Why I Love Sticky Notes

Sticky notes are absolutely an essential part of my classroom instruction and teacher life.  I use them almost every day!  Here are some reasons why I love sticky notes so much:

1. Self Feedback: As a part of the revision process, I often ask students to make a note on a sticky note sharing something they like about their essay as well as something that worries them.  Recording this information requires students to reflect on their own work and make some evaluative judgments.  I have them put the self feedback sticky notes to the side when we begin peer feedback.

2. Peer Feedback: I also use sticky notes to help facilitate peer feedback during the writing process.  I'll create a few structured questions to guide student thinking and then ask students to respond to their peer's work on sticky notes.  I usually ask students to limit their feedback to one sticky note.  Each reviewer has the benefit of seeing a clean copy of the essay without a bunch of writing and comments scrawled everywhere.  After a few rounds of revision, the original writer has self feedback and two or three sets of peer feedback on sticky notes.  The writer can review the feedback and choose to accept or reject it.

3. Exit Tickets: I use sticky notes all the time to grab data about students' learning that day in class.  I'll ask an essential question and have the students write their names and the answer to that question on the note.  I also sometimes ask students to write about something they didn't like about class that day as well as something they did like.  Gathering this information on a frequent basis makes it easier for me to check in with all students quickly and get a sense of how everyone is doing and feeling.

4. Literary Analysis: I love having students use sticky notes to annotate texts.  They can make notes as they read without damaging the original text.  They also can remove their notes from the text later and manipulate them as a part of the writing process as they draft literary analysis essays.

5. Class Discussions: I use sticky notes for many different kinds of interactive classroom discussions.  I'll have students work in pairs to review questions at stations, leaving their responses behind on a sticky note.  Later, the class engages in a debriefing session during which they examine all of their peers' responses.

6. Mini To-Do Lists: Sticky notes are my daily go-to for mini to-do lists and calendar planning.  A to-do list on a sticky note is much less intimidating to me than a longer one.  I typically create a short list of 5 or so things that must be done that day.  I place the note on my desk, and I don't leave until I get that list done.  The brevity of the list helps me focus and keeps me from getting overwhelmed.

There are really SO many reasons to love sticky notes in the high school English classroom.  What are your favorite reasons?

My Top 10 Must Haves for Teachers Going Back to School

Many teachers are gearing up to go back to school this fall. Most of us need to do a little shopping!  What will you buy this year?  Here is a list of things I absolutely cannot live without--my top 10 essential items for back to school. 

1. Hand sanitizer: I think this goes without saying. I teach high school and interact with about 100 students every day. That's a lot of germs! I buy a large bottle of hand sanitizer at the beginning of the year and typically replace it at the beginning of second semester.  My bottle hangs out by the classroom door so students can use it immediately once they return from the restroom. I use it frequently, too--especially after handling student papers and when I interact with that student who seems to be sneezing a lot.

 2. Printer: A lot of teachers in my school use the networked printers available in various faculty rooms throughout the building. Using the networked printer means printing a file, locking my classroom door, walking several steps to a faculty room, unlocking that door, and then hoping what I wanted actually printed. That doesn't work for me--I've got to have a printer in my room. I found a great inexpensive laser jet printer on Amazon. I can print up to 1600 pages on one ink cartridge, and replacement cartridges are only $13. The printer also doubles as a scanner and photocopier. Score!

 3. Markers: I do a lot of collaborative posters in my classroom, and I go through quite a few markers each year. I was lucky enough to find some Rose Art markers from Walmart this year for only fifty cents a pack!  I usually buy two sets per group of four students, and I find that the markers last all year long.

 4. Bandaids: It seems like someone always has the teeniest tiniest cut in my room, and they desperately need a bandaid. Keeping a box of bandaids on hand saves me from writing hall passes and helps keep kids in class.  I can easily go through an entire box of bandaids in one year!

 5. Assorted OTC medicines: I keep a few pills to relieve just about any symptom in a small bottle in my purse--Advil, Pamprin, Gas-X, Rolaids, etc.  My little teacher pharmacy has saved the day many times for me over the past several years.  Please note--these remedies are for me and me only--I never hand out medications to students. 

 6. Change: I love having a small coin purse on hand for those days when I want to grab a soda or a snack from the faculty lounge. I don't do this everyday, but there's nothing worse than having a snack craving and no money on hand.

 7. Phone charger: I look at my phone only during lunch time and maybe during my planning. For some reason, the building I'm in just drains my phone's battery. I like to have a fully charged phone at the end of the day so I can catch up on all my social media, text messages, and personal emails.

 8. Working projector: I use PowerPoint to organize my classroom lesson plans. A working projector is a must! I love having my objectives and student instructions visible to kids as they walk into the room. Having a display also helps my visual learners and saves me from repeating myself so much.

 9. Expo markers: I love the Expo brand. The other brands will do in a snap, but Expo is the best. Oh, and I love ALL the colors.

 10. Gum: No one wants a teacher with dragon breath. Need I say more? Of course, I never chew it in front of the students, but I always have a piece after lunch.

  What are your must-haves for back to school?