How to Take Notes

     Academic studies have shown that the average middle or high school student will forget large amounts of stuff hours after leaving school for the day.  Some students convince themselves that they can remember all of the information that teachers cram into their heads each day but science has proven otherwise.  Your ability to adequately prepare for a test or exam will depend on the quality of your notes.  Don't fool yourself, this is a study skill that you will use for the rest of your education.

     Whether you are watching a video, listening to a podcast or reading an article, you must be able to quickly and concisely capture key points and record them in a simple, easy to read format.  You do not have time to worry about sentence structure, punctuation or spelling and much of the trick is learning how to identify what information is important and that which is not.  Don't worry, it takes practice and we are here to help!

  The Secret
        This approach to taking notes is easy to use and my students have found that it is just as effective as the Cornell Method.  Your goal is simple: create a shopping list of key facts such as people, places, dates and events that are relevant to your topic.  Record the "Factoids" on a separate piece of paper using a simple outline format.  An appropriate outline format includes the following:

                    *  Identify important factoids such as important people, places, dates or events.

                  *  Skip a line in between each factoid

                  *  Use "bullets"

                  *  Don't worry about spelling and try to abreviate whenever possible.

                  *  Do NOT use complete sentences.  You don't have time and you might miss an important piece of information

  The Challenge: Practicing your skills
        Listed below are links to a variety of subjects featuring invasive species, unusual marine creatures and Alien visitation.  Click on the picture to access the article and  worksheet of your choice.

Hooked: The Asian Carp Invasion (
     The Asian Carp has entered the freshwater river system from Louisiana all the way up to the Great Lakes.  Their arrival represents one of the greatest environmental threats to the freshwater ecosystem and to the 7 billion dollar fishing industry.  In this 46 minute YouTube video you will discover how these creatures arrived in the United States and how their presence impacts the Mississippi, and Illinois River ecosystems.  Click on the tab in order to access the video and the worksheet.

     The Northern Snakehead is an interesting creature with some very bad habits.  It possesses unique abilities not found in many freshwater fish species and has begun its attack on the freshwater ponds, lakes and tributaries in the Northern part of the United States.  This is another invasive species that you will learn more about in this brief but informative article.  Click on the image of Frankenfish in order to access the article and worksheet.

The Amazing Octopus (
     The octopus is one of the most intelligent and unusual creatures in the marine ocean realm.  It has a wide array of talents and abilities which has allowed it to adapt to a variety of environments covering a period of almost 500 million years.  This YouTube video features one of the most comprehensive studies on octopus intelligence conducted by a group of scientists in the Mediterranean Ocean.   Click on the tab in order to access the video, design activity and the worksheet.


Sharklet Industries (
     The very mention of the word "shark" evokes images of a fiercesome oean predator with mandibles of death and lifeless black eyes waiting for its next victim.  These creatures have ruled the oceans for millions of years and yet they possess some very interesting adaptations.  In this brief but information packed video we will learn more about shark skin and man's efforts to learn more about this remarkable shark feature.  Click on the image of the shark in order to access the video and the worksheet.

 Strange Days on Planet Earth- Invaders
     This video series produced by National Geographic and narrated by Ed Norton features a variety of case studies revealing the dangers of introducing an invasive species into an ecosystem.  In the first video students will learn how the introduction of the water hyacinth into Africa's Lake Victoria seriously affected the health of those people living on its shoreline.  Click on the tab in order to access the 53 min. video and the worksheet.
 Hydrothermal Vents (
     The hydrothermal vent was recently discovered along the Ring of Fire in the Pacific Ocean.   Scientists were amazed to discover a completely new ecosystem never seen before.  Living in a toxic wasteland of boiling water filled with toxic elements from deep within the Earth's crust were hundreds of new organisms.  These creatures are not found anywhere else on Earth and live in complete darkness.   Click on the tab in order to access the 6 min. or 14 min. video and the worksheet.
 Raising the Hunley (
      On February 17th, 1864, the H. L. Hunley became the first successful combat submarine in world history with the sinking of the USS Housatonic. After completing her mission, she mysteriously vanished and remained lost at sea for over a century. For decades, adventurers searched for the legendary submarine.  Over a century later, the National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA), led by New York Times-bestselling author Clive Cussler, finally found the Hunley in 1995. News of the discovery traveled quickly around the world. A ground breaking effort began to retrieve the fragile submarine from the sea.
 The Business of Trash (
      Every year, countries from all over the globe produce millions of tons of trash in a variety of shapes and sizes.  Recycling man's garbage should be a popular and potentially profitable enterprise but is it?  Finding a suitable resting place for some of this waste is challenging and very risky given the fact that our household garbage may contain chemicals and contaminents that are harmful to the environment and dangerous to our health.  In this topic, we are looking at the handling of garbage from a different prospective- can a business make money processing garbage?  Read on and find out.
 Jellyfish Attack Japan (
      The title of this segment seems like it was taken from a bad science fiction film but believe it or not its true.  The nomura jellyfish is invading the fertile fishing grounds off the coast of Japan causing widespread panic and damage to one of Japan's most important sources of seafood.  These large creatures have no central nervous system and are capable of producing a billion eggs at a time causing massive "blooms" of baby jellyfish.  But what is causing this phenomenon and is there anything that man can do to stop this invasion?  Watch the videos and learn more.
 The Greenhouse and Global Climate Change (
      If you were to interview a small crowd of people at the local mall and ask them to explain the Greenhouse Effect or define Global Climate Change, most people would be unable to do so.  Many of us are familiar with these terms but really dont have a fundamental understanding of what they mean, their causes and how these phenomenon affect our daily lives.  In addition, many people have grown so used to hearing about GCC that they have become insensitive to the reality that it is here to stay and is having a terrible impact on the environment and ultimately our quality of life.
 Creative Writing Assignments (When being "bored" is just plain unacceptable!)
      These are a growing assortment of creative writing assignments that can be used for students with nothing to do, or as an emergency assignment.  I will be adding to this list as we move through the school year.
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