Quick Writing Win #1: Sticky Notes

Parents and teachers of students with dyslexia often meet huge amounts of resistance to all things writing. How can we empower students to feel the confidence needed to create quality, creative and meaningful writing content before they are able to formulate letters with ease or spell words legibly? Each student is different, but our Quick Writing Wins series will give just that: easy-to-implement, low-maintenance strategies to experiment with. 

So Quick Writing Win #1...give your kids stacks and stacks of sticky notes and a few ideas to try.

1) Before beginning any writing project, from something as simple as a five-sentence reflection on their weekend to something more complex such as a five-page research essay, have your student/s experiment with pre-planning on sticky notes. If they are an artist, have them map out their writing plan with picture-notes. If they despise drawing pictures, they can use words or short phrases to remind them of their idea without worrying about spelling. For students who need more support, give them topics as an accommodation that you eventually take away. For example, label the sticky notes with the parts of their writing piece, such as "hook", "introduce the topic", "first piece of evidence", etc. Sticky notes are hands-on and can be easily manipulated to physically organize their writing piece once they have pre-planned. 

2) Use sticky notes as a simple proofreading support. Write an acronym that you have explicitly taught and modeled several times to your student, putting one letter on each sticky note. Place these on the table above their notebook as they write to serve as a visual cue to check each sentence for common errors. For example, I use the acronym CHOPS (C=capitilization, H=handwriting, O=order of words, P=punctuation, S=spelling). By separating each letter on a sticky note, I've found it's easier for kids to track which areas they've checked and which they haven't.

3) As students identify words they can't decode or don't understand in their independent reading, they can quickly jot them down on individual sticky notes. This allows you, as their instructor, to easily track words they need support around and it automatically creates flashcards they can effortlessly stick into a notebook for continued review.

4) Since summarizing is such a vital skill for comprehension but often tricky for students, it needs to be taught, modeled and practiced frequently. Sticky notes can serve as simple summary boxes students can organize main points into. If a student wants to practice summarizing a chapter of a book, they can write 1-2 sentences on a sticky note and keep it at the end of the chapter for later review. When reading an article, students can place summary sticky notes appropriately throughout the text, categorizing the content in a way that supports their understanding. I've also found it really helpful as their instructor to check their understanding by glancing through their summary sticky notes. I can quickly get a feel for students who are tracking independently and students who need intervention without disrupting their reading.

5) Since sticky notes come in a variety of colors, they can be used to color code topics, ideas, subject areas, parts of a writing project, etc. Each student needs support in finding a color coding system that works effectively for them, but I have found it to be consistently helpful for students K-adult and sticky notes are an easy place to start.