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youngmaster

Notebooks, how to enforce them?

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IF you succeed in getting Scouts to BRING notebooks to your meetings, remember you need something to do with all the notebooks forgotten and left behind at the END of the meetings!

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Yah, youngmaster, I agree with da crowd, eh?

 

Teachin' the boys how to use notes to supplement memory is a good thing, a necessary skill.

 

I'm not sure yeh want to standardize the form of notetakin', especially not to a 3-ring binder.

 

This comes back to da universal rule: You can either specify the outcome and let folks figure out the method(s) that work best to achieve that outcome, or specify the method and take whatever outcome you get.

 

I think yeh want the outcome, rather than insisting on a method.

 

So yeh run a whole set of games aimed at pushin' 'em towards the outcome. There's a reason why Scouting historically used a lot of observation and memory games, eh? Because boys need to learn how to be observant and remember things. No different here.

 

Have da SPL throw in odd facts, detail a recipe, quote Abraham Lincoln. At da next meeting, start with a contest to see who can remember da duty roster for dinner and da third sentence of the Gettysburg Address? Doesn't even need prizes; bragging rights are often enough. Yeh can start easy, and then get more complicated - did the recipe for Puke Pudding from 3 meetings ago require oregano?

 

In other words, give 'em some fun and some challenge that requires note-taking of some sort to succeed, rather than requiring notetaking. Let each boy figure out what type of note-taking works best for him. Maybe it's usin' his iPhone as a camera or a dictaphone, or maybe it is an old-school 3-ring binder. Whatever!

 

Beavah

 

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Yeah, I caught hell a couple weeks ago because our troop suggests scouts keep a notebook to store things like advancement cards, blue card, and materials they are actively working on. And this is just a notebook you leave on the shelf at home to store things.

 

Kids, especially middle school kid like you're working with equate all paper with homework. It's an uphill fight.

 

The best you can do in this regard is plant the seed. As the boy get older they will discover the benefit of keeping up with these things and adopt some system for themselves. We have a number of older guys who carry notebooks, but I see a real correlation between that and maturity.

 

The best you can do in this regard is plant the seed. Every year or two we'll as one of those older guys to bring their notebooks and show the younger guys how they use it and what the keep in it. Mostly goes in one ear and out the other, but you never know what will stick. Last January a local business gave the troop a stack of nice, notebook sized, month-at-a-glance planners. I deal for troop activities. We gave them to the PLC. Out of about 15 or so planners that went out, I still see four or five being at PLC meetings. That's an amazing success rate!

 

Just like the real world, stuff like this is very individual. Ever walk through Staples around New Year's? Hundreds of options. Everyone has to find a system which works.

 

From a practical standpoint, I think the troop needs to look at what the minimum level of record keeping required to function. Does every Scout really need to take notes on everything? I've tried for years to get the troop scribe to take decent notes at PLC meetings and it really hasn't worked (again, strong correlation between maturity and organization.) The best we ever got has been the SPL's (usually one of the older, most mature guys) takes his own notes and keeps track of things.

 

Currently, I'm experiementing with Evernotes. Last winter our troop Scribe was basically AWOL and I started keeping minutes of PLC meetings on Evernotes for my own purposes. My new troop scribe is a pretty tech-savvy kid. He has just started the job and I've asked him to look at Evernotes and see if using them to keep and share PLC minutes is workable. I like the idea that the notes can be automatically shared to multiple people who can add and tweak them. But that's not a recommendation. We're just playing with it. There are obvious problems, like the next scribe not knowing how to type or have easy access to a computer. But I'll let you know.

 

 

 

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Competent note taking is unquestionably a valuable life skill to acquire.

 

Relatively few people do it competently, in my experience, and I include myself among those who don't.

 

I was at a Pack Committee Meeting Sunday as a Unit Commissioner. The meeting's primary aim was to set up the annual program for the pack.

 

The new Committee Chair was the only person who was really taking notes on meetings and activities in a competent way. The outgoing Cubmaster was tossing off meeting dates and activities as he was coming up with them. Perhaps he was recording them in an organized fashion, but it seemed to be more of a hodgepodge to me.

 

When I present a pack annual plan, it's printed up in advance and I make notes of any changes on a copy. I also tend to rely on rather crabbed notes on 4x6' cards as notes I take at meetings.

 

My computer saves me as my primary means of organizing material. I transcribe notes into my computer into permanent files I can review until needed actions are taken.

 

My methods are adequate, but not ideal. Ideal would be contemporaneous notes made at meetings in a neat and organized way that are preserved for future reference as a matter of routine.

 

It would be a huge benefit if Scouts were to find and adopt such habits. Perhaps a Troop leadership training program could help establish the value of such things and help Scouts acquire the habit for following them.

 

That's probably what the Scoutmaster has in mind with his notebook requirement, but it's obviously not working. I would second the idea of having rewards and incentives for Scouts who bring notebooks, and perhaps have a test to see who can remember critical information discussed at previous meetings which might illustrate the importance of note taking.

 

While some might object to the word "test," checking to see who can find or recall key information discussed at previous meetings seems to be a reasonable thing at PLC meetings.

 

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As an ASM and SM it doesn't seem you should be doing anything to "enforce" use of notebooks or anything else. Stay out of it and let the youth decide how they are going to do things. Set an example by doing things that work yourself, SM may consult with the SPL with suggestions, but overall you should not even be in the middle of it. I didn't even like the language of this post which indicated that the adults are directing the activities of the troop. Get out of the way - let them screw things up on their own - be entertained by the process - it's okay.

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I agree. Scouting should NOT be another school class. Formal 3 ring binders "required"? Not bloody likely. They want to hike and camp, not take notes, although the ones that do (in small, pocket size nbooks) will find some better success, but you won't convince them of that.

 

An Idea: Coach the SPL and Troop Scribe (and SM?) how to do this : Pick up a big pad of newsprint, and an appropriate easel, either floor standing or table standing for it. Use a Sharpie, different colors for each day or purpose. Date the page, and make your schedule/notes on it for all to see. Keep the record like that. Fold it up and rehang it at the next meeting. This way, everyone has the same notes! No arguing about what was decided when.

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No good deed goes unpunished, huh youngmaster. :) My boys have a notebook for there advancement and bluecards for home use only. They ONLY did it when an older boy showed his and then mostly because it had plastic baseball card holders.

 

This skill has not transferred anywhere else.

 

Furthermore, taking good notes does not always translate into action. I used to use the Palm PDA a lot and inputed everything I needed to remember but it never actually got me to do anything. I then went to a notebook but it's very bulkiness kept me from keeping it with me all the time. Now I use 3 x 5 cards and a pocket calendar and it works for me. I would expose them to different methods and let the boys figure out what works.

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TEACHING leadership skills is one of the important rolls of the Scoutmaster.

 

That's not something Scouts are expected to figure out for themselves.

 

How to do that task is a good question, though.

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>>Now I use 3 x 5 cards and a pocket calendar and it works for me. I would expose them to different methods and let the boys figure out what works.

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