Using post it notes for reading comprehension in the elementary classroom is such a simple, yet powerful teaching strategy.
In this post, I share strategies for using sticky notes effectively and efficiently for reading comprehension.
These simple, yet powerful instructional techniques are divided into before reading, during reading, and after reading strategies.
Related: Brainstorm more mini-lesson ideas for reading block with our reading workshop resources page.
Using Post It Notes for Reading Comprehension: Before Reading Strategies
1. As a Teacher, Jot Down Your Thoughts During a Read Aloud.
A staple of readers’ workshop is the read aloud.
Before sharing a read aloud with students, make sure you’ve gone through the book and placed post-it notes on all teaching points that you plan to discuss with them.
Strategically place the sticky notes throughout the book as signals to show when you need to stop, “think aloud”, and discuss with students the targeted reading comprehension strategy.
On each sticky note, you’ll have your “think aloud” or relevant teaching point.
The sticky notes serve as a way for students to see what conversations and type of thinking are going on inside of your head as you read the book or piece of text.
This type of scaffolding supports them as they apply the same reading strategies during independent reading.
2. Assess Students’ Prior Knowledge.
If you want to quickly assess what students already know about a topic, skill, or strategy, have them record their prior knowledge on a post-it note.
Afterwards, have students place their sticky notes on a whole-class KWL anchor chart.
Or you may just want to collect the sticky notes and review them later, on your own time.
Utilizing sticky notes this way allows you to quickly see what your elementary learners already know about a particular topic.
That information guides your planning and instruction.
Using Post It Notes for Reading Comprehension: During Reading Strategies
3. Jot Down Connections, Questions, Evidence, or Reading Strategies.
As students read independently or with peers, they use post-it notes to write down any meaningful connections they have with the characters, setting, plot, themes, etc.
They can also use post-its to record any questions they have about the text such as confusing vocabulary words or confusing parts of the story.
If making inferences, evidence to support those inferences can be written on sticky notes.
During teacher-student conferencing, sticky notes with students’ connections and questions serve as great anecdotal evidence.
4. Utilize Sticky Notes with Anchor Charts.
When used properly, anchor charts are effective instructional tools that aid in reinforcing skills or procedures.
For skills or procedures referred to often throughout the school year (such as reading strategies, graphic organizers, readers’ workshop procedures, etc.), make anchor chart templates.
For example, you could make a Venn Diagram chart.
Students write one or two comparisons/contrasts on post-it notes. They then place those sticky notes on the appropriate section of the Venn Diagram.
Using post it notes for reading comprehension via the use of anchor charts allows students to observe and learn from their peers’ thinking processes because the work is on public display.
Using Post It Notes for Reading Comprehension: After Reading Strategies
5. Use Post-It Notes for Informal Assessments.
How can we quickly determine if a student grasped the targeted concept of the lesson?
To see what learners took away from the lesson, ask them to write one reading strategy on a post-it that they used during independent reading.
Or have them note a vocabulary word or multiple-meaning word that they figured out using context clues.
These are just a few of the many ideas that you can use sticky notes to informally assess students’ understanding of a reading selection.
Additionally, these informal assessment post-its are great as exit tickets.
6. Gather Lingering Questions or Predictions.
At the end of it all, students may still have questions about the learning, whether that be a specific skill, strategy, or something related to the content.
Ask learners, “What’s one question you still have about the lesson?” “What do you still want to know?” Have them record the question(s) on a post-it.
Lastly, ask students to jot down what they predict will happen next in a particular story.
Bonus Tip: Using Sticky Notes to Scaffold Writing
As students read independently or with classmates, encourage them to note any writing elements or techniques that they like from the books they’re reading.
Because writing and reading are interconnected, you may even want to highlight a specific writing strategy during your read aloud, especially if it aligns well with the reading objective.
Have students save these post-it notes for writers’ workshop.
During independent writing, the sticky notes will serve as a bank of writing strategies/skills that the young authors can apply to their own writing.
How Will You Use Sticky Notes in Reader’s Workshop?
These simple strategies make using post it notes for reading comprehension a cinch.
Happy teaching & learning