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Note Taking By Crayon



  • Language Arts (Study Skills)
    Note: This activity can be used with a selection from literature or nonfiction reading materials related to science, history, and many other subjects.


  • 3-5
  • 6-8
  • 9-12
  • Advanced

Brief Description

Use crayons or markers to teach note-taking skills.


Students will

  • highlight in color (with crayon or highlighter) words and phrases that relate to their topic of research.
  • use their "crayon notes" to compose a paragraph to support their topic.


note taking, notes, study skills, research, Earhart, theme

Materials Needed

Lesson Plan

About the Lesson
This lesson employs a brief biography of Amelia Earhart as the starting point for note-taking exercises. The Earhart biography is only a suggested starting point for this lesson, however. You can substitute any piece of literature for the selection, or provide additional note-taking practice by repeating this lesson with a variety of content-rich, subject-related reading material.

The Lesson
Very often, students read for a specific purpose rather than general information. For example, if students are working on reports about the causes of the Civil War, they will likely skim many Civil War resources to find the sections of those resources about the specific topic. That means students will be "eliminating" a lot of information as they skim for details about the causes of the war.

In this activity, students skim a brief biography of Amelia Earhart -- or another reading selection of your choice -- to locate specific information related to the focus of their search.

If you use the brief biography of Amelia Earhart, provide each student with a copy of that bio page. Then you might

  • do one or more of the topics/themes below as a class, then have students do the rest on their own or in small groups;
  • provide each student with one of the topics listed below;
  • arrange students into groups and give each group a theme; or
  • write the numbers 1, 2, 3, or 4 (corresponding to the topics below) on slips of paper and have each student draw a slip to determine the topic of his or her research.


  1. Amelia's Family Life
  2. Important Airplane Flights in Amelia's Life
  3. Turning Points in Amelia's Life
  4. Important People in Amelia's Life

Whichever topic students tackle, they skim their copy of the biography for information related to the topic. They then use a crayon to underline -- or a highlighting marker to highlight -- information that supports the topic. The highlighted text provides a visual representation of the "notes" students might write if they were using library resources to research the topic.

When students complete their highlighting, have them use the most important highlighted information to write in their own words a concise paragraph on their assigned topic or theme.

Extension Activity
After completing this activity, you might encourage students to go beyond the one-page biography and do more in-depth research using library or Internet resources. Provide each student with a different topic to research, for example:

  • key events in the childhood of [a president],
  • features of [an animal's] habitat, or
  • key geographic features of [a country].

Since students should not use crayons or highlighters in library books, have them skim the books to find key phrases and information related to the topic and write the information in note form. They can then use the notes to compose a paragraph or, for more in-depth topics, a brief essay or a full report sharing the result of their research -- written in their own words.


Give students a clean copy of a brief biography of Amelia Earhart and have them cross out all but the most important information related to the following topic:

Reasons Many People Think Amelia Earhart Is a Hero

The following might be among the phrases in the biography article that will be highlighted in marker or underlined in crayon:

  • childhood was not always easy; the family split up
  • worked as a nurse in a hospital for soldiers
  • worked several jobs to earn the money she needed to take flying lessons
  • first woman to fly cross the Atlantic Ocean
  • flew across the Atlantic on her own in record time
  • first woman to fly from Hawaii to California
  • participated a cross-country air race for women pilots
  • founded an organization of women pilots
  • set out to fly around the world

Lesson Plan Source

Education World
Note: This lesson is loosely based on the Trash-N-Treasure technique. Teacher Barbara Jansen wrote Reading for Information: The Trash-N-Treasure Method of Teaching Note-Taking, an in-depth article about this unique note-taking strategy.

Submitted By

Gary Hopkins


Return to the Note Taking lesson plan page.

Find more ideas for teaching study skills in an Education World article Teaching Study Skills: Ideas That Work!.