9 Fun Note-Taking Activities For Students Of Different Grades

Last Updated on October 5, 2023 by Editorial Team

Do you know why is it important to comprehend information heard? This is because humans tend to forget certain parts of information after an interval of time. This leads to misinformation and misconceptions in understanding the original context of the information. That’s when note-taking skills come to your rescue!

Each class involves a different learning process with ample information that needs to be stored. Formulas, procedures, and important points are discussed during the class. Here, students tend to remember the core conceptual knowledge when they adapt to the habit of taking notes. 

As note-taking strategies are widely popular, students can also benefit from various note-taking activities. These activities are designed for middle school, high school, and college students. As each level of education requires different strategies and teaching approaches, these activities are likely to engage students in taking notes effectively.

This post will take you through different activities that will help students develop effective note-taking habits.

Note-taking: A powerful method to grasp better?

Reading comprehension is an important part of learning whether it is in middle school, high school, or college. As the level rises, the difficulty level tends to increase with reference to language, word formation, and vocabulary. With note-taking, students can better understand the information and even gain recalling abilities. It focuses on remembering absolute information when exposed to huge comprehensive passages. 

Research[1] has been conducted to understand the impact of note-taking on the academic performance of students in Jordan. According to this study, it is found that a major number of students face difficulty understanding the information heard in class.

While they understand the lessons, they struggle with recalling different aspects of the language. It was found that when teachers provided notes to students, they could better recall the information. The findings of the research suggest that note-taking dominantly increases productivity. It is also an important strategic method for students to improve their academic performance in the English language.

Important research[2] is presented on the views of students who used the method of note-taking in class. This research was conducted to analyze the impact of note-taking and which areas are benefited from it. The research suggests that note-taking is an important tool to improve knowledge, retention, and success in examinations. According to this research, out of 100 percent, note-taking is 33% beneficial to remember information, 24% to comprehending the information, 23% to prepare for major examinations, 12% to improve grades, and 8% for other areas of learning. 

Hence, note-taking is an effective method that triggers the recalling ability of the brain thereby increasing productivity and grades in class.

Engaging note-taking activities for Middle school students

Middle school students are exposed to various subject matters in this phase. It can be tricky for students to understand and analyze the information in one go. In such situations, note-taking activities that are perfectly designed for middle school can help them grasp information, recall it, and apply it when needed.

1. Tell A Story

Tell A Story

This is an interesting activity to engage students in concentration building and note-taking. Teachers need to look for a middle school-level story and recite it in class. 

  • In this activity, teachers should recite a story while emphasizing the important points.
  • Ask students to pay attention and let individuals make notes as per their understanding.
  • After the story is completed, ask students to go through the notes and comprehend the entire story in mind.
  • Now, start asking questions based on the story. You may ask the question in the manner below.
    • What was the moral of the story?
    • Where did the character go in the story?
    • What was the personality of the character?
  • After this, let students visit their notes, recall the story, and present their answers.

This is a creative activity that leads to memory building and also focuses on active listening. Teachers may decide on any type of story that can have multiple questions.

2. Did you hear me?

This activity involves brainstorming that enables students to think, listen, and note. In this activity, you need to give them a topic for discussion.

  • To conduct it, make a pair of 2 students each.
  • Give them a topic, for example – Television Viewing, Mobile Phone Usage, or Rising Pollution. 
  • Now, give them 5 minutes to think and draft their points on a sheet of paper.
  • Now, ask each one to talk about the topic, important features, data, advantages, or disadvantages.
  • Ask the other students to note the pros and cons of the topic. After that, check whether the student was able to comprehend and take notes of important points or not.
  • Now, the Same process is repeated for every other group in the class.

This activity enables students to actively listen and understand to differentiate between advantages and disadvantages. Teachers can also ask a random student to discuss the notes taken.

3. Display your Creativity

Display your Creativity

This is a helpful activity to engage middle school students in comprehending information through pictures, graphics, and connectors. While it is an easy activity, it engages them to follow the visually appealing methods of note-taking. Teachers need to explain a concept that has branches and sub-branches to it. For Example, rainwater harvesting, baking a cake, water cycle, or photosynthesis.

  • To conduct this activity, ask students to clearly listen to the entire explanation.
  • Now, give them some time to analyze the correct steps of that process.
  • Once they are done thinking, ask them to make a note of this process by using pictures, lines, arrows, and connectors.
  • For example, show the process of photosynthesis including lines and small drawings.
  • Give them the freedom to be creative with their notes.
  • Ask them to use different colored pencils, crayons, or sketch pens to make notes visually appealing.

Such activity allows them to understand step-by-step processes for any particular subject matter. They can go as creative as they want with the usage of different stationary materials.

Creative Note-taking activities for High school students

As high school students get ready for college in the coming years, it is important for them to interpret information in a structured manner. Note-taking activities are beneficial to trigger their critical thinking and enhance their focus-building skills.

1. Spot it Different

This is a creative activity where high school students should be taken to any park on the school premises. They should engage in the activities going around through observation.

  • To conduct this activity, decide a location and take students to that specific location. If you wish, you can also make them walk around the premises.
  • Now, ask students to note the important points in that specific location. 
  • The notes are completely based on their perspectives and observations.
  • Ask them to use different colored pens to note different observations with living and nonliving elements around.
  • After this, let students read aloud their notes and see how their perspectives differ from one another.

