How to Take Cornell Notes for Middle School Science

We recently received a question from one of our viewers, Tracie Parks, about our Cornell Notes video:

Cornell notes question


Tracie found our video about how to take notes helpful, especially because it shows HOW someone would take notes during a lecture, using a specific lecture!  This video features one of our videos about the History of the Atom as an example.

We’re so glad to hear that Tracie is sharing our Study Tips Series with her 6th grader! That’s really the perfect time to foster those skills.  It takes years to be a Great Student, and Middle School is when most kids start to be challenged to do more in school. They start to take notes in class, read books for information that will be tested on, and write papers.  These are the kinds of skills we want to help people with with our Study Tips.

Tracie was hoping we had an example that was a little more accessible to her middle schooler.  We do have a series of science videos that are perfect for middle-schoolers.  This series is all about those questions that pop up but you’re not sure of the answer – Why is the sky blue? Why is the ocean salty?  Here’s a video about Why Leaves Change Colour in the Autumn:


Now let’s show you how we would take notes for this video.  First, we’d prepare our paper (or buy paper already prepared for Cornell Notes), drawing lines for a big Notes section, a smaller Cues section on the left, and a Summary section on the bottom:


Then when we start our lecture, we’d take quick notes on the major points, making sure to write down key terms like the names of the pigments. After the lecture, we’d check on the spelling of these terms to make sure they are correct in our notes.


Notice there’s a lot of space between the different sections. That way, when we review our notes later, there’s room to add anything we missed.  The little headings in the Cues section helps organize the different ideas.


Finally, after the lecture is over, we’ll re-read our notes (maybe check them with a friend or with the textbook), and then we’ll write a brief Summary.



Tracie, have your 6th grader watch this video series and take notes, as practice. Remember you don’t have to write down every word!  Just the key ideas. Use abbreviations when you can. 

One BIG advantage of watching videos is that you can pause, rewind, or even watch the whole thing over again if you didn’t understand it the first time. And you can post questions in the comments!

Thanks so much for sending in your question. We’re absolutely thrilled to think we are helping someone on the beginning of their journey to be a GREAT Student!! 



We recommend:

Cornell Notes style filler paper on Amazon:

Cornell Notes spiral notebook:

Tomato Timer (use this for the Pomodoro Technique):

The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin (Chess Prodigy):

Amazon Used Textbooks – Save up to 90%

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