Sticky Notes

I don’t think I picked up a sticky note my first year of teaching. It wasn’t until I was faced with an overly inquisitive student that I decided to break out the yellow pad of notes. During a moment of desperation I informed the eager eleven year old that he had a ration of questions he could ask during a lesson. Anything not addressed could be written on a sticky note and left on my desk and I would respond as quickly as possible. The first week, it seemed like the worst idea ever. I was getting bombarded with a multitude of questions. Once the novelty wore of though, an amazing thing began to happen. He realized that by asking only relevant, meaningful questions I could respond in a much more timely manner. Not only did his questioning strategies become more effective on paper, but he transferred this skill and began to ask much richer questions in class.

This year, sticky notes have become an intregal part of my teaching practice. It wasn’t planned, it just sort of evolved. I realized early in the year that I had two types do writers in my class. The ones who had an extraordinary amount of (sometimes relevant) information to share, and those who would stare at a blank page with panic, not knowing where to begin. So, how was I supposed to motivate one group to write more and one to write less?

Sticky notes offered a way to tackle this issue. I started to ask students to record their ideas on these little notes and worked with my over-writers on how to summarize. My non-writers seemed to find the notes much less intimidating than a half sheet of lined paper. They didn’t have to stress about how many sentences they included, or if it looked like it was ‘enough’ of an answer. They just wrote what they knew. Collectively, they all learned that they could write small and neatly (even in grade 2) and that you need to initial your work to get credit for it! One thing that all of my students enjoy this year is to see their work displayed. Even on a note. This motivation has worked in my favour and I now have a community of writers. Sticky notes are not the only reason, but they are definitely one of them.

So, in addition to think-share-pair or milling to music acitivies, we record our ideas on notes. Sticky notes have become the vehicle for ‘drafting’ portion of our Reading Responses.

This isn’t the only place you would see them being used in our classroom, though. Whether learning about verbs and recording their words to share, providing peer feedback, or recording their “I Wonder” statements; they have become a vehicle to share ideas and ask questions.

From teaching summarizing and asking questioning, to giving my quiet students a voice; these little notes have been beneficial to me this year. I’m curious how others have incorporated the use of sticky notes into their classrooms. Have they been effective for you?

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