Isn’t it funny how something as simple as a pad of sticky notes can make a lesson more interesting? One minute it’s a struggle to get the kids interested in the topic at hand, and the next minute they’re alert and into the lesson. Why? Because they’ve spotted the sticky notes!
Take a lesson that involves filling out a graphic organizer for example. Say you’ve just read a novel in class and want the kids to identify the problems and their solutions in the story. So you pass out the graphic organizers (worksheets). Not a high interest activity so far, right? But then you give every third or fourth kid a handful of colorful sticky notes. Things are starting to look up. Then you tell the class that this will be a small group activity and they should gather in groups of three or four, with one kid who has sticky notes on each group. Now they’re engaged!
In their groups, the lesson might go like this. The group is given a piece of chart paper, or a space on a board or even the wall to work on. As a group, students decide on the setup of their graphic organizer, and draw it (or just plan out their wall space!) One kid is selected to be the leader who announces each question or prompt and passes outs one sticky note per kid for each prompt. For this problem/solution organizer the prompts can be simple:
- What is the main problem in this novel?
- What was the solution?
- What is another problem in the story?
- The solution?
- A third problem?
- The solution?
As each round is completed, everyone posts their response on the big group organizer.
After all of the prompts are answered, the groups next task is to sort through the responses and organize them. Are some of them duplicates? Do some group together well? Are there any that don’t belong? Once the group comes to a consensus on the best answers, adjustments are made as necessary. Students might take a photo of their finished organizer for their notebooks or to turn in for a grade.
Of course, the problem and solution organizer is just one example. Any of the text structures or story elements could be organized this way too. So could vocabulary or grammar topics such as affixes, multiple meaning words, or parts of speech. Or an organizer like this could be used as a group prewriting session for an essay.
And they’re not just for small group activities either. A similar setup could be used for a whole class lesson, maybe as a text structure or theme is discusses after reading a novel. This would work well when you want to lead the discussion yourself and be sure to include certain items that the kids might not come up with on their own.
If your kids need a lesson on improving/revising their work before handing it in, they could even do a sticky note activity individually as a first draft, and then write their final copy after having time to rearrange and reconsider their sticky notes first.
Sticky notes are one of those classroom items that just make a teacher’s life a little bit easier and a kid’s day a little bit more interesting, and if you ask me, who’s to say no to that?