Sunday, March 2, 2014
I am currently attending Constitutional Law classes as a way of helping me work with students toward academic success. As I attend these classes, I take notes. Note taking in class is one way, among many, to remain actively engaged in learning.
Here is one way of thinking about how note taking fits into your learning process in law school:
1. Before class
*You read cases;
*Read cases again, this time you take notes in the margins of your case books; and
*Read cases one more time, at least, and brief the cases.
2. During class, you attend; listen; participate; and, yes, take notes.
Too many times, students either take limited notes or only make notations on their case briefs or in their case books. While, no student should try to transcribe every word spoken in class, all students should take notes – separate from their case briefs.
* Take note of anything the professor writes on the board – either before or during class;
*Take note of the professor’s questions about the cases and hypothetical questions;
*Take note of any tests and the professor’s interpretation of how the courts have applied those tests;
*Take note if your professor explains how the law will or won’t be applied to a hypothetical situation;
*Take note when your professor begins class by summarizing a previous class or previous classes;
*Take note when your professor ends class by summarizing what was covered in class;
*Take note, if your professor ends a unit of study by summarizing the topic;
*Take note if your professor incorporates multiple-choice questions into the class.
*Take note if you lose focus. Try to record the point at which you lost focus and the point at which you regained focus. By doing so, you will know where you need to fill in gaps in your notes.
3. After class, review and polish your notes. Do so within 24 hours of taking the notes. In that way, you will be able to spot holes in your notes and can consult with classmates or the professor to fill them. Reviewing notes within 24 hours can help you to remember the material.
4. At the end of every week, review and clean up your notes for each class. Doing this will help you to get in shape for outlining.
*Outline as you go; when you complete a topic in class, outline the topic. Build in weekly time to work on your outlines.
*Reread your outlines every week. Repeated exposure to material will help you to remember the material.