Increasing Concept Retention Through Active Participation: Using SMART amp to Transform Note-Taking

A SMART Customer story with Jody Bean, 6th Grade Social Studies and ELA Teacher

Teachers and School

Jody Bean- 6th Grade Social Studies and ELA
Gardiner Middle School, Oregon City, Oregon


Increase concept retention through active participation in the Cornell note-taking process to improve student performance and application of knowledge on assessments.


Before using SMART amp, Jody’s class average was 84% on the chapter assessment. After effectively implementing SMART amp, her class average increased to 96%.

Motivation: Purposeful Note-Taking

Gardiner Middle School in Oregon City, Oregon, has approximately 775 students in 6th to 8th grades. The school has a 39% poverty rate. It is now on its third year of implementing Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), a program that prepares students — especially underrepresented students — for success in high school, college and their future careers.

Although Jody Bean’s students were introduced to the Cornell Notes system (part of the AVID framework), and had become efficient in note-taking on paper, they were not able to apply that information in a purposeful way.

To address this challenge, Jody chose to add a technology tool that would enhance her classroom learning environment. A tool would allow her students to transform their note-taking skills from their written journals into an online collaborative workspace. She choose to integrate SMART amp to empower her students to transfer their knowledge to long-term memory by making collaborative connections and getting meaningful feedback from their peers.

Outcome: Meaningful Retention of Key Concepts

Jody Bean saw her students’ average scores climb to 96% on their summative assessments. SMART amp played a key role in meeting Jody’s instructional goals and closing the learning gap for her students. Transferring the notes from pencil and paper to a collaborative digital tool was valuable in constructing meaning for her students. This allowed her struggling readers and writers to have time to process key ideas.

As the implementation process progressed, Jody found that her students wanted to be the “keepers of knowledge” and become experts so that they could help other students. Before their summative assessments, students were able to use their Cornell Notes and the SMART amp workspace to review, discuss and highlight important information. Jody was even able to go into each amp workspace and gather student-generated questions that she put into the summative assessment.

Prior to using SMART amp, students strictly took Cornell Notes in a journal. In the Cornell Note strategy, students highlight key ideas, and create questions and a summary according to their individual notes. While using this strategy, Jody’s students averaged 84% on their summative assessments. After integrating SMART amp, her students continued to take Cornell Notes in their journal. But to enhance the strategy, students were also placed into groups and assigned a SMART amp workspace to collaborate on their notes with their peers.