Lesson at a Glance

Students learn strategies for taking effective notes and apply them to websites and/or articles relevant to their editorial topics. They record key information about what they find, using their own words.

(1) This lesson encourages students to take notes in their writers’ notebooks. In classrooms
that have one-to-one computer access, the lesson can be modified, allowing students to take notes in a word processing document. Students can store their notes in the Online Classroom activity Submit Your Editorial Sources in Step 2. As students write their editorials in Step 4, they can easily transfer information from their notes to their first drafts. Before allowing students to take notes on the computer, make sure to instruct them on the dangers of plagiarism. Careful monitoring may be needed to discourage students from copying and pasting information directly from the web to their electronic documents.

(2) Be sure to take notes in such a way that you can save them for use in future lessons.

(3) This lesson will require at least one additional day for students to gather adequate evidence and determine its relevance to their opinion statements.

Prep & Tech

Technology: LCD projector, laptop, Internet access or Writing Editorials CD, student computers with Internet access
Differentiated Instruction Handout: 2.3a: Record Your Notes (multiple copies per student)
Other Materials: Student folders, writers’ notebooks, a website from which to take notes on your
editorial topic for the Teacher Model

Limited Tech Options

If there is no access to the technology needed for this lesson, try the following options:

  1. Mini Lesson: If you have a computer/LCD projector but no student computers, show DD’s Think Aloud: Take Notes during the mini lesson with speakers instead of asking students to watch it during Writer’s Work Time.
  2. Writer’s Work Time: Instead of directing students to search the Internet for information, use print materials.


Students will identify and record information appropriate to their editorial topics.

Focusing Question

How do you take notes on your topic?

Mini Lesson (10 min)

Show lesson visuals, Take Notes.

Tell students that the purpose of this lesson is to learn note-taking strategies for gathering evidence related to their editorial topics. Whenever people do research, they take notes to keep track of the relevant information they find. When taking notes, it is important to include the source of the information so that other researchers can access it. Including the source also allows the writer to give proper credit to the author. In planning an editorial, a writer takes notes to gather and organize key evidence that can persuade readers. Remind students that they have already begun this process by collecting URLs in the previous lesson.

Model general note-taking strategies with one of the trustworthy sources you located in the previous lesson. Create a note-taking chart with four sections: Source, Information, Type of Evidence, Possible Use. Fill in the chart with the research you gather from your first website. Explain that other than quotations, students should be writing notes in their own words. Read aloud another paragraph from your selected website. Ask students to pick which piece of evidence will be persuasive in an editorial. Take notes on the students’ suggestions, recording on your note-taking chart.

Have students start to take notes for their own editorials using reliable websites they found previously.

Teacher Model

Using a four-column note-taking chart, do the following:

  1. Show a trustworthy website you evaluated in the previous lesson and write down key information in the Source column including the:
    1. URL
    2. title of the website or article
    3. author or organization that created the website
    4. date the information was written.
    (If handwritten, the entire URL does not need to be recorded. Include the main root of site at a minimum.)
  2. Scan the features of the website looking at images, captions, and headings to determine which sections of the website are most relevant to your editorial.
  3. Take notes in the Information column on relevant facts, statistics and quotations relating to your topic. Highlight the appropriate way to take notes by demonstrating how you translate whole sentences into your own words.
  4. Select a particularly persuasive quotation and indicate how to quote directly from a source by recording the exact words and listing the author.
  5. Record if the piece of evidence is a fact, statistic, anecdote, or quotation in the Type of Evidence column.
  6. Tell students you will save the final column, Possible Use, for Step 3.
  7. Have students read another paragraph from the same website and help you choose one piece of evidence to include in your note-taking chart.


I will go back to The New York Times article and take notes in my writer’s notebook. I am going to divide my notebook page into four columns: Source, Information, Type of Evidence and Possible Use. Before I take notes, I want to make sure I write down some key source information, like the author, date, and publisher. I can easily find this information because I recorded it on the Evaluate Sources (Handout 2.1a) handout.

