I had two of my American Novel classes try out taking notes during class using assigned groups of 4-7. Before class, I had set up the googledoc for each group and shared via email with them. It took around 30 minutes to set up two classes (4 groups in each class).

The class seemed a little surprised at their task- wasn’t this illicit? But they forged ahead comfortably as the documentary on Mark Twain began.

During the documentary viewing, I observed the vast majority of students on task- listening to the documentary and occasionally adding something to the Googledoc notes for their group. 

After viewing, we had a sharing/discussion session to recap the most important pieces of information in terms of understanding Twain and his writing; everyone had something to share!

My sense was that this could be a useful tool for a variety of notetaking scenarios. 

I asked at the end of class:

1) Have you ever taken notes this way?

100 % said no

2) What do you think about this strategy?

Thumbs up by many, positive nods by more.

Specific comments:

“I was in a group of 4; I think the lag time for a group of 4 works well; any bigger and there may be issues of lagging.”

“I was concerned that I was writing the same thing as another student.”

“I liked it!”


“It might be good to have a specific question to watch or listen for the answers.”

 All in all, it was a positive experiment. I’ll look for ways to apply the strategy in future lessons.  In all honesty, if I were a high school student, I woud be talking with my friends to create a group of 3 or 4 like-minded students and use the strategy in any class that the teacher allows lapton notetaking– it would be great to take 10 or 15  minute “turns” at notetaking vs commenting or reflecting or listening.

I’m wondering if students will now want to start doing this on their own with a partner—I expect to test the strategy again with other parameters-