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Note taking at secondary school. Opinions please.

(24 Posts)
supermum98 Sun 17-Jul-11 07:34:11

My ds. can't really take his own notes, can't write and type fast enough. The view by Senco is he should take a few keypoints from lesson. When I have seen notes, when requested them to come home, which they are very reluctant to do, they are scanty and not in my opinion accessible to him. The SALT has requested mind-maps for each topic in each subject, but that isn't really happening.

Personally I feel they should take down for him the notes that everyone else has, as on first overlearn with me, he may only be capable of learning key points, but on subsequent reviews we can develope beyond that. I haven't got time to generate further resources for him a the moment, beyond keywords. Do I just give up pushing for that get KS3 CGP books and try and find the time to do my own mind-maps, decent set of notes etc. for each topic or is it the schools duty to deliver. Ideally I want the notes and mind-map home as they do them in class as I understand that the 24-hour review is the most critical for retention, am I being unrealistic? I feel by simplifiying what they take down for him at source they are making judgements about what he is capable of learning and I don't think they have the knowledge to do that. Some people say they don't really do notes at secondary anymore. He is supposed to be getting cloze worksheets, which would be great, but haven't seen many. Do TA's have spare time in secondaries to develop resources?

pinkorkid Sun 17-Jul-11 10:28:11

Hi supermum,

It should be perfectly possible for the school to meet your ds' needs, either by teachers providing their own printed notes or by an lsa/ta taking notes on your ds' behalf. It may be a case of pushing for them to provide this. They should be able to provide this from their own resources but if they say they can't, that gives you the evidence you would need to say the lea should carry out an assessment of his sen with a view to providing a statement. Is your ds on school action/school action plus? Does he have an IEP? I would also suggest putting your request for this level of support in writing, pointing out how he can't access an appropriate education without this help and referring to salt's recommendations.

Hopefully you won't need to push too hard but it may be useful to be able to quote the disability discrimination act which says schools should make all reasonable adjustments to allow disabled children to access an education. Also useful to read the sen code of practice which describes the criteria for providing support at the different levels of sa, sa + and statement.

EllenJaneisnotmyname Sun 17-Jul-11 10:33:57

My DS is just about to start secondary, so I'll be watching this with interest. He'll be using a laptop but needs lots of persuasion to get much written. I'd say why not just be given a copy of the teacher's notes or a copy of a more able student's notes, but not sure if that would be allowed. You need more than a summary if you are to understand what went on in a lesson you didn't attend, to be able to 'translate' and simplify for your DS. I'm a TA in a primary and know that it takes longer as a TA to prepare relevant cloze sheets than the lesson actually takes. You have to find out from the teacher what is planned, how it will be presented, understand it yourself (!) and then get access to a PC to prepare a sheet. It would take a huge stage out if the teacher did it themselves! (Not likely to happen.)

EllenJaneisnotmyname Sun 17-Jul-11 10:36:34

Crossed with pinkorchid. Does your DS have 1:1? As she says, the TA could take the notes for him?

basingstoke Sun 17-Jul-11 10:49:58

There is very little note taking in my lessons really. Most writing in my lessons is done for a purpose in the lesson, rather than for use at home, if that makes sense. If I give a test, I tend to provide a summary sheet for every student. And I don't really have my own notes as such. I think you need to be very explicit about what you are asking for.

basingstoke Sun 17-Jul-11 10:53:28

For a mind map for example, what is it you would want? An outline map with key words/concepts on it that he can make connections between, or a complete one?

supermum98 Sun 17-Jul-11 11:03:17

Thanks everyone, yes he has a statement for 1:1, but my question is, Judging by what is in the notes, I can't believe the TA is taking down a fully comprehensive set of notes, and is already simplifiying them for my ds. I would prefer it that the TA does take the same notes that every other child in the class has and then I can pull out the key points, but still have the other points to build in for him on second and third review, if you get my drift. He is capable of understanding the concepts, but has poor short term memory and needs lots of overlearning. Is this sensible/reasonable?

So if SALT's and other support teachers are recommending Cloze sheets and mind-maps, who should be generating them, teacher, TA or me? I wish to have resources for him to revise from at home even at ks3 level, because if I don't do this over and above that of an NT child I feel inclusion in a main-stream class will increasingly become more difficult as the building blocks will not be consolidated enough.

As for IEP, waste of time, very generic, no targets, not worth the paper etc.
Is my only hope to get mind-maps, cloze written into statement at next AR?

supermum98 Sun 17-Jul-11 11:11:07

pinkorkid, thanks will look at relevant legislation by the way. Basingstoke, by mind-map, I think it could be built as the topic progresses, so utlimately you end up with a fully developed mind-map. SO if my ds takes his laptop to lessons, he is using 2-connect to do mind-maps, with topic at centre, then developes side-branches according to sub-headings, then fills in details as the topic is developed.

