Applying Cornell Notemaking
in the Elementary Setting
Oh my gosh! How do I do this?
Why should I do this?
Wait a minute! Taking Notes?
 Notemaking is most often thought of
in a secondary of higher educational
 This does not mean it can’t be done
at the elementary level.
 Notes should be used to help
students learn and recall information.
Even the youngest student can do
Note taking
 The student hears what the teacher
says and writes it down.
 The student writes down the material
for study.
 The student studies the notes to
prepare for assessments.
 The student takes information from lecture,
curriculum, and classroom experience and puts it into
their notes.
 The student writes the notes in ways that are
meaningful to them (i.e. written word, drawings).
 The information is used in classroom and small group
 The student constantly builds on the notes by adding
further information learned, building schema, and
connecting information.
 The student constantly studies the material because
further material draws on concepts already learned.
The Cornell Notemaking
Traditional Cornell Notes
Title Box
Cue Column
Notemaking Column
Summary Box
Further Questions Box
The Keys to Success
1)You must be patient.
Like all skills and procedures we teach throughout the
year, this will take some time to learn. However, if used
consistently students will become comfortable with the
system and integrate it into their everyday activities.
2) Some assembly required!
The Cornell system can be better taught at the
elementary level using scaffolding methods that
gradually transfer over to true Cornell notes.
3) Do as I do.
Cornell notes will take more quickly if the teacher does
them with the students initially.
Stages of efficient notemaking
 The beginning format
-Teacher driven(cues and questions are
written by teacher)
-Heavy Scaffolding and Guidance
(“Let’s add this piece of information.”, or
“This is a great diagram, let’s copy it.”)
-Done in a group format (i.e. through
discussion, the group decides what
should be written on the page)
Stages of efficient notemaking
 The intermediate format
- Teacher and Student Driven
(Cues and questions are given, but
students have the freedom to add
their own.)
- Moderate scaffolding
(students begin to learn their
notemaking style and copy notes in their
notebooks during class discussion.)
- Done in group discussion or on an
individual basis
Stages of efficient notemaking
 The advanced stage
- Student driven (No questions or cues are
given. Instead the students fill those in at
the end.)
-Freedom of choice. Students decide what
information becomes a part of their notes.
- Minimal scaffolding required/ peer to peer
scaffolding (students bounce ideas off of
each other during group share times.)
Bringing it all together- What a
notebook should look like
 Include a table of contentsThis enables the student to quickly find past
notes for review. Each entry should include a title
for a set of notes, its page number, and its date.
 Number your pagesTo go with the above point, number your
pages for easier retrieval of past notes.
 Write on the fronts of pages onlyThis enables students to come back and input
additional information on a topic later if a
connection is made.
Benefits for Elementary Teachers
 Notes can help foster group discussions on a topic. As
each child values various information to varying
degrees, many points of view are shared.
 Students benefit from “think tank” style idea sharing.
This allows students to draw upon each other’s
knowledge to gain a comprehensive view of a topic.
 Notemaking is no longer a drill and practice retelling
of facts.
 Notes allow students to review concepts for upcoming
 Notes organized in an orderly structure allow students
to link ideas, build schema, and use prior knowledge
to aid them in future notemaking experiences.
Uniformity v. Creativity and
Sense-making v. Fact Reporting
The Cornell system of notemaking is a flexible system for
making notes on any topic. The key to its flexibility
lies in the fact that each notemaker uses methods
that are comfortable to them. As teachers, we need
not adhere to some rigid structure that all students
must follow, but instead should encourage students to
work within the flexible structure to find a method
that is meaningful to them. This ultimately yields a
learner who uses the system to make sense of
reading and learning experiences instead of copying
them down for the purpose of regurgitating facts.
 Cornell University, Center for
Learning and Teaching
 Dr. Robert Foster, Assistant Professor
of Christian Ministries, Williams
Baptist College

Applying Cornell Notemaking in the Elementary Setting