STICKY NOTE TOOLKIT – A Handy Organizational Tool

Sticky notes help readers track their thinking during reading. When we invite students to note their questions, confusions, connections, disagreements or delights in what they read, we are teaching them to be engaged, reflective readers.  It requires them to think about what the text means, to recognize when it’s not making sense, and to draw on a repertoire of strategies to fix up those mixups.  And most importantly, it builds readers who are active participants, not passive recipients, of the reading process.

A word of caution:  our struggling readers have already been peppered with paper in previous grades and may not be as motivated to track their thinking with sticky notes as we are.  Sticky note tracking should serve specific purposes and be as authentic as it’s possible to be in a classroom situation.  We can keep sticky note reading fresh by using different sizes, shapes and colours of notes, used in a variety of different ways, always ensuring that students see the purpose for using them.  We need to show our students how metacognition makes them better readers and, as always, to build successes while supporting students as they stretch.

Using sticky notes to track thinking during reading is not an end in itself; it is a means to an end. In small group guided reading, we guide, support and scaffold students in identifying and articulating the strategies they use so that they will be able to apply those strategies both automatically and intentionally in their independent reading.  The ultimate goal is for students to have a repertoire of tools in their strategy tool box to apply when comprehension breaks down during reading.  Sticky note reading is one way to fill that tool box.

reading-toolkit

One of the challenges of sticky note reading is managing all those little scraps of paper.  In a brief small group reading lesson, we simply don’t want to waste time searching for or distributing sticky notes.

A simple and inexpensive solution is the “reading toolkit,” stocked with sticky notes, which enables us to have these tools at hand quickly and efficiently.  Sometimes I will provide a variety of stickies from which students may choose, and other times I will have the toolkits pre-stocked with the specific size or type of sticky notes that will be needed for that day’s reading. Reading Toolkits are easy to create from a colored file folder.  With the file folder folded shut, cut it in three inch (about 10 cm) strips.  This gives you four Toolkits from one file folder.  Add a clip-art label, if you choose, and laminate the unfolded Toolkit for durability.  Refold and add a plastic coil for a small pencil at the top (those small pencils that go with your golf score card work well) and you’re set to stock the Toolkit with sticky notes for active reading.

STICKY NOTE TOOLKIT SUPPLIES
– large stickies to write on
– sticky strips for tabbing or underlining
– translucent flags for highlighting
– rolls of narrow correction tape to run along the side of a page
– a “stop sign” to mark pause points in the reading
– a collection of sticky notes in different colours, sizes and shapes
– a small pencil to store inside the coil at the top

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