Students learn better when they are actively engaged, and taking notes in class is one way of engaging. However, many students are not good note-takers and have trouble identifying the key areas. Others are English language learners or have various issues that may hamper good note-taking. This method provides scaffolding for all.  

Step-by-Step Implementation

  1. Make a copy of your own notes and label “Handout.”  
  2. Now go through and take out all but the major headings and sub-headings. You can leave in a few intriguing lines and words that might be difficult to spell. Be sure to leave space for them to fill in other information. You will end up with a partially-completed outline or PowerPoint with mostly blank slides.  
  3. Post the handout for students. Some will print and fill out by hand, while others will pull up on their laptop and fill in that way.  
  4. Students who miss class can still get the outline. They can ask members of their base group for the details.  


Some students complain because other faculty members give out complete notes. I explain my reasoning and most are satisfied. I found that when I gave more complete notes, some students thought that they did not need to attend class. With these notes, they come. In addition to missing details, they know that they will miss cartoons, short videos, and class activities because I often leave a teaser in the notes.