Post It Note Answer Key

I first read about this idea from Amy Gruen's blog.

During my area unit I was teaching composite areas for the first time. I found a worksheet on BetterLesson that I really liked so I edited it and made a powerpoint to go along with it. The worksheet has a direct instruction, guided practice, and independent practice section. I've never taught this before and I was really nervous that everyone would be lost and confused. I was expecting tons of questions and chaos. So I needed some kind of structure or strategy that would keep me from pulling my hair out.

Here's what I came up with. I worked out the answers to each problem individually on a post it.

On the chalkboard, I wrote numbers with a square under it and put each post it inside the square.

I told the class as they worked to check their answers with the post it. If they were stuck then they could also go look at how the problem was done. This is better than letting them take the post-its to their seat which would mean temptation to copy every answer. If a student stood up there long enough to copy down every problem, I'm pretty sure I would notice that. 

It would have been a good idea to spread them out more but I only have one chalkboard.

It turns out that since my students are so lazy, most of them didn't bother to get up and look but instead just asked the student sitting closest to the board to tell them the answer. And that was okay, because they were still able to check their answers and I knew they weren't cheating.

I also told students I would not be answering any questions like "Is this the right answer?" since they could easily answer that themselves.

What went wrong is that since we were doing composite areas, there are many different ways to getting the answer. Which is good. But looking at my post it note with only one way to do it...not so good. 

In theory, the idea was great and it's a strategy I will try again. But probably on something that's a little more...straightforward.


  1. I like this idea, especially the fact that you will not answer the "Is this right?" question. I hear that probably 20 times a lesson :). Do you assign a grade for the worksheet? Participation grade maybe? or is it just in class practice?

  2. Here it is :)


    On this day, I was encouraging students to work on the problems they found the most challenging. Since I knew that would result in a ton of questions all at once, I used the notes to provide some extra support. It wasn't the most thorough review I've ever done, but it worked when I was crunched for time.

  3. mac,
    For me it was part of the notes in class, the independent practice, so no I did not give any grade. This was just a strategy I used to attempt to answer questions that I otherwise would not be able to get to. But if I did assign a grade, it probably would have just been participation since the worked out solutions and answers were readily available.

    I even commented on the post! lol Thanks for the link. I think we both used it for the same purpose even if it was under different circumstances; I just picked the wrong circumstances to try it out. :) Also, I've just been e-mailing Cindy Johnson about her conic section cards and they look fantastic. It's right up my alley since I've done several sorting things like this already. I'm excited to use them! Thanks for posting about that too!

  4. Oooh....I am going to try this. I think if a student thinks of a different way to do the problem, I will have them show it on another post-it to add to the board.