What is your all-time favorite, most-used school supply? Your computer? Projector? YouTube? White-board markers? Mine is quite low-tech: sticky notes.
I love sticky notes because they come in a ton of colors. Because they come in a ton of sizes. Because they can have lines or no lines, shapes, full sticky back or not.
I love sticky notes because they don’t have a plug or require wifi or a DonorsChoose campaign. Because I can use them on the fly. And because everyone knows I love them, they give my students a ready, inexpensive idea for teacher appreciation week and Christmas!
I’ve long used sticky notes as the last stop for my lesson plan. After I diagram a plan for our day, I put the plan in order on my sticky note and it stays on my computer so I can check it quickly to see where we’re going next. But that’s not my favorite use. Let me describe Post-It Votes, my favorite interaction bridge from mostly passive input reception to gradually getting to producing the target structure(s).
Bridge Input to Output with Post-It Votes
This activity gets students moving and doing something with the input without having to produce any language… yet. The premise is simple:
- Take content related to the day’s structure (or a review one).
- Determine what phrases I can use to get students to express an opinion related to it.
- Put these phrases on sticky notes.
- Put sticky notes around the room.
- Ask students to move around to show their vote.
Let’s see it happen.
At the easiest level, Post-It Votes happens with actual opinion phrases, e.g. I like it, I love it, I don’t care, etc.
Food, animal, etc: Do you like it?
Or naming activity words or school subjects: Is it fun or not fun?
This is most obviously useful with opinion phrases, but it can be used with just about any typical unit theme or daily target (in bold):
- City names on notes: Which is best for museums? What about for shopping?
- Restaurant names: Who has a lot of chicken? Who has great sweet tea?
- Simple yes / no: Do you recommend Cherokee Park? Should I visit there?
My students are entering the plus-range in Novice Mid. They reach occasionally into Novice High and then slip back. So, they’re ripe to be pushed into complexity with a simple question after they move to their vote: why. Today I found out Jessica does not recommend Cherokee Park because it’s scary (a word they had just incorporated into their story on recommendations for tourists to Oz- word to the wise, stay away from that witch’s castle).
Two problems are readily apparent: What if you’re in a small space or have a ton of students? Asking them to move among sticky-note opinions could get tricky. A few thoughts:
- Consider asking students to point instead of move.
- Ask groups to appoint an ambassador/captain who represents their general consensus by standing by a particular opinion.
- Get them moving even farther- could you take them out to the hall or gym for a quick Post-It Vote?
Are the wheels spinning yet? I love sticky notes for a ton of strategies, not just wall polling. Asking kids about their families? How about empowering them to stay comprehensibly in the TL by manipulating sticky notes in their groups?
(The white strips in the middle are one of my other favorite tools: dry-erase tape.)
What about support for your storytelling? I asked kids to quickly write down a favorite character from a book or movie on a sticky note and then as I was telling a story about who was coming to Jeffrey’s birthday party, I picked up a family member note, picked one of the popsicle sticks that have my students’ names on them, asked that student for his/her character sticky note, and their characters became part of the story.
What do you think about Post-It Votes? Should we be buying stock in 3M?