Engaging with text is a goal of many ELA lessons. The last thing any teacher wants to hear are moans and groans when a new passage is handed out or a new reading assigned. After all, if they are turned off from the very beginning, students will unlikely engage in any meaningful way with the text in front of them. A bad way to start a lesson!
The Great Sticky Note Challenge is one way to increase student engagement in order to help with comprehension. This can be used with any text and it is so simple to implement!
First of all, get your students pumped for the lesson by telling them they are about to embark on a mission, or challenge. Next, explain that they are going to get one sticky note each and on that sticky note they must write everything they think they will need to answer questions about the text in front of them. This is an important mission because they won’t have the text to look at when initially answering questions, only their one sticky note! This is contrary to what we normally tell our students and they will immediately start asking questions such as “Can we write on both sides?”, or “Will we ever get the text back?” This is good! This is what we want! We want them to want the text, but we also want them to use their skills to identify the main idea and key details in the text and write only pertinent information on the sticky note.
You’ve prepared your students for this moment and given your students strategies to use while summarizing. This preparation will help them meet this challenge!
Also, they’ll be engaged with the text. This is the ultimate goal. Sure, they will get the text back, after they challenge themselves to take notes. This activity requires students to think as they read and show their thinking by taking notes. It is annotating on a sticky note instead of directly on the text, but this simple change can provide a refreshing new way to engage with the passage and motivate your students to read. The great sticky note challenge is a simple idea that gets your kids ENGAGED WITH TEXT!
I have found this works best with a shorter passage and questions that are on a separate sheet so you can collect the passage after the students take their notes. I use a passage that aligns with our topic/curriculum so students have some prior knowledge to draw upon.
*The student objective for the lesson below was to use close reading skills in order to summarize the text and determine main idea and key details see the rubric we use here.
*The teacher objective for this lesson was to engage students so they were actively and meaningfully interacting with the text in order to facilitate comprehension.
Here is a run down, minute by minute, of a lesson I did using a nonfiction article from ReadWorks.org :
- 2 minutes- teacher introduction to explain the challenge
- 10-15 minutes- students read and take notes
- 10-15 minutes- students answer questions using their notes
- 2 minutes- teacher reads aloud the passage (or play Audio/ebook directly from ReadWorks) *Hand back the text so students can follow along.
- 5 minutes- students share notes in small groups (checking comprehension and referring back to text and notes)
- 2 minutes- As a whole group discuss/ reflect on challenge
- 12 minutes- As a whole group go over questions/answers pointing out text evidence and pointing out the importance of identifying the best information to have put on the sticky note.
- 5 minutes- exit ticket (identify main idea of text)
I like using ReadWorks for these types of lessons because you can filter content by skill.
This lesson took almost a full 60 minutes of my 90 minute ELA block. 60 minutes on one passage, full class engagement! Handing out a passage to students and asking them to read and answer questions isn’t teaching. That’s just giving out work. That’s not what we do. Crafting an engaging lesson to motivate students to interact with the text is what we do.
This was a solid lesson with very high engagement using nothing but a sticky note for motivation. That’s it! I hope you give it a try, tweak it to your liking, and let me know how it goes so we can learn from each other!
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