Imagine you walked into my classroom and I handed you a yellow sticky note.
You took the sticky note but wondered what I was going to ask you to do next …
I asked you to put the sticky note on the wall
Even when you asked me how high or where, I repeated my direction to put the sticky note on the wall
So you followed my direction and put the sticky note on the wall
You still were not too sure what this possibly crazy teacher was really asking for you to do …
After you and your classrmates all sat down, I put a purple sticky note on the table or desk in front of each of you.
I asked you this time to place the purple sticky note as high on the wall as you could.
Some of students sat and thought about what to do while others quickly stood up and followed my instruction.
You may have asked me if you could jump or stand on something. I answered by repeating my initial instruction to put the purple sticky note as high on the wall as you could.
Once you followed that instruction, you sat down.
When the whole class was seated, we just looked at the yellow and purple sticky notes on the wall fo a minute.
That’s when I started asking questions!
How did you decide where to put your yellow sticky note?
Did that require much thinking?
Most of you just simply walked over to the wall and stuck the sticky note on it. You didn’t really pay attention to the placement of the sticky note. You just did it to get it done.
Now look at your purple sticky note
How did you decide where to put it?
What did you do to put your sticky note as high as you could?
Did anybody jump?
Did anyone stand on their tiptoes?
Did anyone ask someone else to help them?
Did anyone lean against the wall and stretch?
How much thinking did the placement of the purple sticky note require?
What kind of thinking do you think you should do in this class?
Yellow or Purple Sticky Note Thinking?
When I started meeting with groups of students this year, the scenario above is how I started class. I saw an activity similar to this done with teachers at a training a few years ago and used that as my inspiration.
So far the purple and yellow sticky notes are still on the walls as a visual reminder (except for a few that have fallen).
Instead of reminding students to work harder and do their best, I ask what color sticky note is the thinking that went into the assignment or answer to the question or even just poing to the sticky notes on the wall.
At times, I just say Purple Sticky Note …
And they know what that means!