Sticky Notes Comprehension Strategy

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 comment.

Strategy Steps

  1. Display a passage of text that can be read during class.  (A newspaper article is an excellent option.)
  2. Begin reading it aloud to the class.
  3. Stop reading abruptly to share what you, the teacher, are wondering about the text. 
  4. Write what you wonder in the margin of the text.
  5. Continue reading and modeling the questioning strategy.  Include things that remind you of other texts, situations, things that surprise you, a new idea, etc.
  6. If students offer thoughts, include them.
  7. 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.
  8. Pull out a piece of chart paper.  Label it Text Codes 
  9. 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. 
  10. 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 reading times. 

Anchor examples

Implementation Guide

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