Sticky Note Reminders to Check for Understanding


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I have a student who reads beautifully, almost two years above grade level. What's the problem? She can't answer questions about what she reads! Clearly, Navia is only word calling the words. Yikes!

Check for Understanding was the first CAFE strategy introduced in my classroom and the children have seen it modeled countless times.  Yet for Navia, it wasn't sinking in. I had a sense of urgency to try something new with her.  

I grabbed my yellow sticky notes and in front of the class, drew a check mark on five of them. I took the book I was going to read and added a sticky note check mark to the cover (to connect with the story) and one on the last page. Then I opened the book and added a sticky note every few pages. As I was reading, I pointed out how the notes themselves would help me to remember to stop and "Check for Understanding." Next, I passed out five notes to each student and let them add check marks with their favorite colored marker. Once Daily 5 began, I was pleasantly surprised at how many children were using them.

Does everyone need this visual support?  Probably not, but it won't hurt for students to try it a time or two. When I conferred with Navia, I told her that I thought she should use the check mark notes for a while. The good news is that she's doing it! Of course, I'm finding sticky notes, here and there, all around the room. That's okay. Most end up in the recycling bin since they don't have names on them. My primary goal was for Navia to use them. If she misplaces hers, I can quickly give her another set.

Isn't this the art of teaching? First, determine the need and design a new way to present the instruction. It might not always work, but then again, it just might.

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