Further Thoughts on Math Sequencing and Dyslexia Part 3g – High Tech Note Taking Utensils


Choose a laptop that meets your needs – try the keyboard by typing a short document. In math and science courses, look at either a built in or usb numeric keypad.
For taking Pictures of the board when the lecturer is wiring formulas – a front facing camera (selfies don’t go the lecture review much good).
Look for adequate battery life – will it last through at least two back-to-back lectures without dying?
Number of USB ports – probably at least four
External microphone – most built-in laptop microphones are totally inadequate
Digital Recorder

Ease of use – optimally look for single handed operation
Features – Ability to index/bookmark, fast forward, variable speed playback, USB connectability
Size – portability and weight can be a huge factor if you’re also carrying a tome of books
Need for external microphone – test it in a classroom environment to see if it’s necessary. It might also be possible to have the recorder place with the lecturer or closer to the podium.

LiveScribe Pen

Review the different models – at the high end, you might not need the Bluetooth or WiFi connectivity
Here’s a comparison sheet for the different Livescribe models
Ensure you have sufficient quantities of either purchased or printed Livescribe paper.
Make a habit of keeping your pen charged.



If you’re taking notes, a keyboard is a must.
Be familiar with the operating system and keyboard shortcuts
Make a habit of keeping your tablet charged.
If you plan to use the tablet to record, test it,
Make sure you have a front facing camera
Know how to backup to your preferred system, whether it’s the cloud or another device.
If you’re using a touchscreen, make sure you have stylus pen


Have the appropriate apps loaded and up-to-date
Be familiar with their usage
If recording, check to see if an external microphone is needed
Make a habit of keeping your smartphone charged
Know how to use the front facing feature of the camera
Know how to offload your recording/notes – smartphones have a limited amount of storage

Further Thoughts on Math Sequencing and Dyslexia Part 3h – Low Tech Media

Simple paper – if you use a spiral bound notebook for different classes, ensure that you have the correct one with you. As a personal preference, I prefer three hole punch paper. This permits me to also place any handout received along with the class notes.

For copying and writing math formulas, I find that unlined paper works best. If you are creating a mindmap, you definitely want unlined or at least a graph type paper.

Write only on one side when taking notes. If when reviewing the notes there are additional annotations, they can be made on the blank side of the turned sheet. It’s possible to overlook material written on the back of a sheet when reviewing

Number each page – sequence is important.

If using a pen, ensure that the ink won’t smear or smudge as you write

Further Thoughts on Math Sequencing and Dyslexia Part 3f – Low Tech Note Taking

Develop a system for taking notes. As obvious as it seems, make sure your pencils are sharp and your ink pens actually have ink and you have the correct notebook or writing medium (lined/unlined paper)…etc.

Then review the topic the instructor is covering that day. If you’re outlining, a pre-prepared topic sheet with plenty of blank space will allow you take adequate notes. If the instructor hands out a topic sheet at the beginning of class, use that for your basic outline.

If you’re creating a visual map, you can follow the same steps as the outline; review the material beforehand and use any written materials the instructor may provide as a guide for your map.

Listen and condense what the instructor is saying – Don’t attempt to write everything verbatim

Use special abbreviations for terms that will help you speed up the physical note taking process.

Stick to keywords and very short sentences

If taking an academic class, look for key phrases

Sit up front so if there are formulas or solutions written on the board, you can copy them correctly

Further Thoughts on Math Sequencing and Dyslexia Part 3e – Linear vs Visual Note Taking

Linear vs Visual Note Taking

In both types of systems, during the note taking process, the verbiage should be concise – not an attempt for a transcription. Additional elaboration can occur during the post-lecture review of the notes.

Linear note taking is the process of writing down information in the order in which you receive it. The most taught technique is the outline. Starting with a main topic, indenting for a subtopic and additional indents to further layer. In traditional outlining systems, The main topics are indicated by Roman Numerals, with subtopics indented and changing to Arabic numeric, Uppercase Characters and Lowercase Characters.

