The Cornell Notes system (also Cornell note-taking system or Cornell method) is a note-taking system devised in the 1950s by Walter Pauk, an education professor at Cornell University.
This is an excellent tool to use for introducing students to the concept of note-taking, as well as deeper, applied use such as my New Republic Notes.
General guidelines for use are as follows:
Begin by giving students their topic/objective for the day. I try to keep the topic/objective simple, such as a few key words or a simple phrase. (This is an administrator gold star.)
Next, either provide students with the essential question or ask them to create their own. This can be an excellent activity all on its own by using your preferred Depth of Knowledge resource (Bloom’s Taxonomy is my primary source.)
This is where things get fun. You can either provide students with the notes at which point their task would be to create questions; preferably not simple ones like ‘What year did XYZ happen?’ or ‘Who the Declaration of Independence?’ Alternatively, students could be provided with questions, thus tasked with finding the correct information.
Regardless of how you structure the meaty part of Cornell notes, student should complete summaries that answer the left-hand column questions, as well as the essential question.
I use these notes for multiple reasons. First, classroom management interestingly enough. The best advice my retired-teacher mom gave me was that having a daily graded task is a very effective tool for maintaining structure and order in a classroom. Second, I like to differentiate every class period with multiple activities. Lecture notes are approximately 15-20 minutes of the class period at which point we often transition to the activity of the day or one of the long-term projects I love so much!