RUSH Summer Assignment

Dear Incoming Sophomore:

In U.S. History we’ll be studying the history of the United States from the Civil War to the present.  Your summer assignment will give you a preview of the reading for the first instructional unit, which covers slavery and the Civil War, and will allow you to practice the Cornell note-taking system you will use in your history classes.  You will be assessed on this content when we get back.

Assignment Directions

  1. Read these pages from your textbook (The American Promise: A History of the United States).
  2. Use the Cornell note system to take notes on your reading and summarize what you learned.  

How to Take Cornell Style Notes

Step One: Record

  1. Prepare your notepaper by creating a two-column table. The lefthand column should take up about 1/3 of your writing space, leaving the remaining 2/3 for recording information. Use only one side of each sheet of notepaper.  
  2. Record information on what you read in the big column on the right side of your paper.
  3. Summarize and paraphrase (restate in your own words) the facts and ideas presented. Record definitions as stated or written.
  4. Indicate changes in topic with headings or by leaving a space between topics
  5. Number, indent, or bullet key ideas presented with each topic.
  6. Use short sentences, abbreviations, and symbols. This will increase your note taking speed.
  7. Write legibly so your notes make sense to you later.
  8. Edit as soon as possible.

Step Two: Question

  1. Come up with questions based on the information recorded in your notes and write them in the smaller column on the left-hand side of your paper.  Questions should focus on specific definitions and “big ideas”.

Step Three: Summarize

  1. Write a summary of the main ideas using your own words. This is the best test of how well you understand the information.
  2. Use a section at the bottom of each sheet of notes to write your summary or write a summary of all the notes on the last page of your note sheets.

Use the following template for your notes:

Cornell Notes:





Main Ideas/Questions



Sample Cornell Notes:

 Download a pdf of this assignment.