Cornell Notes in Math

This is our second year as an AVID school.  Advancement Via Individual Determination is a program aimed at students who are middle-of-the-road, where funding often doesn’t exit for special programs. It targets students who would be the first in their families to go to college and who could be top achieving students with a bit of extra support.  It’s an elective currently in 7th and 8th grade and which hopefully continues throughout high school. The AVID team at our school is hoping that students will have 1 binder for all their classes and that all teachers will use Cornell Notes as the format for their class.

I only learned about Cornell Notes last week, at our school retreat, so I’m sure I’m not doing justice to their full potential, but the takeaway for me was this.

1) Students are always taking notes in response to an essential question.

2) Students will revisit each set of notes 3 times in order to make deeper connections with the content. First, they will take the notes. Second, they will pose questions that can be answered by the notes.  Third, they will summarize their notes and answer the essential question posed at the outset.

Having never done this before, I’m not entirely clear on how this format works for math concepts.  I’d love to hear from anyone who uses Cornell notes in their classes.  In the meantime, here’s a template which a colleague and I drafted which keeps the core ideas of Cornell Notes, while slightly modifying their format for math class:

And in other news.  I had my first meeting at Stanford for my National Board Certification. Diving in with both feet!


5 thoughts on “Cornell Notes in Math

  1. I am an AVID elective teacher at the HS level and also teach math. I think once you get used to Cornell, you’ll like it! Kids take notes on the right just like before, the left is where they put the topics/cues like “Steps to Solving Systems by Elimination”, etc. The nice thing about the left side is that you can scan down it to find what you are looking for quickly. For the summary, I tell them to pretend they are texting their best friend about what the lesson topic and what they learned. Good luck!

  2. Wait. I totally missed this last throwaway line about Stanford when I read this before. I’m going to that too! And since you blog rolled me I’m going to assume you know who “I” am. So..umm.. say hi. Oh and I use Cornell notes but I’m pretty sure you can find a different implementation for every single teacher. How you explain it is pretty much how I do it. For the questions I use “Costa’s Questions” and they need to do one of each level. They take all of their notes in a notebook and so on the left facing page I ask them to “process their notes.” Which means represent it in some other way. This almost always means a picture or some kind of bubble map. I play with the timing for each part. Usually I do the notes/questions in the same day. Summary to start the class the next day and the processing part at some future date when I think they need to be refreshed.

  3. Jason–Are you in the NBC middle/high school math group? I’m assuming you’re in science since you’re not in the groups I’ve been to so far. I don’t know you other than the fact that your blog was recommended to me by Kate or Sam at PCMI this summer. Sam gave me his top 5 and there you were. I’m still pondering the Cornell Notes format. I had my own format, which incorporated many of those ideas, but I want to make the notes in my class feel more like students’ notes from their other classes. We’re doing them school-wide for the first time which is a big shift, but a good one.

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