Boil it Down – Incredible Shrinking Notes

Boil it Down is a strategy that encourages students to condense their notes about a specific reading passage and identify the most important facts.  These notes may come from students reading the passage silently, or from the teacher reading the passage aloud.  There are essentially three “writing assignments,” where each one requires students to write less.  Students will read or listen to the passage and write notes that include the most relevant and important information from the passage on three different sized index cards.  They will begin by writing notes on the largest card, then they will transfer the most relevant and important information to the middle-sized card and finally to the smallest card.  The idea of this activity is to have students make judgments about what information is most important to be transferred to the smallest card and which information should be eliminated.  These can later be used for studying or as notes on a test.  Not only is this strategy good for making sure students read the passage, but it is also helpful for having students sort information and decide what is most essential.

In the math classroom, this strategy can be applied during a lesson about the circumference and area of a circle.  When this strategy is completed, students will have a valuable resource they can refer to when studying or as notes on a quiz or exam.  See the procedure and example for this strategy below:

Boil it Down Strategy Plan

Boil it Down - Incredible Shrinking Notes Example

For more, see “Incredible Shrinking Notes,” an article by Gary Hopkins:

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