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Technique: SOL 6

This morning I'm thinking about my slice through the lens of digilit which my friend Margaret sponsors over at Reflections on the Teche. This week's word is TECHNIQUE. 
I spend a lot of my time reading books and writing about them. I've noticed over the years that my way of reading them differs from many other people. This doesn't surprise me because as a teacher I am witness to how others teach children about reading. The very first thing they teach is plot or what happened. The plot, in many ways for me, is secondary to why I read. I don't read to find out how she got to Alaska, I read to find out what happened in her brain along the way. Because my main focus is on personal change, it also tends to be about my personal reaction. 

So I share my reading technique right here. I learned from the amazing Maria Popova of Brain Pickings that it is necessary to take notes on your reading if you are to write about it afterwards. You cannot expect your brain to remember your train of thought. I still fight this concept because I want to lie on the couch and read without note taking, but she is right I remember a lot less with the lazy technique. 

I use a piece of paper with two columns drawn on it--one for SUMMARY OF KEY CONCEPT and one for MY IDEAS ABOUT THIS CONCEPT. At the end of reading, I have everything I need to write about a book. Feel free to use my form by clicking here.

Want to learn more techniques for remembering your reading?
The notecard system by Ryan Holliday


  1. Your post reminds me that we all read in different ways, with different texts, and somehow, in life (outside of school?), we need to find what works best for us as readers. I like your note-taking system, and I sometimes do something similar when knowing I am reading to write a review. When I read for myself, I have this mental filing cabinet. I dog-ear pages. I highlight text (if I own the book and know I need to find something again). It's all about sifting through text, I guess. Thanks for sharing your own resource.

  2. I think I need to carry that notepad around with me all the time because my brain can't seem to remember things it thought five seconds ago! Your talent in writing about books fascinates me!

  3. I'm glad to know that you have a technique. I thought your book reviews were more like magic. I can do a technique. It's the magic that scares me.

  4. I have to write reviews for books we pick out at our librarians' meetings, and I dread them. I like talking about books, but tend to remember the way they make me feel versus the details--and I can't fill in our required form based on feelings! Thanks for giving me a guide to help! I am lucky to have you in my writing circle!

  5. This is awesome! I fight note taking BUT is adds so much to reading when you do. I heard from Tom Newkirk say that forgetting what you read is what all readers do. It made me feel so much better. I thought it was just me. AND that is why one MUST note take if we want to say anything about a book after we read.

  6. I am impressed with your discipline. I like to just get lost in the book and then have to go back to remember all of the reasons why . . .

  7. Kimberly, your post reminded me that I am a person who has to take notes to remember key ideas. My brain had a photographic lens in high school so to this day I need to engage in that kinesthetic process to log something into my brain. I have post-it pads in my purse when I hear an idea or read something that I need to remember. Key words work for me. I love what Julieanne said about Tom Newkirk's thought. It makes me feel so much better: readers forget what you read.

  8. "You cannot expect your brain to remember your train of thought." What a relief!!!! LOVE this post!

  9. This reminds me of Vicki Vinton and Dorothy Barnhouse and their idea of What I know/What I wonder - a great way to track thinking in reading.

  10. This reminds me of Vicki Vinton and Dorothy Barnhouse and their idea of What I know/What I wonder - a great way to track thinking in reading.

  11. I'm glad to read your post because sometimes I'm under the belief that all adults just remember everything about what they read, which is not the case for me. I do enjoy reading on my Kindle this way because it is very easy for me to highlight and add notes. It's even easier for me to view an entire page of my highlights. I've even copy & pasted them into my Evernote for a real quick synopsis. All are great ways to record your thinking!

  12. Maria Papova's Brain Pickings is one of my favorite sites, but I missed this. I use Vicki Vinton and Dorothy Barnhouse's Know/Wonder chart when I want to keep track of my thinking. But there are plenty of times when I enjoy relaxing with a book for pleasure. Happy reading!

  13. So true...Wanting to just read but to remember the train of thought, jots need to be made! Thank you for sharing!


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