Sticky Notes in Learning

I have an addiction -a horrible, obsessive addiction. Sticky Notes. They are everywhere. They are stashed in my purse, briefcase and church bag. Some hide in the car -just in case I don’t have my bags with me. Some lay on my desk -both at work and in my home office. I also have them in the living room, hidden behind the music stand on the piano, on the fireplace behind decor, by my bed, in the drawers of each table in the living room, and by my favorite chair and of course I even have the Sticky Note app on all of my technology!Sticky Notes in Learning

There are some places where I cannot store an entire pack. So, I have a few stuck in the inside cover of the book I am reading, on the bookmark, in my planner, tucked in the back of my journal and even inside the front -and back -cover of my scriptures. I would want to be caught without one which is why I have a basket with extras in my office.

And why wouldn’t I have such a beautiful obsession with them? They come in so many beautiful colors. Bright colors for those days when I feel in a bright mood -generally a happy day. There are muted colors for subtly blending in. Oh, and I love the different sizes and shapes which fulfill every possible need. I simply cannot image trying to organize my life without them.

Is it no wonder that I had to find a way to use them while teaching?

I have found them most useful in every teaching situation -from small classrooms to large lecture halls and even one-on-one in a private tutoring or homeschooling situations. One of my favorite reasons for using them in teaching moments is that they are not intimidating to students. Sticky notes can be disposed of easily and yet retained for permanent recall by placing them in a notebook. I have found that students prefer to quickly jot down ideas on a sticky note than to face a solid, blank document. The space is less intimidating.

Ways I’ve used Post Its in teaching:

  • Feedback –I allow my students to give me some feedback anonymously. Again, since it isn’t formal, many students will give some instant feedback that they would be more reluctant to share in formal situation.
  • Secret notes -When students are handed a sticky note with a praise, they immediately beam -despite their age. Everyone enjoys receiving positive feedback, but especially when it is done quietly. One of my students put a positive feedback Post It in a book. Years later, he found it and sent me a message about how it still made him smile.
  • Quick questions -Making notes for questions for quick recall.
  • Note taking -Teaching students some basic note taking skills.
  • Annotating a textbook -Constantly as educators, we preach the importance of annotating our books, but this is not always possible for students who will have to return books. BUT, a Post It can help by writing notes and annotating information on it. As I teach students to annotate with Post Its, I tell them to place the Post It on the edge of the paper so that the corner will stick out. This helps to recall the information and find the Post It later! Another option is to label the edge of the Post It -creating a tab.
  • Goals -Have the students create a learning goal for the day/week/lesson and place it in the corner of their desk where they can see it.
  • Brainstorming and Idea Creating -Ideas can easily be moved around and webbed together using Post Its.
  • Outline -I love using sticky notes to create outlines for essays. Student place all of the information on sticky notes -one idea per note. The sticky notes are then put in order on a piece of paper. They can easily be arranged and rearrange and even added to.
  • Vocabulary -Writing down unfamiliar words while reading, learning, listening, etc.
  • Conflict Resolution -In some situations, I will have the students write down everything that is important to them in the conflict. Then, together, the important points can be discussed and reasoned with. It helps to take the heated emotion out of the discussion.
  • Compliment Wall -Create a space for students to write anonymous compliments about one another. We’ve used this at home too.

I’d love to tell you that this is a complete list, but it isn’t. I am constantly finding new ways to use this resource. I have found them to be indispensable. So, until the world comes up with a better innovation, I will continue to use my Post Its and endure the chiding, teasing and mocking that comes from my family members.

By Tracy Atkinson

Tracy Atkinson, mother of six, lives in the Midwest with her husband. She is a teacher, having taught elementary school to higher education, holding degrees in elementary education and a master’s in higher education. Her passion is researching, studying and investigating the attributes related to self-directed learners. She has published several titles, including Calais: The Annals of the Hidden, Lemosa: The Annals of the Hidden, Book Two, Rachel’s 8 and Securing Your Tent. She is currently working on a non-fiction text exploring the attributes of self-directed learners: The Five Characteristics of Self-directed Learners.

Tracy Harrington-Atkinson

Tracy Harrington-Atkinson, mother of six, lives in the mid-west with her husband. She loved storytelling and sharing her stories with her children. As they grew, she started writing her stories down for them. She is a teacher, having taught from elementary school to higher education, holding degrees in elementary education, masters in higher education and continued on to a PhD in curriculum design. Her husband, Kerry and Tracy breed miniature dachshunds and love to spend time with their growing family. She has published several books including Calais: The Annals of the Hidden, Rachel's 8 and Securing Your Tent.

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