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Guided Notes

Guided Notes are teacher-prepared handouts that outline lectures, audiovisual presentations, or readings, but leave blank space for students to fill in key concepts, facts, definitions, etc.  Guided Notes promote active engagement during lecture or independent reading, provide full and accurate notes for use as a study guide, and help students to identify the most important information covered.

How to use

1. Prioritize

Decide what is most important for students to understand in the presentation or reading for which they will be taking notes.

2. Create

Prepare a set of notes that contains the essential information from the presentation or reading.  Underline or highlight the key concepts, facts or information that students will be responsible for writing into the final version.  Next, replace those concepts with blanks for the students to fill in.

3. Explain

Prior to handing out copies of the Guided Notes in class, ensure that students understand their responsibility to fill in each of the blanks with the appropriate concepts, definitions, or other content to help them understand what they will be seeing, hearing, or reading.

4. Review

Discuss the correct answers with the class as the presentation progresses or after the reading.

When to use

Use Guided Notes at any point in the lesson to structure meaningful conversation and appropriate note taking. Guided Notes help:

  • Provide framework that students can preview before a presentation or a reading
  • Accommodate diverse learning styles
  • Keep students focused and engaged
  • After a lecture to serve as a review
  • Help you monitor student comprehension of key concepts
  • Serve as a review document for students
  • Assist ELL’s with support in the structure/outline of the language, so they can focus on vocabulary building and concept understanding


Student-Created Guided Notes

As a cooperative-learning exercise, a group of students can be assigned a section from a text and asked to compose a set of Guided Notes based on its content. The teacher can then review and edit the notes as needed before providing them to the class.

Context Clues Cloze Exercise

The teacher prepares a paragraph with certain words left out. This cloze tool can be used to evaluate the use of context clues by the student to fill in the blanks with appropriate words that fit the context of the paragraph. This can also be used as a diagnostic reading assessment.

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