, place published and publisher.
b. If you include actual quotes, include quotation marks and the page number.
c. With other important information, a quick note plus page number will do.
d. It’s also smart to include the date, and which library the book came from, or if you own the book or borrowed it from a friend. If you want more information later, it makes it easier to find the bo
Finally, I often add Reflections at the end
I write the word Reflections and underline it. I might comment on how helpful or unhelpful the book was, or how outdated. I might describe all the ways I can use the information in the book. The author might recommend or refer to another book that seems interesting or important. I often make lists of books or articles I really want to read or buy.