Harvard Educational Review
  1. Taking Note

    Improving Your Observational Notetaking Power

    By Brenda Miller Power

    York, ME: Stenhouse, 1996. 96 pp. $12.50 (paper).

    Taking Note: Improving Your Observational Notetaking is a "little handbook" filled with strategies to help teachers become more skillful observers of their students. Through specific techniques and practical information, Miller suggests ways for teachers to learn more carefully about their classrooms. Although the book is set in literacy classrooms, it offers techniques and information to all teachers who want to learn in depth about their students.

    Taking Note
    is a practical book, offering many samples of teacher records, suggestions for how to begin to take notes, and what to do with the information collected. Although the wealth of notetaking techniques may seem overwhelming at first, Miller's goal is not to suggest more work for teachers. Instead, she presents ways for teachers to record observations in systematic ways that simplify rather than complicate their lives. She says:

    I want this handbook to help you find more time for the things you care about (in and out of the classroom) and still find time to write more cogent and thoughtful notes and narratives about your students. I hope it helps you shift the ways you use the time you have. (p. 4)

    Specific topics include: getting started, setting goals, when to write, what to write, bringing it all together, and how to continue to hone skills as a notetaker by becoming part of a community of learners.

    Power's clear, lucid voice and sharp sense of humor make it an enjoyable book to read, as well as an informative resource for both seasoned and beginning teachers.

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