Writing Starter

Power Notes

6 - 12
Printout Type
Writing Starter

About this printout

This printout teaches students a method for organizing their thoughts that involves assigning "powers" to different ideas.  This outlining technique helps students differentiate between main ideas and supporting details.

Teaching with this printout

Explain to students that Power Notes are another way to help organize our thoughts before we write.  Introduce the concept of powers by showing students a simple example that most will be familiar with.  A possible example is below:

Power 1. Sports

Power 2. Basketball

Power 3. Court

Power 3. Hoop

Power 3. Orange ball

Power 2. Football

Power 3. Field

Power 3. Endzone

Power 3. Brown ball

Power 2. Baseball

Power 3. Field/Diamond

Power 3. Bat

Power 3. White ball


As you work through the example above as a class, allow students to provide their original ideas for the different powers and help explain to their peers why something belongs as a certain power and not another.  Point out how the powers relate to each other: power 3s offer details, examples, and elaboration of power 2s, power 2s give examples and details of power 1s, etc.

Next, model a short example Power Notes using the assigned topic or text so that students understand what is expected of them when working with their specific assignment.  Once you feel that students have a firm understanding of the system to use when writing Power Notes (based on things they've shared in class discussions), have individuals or groups begin their own Power Notes for the assigned text or topic using the provided Power Notes Printout.   If some students find it easier to work backwards, allow them to experiment with their own 'system' and share it with you.  Power Notes can continually be expanded upon as students find more details to support their powers and learn more about the topic.

More ideas to try

  • Upon finishing their basic Power Notes, students can share and discuss their notes with a partner or their class, and they can be used for a review of the assigned text or topic.
  • Additionally, Power Notes can be used to introduce paragraphing by developing their outlines into words and phrases, then expanding their ideas into sentences, and finally, combining the sentences into a paragraph.

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