Q-Notes: Note-taking strategy

This year I am teaching a combined LA/SS block, so I decided to teach note-taking when it came time for the informational text unit. It was incredibly successful and I’ve been using it as a building block to other things since.

The strategy is very simple, and easy to use on any text with sub-headings.

  • Write the name of the lesson, the article, or chapter at the top of the page.
  • Draw a vertical line about a third of the way from the left of a piece of paper or notebook page.
  • Each sub-heading is turned into a question matching the main idea. Write the question on the left side of that line.
  •  The section is read with the question in mind and the student takes 2 – 5 notes to answer the question on the right side of that line.

That’s all there is to it. I taught a mini-lesson on how to turn the headings into questions, and then we did a practice session using a section of the SS textbook. I read over the students notes and made a list of the mini-lessons they were going to need (summarizing, main idea). After the lessons, we did another set. Repeat.

It took three sets over three weeks, but my kiddos are note-taking fools. Next year, this is the very first thing I will teach them how to do.

This method seemed kind of common sense to me, but I was asked to look for some research and I found this handout. Do you have any note-taking strategies you would like to share?

Update: The explanation handout is no longer online. There is an explanation that could be used for this strategy or Cornell Notes (as they are very similar) here:



There is a template available here


5 comments so far

  1. […] student’s success in taking good notes from text using the Q-Notes strategy lead me to wonder how I could apply that to my interactive notebooks. I was approaching my World […]

  2. Dwayne A Battle on

    How is this different than Cornell Notes?

  3. mrsgannon on

    It is fairly similar – With q-notes, the question drives the note-taking instead of generating a main idea from the notes. There is no summary.

  4. Katie Smith on

    The link for the handout is not working. Any chance you might be able to post again or email it to me? Thanks so much for your blog. Lots of great info here!

  5. mrsgannon on

    Thank you! The original handout is no longer posted online, but I found some others that might be helpful for you and updated the post.

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