My STEM Units

Friday, July 11, 2014

Ten Amazing Ways to Use Sticky Notes (with Freebies): Part 1

Every once in awhile, I stumble on something that works.  Really works.  

Sticky notes work.

On one particular lesson, I wanted the students to read a section of their books and jot down the main idea.  Our dry-erase markers were drying out in my classroom and I didn't want to waste a whole piece of paper for just a sentence or two.  I brought out my yellow sticky notes.  I handed one note to each student.  Then, the magic happened.  

They wrote the main idea.  In perfect, whole sentences.  And then they wanted another sticky note, to do the next section.  And the next.  I have struggled with main idea for years, and now this simple, little piece of sticky paper made the lesson so engaging.  

It wasn't long before they started asking for more sticky notes to write down the major characters and their traits.  It also wasn't long before I used up my supply of boring, yellow sticky notes.  I had cute, shape sticky notes saved for special occasions.  Don't ask me which special occasions, because I never used them.  Seriously.  I had cupcake shaped sticky notes for 2 years that I had never used.  Every once in awhile, a family member sends me sticky notes in the shape of a school house or a bus.  I had pink, purple, green, blue, you name it!  I tentatively put them in a cute basket at my guided reading table.  What do you think happened?  The kids came running to guided reading and couldn't wait to find out what they would be writing about today!  Really?!  Told you, sticky notes work. 

Well, sticky notes work for teachers too.  My last 2 years in the classroom were amazing with an ever-expanding use of sticky-notes.  Just because I am now out of the classroom and writing curriculum doesn't mean that I have given up my affinity for sticky notes.  Nope.  I'm all about bringing new uses of the sticky notes to teachers.  Below, I list 10 of my favorite uses to help save time, engage students, stay organized, etc.  


1.  Genre Writing Checklist
You might have a writing checklist on a poster on your walls.  Or you might give each student a checklist to attach to their writing project.  Instead, imagine giving your students a sticky note to slap right onto their project.  I like this template best because the author, Corbett Harrison, includes a line for the students to rank themselves.  Notice the verb "rank"; not "rate".  That's taking Bloom's up a level.  His website is GREAT and has templates for many different genres, professional development opportunities, and 6 Traits (see below).  

2.  6 Traits

Once again, a brilliant way to use a checklist/ranking system with students.  Buy a pack of sticky notes in various colors.  Print each trait in a different color.  Place them in your Writing Center.  Viola!  Again, notice the "rank".  If you haven't had any formal training in the 6 Traits or want some new inspiration, Harrison's website is full of exemplar texts and examples (and free 6 Trait sticky note templates).  

3.  Rubrics!
One thing that I really like about the direction education is going is the increased use of rubrics.  Oh, teachers have been using rubrics for years to grade their students' work.  But now, there is more emphasis on the students using the rubrics to grade themselves, and.....wait for it.....self-correct before turning it in.  Boom.  Yes!  That is what we wanted all along.  

Some rubrics are lengthy and have many criteria.  They don't all have to be that way.  Look at the example above.  Sarah uses these sticky notes in her class and doesn't let the students turn in the paper until all the criteria are met.  It's a good example of the real-world.  She includes a free template on her site as well, so you can get started writing your own rubrics. 

Ten Amazing Ways to Use Sticky Notes (with Freebies) is a 3 part series.  

Part 1: Writing 

Part 2: Reading

Part 3: Charts, Walls, and Organization

Sticky Note How-To:

  1. Print the blank template.  If you are printing a pre-made printable, move on to the next step.  If you are creating your own printable, type directly into the squares on the word document.  **Before you print, remove the box outlines for the squares.
  2. Place your blank sticky notes on the squares.
  3. Place your sticky note paper into the printer (manual feed tray works best).
  4. Print, remove, and bask in the beauty of your amazing sticky notes!

As a life-long learner, I am constantly looking at new ways to take instruction to the next level.  How have you used sticky-notes in the classroom?

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