Encounter the Research TaskSkill 5: Summarize important information and take notes.

During the course of your research, as you find and evaluate different sources, you will need to take notes on important information that you find, which you will use as you move forward in the research process. The notes that you are taking at this step are a rough product, so take a large amount of notes whether you think you will use them all or not. When you get to the next stage of this guide, in the Create step, you will narrow down the notes that you have taken and begin to sort the information in a more logical manner. There are many schools of thought on which note-taking methods are the “best”. Choose the method that works best for you when you summarize and paraphrase the important information that you find.

Skill-builders & Tools
Summarizing Information
Summarizing - Summarizing helps you to discern the most important ideas in a text, how to ignore irrelevant information, and how to integrate the central ideas in a meaningful way. Learning to summarize improves your memory for what is read. Summarization strategies can be used in almost every content area.

The GIST strategy is commonly used to learn summarization skills. Using this strategy you will identify the following elements of a reading:

  • Who
  • What
  • When
  • Where
  • Why
  • How

After briefly identifying those elements, you would write a 20 word summary which addresses each of these elements. Many GIST worksheets are available for your use on the internet. As you complete a few of these worksheets during your research, your goal should be to work towards reading a passage and identifying each of the elements above in a summary without first writing each down.

For more on how to summarize text, see this short online lesson from TV411.

Paraphrasing
A paraphrase is:

  • your own rendition of essential information and ideas expressed by someone else, presented in a new form.
  • one legitimate way (when accompanied by accurate documentation) to borrow from a source.
  • a more detailed restatement than a summary, which focuses concisely on a single main idea.
Paraphrasing is a valuable skill because...
  • it is better than quoting information from an undistinguished passage.
  • it helps you control the temptation to quote too much.
  • the mental process required for successful paraphrasing helps you to grasp the full meaning of the original.
6 Steps to Effective Paraphrasing
  1. Reread the original passage until you understand its full meaning.
  2. Set the original aside, and write your paraphrase on a note card.
  3. Jot down a few words below your paraphrase to remind you later how you envision using this material. At the top of the note card, write a key word or phrase to indicate the subject of your paraphrase.
  4. Check your rendition with the original to make sure that your version accurately expresses all the essential information in a new form.
  5. Use quotation marks to identify any unique term or phraseology you have borrowed exactly from the source.
  6. Record the source (including the page) on your note card so that you can credit it easily if you decide to incorporate the material into your paper.

Taken from: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/619/1/

Purdue University has more information and examples of paraphrasing on their website.

Vocabulary
  • Summarizing - Summarizing teaches students how to discern the most important ideas in a text, how to ignore irrelevant information, and how to integrate the central ideas in a meaningful way. Teaching students to summarize improves their memory for what is read. Summarization strategies can be used in almost every content area.
  • Paraphrasing- a rewording of something written or spoken by someone else.
Student Resources
paper
Teaching Resources
DO NOW: After reviewing the materials above, use a GIST worksheet or another tool of your choice to paraphrase text from sources that you have identified for use in your research.

Note taking

Note cards
Many institutions or teachers require the use of note cards for research note taking. The note card method involves the creation of a bibliography card with citing information, and additional fact cards taken from that source. An example is given below. See the student resources section for a guide on notetaking.


Card A shows a bibliography card.


 

Murray, Donald. Expecting the Unexpected. Portsmouth, NH: 
          Boynton/Cook, 1989.
                        




                        

Card B shows a summary card, of the author's main focus in a chapter.

                       Murray, Expecting

Sub-topic: Learning through mistakes
In Chapter 10  /  Murray's main point: "bad" writing can 
ultimately produce writing that excites, rather than 
beginning with good but status quo writing that says 
very little and moves no one.
                        
                         pp. 101-03.

Note taking Sheets
The Arlington County Public School System has identified five possible problems with using note cards as your primary note taking method (http://www.apsva.us/):

  • Problem #1: Students write too much information on a card
  • Problem #2: Students fill out cards just to meet teacher requirements (i.e. “you must have 50 note cards for your paper”) without considering the usefulness of the information or its relevance to the topic
  • Problem #3: Students have the added step of organizing their note cards into piles when they are done taking notes
  • Problem #4: When they sit down to organize their note cards under subtopics, many students realize that they took too many notes on one topic and not enough on another. Also, they may realize that they wrote the same fact on more than one card. This means either restructuring the paper or finding more sources to fill in the gaps in information.
  • Problem #5: In the organization process, many students find that they have some notes that don’t fit under any relevant subtopic. This means that they spent time taking notes that will never get included.

Rather than using note cards, they recommend using note taking sheets. They have provided examples as well as blank templates of their sheet.

The Greece Central school District in New York suggests using what they call “annolighting a text”, shown below.

Highlighted Text

Reader Annotations

Towards the end of the sixteenth century, a new tragic pattern began to emerge, very much richer and deeper than the old one, sounding intimately the depths of the human mind and spirit, the moral possibilities of human behavior, and displaying the extent to which men’s destinies are interrelated one with another.
According to this scheme, an ideal tragedy would concern the career of ahero, a man great and admirable in both his powers and opportunities. He should be a person high enough placed in society that his actions affect the well being of many people. The plot should show him engaged in important or urgent affairs and should involve his immediate community in a threat to its security that will be removed only at the end of the action through his death. The hero’s action will involve him in choices of some importance which, however virtuous or vicious in themselves, begin the spinning of a web of circumstances unforeseen by the hero which cannot then be halted and which brings about his downfall. This hostile destiny may be the result of mere circumstance or ill luck, of the activities of the hero’s enemies, of some flaw or failing in his own character, of the operation of some supernatural agency that works against him. When it is too late to escape from the web, the hero-victim comes to realize everything that has happened to him, and in the despair or agony of that realization, is finally destroyed.

The hero/protagonist:

  • Admirable
  • High society
  • Actions affect many
  • Makes choices that involve him/her in a web of circumstances

Caused by:

  • Mere circumstance
  • Ill luck
  • Enemies
  • Character flaw
  • Supernatural agency

Results:

  • Realizes too late
  • Creates despair
  • Destruction or death

The process above is very similar to the Cornell notes strategy. Cornell Notes are widely used in the AVID program in the Baltimore County Public Schools. See the diagram below from Easybib, which describes the Cornell note taking strategy. Consult your school’s AVID teacher for direct instruction for using these methods.

images
Taken from: http://content.easybib.com/students/writing-guide

Electronic Note taking
BCPS has a subscription to the Easybib software. Easybib offers a simple and easy to use note taking tool for subscribers. You may use this tool even if you did not use Easybib during the citing process, however, if you did use Easybib for citing, you can link your citations to your notes easily using the features built into the note taking tool. See the screen shot below for an example of this software.

To access this feature, go to your project in Easybib, and click the link for “notebook”.

Vocabulary
  • Summarizing - Summarizing teaches students how to discern the most important ideas in a text, how to ignore irrelevant information, and how to integrate the central ideas in a meaningful way. Teaching students to summarize improves their memory for what is read. Summarization strategies can be used in almost every content area.
  • Paraphrasing- a rewording of something written or spoken by someone else.
Student Resources
Teaching Resources
DO NOW: After reviewing the materials above, choose a note taking strategy and record notes using the print and electronic sources that you have found and evaluated to be appropriate.
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