The Official Scribe: It’s All About Learning Styles & Collaboration

Here is another post in the series of showing Alan November’s Digital Learning Farm: Students as Contributors in Action.

Previously I have posted about

Today I wanted to share our experimentation with different types of note taking as part of creating “Official Scribes” for the classroom while taking into account the students’ different learning styles.

Students were starting a unit about the American Revolution by watching an introductory video clip. We discussed different ways to take notes and came up with:

  • individual note taking by paper and pencil
  • individual note taking on a word processor
  • collaborative backchanneling
  • visual note taking (on SmartBoard and paper)

As the video was playing, one student was in charge of pausing it when a visual was displayed that he felt was an important visual to describe what was happening.

Once paused we used the SmartBoard notebook tool of taking a screenshot and importing it into a notebook slide. After the movie was over, the class sorted through the images and discussed which ones would stay and which ones could be deleted.

Timeline Creation

We then used a timeline from the notebook gallery and copied and pasted the appropriate screenshots onto the timeline.

I had shown a few minutes of the RSAnimated TED talk “Changing Educational Paradigms” with Ken Robinson to the students. The reason for showing it was for the drawing technique used and how the illustration captured what Robinson was talking about in a visual way. I was very surprised to see how “into it” the students got. They did not want to stop watching it. I am pretty sure that these ten year olds were not interested in Robinson’s message…

Drawing/Illustrating Notes

Visual Notes

Several students volunteered to wo(man) the backchannel on Today’s Meet. They are pretty sufficient in the process by now. They set up their own room, summarize what it happening in the classroom and then “clean up” the backchannel log (which is then shared as a Google Doc).


Several students were individually taking notes with the traditional paper and pencil method.

Paper & Pencil

Class Collaboration

We asked one of the “Paper & Pencil” note takers to come to the front of the class, after the video was over, to tell us what the movie was about. He could, of course, bring his notes with him and refer to them as he was summarizing the movie for the class. The students pretty much read the notes in bullet form to the rest of the class. Then we asked one of the illustrators to come forward and tell us what the movie was about. He could also refer to his drawing as he spoke. This student was able to stand in front of the class for about 10 minutes and re-tell a (general) story (in his own words) of the American Revolution.