Listening While Taking Notes

I am well aware of the time and effort required for people with learning disabilities to take notes. When listening is added to mix it becomes so much harder to decipher what is being said, write a summarized version on a piece of paper then return my attention to the presenter without falling behind.  While is school, I can provide my documentation and be approved for a note taker or to use a recording device, and provide a letter to my instructor giving me permission to use a recoding device or request a student note taker from the class.

At school, requesting these services are simple and usually handled within the first couple of visits. In the workplace it is a whole new situation.  I was far too embarrassed to tell my supervisor, I needed help during on-the-job training exercises. I had to learn quickly how to learn on the fly and what jobs, I felt I could actually do well.  Through the year, and with the assistance of Mitch Glazier and Lee Gelmacher, I learned some quick tips to better survive in the workforce as well as a job training situation.

I begin by sitting in the front of the classroom or training situation to put as many distractions behind me; rather than, dealing with them in peripheral vision or right in front of me.  I begin my notes with the date and purpose; such as, Management 491 6/24/2015.  I try to write anything in my notes that is written on the board or presented digitally. I try to substitute keywords or phrases, and if there is a digital presentation, I list the slide number.  I do my best to recreate diagrams on paper.  If using a recording device, I will periodically write the time and date on the counter making it easier to find when I am struggling with homework or preparing for an exam. I use a star to indicate items I believe may be text or essay questions.  Many times, I will wait for a question asked by another to be answered before asking my instructor or trainer to repeat themselves.

After class or the training session, I go back over my notes and fill-in any areas needing more clarity, and add an example to make it easier to recall the information.  So I do not forget to come back to my notes, sometimes set an alarm on my phone reminding me to re-read the notes before going to bed for the night.  This helps keep everything fresh in my head, for a better chance of remembering.  The greatest thing I do to make note taking easier, is to read the chapter or training materials before the information is presented.

Coming Next: Study Strategies in Memorization


Using Index Cards as a Powerful Learning Tool

I love index cards! They are simple, versatile, come in several sizes, and make amazing book markers.

Personalizing an Index Card


I like to take an index card about the same with as the columns of print; I need to read. For newspaper and magazine articles, a 3” X 5” card placed long side vertically works great, or flip it short-side vertically for a pocketbook. I prefer a 4” X 6” place long side horizontally for bigger books. Depending on the preferred orientation of the index card, I like to draw a line along the top with a highlighter pen using a straightedge. I choose the color and shade based on the background of my reading material. After a lot of trial and error, I found my preferred set. On matte paper, I like a green highlighter, an orange highlighter is preferred on glossy paper, and I prefer a complimentary colored Sharpie® pen on colored paper backgrounds.

Personalized Index Card

Personalized Index Card

To make my personalized index cards, I grab any scrap paper and lay it down under the index card, so I do not draw on the counter. Then I choose my index card size and pen based on my reading material. Next I lay a straightedge along the top with the white space approximately the width of the pen tip. Finally, I follow the straightedge and draw a line the full length of the card. Viola, I now have personalized book maker.  I can now begin using my new index card for reading and studying.

Personalized Index Card in Use

Index Card in Use

I use the index card to hold my page when I am not reading and use it below the line I am reading. This is a necessity for people like me who struggle with reading due to binocular, tracking and the words moving on the page issues. Those pesky words! As I am reading, I write down words I do not know, valuable information, and other things I feel may be on a test or upcoming homework assignment. I make an index card per chapter then use it as a study tool later.

