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Be a Cave Man or Woman


Today's Snack: A fun way to remember these note-taking tips is the acronym ABC LOU. See below at how the first letter of each tip comes together in that acronym. Let's have an "ABC" snack today. How about an apple . . . some berries . . . and some cheese cubes. If you can think of three other healthy snack foods that start with a, b and c, go for it!





Large piece of blank newsprint, plain white shelf paper, or poster board

Tape | Marker | OR use a blackboard and chalk

Paper and pen for each student

White sheet and twine or rope to tie around someone

as a Cave Man or Woman costume



When you are doing research for a report or paper on any topic, it really helps to have good note-taking skills. The purpose of taking notes is to collect the most important facts and the "gist" (pronounced "jist"), or main point, of what you're learning.


If you tried to write down everything that you read about your topic word for word, it would take so much time that you would still be writing in the year 2050 and you'd have a long, gray beard!


So let's see how to remember important facts and points in a practical way. Let's learn how to take notes, and get set up for success in writing your actual report or paper.


An "acronym" (pronounced AK-roe-nim) is like a nickname to help you remember a longer name. An acronym is a word that is spelled by the first letters of a group of words. Example: a grade school often has a "PTO" and that stands for Parent-Teacher Organization. NOBODY ever calls it "Parent-Teacher Organization." EVERYBODY calls it the "PTO."


So, for our note-taking guidance, memorize the acronym "ABC LOU" and when we get to the "C," we have a fun little Cave Man or Woman exercise:


Abbreviations - write tom. for tomorrow; use + for and; U.S. for the United States of America, and so forth. Everyone who texts is already good at this!


Bullets - let's say your topic is baseball; you can write notes on your subtopics making these brief bullet points:

        9 players

        Everyone plays both offense and defense

        Each batter gets up to three strikes and/or four balls

        And so on. . . .


Cave Man or Woman Talk. Can you imagine how the early humans must have communicated, before almost any vocabulary words were invented yet? In one-word replies, with pictures, and with gestures, right?

That's a great way to take notes and remember information! Practice this key note-taking skill in small group or with at least one other person.


1.      First, tape up on the wall a big piece of paper to write on with a marker, or use a blackboard and chalk.


2.      Choose one student to be the Cave Man or Woman. Wrap him or her with an old sheet, secured with rope or a leather belt, to look like Fred or Wilma Flintstone and complete the Cave Man or Woman "look."


3.      Listen to a radio or TV report about something, or have another student or instructor read aloud from a book.


4.      The Cave Man or Woman should jot down just a few key words instead of trying to write down each complete, formal sentence.


5.      You can make quick sketches, the way the cave men and women drew buffalo to record hunts and so forth.


6.      Take notes and keep drawings in this simplified "cave man or woman" quick version and you'll remember more by writing down less.


7.      After you've taken notes in this format, everyone should write a report based on those notes.


You'll be amazed at how many more words you can use, effortlessly, even though you didn't record them when you were taking notes. That's because you've just noted the highlights, and haven't overstuffed your memory bank.


Now for the "LOU" part of our note-taking lesson. You could appoint one person to turn over the sheet of big paper you used for the Cave Man or Woman exercise, and use the back . . . or erase the blackboard and start over. Have someone read a report on some topic aloud, such as an encyclopedia article, or show a quick video with some facts and figures so that the person standing at the board takes notes for the group:

Lists - instead of trying to put facts each in a separate sentence, just list a key word or two for each fact and group and re-group your lists.


One word for several - be thrifty with your word choices so you don't get bogged down in too many words and too much information when it comes time to write your report or paper with your best stuff.


Use your own words - don't just copy down the words that you read. You can "own" this material by thinking about it just a little bit. Write down the concepts and facts in your OWN words - as if you were telling somebody else. That transfers the knowledge into YOUR hands . . . where it ought to be!


By Susan Darst Williams Writing 2010



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