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Blog / 3 Note-Taking Strategies to Try in Your Biology Lessons
Blog post banner image with doodle notes sheets for the Carbon Cycle on the left and writing on the right that reads, "3 Note-Taking Strategies to try in your Biology Lessons."

3 Note-Taking Strategies to Try in Your Biology Lessons

Taking notes is one of those necessary things students have to do, but they can get bored easily. 

Wanna know a secret? Come closer…

(*whispering*) Notes don’t have to be boring. 

Yep! You heard that right – notes don’t have to be boring! 

There are so many ways to take notes that can help to keep your biology class interesting. 

I’m going to share 3 note-taking strategies that I have used and continue to use in my high school biology classroom.

Two bored students, one resting his cheek on his hand and the other with his head in his hands.
Notes don’t have to be this boring… right?!

1 – Use Doodle Notes

Doodle Notes may be my favorite way for students to take notes in class. If you’ve read my post on ways to use Doodle Notes in your classroom, you already know I love them. ❤️

Doodle Notes are so versatile and fit any learning style.

If you have a document camera, you can use this to project a copy of the notes. As you are completing the document, students can follow along and complete their own copy of the notes.  

You could also use a Smart Board to project the notes. Simply scan a copy of your Doodle Notes into the software and project them to the class. 

Easy peasy!

I have created multiple sets of Doodle Notes. Check them out here!

Overhead image showing a set of Doodle Notes about the Carbon Cycle. There are green papers behind the notes and colored pencils in the image.

2 – Introduce Students to Cornell Notes

Another method of note-taking that I have used in my classroom is Cornell Notes. 

I love using Cornell notes! There are many benefits, including

  • Taking notes quickly
  • Improved reading comprehension
  • Making students reflect on the information given

When taking Cornell Notes, students divide their paper so that they have a right side and a left side. The right side should be wider than the left side. Students can create their own Cornell pages, or you could always print off copies of a Cornell template. 

On the right side, students will take notes from the lecture. They can also make drawings on this side, too. It is critical to emphasize to students that they should not write down every word of the lecture. Notes are meant to be an outline of important information. 

A student is sitting at a desk and writing notes in a binder.

After the notes are completed on the right side, students review the notes and jot down any questions they still have on the left side. 

I love that students need to review the notes they have taken in order to write their questions down. Not only does this force students to review the material, but it also forces them to reflect on their own learning. 

3 – Use the Jigsaw Method

The third type of note-taking to try in your Biology classroom is the jigsaw method. 

Personally, this method of delivering notes to students is one of my favorites. 

Why is it one of my favorite ways to take notes? 

Well, I’ll tell you! 

This note-taking method promotes independence among your students. Students must be accountable for their notes, as well as their group members. If you haven’t checked out my blog post on turning students into independent learners, you should read it here!

When taking jigsaw notes, students are given a summary sheet or the task of creating a poster. Students are then split into groups. Once in groups, each student is responsible for one portion of the material. Each group member will conduct their own research and then teach their peers about what they have discovered.

Many hands hold pieces of a wooden jigsaw puzzle and are working together to solve it.

Let’s use biogeochemical cycles as an example. 

Students would be split into groups of four. Each student in the group will use their textbook or another information source to research one type of cycle. After a certain amount of time, each student will teach the other three students about their biogeochemical cycle. While one student is teaching their portion, the other three students are taking notes. 

Since you are not giving notes directly, it is important to make sure that students have a full set of notes at the end of class. 

Image of blank note pages about the Carbon Cycle. The pages are on top of yellow and green paper.

Which note-taking strategy will you use?

Incorporating different methods of note-taking not only helps to differentiate your lessons but also keeps the classroom environment exciting!

I hope this post helped you consider some other ways to deliver notes in your classroom. 

If you’d like to give Doodle Notes a try, be sure to check out my Doodle Notes here

I hope you have a wonderful day,

Emma The Teachie