Teaching Tip Tuesday: Pause, Star, Rank

Effective note taking is a learned skill.  When using direct instruction or lecturing, you need to give students a chance to summarize and process what you presented.  Note-taking can be difficult for students, as they try to quickly determine what is most important and how to put it in their own words. Some students try to write everything down verbatim, and other students don’t write anything, unless the teacher tells them to write it down.

Research tells us that when students process and repackage what they hear using notes that are in the form of a summary or a visual, they perform better than when they take notes verbatim.  Effective note-taking is a learned skill, so we need to take the time to support students as they develop this skill.

Pause, Star, Rank is a “Total Participation Technique” (Himmele) strategy that will support students as they summarize new material.

Pause Star Rank

This activity lends itself to analysis and higher-order thinking. When students read over their notes and determine the importance of what they have read, students are analyzing the concepts on which they took notes.

This is a great wrap-up activity that is perfect for when you have a few minutes left of class.  This could also work at the end of a unit.  Students could review what they learned over the last few days and rank the most important concepts.

Can you think of other ways to encourage students to pause and reflect on what they learned?


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