Linear notes are quick and relatively straightforward to produce and reproduce. For this reason they are often used for recording information at meetings, lectures and talks.

Visual Note Taking is the process of mapping notes to resemble a tree and branch structure with ideas (lines) radiating from the main topic. It is good for visual learners and making visual connections.

Use of color to emphasize different concepts and important points can enhance the visual learners learning process.

Further Thoughts on Math Sequencing and Dyslexia Part 3c – Note Taking Low Tech

Note Taking Utensils

Sharp pencils
Ink pen – sharp or medium points – your preference
Colored Pencils – useful for emphasizing points and for visual mapping
Colored Markers – useful for emphasizing points and for visual mapping
Note Taking Media

Loose leaf 3-hole punch lined paper
Loose leaf 3-hole punch unlined paper
Spiral bound 3-hole punch single subject
Spiral bound 3-hole punch multiple tabbed
Moleskin books
Journal Book Lined
Journal Book unlined

Further Thoughts on Math Sequencing and Dyslexia Part 3b – Note Taking Technology

There is low technology and high technology.

Low technology could go all the way back to the caveman chipping pictures into stone, but more than likely it’s pencil and paper. Simple, no power needs and available almost anywhere. Sometimes the simple solution might be the best. Higher tech from this would be substituting a pen for the pencil. We’ve been trained to use this type of technology for most of our lives. Downsides would be the inability to easily share, legibility and durability.

High technology solutions would include laptops, netbooks and tablets. Dependent upon the type of software, note-taking could be done in outline format, visual mapping or some combination. Pro’s would be easily shared, legible and easily backed up. Downside would be ease of use, loss of power and unfamiliarity with the technology.

Further Thoughts on Math Sequencing and Dyslexia Part 3a – Note Taking

Lecture review using a digital recording by simply listening is one method of review. Tying the audio with self-generated notes gives more reinforcement.

Generally there are two types of note-taking – Linear and Visual. There will be further posts about these as well as using technology vs. hand-writing to generate your notes.

Some guidelines summarized from Writing@CSU


  • Review your notes from the previous class.
  • Keep up with your reading/homework so you’re not lost when class starts
  • Prepare questions for the teacher based on your reading/homework/previous class notes.

During the Lecture

  • Write on one side of the paper. (Use the back for sketching graphs/charts/pictures/timelines, writing questions, summarizing, making notes to yourself later.)
  • Don’t worry about creating elaborate outlines–just keep main ideas and examples together.
  • Don’t worry about spelling or handwriting (as long as you can read it).

After the Lecture

  • Instead of recopying your notes, review them within 24 hours. (Short-term memory deteriorates quickly, and you lose 50%-80% of the material if you don’t review.)
  • Annotate your notes. (Mark what’s important, add page numbers from textbook, etc.)

Further Thoughts on Math Sequencing and Dyslexia Part 3 – Digital Recorders

Actually recording a lecture can help with the review and learning. Knowing that there is an audio backup available, can allow the student to concentrate on the lecture and the concepts and fnoormulas being presented. By focusing on making sure the formulas are recorded on the note-taking device, the recording can be used to further review the material.

There are several different types of recording devices, a straight forward portable digital voice recorder and a device keyed to the notes (LiveScribe).

Portable Digital Voice Recorder

Look for the following features: ease of operation, ability to transfer to a computer, an index or bookmark feature, folders, fairly long battery life and memory enough to hold at least eight hours of recording.

In the past, I’ve use the Olympus WS-310 recorder (built-in USB connection, one AAA battery, able to operate single handed…). That model may not be still available, but look for similar features in whatever device you look for.


The LiveScribe is a digital recorder but also allows you to key the recording to your written notes. It does require special paper (which can be printed on your own printer), but has the flexibility of indexing and rechargeable.

Rather than having to scan through the recording to locate the instructor talking about the specific problem, you can tap the LiveScribe on the note and it will automatically begin playback at that point.

Using the recorder(s) does mean that the student needs one additional skill – we’ll save that for Part 3a