Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Focus on Formative Assessment: Using Sticky Notes

Sticky notes are an easy and flexible means for checking for understanding. The variety of sizes and colors make them adaptable to many kinds of tasks. They're great for facilitating discussions.

Discussion can include:
- adding to, deleting, prioritizing, re-combining, moving to different category, etc. Stickies are easily moved around on the white board (or chalk board), so this makes re-organizing simple and non-permanent.

Students can be asked to record any final product (or questions, etc.) in their composition books before the stickies are removed.

Here are a few examples of how I've used sticky notes in my classes:
  • Characters and Themes, A Tale of Two Cities: In small groups, students were given stickies with the main characters introduced early in the novel. Groups decided where these characters best fit under main themes thus far in the story: 'Buried', 'Recalled to Life', etc., as well as those whose role was uncertain. Simple, but a  great discussion starter. 
  • Long-term & Immediate Causes of the Renaissance: Students worked in small groups, with long-term using one color, immediate another color; each group posted on board; discussion, re-ordering, etc. followed.
  • Text Review, Developments in 19th c.: Groups decided on most important 'new markets and new products' and 'new patterns of life', and post ideas. Discussion followed: prioritizing, eliminating, adding, etc
  • Cause/Effect, Russian Revolution: Group 1 wrote causes on one color, group 2 wrote effects on another, groups 3 & 4 selected key events leading up to and after the revolution. These were posted on the board. Each group presented briefly, with class discussion following.
  • Discussion Prep (17thc. France): Groups with large stickies wrote on four areas: Group A- 3 connections to previous learning; Group B- 3 most important ideas/themes; Group C- 3 excellent questions; Group D- 3 most interesting facts/points. Discussed as class, adding and refining as needed, prioritizing what items to focus discussion on. 
  • Action & Character discussion, Pride and Prejudice: The (first) Proposal, The Letter-- sticky notes for: Darcy's actions for both, Elizabeth's actions for both; Darcy's character traits revealed by his actions for both, Elizabeth's character traits revealed by her actions, for both. Place on board and discuss.
  • Key Dates Review: Students placed individual events on the board in order; other students took turns (cold call!) re-organizing as needed, until sequence is complete. Students then placed dates over the events, following above process. We then had students try to recall the event under the date. 

For more information on formative assessment, check above under Resources  for 'Formative Assessment from Hand Signals to Harkness Discussions'.