The way I am thinking is to get resources optimized that he can access and revise from. Given he has been there a year and things are no where near in place as they should be, ks3 will be over before we have this sorted for GCSE, if he is capable, then he really will need good materials to revise from.

EllenJaneisnotmyname Sun 17-Jul-11 11:12:12

I think you need to ask the SENCo who should be producing the cloze worksheets. If children have needed them in the past they should have or be building up a library of them, certainly for common curriculum topics. You also need to agree with the SENCo who simplifies the lesson notes, it seems logical that your DS has access to the full notes and someone, either the TA or you simplify them. It may be easier for the TA to pick out the salient points as she/he has been in the lesson but whoever it is, it needs to be agreed and the decision passed on to the TAs.

EllenJaneisnotmyname Sun 17-Jul-11 11:15:17

Crossed with you, supermum. So could the TA be taking the notes and your DS producing the mind map fairly independently, with the detail being added later on review of the lesson notes?

basingstoke Sun 17-Jul-11 11:34:13

I think you need to be asking about what notes are taken in the lesson. Really, we do very little note taking indeed. Writing activities are not note taking. I might, for example, get my pupils to write sentences to describe adaptations to a habitat for example, focusing on the use of connectives to make sure they were explaining. Or I might give a writing frame for writing up an investigation. Neither of those activities is note taking, and each is developing an important skill the pupils will need. To differentiate it, I would give sentence starters maybe. I would also be fine with a TA as an amenuensis. Perhaps his school does things differently though. Have you seen other students' books?

EllenJaneisnotmyname Sun 17-Jul-11 13:53:42

Basingstoke, what do your students revise from? Are they expected to remember everything from the lessons? Printed handouts are not the best way to learn for all learners.

supermum98 Sun 17-Jul-11 14:04:16

Yep EJ you are right I need to get more clarity from the school about what is happening. He wouldn't be able to do mind-map independently yet either. I think at primary the school paid TA to do extra time to do resources. This I doubt would be an option at secondary. Basingstoke, I think I haven't arrived in the 21st century yet. We had reems of notes from lessons. either dictated or copied from board or hand-outs even in the 1st year at grammar school. We revised from them at the end of the year. I realise teaching today is much more interactive. I'm happy for TA to take notes, but don't want her simplifying them at point of delivery, but seems like I need to talk it through with them. Fortunately my daughter starts there in September, so will have more transparency. My ds has not been bringing notes home, which the other kids have when they have had homework. There has been no homework for my ds. for year 7, which is another concern I have, so little transparency there also. I do get to see learning objectives from lessons, which helps. I suspect I am going to have to make up my own resources, which I will do, but going to be a struggle with two younger siblings and physio to fit in, which is why I will push back on school first. Shame there are not centralised resource for worksheets/cloze activities. Have seen some web sites for customised mind-maps/some free going to explore.
Thanks for all your valuable comments, food for thought.

supermum98 Sun 17-Jul-11 14:07:23

Yes EJ that's exactly the question I would be interested to ask, how do kids remember things from lessons if info isn't comprehensively recorded?

bigbluebus Sun 17-Jul-11 15:07:32

My DS is coming to end of KS 3 and I have always been amazed at how few notes he has written in his books. His handwritong is scruffy to say the least but I don't think it's his laziness that means there arent't many notes there - just that they aren't told to/expected to (if DS to be believed) write notes. When he is given printed sheets he rarely sticks them in his book and they end up lost or screwed up in his bag as he is v disorganised.
Fortunately DS has an excellent memory, but it has made it very difficult for us to test him when he has supposedly revised for exams - as there is little to test him on in his book and we usually resort to the internet as teacher normally gives revision topic headings. Am worried about next 2 years though as he goes into GCSE coursework - think we may have to resort to CGP or other similar books. We had to do this for Geography one year as DS only had it once a week and he was taken out of lesson every 3rd wk for ASDAN/Social skills training. Tried to get his 1-1 to get lesson notes but think we only saw notes once!!!

dolfrog Sun 17-Jul-11 15:36:16

"Writing activities are not note taking."

