The Power of the Post-it Note

(Other sticky notes are available. They’re just not as alliterative!)

Post-it notes

Photo taken from by @vickyloras, used under a CC Attribution Non-Commercial licence,

When I first used sticky notes to help a learner get started with a piece of writing, the effectiveness of such a simple activity was clear. After we’d finished, that first learner said,

“I never thought I could write an essay, but now I feel I could write a book!”

The idea is not new but it’s simple and effective: write down each of the points you want to include in your writing on a separate note, then arrange them in the order you want to write about them. If possible, it’s good to have different colours, as demonstrated by Vicky Loras’s photo above 😉

As learners get going, the ideas come flowing out. Very quickly, they go from not knowing what to say or how to get started to not only having plenty of ideas but also to knowing what order they’re going to write about them, and to believing they can approach the writing in manageable stages.

I love using this with learners! It’s very motivating, engaging and empowering. I’m really not exaggerating!

Most recently, we’ve been using it with adults with learning disabilities. By using sticky notes to collect and organise ideas, the learners have realised just how much they have to say about a particular topic. They feel much more able to make decisions about what to include or what to leave out – it’s easy to add or remove a note – and they are more confident about being able to expand on these ideas. They are more focused and committed to the activity… and they enjoy it!

As I’ve mentioned, this isn’t a new idea and many of you will have done something similar with learners or in your own writing. Many will have other ways for organising and planning. I just wanted to pass on a bit of my experience of using it with literacies learners and people with learning disabilities. I think it would be particularly useful for people who find getting started difficult, who struggle to get the ideas spinning around their head out on to the paper, or who get overwhelmed with the work ahead of them.

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