Guided notes – Opportunities To Respond

Essential Teaching and Learning Principles

Guided notes offer an alternative to traditional note taking. They are teacher-prepared handouts tailored to the content and format of lessons with blank spaces for learners to write or include information. The information completed by students can include relevant definitions, key facts or important concepts.

Guided notes are not the same as a cloze exercise; however, the two strategies are related. Cloze is generally done after instruction, guided notes support engagement during instruction.

This strategy will help students to: have increased engagement by reducing the demands to listen and note take at the same time, whilst also teaching the skills of note taking.


  1. Create an outline of the lesson identifying the learning outcomes for the class.
  2. Create a handout for the lesson leaving blanks for the student to complete, e.g., key facts, concepts, or relationships:
    1. Space the blanks across the document, e.g., vary the position of the blanks so they appear at different places in the sentence.
    1. Leave enough space for the student to write or include information as some students may prefer to use symbols or draw.
    1. Provide students with formatting clues such as blank lines, numbers, bullets, etc.
  3. Keep it simple; do not ask for too much writing.
  4. Consider inserting concept maps or a chart, diagram, or graph to help with understanding.

Teach students how to use guided notes

  1. Explain the use of guided notes to the students, e.g., “The notes are missing important information. You will need to listen for this information and when you hear this information, write it down.”
  2. Teach students how to use the notes. Methods may include teacher modelling or think time, e.g., pause after providing the key information.
  3. Plan activities for students to practise this skill.
  4. Check students’ accuracy of filling in the notes e.g., ask students to respond using response cards.

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