This is an engaging activity as students learn to observe. They also learn to categorize between important and unimportant information to be noted. 

2. Fact Check 

This activity involves students in communication as well as note-taking. It is an interactive activity where students learn about each other.

  • To conduct this activity, ask each student to talk about themselves. 
  • They are free to talk about their hobbies, passions, academics, family life, or favorite movies.
  • Now, ask other students to take notes of it.
  • You can go with 10 students per day who will be talking about themselves.
  • Ask students to be descriptive.
  • Now, ask the other students to mention the qualities, likes, or dislikes of any classmate who spoke about himself/herself.
  • As they speak through their notes, the classmate can agree or disagree with the facts mentioned by others.

This activity throws light on decoding the information given by the speaker. While students may know each other, the activity enhances their emotional and mental understanding through note-taking. 

3. Read a Biography 

 Read a Biography 

Biographies are interesting as they lay out different aspects of a person’s life. Students can find a plethora of information through a biography.

  • To conduct this activity, ask students to read a biography of a famous personality.
  • You can either distribute an online book or ask them to buy one from a bookstore.
  • Give a week’s time for students to at least complete the first 20 pages of the book.
  • Now, ask them to summarize the information through note-taking skills.
  • Tell them how they can use different methods and tips for note-taking. 
  • After this, ask students to discuss their noted points about the famous personality.

When students read a biography, they learn to compile a large chunk of information into small pieces through note-taking. They also learn to understand the importance of a certain piece of information from the biography.

Interesting note-taking activities for college students

College is a place where students get to interact with various people. They learn about different perspectives and thoughts of others. In this phase, note-taking activities can help them recall information and understand the difference between important and unimportant information.

1. Which Fits me?

Which Fits me?

This is a time-consuming yet important activity to engage college students in note-taking. It helps them analyze which method of note-taking suits their learning style.

  • This activity exposes students to different note-taking strategies that are widely popular.
  • Once they have a grasp of these activities, ask them to make a list of the pros and cons of these methods.
  • Allow them to be creative and list the features of the methods.
  • The interesting part of the activity is to allow them to make their notes based on note-taking strategies thereby involving them in a process of critical thinking.
  • After they are done making notes, invite an open discussion to understand the views of all students.

This activity is essentially helpful for college students as they learn to understand their note-taking style, method, and comfort level. This also helps them decide the note-taking approach they would like to continue for their academics.

2. Watch the Show

Watch the Show

The world is open to different mediums of grasping information. This activity is unique as it requires college students to watch a similar show for note-taking. 

  • To conduct this activity, select a show or a certain episode of an informative talk show. 
  • Now, ask students to watch the show and take their notes accordingly.
  • The next day, ask students to share their views of how the host welcomed the guest or which critical points led to an argument in the show.
  • You can further exceed the communication by asking more questions that help them recall the information.

This is a creative activity as students get an equal opportunity to present their viewpoints on a similar topic. Some students may also note an unusual subject matter in the show, allowing them to discuss their opinions on the same.

3. The Debate 

The Debate 

College students can take advantage of various note-takings through debates between students. The college year is the phase where students develop different perspectives, thoughts, and opinions about the world. This activity helps them understand note-taking while being competitive.

  • To conduct this activity, divide them into a group of 3 team members each.
  • Now, assign the same topic to 2 different teams. 
  • Let one team speak For the topic and the other team should speak Against the topic. 
  • The following topics are a good example here.
    • Mobile Phones are Beneficial for Youngsters
    • High-end Gaming affects Mental Health
  • Give them 5 minutes to brainstorm and make notes to put forward their points in the debate.
  • Let the debate begin and see how students utilize their note-taking skills in presenting their opinions.
  • In this activity, also ask the other students to note points that can be of help post-debate. For example, it can include tips, opinions, or appreciation about a certain participant who did well.
  • Keep it an open discussion and allow students to reflect on their opinions on the subject matter.

This interesting activity is sure to make students understand how note-taking can be beneficial in verbal communication. They can also learn about debating styles, communication, and ways to effectively take notes.

Summing up,

Note-taking is a vital component in the academic performance and overall development of students. It is not only about the chapters they read but also about the plethora of information exposed to them. Note-taking enables students to clear the clutter and noise of the information by cutting it short and crisp. It also helps them strengthen their vocabulary by paraphrasing content in a straightforward manner.

While note-taking activities help teachers create a fun learning environment, there are various strategies for note-taking that help students. Teachers can also opt for online tools and websites that highlight different ways of taking notes effectively. Students can explore numerous books and applications on note-taking that help them comprehend traditional methods, visual note-taking, and helpful tips for noting information. Note-taking is a crucial element in determining the retention abilities of students.


  1. Almaagbh, I. F. F. (2020). The Impact of Strategic Notetaking on EFL learners’ Academic Performance in Jordan. International Journal of Higher Education, 9(1), 249–255. https://doi.org/10.5430/ijhe.v9n1p249
  2. Salame, I. I., & Thompson, A. (2020). Students’ Views on Strategic Note-taking and its Impact on Performance, Achievement, and Learning. International Journal of Instruction, 13(2), 1-16. https://doi.org/10.29333/iji.2020.1321a

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