Do any of you remember Ghostwriter, a popular PBS TV show that aired in the early 1990s? The show featured a group of Brooklyn, NY, tweens who solved neighborhood crimes and mysteries with the help of a magical notebook that wrote out clues, letter by letter, at key moments.
Whenever I’m collaborating with someone in google docs, I think of that old TV show. The person I’m working with could be 3,000 miles away, and yet, her thoughts magically appear on my computer screen, letter by letter, at key moments. It’s just plain fun to work this way—especially if we’re using different colored type. I like the novelty of the technology, but I also like getting a sort of sneak peek into my collaborator’s mind.
I think students would enjoy collaborative notetaking for the same reasons—the technological novelty and the access to the thought process of their partner(s). Pairing an adept notetaker with a student who is struggling to develop this skill could be a powerful experience. And students may learn better from their peer’s model than from adult instruction. Why not give it a try in your classroom?