It seems weird to consider my different habits of note-taking, depending on the context. Being in my last year at university you’d think that I’d have a “preferred,” efficient technique down-pat that I’ve found helps me take notes so that when I go back to look at them I understand everything right away. Being scatterbrained and *slightly* ADD, my notes end up being fairly jumbled most of the time. Still, I’ve found some strategies that have worked for me over the years.
I find myself to be both an auditory and tactile learner, understanding material a lot better if it is verbally presented to me, and taking notes rather than simply reading the information on my own. While taking notes during class lectures, I try to quickly read over the presented slides (if there are any) and try to summarize the ideas. Paying attention to any additional comments the professor is making and writing down any important points that may help clarify something also helps me a lot. If all information is presented verbally by the professor I try to write down as much as possible and add little notes on the sides that may help me better understand the material when I’m reading over it again.
During class discussions, I also take note of any important points that are brought up, usually on the side of the page, by the “original” notes that were presented by the professor. Even if I am not writing down anything during the class discussions, I find that I remember the a lot more of the information and I am able to concentrate on the content if I am doodling rather than just sitting and trying to focus. Hey, whatever works, right?
Focusing specifically on my note-taking for the previous Blog Post, where I analyzed the differences between two different film interpretations of the same Shakespearean scene, I found it helpful to read over the original text a few times to understand the context. Moving on to watching both movies, getting a general idea of the whole tone of the movie and seeing if any important plot points were changed that may affect the scene I was working on and making note of it was important. After completing both movies, I would go back to the specific scene that I needed. I find it helpful to try to transcribe the actors’ lines as they are speaking them, as well as identifying any significant actions or body language. Paying attention to the film aspects is also important, taking notes of any changes in shots and music. Going over the script and making notes of which lines were kept as they were written in the original play and which ones were changed; making notes of parts that may have been taken out; how actors’ interpretations changed how the text was originally written (ie. a question being changed into a statement etc) Writing down the time for any important lines or actions also helps, if I am to go over the film again, so I can quickly get to that specific part.
As for annotating text in a book, I tend to read the text, make note of any words that I may not know what they mean (or what they may mean in the context of the text) and look them up and (generally) make note of them. For the most part I do a lot more annotating if I have to close read a certain part of the whole book/play etc.
In the case of the close reading of Henry V assignment, I found it helpful to take a minute to write the line number beside each line, so I don’t have to take the time to count when I was making note of a specific line. Highlighting words or phrases that describe the same setting, circling words with similar meanings and underlining any repetitions is a quick way to bring focus to any specific aspect you’re analyzing. Making notes of any changes in setting or mood… paying attention to punctuation and making note of it on the side… in case they become important aspects to consider later on.
Here’s to hoping I get much better at this during grad school… 🙂