Tuesday, December 7, 2010

How Do You Take Notes?

                I want to start with stories. Three stories about my journal and meeting people at NCTE that I’d previously only met online.  The first is about the journal itself.
                Last year at NCTE I noticed a tribe member taking notes is a creamy-paged, sketchbook-style journal. Curious, I asked about it. Kim McCollum, Millersville professor, Nerdfighter and ECNing-er, told me she’d gotten the journal at “her favorite stationary store in Paris.”
                I think I really did sigh. How romantic is that? Flash forward six months to the summer. A mysterious soft-sided package arrives in the mail. The package is addressed to me. Kim’s address—her real address—is in the return spot on the mailer. What in the world? You’ll see. She sent me a journal. Pure magic, the surprise.
This year when I went to the session on mentoring new teachers (a session I wrote about here), Tony  Romano , Illinois state Author of the year and teacher phenom, smiled at me and said, “You’re the journal person.”
                “I am,” I smiled. You could call me that—a journal person, a person who journals. I do journal and color and draw and take notes and write and reflect and catalogue. Yes, that’s me.
                “I have been talking about your journal for a year!”
                Really?  Tony wasn’t the only one who’d been talking about my journals. Friends I’d made on the English Companion Ning remembered my journals too.
                At the ECN meet up Saturday night Karen LaBonte asked us to note the questions we’d begun to cultivate related to topic threads from the conference: grammar, writing, technology, etc. I opened my journal to scan my notes and gather my questions. I wasn’t 2 pages in when Jen Ansbach said, “can I see? You are going to post pages from your journal this year aren’t you? I’ve been talking about your journal all year.”


                Jen called her husband, Noah, over to take a picture. We got to talking. We talked through a session’s worth of notes. Soon there were six or so of us sitting in our section of the circle, talking about my journal .  
                So what? What matters? I think what matters is not my journal per se but the process, a process.
                How do you make your learning “visible and discussable” as Bud Hunt said (citing Suzie Boss and Jane Krauss)? What processes do we use as education evangelists—as committed teacher leaders—to  hold onto and extend our learning? Mine is but one. Surely there are an infinite number of ways we could systematize our note-taking. An infinite number of ways we could record, revisit, share and discuss. What matters, what’s important is that we do.
*             *             *
                So I’m sharing. I scanned the notes I took during Kittle, Gallagher and Anderson’s session as well as notes from our ECN meet up. I’ve also created a key to my codes. If you’d like to read my earlier post about why and how I journal , go here.  Because I don’t have permission to post photos of a few folks I have in my journal, you’ll see that I’ve blurred them out. Many thanks to Terry Heick for helping me figure out the inverse select tool in order to do that!

Notes also posted to Scridb.


  1. WOW! You know how much I love your journal. I love looking at your notes from the session we were in together--so amazing.

    What a gift you have of creating such lasting memories.

    Thank you so much for sharing!

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