There in lies the problem all Writing activities, note taking or otherwise are the problem which you seem to not want to recognise. You need to be able to adapt your teaching methods to either have no writing or have some one act as a note taker or a scribe. Or find alternatives to using speech and the visual notation of speech as the only means of communication.
children who have word recall problems and sequencing issues have problems using the visual notation of speech to express what they understand, or provide useful information storage. So you have to provide supporting notes for all of your lessons, which should be part of your daily or weekly lesson plans regarding the topics and information you are going to cover. Basically you need to understand the various learning needs of all the children in a class, and be able to provide the information in various ways to meet their learning needs.

nojustificationneeded Sun 17-Jul-11 15:41:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

basingstoke Sun 17-Jul-11 17:43:42

I provide summary notes for all students for each topic (for revision), and each student writes their own set of revision questions before a test to take home. And I will happily ask a TA to write for a student where necessary (as I said). My lessons focus on developing skills that all my students will need for future assessments as well as developing an understanding of my subject. There is a lot of talking, discussion, practical work, activities on the IWB, card sorting, model building, mind mapping and yes, some writing and literacy activities, as all my students will need either to build a portfolio of coursework or sit an exam at the end of KS4.

If I was asked to produce some specific resources for a particular student, then I would do my best to do so.

What I do is relevant to the students in my classes, not necessarily the OP's DS. The OP was asking about note taking, and I thought perhaps her DS was not bringing home fewer notes than others in the class, as note taking is not something we tend to do much of, with any student.

CGP revision guides are excellent btw, for the poster who referred to them.

supermum98 Sun 17-Jul-11 19:01:28

Basingstoke, it sounds like you are diligent, and your techniques would work for the majority of students and actually offer multisensory learning which is great. I think with my ds, my concern is that for him to stay engaged in mainstream, we need to consolidate with lots of overlearning at home and I can't do that with little transparency about what has gone on in class, and with few resources that he has generated in school that he can bring home to learn from. I can see myself being in the same position as bigbluebus and I want to try and avoid that. What I don't know as you rightly pointed out is whether my ds is taking fewer notes than anyone else. I assumed he is but it may be times have changed and the pages of dictated notes I had are a thing of the past, thank goodness in many ways, not an ispiring way to learn and be enthused, but great for revision. My ds couldn't learn from a CGP book as too busy, bitesize good, but most other resources will have to adapt, enlarge print, get to mind-map etc. if school don't do. There is a boy up the road in my ds form and if I can't resolve will ask him if he minds me looking at his notes, but don't like to do this really. Maybe this is an area of provision that hasn't really been sorted in main-stream for children with complex needs.

supermum98 Sun 17-Jul-11 19:06:04

I have a dictaphone, but got a few shocked looks in MD meeting when I mentioned taking into class. I think it's a gr8 idea and apparently there are kids in ks4 using them in county. I think they unjustly worry I am going to work my ds too hard, which really annoys me as this misconception is wrong as I am very careful to protect my kids from too much pressure on the homework front. Perhaps I'll raise this suggestion again, in the event I don't get other resources to work from. Thanks for reminding me nojustificationneeded.

basingstoke Sun 17-Jul-11 19:53:38

Have you spoken to the school? If you need notes, then they should be provided, whether or not other students make notes in class. I provide all sorts of things over and above my classroom activities and so do all departments in my school. I think one of the problems in secondary is that I might see a child for 2 or 3 hours a week, and I see another 200 or more students over the course of that week, and although in class my planning will include their needs, things like this, for home, will be missed unless stated on the IEP or directly requested by a parent. If you ask for the notes, the teacher might well think, well we don't make many notes, so that's OK. But if they knew that you needed notes over and above those made by other students, then they should provide them. The SENCO should sort this.

basingstoke Sun 17-Jul-11 20:01:20

Of course you'be spoken to the school! I meant are you sure the teachers know what you are after.

supermum98 Mon 18-Jul-11 22:52:08

Thanx basingstoke, that's a really good point, perhaps I need to clarify what I think I need to support my ds well from home, with the subject teachers and not just through the Senco. Also that is a good point that perhaps I should get this written into the IEP. It is helpful to understand the problem from a teachers point of view and why it is difficult to taylor make provision for each student, which will help me be sympathetic to a compromise position. Thanks for enlightening me.
Parent partnership have suggested I try and get subject teachers on board with the fact I want to offer good support from home. I think there will be a parents evening next term, so I will use this as an opportunity to get my point over. Certainly the science teacher, picked up on the fact we are keen to support from home and has been e-mailing me lesson plans, which has been great. Others have not been so forthcoming, but a face to face plea at the next parents evening might be more fruitful. Thanx for your input here as I feel a bit more confident and informed to explore this further with the school and can see it from both sides now. All the best and it sounds like your students are lucky to have you.

basingstoke Tue 19-Jul-11 12:39:54

Good luck. A good teacher is never going to be resistant to support at home, so don't be afraid to take things further if direct requests get ignored!

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