Study Skills

HSC Study Skills

It’s never too late to start turning those class room facts into deep knowledge.

Summarising Activity

Here I repeat the instructions from my post on summarising. There is a practical exercise following to check your skills, and consider your purpose in notetaking.

When summarising, you should aim to reduce the information to 25% of the original. It helps to read the article or chapter several times to develop a clear understanding of the author’s ideas, meaning and details. If you record your summary in an outline format in your own words, you will find it quite easy to re-write your own sentences and avoid plagiarism.

Step 1

  • develop heading from topic sentence
  • write bullet points using key words

Step 2

  • write summary directly from your points

Step 3

  • refer back to original to check accuracy

Use the following paragraphs to practice your summarising skills.

Sample Paragraphs

Taking notes effectively means that you are actively engaged in your learning. Begin by locating an appropriate source of information, either online or a paper based textbook. Write the complete url, date accessed or complete call details for future reference at the top of your page. Scan the site map or contents page to find the details your require. Sometimes it might be easier to use the index at the back of a book. You should record the page number in the margin, and remember to change this as you turn the page.

How you take notes depends on your purpose. Are you skimming a source looking for the date of when women got the vote in South Australia, or are you trying to understand a complex theory on the evolution of family life? Perhaps you only want to document a particular fact; for example, how many Indo-Chinese refugees did Australia accept in the late 1970s and early 1980s? Look it up and make a note of it – there’s no need to read the whole book. But if you want information about the history of Vietnam, the history of the outflow of people after the fall of Saigon, Australia’s response to the crisis, and what happened to the refugees in their first few years, you will need to read the whole book and take notes.

Try to summarise these paragraphs – REMEMBER – reduce these paragraphs to 25% and only record what you need to know.

Consider developing a system of symbols and abbreviations to further save time: these could be standard and accepted or your own. Some suggestions: & + for ‘and’

NB (nota benne) = note well or important

cf (confer) = compare

ie = that is

eg = for example

These abbreviations are not, of course, suitable for use when writing formal essays or extended responses.

Notetaking from a Text

It may help students to gather evidence from a text by preparing a table together. Brainstorm language techniques and features under these headings: Technique     Example    Explanation. Prompt students with simple suggestions for different modes, such as ‘when watching a film, what do we see? what do we hear?’

I find a table is particularly useful for film and music video texts as a clear format encourages brief notes – sometimes, students try to write down everything and lose sight of the overall concepts. Depending on their ability level, start with a blank table, or provide some details to generate discussion.

The following resources can be adapted for different text types, and are based on my previous conference presentations on music videos. Remind students that when analysing and writing about a multimodal text, they must comment on all modes.

Download these resources:

Textual Analysis Table

Film Analysis Table

These resources relate specifically to class activities in analysing Bernard Fanning’s song Wish You Well and the accompanying award-winning music video. See also my Music Video page for sample paragraphs written by students using the 3D Format and progressing to third person analysis. These strategies have been previously published in  Thinking in the Key of MTV: Engaging Students through Music Videos Screen Education 2012 Issue 66

Wish You Well  Poetic Technique table

Wish You Well Music Video Analysis Table

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