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Classroom Strategies

Power Notes


Power Notes is a strategy that teaches students an efficient form of organizing information from assigned text. This technique provides students a systematic way to look for relationships within material they are reading. Power Notes help visually display the differences between main ideas and supportive information in outline form. Main ideas or categories are assigned a power 1 rating. Details and examples are assigned power 2s, 3s, or 4s. 


Power Notes offer an easy to follow activity for categorizing information. This procedure helps students prioritize information and separate main ideas from supportive details. Power Notes gives students an opportunity to organize ideas and evaluate their writing. Power Notes can be integrated into a number of activities to help students perceive how information is related. Note: Power Notes is similar to outlining but is much simpler for students because key features are assigned numbers and it is not necessary that two be the same in order to create an entry. 

Create the strategy

The teacher should begin by discussing the assigned topic or text. Teachers then describe the purpose of the strategy and introduce the concept of powers with a simple example familiar to the students. 

Power 1 Animals

  • Power 2 Dog
    • Power 3 Cocker Spaniel 
    • Power 3 Dachshund 
  • Power 2 Cat 
    • Power 3 Siamese 
    • Power 3 Calico 

Point out how the powers relate to each other: power 2's offer examples or elaboration of power 1's, power 3's provide examples or elaboration of power 2's, and so on. Guided practice of the strategy with detailed feedback from the teacher should be provided. The teacher should model using Power Notes with the assigned text and describe how the powers relate to each other.

Use the strategy

  1. Teachers should provide students with the Power 1 category or main idea.Note: As student become familiar with this strategy, teachers may have students determine this information from the text.
  2. Students should begin by reading the assigned text keeping in mind the Power 1 category. 
  3. Students should then categorize information and record examples of the chosen category or topic as Power 2's.
  4. Students can further elaborate each point and expand their writing by adding power 3 and Power 4 details.
  5. Students can discuss their completed Power Notes with the class for review. 
  6. Power Notes can then be revised to expand learning.

Power Notes are written using the following format:

    Power 1 = Main Idea of the information. 

         Power 2 = Detail or supportive information for Power 1 above. 

            Power 3 = Detail or supportive information for Power 2 above. 

               Power 4 = Detail or supportive information for Power 3 above. 


Jones, R. (2006). Reading Quest: Strategies for Reading Comprehension. Retrieved 2008, February 28, from

Santa, C., Havens, L. & Macumber, E. (1996). Creating Independence Through Student-owned Strategies. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company: Dubuque, IA.