Reading is meant
to be an active practice. Readers need to be able to respond to the text
immediately and in a way that they will be able to review their notes. Harvard
University sends a letter to incoming freshmen which describes six positive
habits for students to build in order to be successful. These suggestions
include, “throw away the highlighter in favor of a pen or pencil. . . mark up
the margins of your text with WORDS. . .”(Harvard College Library, 2007).
Realizing that students can’t write in their textbooks, Harvey and Goudvis
(2007) suggest using sticky notes to monitor reading and to practice text
coding. Text coding on sticky notes is strategy that allows students to
annotate their thoughts quickly—not to mention that the notes may be removed
when it’s time to turn in the book. Realizing that the sticky notes are small,
it is suggested that a class create a chart of codes to use on the notes. For
example, “R” can be used for “reminds me” or if something is confusing, a
student may write a question mark on a sticky note with a brief questioning
- Display a passage of text that can be
read during class. (A newspaper article is an excellent option.)
- Begin reading it aloud to the class.
- Stop reading abruptly to share what you,
the teacher, are wondering about the text.
- Write what you wonder in the margin of
- Continue reading and modeling the
questioning strategy. Include things that remind you of other texts,
situations, things that surprise you, a new idea, etc.
- If students offer thoughts, include them.
- Pull out the sticky notes. Tell
students that they need to respond to text as they read, but for obvious
reasons, they may not write directly in their books. Tell them that
they will be writing their thoughts on the sticky notes.
- Pull out a piece of chart paper.
Label it Text Codes.
- Indicate that the sticky notes are small,
so in order to be able to write their thoughts effectively and save time,
they are going to create text codes as a class.
- Create the anchor chart with the class
generated text codes. Post it in a visible location. Also, be
sure that the sticky notes are in an accessible location for students during
- R, reminds me
- T-T, text to text connection
- L, New learning
- ?, Question
- !, surprising information