Stickies – the inventor of this simple invention, probably did not intend for it to become a teacher godsend for certain populations of students. Over the years they have gone from the bain of my existence to one of the best resources I have in the classroom.
When I was first handed a pack of sticky notes during my first year teaching, I thought – okay, cool, I can use them to take notes. When I was told they were for the kids, I thought great just another thing for the kids to make a mess with. And so I began to expierement with these little pieces of paper and in my early time with sticky notes I have discovered –
- They are great for small paper airplanes
- They are a lot of fun to fold up into a tiny square
- They make excellent little “kick me” notes for kids to put on their classmates
- They fall out of students books
- They are fun to draw on
- Color selection is more important than what you actually write on it.
So after a couple of years of investing in a sometimes expensive resource – I ran far far away from the stickies – until recently when I decided that I can not possibly fear something as small and simple as a sticky. And so slowly but surely, I reached into the resource closet and pulled out a colorful pack and decided to begin to incorporate them back into classroom activities. I made the commitment to use them as much as possible to test out their usability in every aspect of education and I am glad that i did.
I used them in the classroom, I used them with an entire class, I used them with small groups, I used them for my own data collection. I carried stickies everywhere I went, in my pocket, with my laptop. I did not move without stickies.
So what did I discover…very simply that the person who handed me them so many years ago was write – stickies are a must for any teacher who is setting individual student goals, using data to drive instruction and differentiating based on readiness, interest, or ability.
Some suggestions for stickies in the classroom that have worked for me include;
When working with the entire class, I have found that giving the students sticky notes to include in their notebooks as a tool to collect their ideas helps them focus on a few specific things to write. For example, when I want the kids to predict, infer, and question they get three different colored stickies that (yellow for predicting, pink for inferring, and blue for questioning) and they jot their thoughts on the stickies and put them in their notebooks. When they look back it is easy for them to see questions they have had about their book, predictions they have made or inferences they have drawn. As a teacher, I am able to see if they are building on previous lessons and applying higher quickly by scanning notebooks for specific colors.
When working with small groups, I give the students their task on a sticky note. I also give them additional sticky notes to complete their task, whether it is collect questions while they read or make predictions or summarize the main idea of each page. Then we are able to transfer their work into their notebooks to keep a collection of what they have done.
For students who have difficulty taking notes, I have found that putting 6 stickies on a page and asking the kids to fill them with one detail from the text. When they are finished they have collected six specific text based notes and feel accomplished because they have filled a page with their writing.
For teachers, jotting down notes on students quickly and organizing them later on separate student pages takes away the need to organize during a lesson and frees up more time with the kids.
Lastly as a coach, I have implemented a system in which teachers can leave me messages, suggestions, or ideas on a sticky and then put it in my notebook. This way I am able to jot down my own notes and keep a quick record of strategies, suggestions, or possible solutions in one place and other teachers can look back and see the exchange and draw inspiration from it as well.
No matter how much I have hated this great little tool in the past and even though there are times that I see a little collection of them on the floor of folded up into a cute little shape, truth be told they are an asset to the education field and one that will continue to serve a much needed purpose.