Coming Next: Listening While Taking Notes

Photos taken by Scottie Lockrem


Bic. (2015, June 21). Bright Liner. Retrieved from Bic:

Sharpie. (2015). Chisel Tip Permanent Marker. Retrieved June 21, 2015, from Sharpie:

Wikipedia. (2015, April 17). Index Card. Retrieved June 21, 2015, from Wikipedia:

Note Taking for Different Learning Styles

Note taking is an art form, which is choreographed by everyone individually. What works for me today may not work for another or even myself tomorrow. I used to request a letter from the Disability Resources Center asking the instructor to read a note explain the need for a note taker in this class. As much as I needed help from a volunteer, it was still embarrassing. I would take notes to best of my ability to compare with the notes provided by the note taker to better understand the lecture. Sadly there were always pitfalls when having to depend on another especially if they missed class. With modern technology, I can take notes for myself giving me the independence of doing it on my own coupled with stronger self-confidence.

The Livescribe pen offers me this freedom my recording visually with a camera, and audibly with a microphone everything it hears and sees as I write my notes on the special notebook paper. Please see the online demonstration. This new found freedom is emancipating, yet my note taking skills still needed help. While asking for help, I was directed back to learning styles to find specific the specific skills needed for me individually.

Illinois State University published a set of guidelines called “Note Taking Tips for Different Learning Styles.”  This document eases the magnitude students suffer in the learning process by pointing out auditory, visual and kinesthetic friendly activities catering to students individually.

Coming Next: Using Index Cards as a Powerful Learning Tool

Works Cited

Livescribe. (2007-2015). Smartpens and Learning Disabilites. Retrieved June 19, 2015, from Livescribe:

Note Taking For Differnt Learnig Styles. (2015). Retrieved June 19, 2015, from Illinois State University:

Identifying Learning Styles

Once I learned what services were available to me, who my support team members were and their contact information, I was able to focus on what I could do to make learning easier. The first thing I was asked was to complete a learning style assessment to identify what learning style I favored. I learned my dominate style was visual with kinesthetic/tactile as very close second following up with auditory. I thought to myself, no wonder I struggle, I do not even have a strong learning style. This meant I had to hear it then do it to acquire a new skill. Anyone can find out their learning style with a free online assessment.

I was given a handout created by Barbara Scheiber and Jeanne Talpers with “Study Tips for Different Learning Styles.”  I found it strange, my strongest skill was visual learning, yet I struggled with reading so much. I would do just about anything to get out of having to read; including cleaning up the dog poop in the backyard. During my primary and secondary school years, I was a master of acting out just that my teachers would avoid calling on me in class, yet not get myself in too much trouble. Once I started receiving my textbooks on cassette tapes read by individuals willing to give up their free time for students like me, my became more dependent on auditory verses visual cues.

According to there are seven learning styles including;”Visual (spatial):You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding,Aural (auditory-musical): You prefer using sound and music,Verbal (linguistic): You prefer using words, both in speech and writing,Physical (kinesthetic): You prefer using your body, hands and sense of touch, Logical (mathematical): You prefer using logic, reasoning and systems,Social (interpersonal): You prefer to learn in groups or with other people,and Solitary (intrapersonal): You prefer to work alone and use self-study” (2015).

My best study techniques based on my learning styles require me to experience the new information at least three times. I am most successful if I become familiar with the material before going to class. I read the chapter before the lecture, watch a YouTube video, or look for something online. This gives me a foundation to relate the lecture or initial exercise with the new material. Then I must take notes during class, and while re-reading the text, then complete the homework or at least make flash cards, Lastly, I rewrite notes making myself a cheat sheet for the concept. Some instructors let the student use notes during the exams, and I have found the more effort I put into these notes, the less I need them during the exam.

Check Out The Next Post: Note Taking for Different Learning Styles

Works Cited

Education Planner. (2011). What’s Your Learning Style? 20 Questions. Retrieved June 19, 2015, from (2015). Overview of Learning Styles. Retrieved June 19, 2015, from

sau0125. (2013, April 24). Image: Interpersonal Skills . Retrieved June 19, 2015, from

Scheiber, B., & Talpers, J. (1987). Study Tips fot Differnt Learning Styles. Retrieved June 19, 2015, from Gavilan College:


Self-Advocacy for Students

Self-advocacy is the act of knowing what tools I needed to level the playing field providing the best opportunity for academic success. These are the services recommended based on my diagnosis identified during my intake interview then I respectfully and assertively request them. I had also learned how to request the services, or as they are known as accommodations. Also during the interview, I learned who was on my support team at the school.

