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Pedagogical Development Office

Teaching Tip: Post-It!

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Here’s another great instructional strategy that you can use with your students to help them understand how the smaller pieces relate to the greater whole. You can also use this activity to get students to see where their thinking focuses on a particular topic.

The goal of the post-it activity is to get students to think about anything they already know on the topic you wish to discuss. Once they have had some time to think and write down a few ideas they should get together in groups and try to organize or class their different ideas into groupings.

This activity can help students go from a few basic ideas to seeing the bigger picture and how their ideas relate to those of other students in the class. It can also help individual students see where their thinking lies in terms of the overall topic: do they focus more on one category than on others?

It is important that you do this activity with a topic or issue with which students are already a bit familiar. They will need to have some prior knowledge on the topic so they’ll have some ideas to write down on their post-it notes.

To do the activity

To do the post-it activity, hand out packets of post-it notes to each student. Try to hand out different coloured post-it notes so that each student can recognize their own ideas when they get together in groups. Briefly introduce your topic or issue and then ask students to do the following:

  1. Write down, in one or two words, ideas that come to mind on that topic, with one idea per post-it note.
  2. Get together in a group and share their ideas. Try to put the similar ideas together in groupings.
  3. Create category names for their different groupings.
  4. Choose one person to present their categories to the class

When the groups share their categories with the class write them on the board so that you can build a list. Once you have all the categories you can give the class a short explanation of each on how it is an important element in the topic you are discussing. Having come up with the categories on their own, the students will have a better idea of what each of those categories might mean and how they relate to the overall issue. You can clarify any misunderstandings or misconceptions when you discuss the categories with the class.

If you would like to do a little metacognitive activity, where you get your students to reflect on their own thinking in this activity, ask them to look back at the groupings and identify their own ideas. Did they tend to have most of their ideas in one category, or were they spread across the categories? Ask them to think about what this might mean in regards to how they see this issue or topic. It helps if you can get some students to volunteer to share their reflections.

Pedagogical Development Office
Vanier College