Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

STAR Notes

Lindsey Link | Published: September 16th, 2020 by K20 Center


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STAR Notes

STAR is an acronym incorporating a step-by-step note-taking strategy. Students will Set up, Take, Add to, and Review notes using a variety of techniques to streamline and organize information.

STAR Notes


STAR stands for Set up, Take, Add to, and Review. Students create, remix, and review notes before an upcoming evaluation. Students are free to organize and clarify their notes as they choose, enhancing their understanding of the material through interpretation.


  1. SET UP Notes—Have each student write their name, class, and date in the upper right-hand corner, then add the title of their notes on the top line.

  2. TAKE Notes—Ask students to write facts, details, explanations, definitions, etc., skipping a line between notes on separate topics. Students can use abbreviations, drawings, graphs, and pictographs. Students should use dots, dashes, numbers, letters, or color-coding to organize content, differentiate ideas, provide focus, and highlight key concepts. Remind students that spelling and punctuation are not important for STAR Notes.

  3. ADD to Notes—Have students make additions, deletions, or clarifications. Have them highlight or underline important points, identify main ideas, and add symbols or pictures to enhance the notes. Lastly, they should add questions that can be used for studying or in a Socratic Seminar.

  4. REVIEW Notes—Encourage students to review notes regularly (weekly or before an assessment). They can cover and rewrite the notes from memory, review them aloud, or work with an Elbow Partner. Students may also re-draft their notes for neatness and readability, if needed.

Adapted from McAndrews, S. (2013). Advancement Via Individual Determination AVID Elementary: Foundations Implementation Resource. San Diego, CA: AVID Press.