Friday, September 11, 2015

Last Minute Lessons: Post Your Thoughts

Sometimes, the best laid plans happen on the fly. It happens for me quite a bit. I'm a spontaneous, just wingin' it, let it happen naturally kind of lesson planner. [wow, that sounds terrible!] BUT, I do plan. Don't get me wrong. I know what content I am covering and when. I know what I will expect my students to do. I know the rigor. But, I don't write scripts. I fit my lessons plans on post-its, for goodness sake. One post-it for a subject, and the whole week fits on a two-page spread. I don't list objectives or standards [I'm blessed not to have to!] I let God lead my teaching. He inspires me, He provides, HE has the BEST ideas!

So.. what does that all have to do with this post? Well, it's exactly what happened this morning and I' thought I'd share with you how it came about.

I was in the shower [the best thinking always happens there! right!?] and I was thinking about my science lessons. For a lot of the time, our lessons come straight from our science books that are a part of our school's curriculum. I find myself easily putting it off or skipping it some days because, well, it's boring. Don't get me wrong, the content is fantastic and we DO have fun with experiments sometimes (I'm working on that!) but our day-to-day lessons are just reading about it. It gets boring and let's face it.. if it's taught in a whole group, they aren't going to listen to me read it to them and Round Robin Reading isn't exactly a best practice. Just ask Jen Jones. So, in trying to solve my own problem and jazz up my teaching in content areas like science & health, I came up with a quick "Post Your Thoughts" informal assessment activity.

I quickly created a template for standard 3x3" sticky notes to fit on. I stuck them on the boxes [you can baarreelly see them in the pic up top, on the left] and labeled the post-its with my students' numbers [so they remained generally anonymous to their classmates when they posted their thoughts but I knew what their answers were] and assigned the reading.

They were to read a chunk from our science books on their own, at their own pace. Usually, we read things together in small groups or whole group, and we highlight important information that might be seen on a quiz or test. Since this was an independent study session, I laid out MY teacher copy and let them come over to look at it, if needed, where they could see the parts I had highlighted. After they got started and I explained how they would use the post-it notes, I let them start reading. After they were all engaged in reading, I then wrote the questions I had for them to find on the board. Why did I decide to wait? So they actually READ EVERYTHING, and didn't just skim in order to find the answers and be done.

So, each question was color-coded for a certain post-it [as you can see on the right]. When they found the answer, they wrote it on the corresponding sticky note and put it on the board right under the question.

As soon as everyone was finished, we talked about what we read, highlighted some important information, and answered those questions. My students read at their own pace, and I now have a small formative assessment piece to show their understanding. They did FANTASTIC! I was super proud of them, seeing as this was the first time we did something like this this school year.... and it's only the TENTH DAY! They loved it, and I definitely seeing us do this activity much more often!

So what do you think? Would you have your students "Post their Learning"? If so, you can grab my template for FREE >>>> right here!

Just print, copy, and cut in half to use! You could even laminate a set, and make them reusable year after year for just about any content area or reading assignment!


  1. This is such a great idea! I'm thinking that I use the same science program because we just did the same content. I love how you engaged the students in reading the science book!

    A Tall Drink of Water

    1. Do you use Abeka? That's who we use for science, health, and history in 3rd grade. I'm glad you like the idea! The kids did, so I'll definitely be doing this again!