The humble post it note

The less time spent making lots of worksheets and single use resources, the more time can be spent on planning, assessment and feedback. I also realised that tidying my office at home that I’m the proud owner of an extensive collection of sticky notes: index markers, A5, square, plastic markers, different colours, different shapes.  These are all ideas for the humble post-it note that I’ve collected over the years from other excellent teachers. Feel free to suggest more and I’ll add them and give credit.

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Literacy:

  • Glossary –  Students write subject terms and definitions they forget/struggle with on the post it and put it inside their book as a quick reference.
  • Punctuation checklist – Students write a punctuation check list on the post it and tick off each punctuation mark they’ve used correctly to ensure they have full variety.
  • Retention – At the end of each logical section, ask weaker readers to write the main idea as a topic sentence and stick it at the side of the section to refer back to.
  • Vocabulary – Students write synonyms on a post it and read their sentence back with each word in the ‘improved word’ spot before selecting one. Useful for discussing connotations and encouraging the appropriate vocabulary choice, not just any fancy sounding word from a thesaurus.

Marking and feedback:

  • Focusing on targets – Students write their target from their last piece of work on the post it and stick it at the top of their current piece of work. Before being ‘finished’ they must identify where they’ve addressed their target.
  • Reminders – If a student has missed multiple feedback lessons, cut a post it into strips (or buy the index file ones) and stick them out of each page where the student needs to respond to feedback.
  • Help notes – Give students a post it when they’re doing exam questions. If they get stuck on a particular piece of knowledge/skill etc, they can jot it down and put it in the work where they were stuck. You can tailor your marking to the area the student identifies as a struggle.
  • Silent reminders – If you’re observing work whilst walking around the room and spot a student doing something that needs input, write a simple instruction or reminder and stick it on their desk to remind them.
  • Student voice – identify their 3 main weaknesses and a suggestion for how you could help them.
  • Student voice – One main area they’ve made progress in this lesson/week/term
  • Peer feedback – Students write their peer feedback on a post it, discuss it with their peer and then write it in their peer’s book after discussing it. This can be useful if you’ve got students who are reluctant to write anything critical in books.
  • Exit tickets (knowledge recall) – Save time printing templates. Students write their name and the knowledge you require on the post it and either leave it in their books, put them in a set place etc.
  • Exit tickets (why?) – Pose a question and get students write an academic sentence justifying their view. Type them up as a starter for next lesson – which is the most convincing argument and why?

English:

  • Who am I? Students write a character from a set text on the post it and stick it on a peer’s head. The ‘character’ must ask yes and no questions until they work out who the character is. This has been adapted by a former A level class of mine to include linguistic theorists.
  • Text summaries – Students have one post it note per chapter to summarise the whole text. Students move around the room and decide which summary is the best and why (and having tiny writing can’t be the reason).
  • Evaluating key moments – Display key moments from a text on the board. On their post its students need to explain the significance of one of they key moments. The teacher can use the post its to recap the significance of key moments.
  • Essay planning – Give students an essay question and on each post it they write one main idea that could form a section of their response. Crowd source ideas from the group and then students can locate relevant quotations to plan their essay.
  • Sequencing – After generating ideas for a piece of writing, students put each paragraph idea on a post it note. They can then move the sequence around and think it through in their head before starting to write. It also allows for 1-1 discussions about text structure (e.g. Does the persuasive argument develop over time or is it just a series of relevant but unconnected ideas?   Have they given too much away at the start of their story? Do they need to hide the twist a bit better?).
  • Ranking ideas: For literature students can rank levels of sympathy for the characters, who is most to blame, which is the most important factor for… etc. This can lead into talking for writing and justifying ideas verbally before attempting an exam question.

Differentiation:

  • Give highly able students a different question to respond to by writing it on a post it and placing it in their book.
  • Provide support for less able students by giving them the task chunked on a post it and stick it in their book.
  • If a piece of writing goes over more than 1 lesson, add some personalised guidance for your HA/LA students to stretch and support so they know exactly what they’re doing at the start of next lesson.
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