Now I am ready to find a few facts, statistics or quotations. There is an interesting statistic in the
second paragraph comparing New York’s subway to other big subway systems. I’ll write some key phrases that summarize the information “most of New York’s subways come less than every six minutes.” In other big cities around the world, the average is every four minutes.” I’ll write “statistic” in my Type of Information column.

I also see a quotation that is very persuasive: “When subway platforms are so overcrowded that riders are at risk of falling onto the tracks, it's time for increased and more reliable service.'' Because it is a quotation, I need to write the exact words.

I must remember to write down the author of the quotation. It’s Mark Green, NYC’s Public Advocate. I’ll write down “quotation” in my third column to remind me that I need to give Mark Green credit when I write my editorial.

Sample Chart:

Source Information Type of Evidence Possible Use
“Green Calls for More
Trains to Ease Subway
Thomas J. Lueck
June 11, 2000
Most of NY’s subways come less than
every six minutes. In other big cities
around the world the average is every four minutes.
Same article
Quotation by Mark
Green, NYC Public
“When subway platforms are so
overcrowded that riders are at risk of
falling onto the tracks, it's time for
increased and more reliable service.''

Preparing for Writer’s Work Time

Ask students to:

  1. Go to the Online Classroom and watch DD’s Think Aloud: Take Notes.
  2. Select a website from Evaluate Sources (Handout 2.1a).
  3. Divide a page in their writers’ notebooks into four columns and write the source in the first column.
  4. Write down two or three relevant pieces of information in the Information column.
    1. For quotations, make sure to write it exactly and include who said the quotation and their job or position.
    2. For all other types of evidence, make sure to summarize the information in their own words.
  5. Indicate the type of evidence in the appropriate column such as facts, statistics, anecdotes or quotations.
  6. Remind students to save the final column, Possible Use, for a later lesson.

Writer’s Work Time (25 min)

Students work independently, taking notes on relevant information from websites and articles on their topics. Students use a four-column format for taking notes, making sure to include source information. Circulate among students, encouraging them to scan the text before they begin to take notes so that they focus on relevant information. (If writing notes on a computer and storing them in the Online

Classroom, students spend the last few minutes of Writer’s Work Time uploading their typed document  to the activity Submit Your Editorial Sources in Step 2 of the Online Classroom.)

Individual conferences: Review students’ notes along with their topics, and encourage them to fill in any gaps in information. Encourage students to summarize information in their own words and to use abbreviations when appropriate.

Differentiated Instruction Strategies

  1. Difficulty using the writer’s notebook? Distribute Record Your Notes (Handout 2.3a). Students can use the handout to organize notes on their sources. Students can look at DD and JT’s Notebooks in the Online Classroom to see how they completed the same activity.
  2. Struggling to understand the information? Form a guided group in which students are scaffolded in reading a website for relevant information – sorting out irrelevant data (ads and other material not related to content), scanning for the main idea of the web page and deciding if it relates to the editorial topic. The group can then collaborate on how to summarize the information in their own words.
  3. Ready for more? Instruct students to search for additional websites and evaluate them using Evaluate Sources (Handout 2.1a). Students can then take notes on these additional websites.

Sharing and Lesson Summary (10 min)

Reconvene the class. Ask students to review their notes to determine if they have collected enough material and whether or not their evidence is relevant to their topics. Show the Editorial Rubric (Handout 2.1b). Review the section on Supporting Arguments. Ask students to think about whether the evidence they found during Writer’s Work Time will give them enough information to strengthen their opinion. Give students a minute to reflect on what other information they might need before they begin to write.


Review students’ notes. Assess whether the information is adequate, relevant and useful for their
editorial topics. To ensure that students are ready to develop their arguments in Step 3, check to see that students have completed their research and review the evidence they collected, thinking about its relevance to their opinion statements. Provide feedback on possible missing information so that students can go back to the website to fill in gaps. Use the Teacher’s Checklist to identify what students have completed to this point.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!

Non-profit Tax ID # 203478467