Tuesday Tips: Sticky Note Annotations

Because I have so many classroom discussions, I like all my students to have the same edition of whatever text we are studying. I discovered several years ago that when I ask students to purchase their own texts, they will invariably end up with several different editions. Then our valuable discussion time is eaten up with conversations like this:

“I noticed ________ in the text.  In my book it’s on page 43.  But I have a different book than the rest of you, so for you guys it’s near the beginning of the second chapter, the fourth paragraph, about 4 sentences into the paragraph.  Do you guys see that?”

Riffling of pages.

Students leaning over to other students to point out the quote.

“Okay, so most people have found it.  I just thought that quote was important. I’m not sure why. What do you guys think?”

My school has enough copies of every text we study that I can check them out to students. If they wish to purchase the books, that’s also fine; however, I request that students purchase the same edition (I will provide them with the ISBN number) that the school owns.

If a student has purchased his or her own book, he or she can make notes directly in the text. This would be my preferred method of annotating, but then I like to own books and mark them up.

If a student is using one of the school’s copies, he or she can annotate with sticky notes.

What a great invention these have been for English classrooms everywhere.

The sticky note is a humble but important component of my classroom discussions. I keep a box on my supply table with multiple sizes and colors of sticky notes.  Part of the discussion routine (you might even say “ritual”) is to pass around the sticky note box as each student takes what he or she needs for the day.

photo 1

Be careful about which brand you buy for your classroom. I have found that some brands will either be hardly sticky at all or way too sticky. If your notes are of the hardly-sticky variety, you will find them all over your floor and on students’ clothing. If your notes are too sticky, they sometimes remove the print from the paper or rip the book pages.

Also, don’t forget to have students remove the sticky notes before they return the books to you.  I allow my students to remove their sticky notes and put them in their reader response notebooks.  This is one of several incentives for note-taking.

photo 2

There are digital sticky notes, if you are so inclined. Because I do not permit any electronic devices in my discussions, I prefer the paper.  I’m open to all ideas for teaching more effective annotation, however!

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