With my requests in process, I collected information on my specific learning disabilities to provide to my instructors. I find out how to contact each instructor individually. The support team at my school showed me how to find this information online or in a printed directory. I followed up by making an appointment with the instructors, or at the least scheduled for a phone conversation, so I could basically interview them before registering for the class. I wanted to make sure I could hear what they said and request a syllabus early, so the disable student services department could have my tools prepared before classes began.

During the meeting with the instructor, I shared strategies which have helped me in the past like requesting to sit in the front middle of the room, and available times to meet one-on-one if I was struggling. I always ask how the instructor prefers to be addressed in the classroom, and express my desire to be called by my nickname. As the meeting is concluding, I take special care to look the instructor in the eye when I thank them for taking their time to meet with me. I empathize with my instructors as taking on a disabled student can be intimidating as they worry about meeting the requirements of the law without reducing the rigor of the class. The last thing is to offer a short description of my learning disabilities as a way for us connect with my contact information, and offer to answer any questions they may have.  I have found a helpful website helping people to learn more about self-advocacy.

Coming Next:  Identifying Learning Styles


heoh. (2011, July 13). Macro Wallpaper. Retrieved June 2015, from

Self Advocacy Online. (2015, 2015 June). Retrieved 18, from The University of Minnesota:

Self Identifying at School

Everyone is affected by learning disabilities in one way or another. Whether you experience it first hand or know someone who struggles with their school or work life. There are an overwhelming amount of strategies and tools available to assist people struggling with learning disabilities. You may ask, what exactly are learning disabilities? The Learning Disabilities Association of America defines these as; “neurologically-based processing problems. These processing problems can interfere with learning basic skills such as reading, writing, and math. They can also interfere with higher level skills such as organization, time planning, abstract reasoning, long or short term memory and attention…[affecting] an individual’s life beyond academics and can impact relationships with family, friends and in the workplace” (Learning Disabilities Association of America, 2015).

I am not a professional in the field, yet I have a first-hand experience you may find helpful. I am an honor student at the University of Nevada, Reno with a high grade point average, and I have learning disabilities. I was diagnosed my senior year of high of school as the Americans with Disabilities Act was codified; my teachers were learning as much as they could, as fast as they could to help me. At Truckee Meadows Community College (TMCC), I enjoyed several semesters in the Adult Basic Education program. I had one particular teacher, Brenda Lebedoff, who took special care to teach me several techniques to improve my reading. Soon I was working with Harry Heiser and Kathryn Hale in the Disability Resource Center also at TMCC. They provided encouragement, support, and techniques to help me succeed as a student. These three people guided me through a metamorphosis of becoming a successful student and will always have my deepest respect and gratitude.

I would love to save you some time by sharing what I have learned and what has been working for me. The most important thing is students must self-identify and provide documentation from a doctor to the school. Do not worry; your medical records are protected under the Health Insurance Portability Assurance Act. The first things I had to learn were:

  • What documentation is required to be eligible for services?
  • What services are available to the students?
  • What services are recommended based on my diagnosis?
  • Who makes up my support team at the school?
  • How do I request services?

These questions and much more were answered during my initial intake interview meeting.  This interview was not just for the school to gather information to meet my needs better. It was also a time for me to ask questions and express my concerns.  The stress of not knowing what to expect as entered that meeting was the hardest part.  After the intake interview, I felt hopeful about my academic potential.

Coming up next: Self-Advocacy


Learning Disabilities Association of America. (2015). Types of Learning Disabilities. Retrieved June 12, 2015, from Learning Disabilities Association of America:

Markman Ph.D., Art. (2013, March 12). Schedule that Interview Early in the Day. Retrieved June 13, 2015, from