Students are often taught how to outline, and then are required to outline chapter after chapter in social studies or science. Outlining in an excellent writing tool to help the writer organize a paper and checking to see if everything is connected properly. Outlines can also be used to organize a topic and see the larger picture – such as a chapter in social studies. However, just having the skill or using it to outline chapters does not necessarily help with learning and retaining information.
Learning occurs when you do something with the information you have. Outlining the chapter is only the first step. Students also need to take those notes and outlines and extend them. They need to elaborate with details, synthesize those details and facts and link them to the key ideas. In other words, we can no longer just use the outline to ensure they have read the information, nor can we use the outline simply to teach the skill of outlining or to study for a test. Using outlines in this fashion met the standards under NCLB but no longer meets the standards under CCSS.