It is very important to me that my students feel ownership in the classroom. It is not MY classroom, it is OUR classroom. This is usually done by displaying student work throughout the year, however, there is another way to add student voice to the classroom that is quick and easy for both students and teachers: Post-It Prompts!
Every week I display a different question on a bulletin board. Sometimes the questions are random, sometimes they are funny, sometimes they are serious, and sometimes they are relevant to our unit or current events. I have post-it notes and pens below the prompt and throughout the week, students can respond to these questions–sometimes once, sometimes more than once, and sometimes students skip out on that prompt. They have the entire week to respond, so as the week goes by, I see more and more responses, and I generally learn a lot about my students this way! Even better, students love reading these and they learn more about their peers, as they also gain ownership of the classroom with their voices becoming an integral part of the room.
While I have a dedicated bulletin board to this, this is also really easy to implement in any corner of your classroom. Section off a part of your whiteboard for students to respond to. Students can respond with post-it notes, but if you’re short on supplies, you can even have them whiteboard their answers around the question!
You have the option to give them designated class time to respond (in a warm-up or exit slip), but I typically have students respond on their own time–when they are waiting for the bell to ring or when we start to pack up. It is also nice to always have that back-up option in the room in case a lesson finishes way earlier than we expected–because we’ve ALL been there–to have students turn their direction to the prompt and answer.
This is the easiest bulletin board display or way to add just a little bit more community building and student voice to your room! You can also do this for data collection if there’s always been something you’ve wondered about your students! The best part is: this is NOT limited to English teachers! This is something that can work across all subject areas and grade levels.
To get you started, here are some prompts that I have used in the past:
1. Happy first week of school! What was the highlight of your summer break?
2. Write a six-word memoir.
3. (Video Music Awards week) If you were a celebrity, what would you be known for? What would you do with your fame?
4. (Back to School Night week) What 3 words would you use to describe this class? This school?
5. Write an inspirational message to your peers. (Side note: this is historically the most active prompt with the most responses every time!)
6. Which famous or historical figure would you most like to meet?
7. What is your favorite part about the Fall season? (This is another one of the most popular prompts!)
8. Draw a picture!
9. If you had to watch one TV show the rest of your life, what would it be?
10. If you were an animal, what would you be and why?
11. If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
12. (Halloween) Design a haunted house. What would it look like? What would be in the different rooms?
13. If you could go forward or backward in time, where would you go? What would you do?
14. What if you were named principal for the week? What would you do?
15. Finish this sentence: It started out as an unusual Monday morning, when I….
16. (Week before Thanksgiving break) What are you thankful for?
17. (back from break) What was the highlight of your break? What did you accomplish? What did you do?
18. What political or social issue are you most passionate about?
19. What are some of your accomplishments from this semester?
20. What is your favorite part about the holiday season?
1. What was the highlight of your Winter Break?
2. In your opinion, what is the most important date in human history?
3. Describe your ideal weekend.
4. What do you think (insert YOUR name here) does on the weekend?
5. Imagine yourself as a teacher. What type of student would you like to teach and why?
6. Describe the most difficult thing about being your age.
7. What meme best describes this class?
8. (Valentine’s Day week) Write about something or someone you love.
9. What should next week’s Post-It prompt be? (use this to inform future weeks!)
10. You have to teach someone something you are an expert at. What is it?
12. Write about a random act of kindness you did this week.
13. If you could bring any fictional character to life, who would it be?
14. (After Spring Break) Describe something you did NOT do over Spring Break.
15. What would be your ideal job when you grow up?
16. Describe your ideal vacation.
17. If a movie was made about your life, what actor or actress would play you?
18. Recommend a book to your peers.
19. What is a random fact about you?
20. What are some of your favorite memories from this class this year?
Now, I have definitely used other prompts aside from this list. Sometimes, something happens in the news that I feel like we should give space to address or we start a conversation that I want us to talk more about. I also ask students to come up with prompts and they usually have much better and more creative prompts than I do!
Just know that this should be a low-stakes way for students to engage and participate in class. If you start to implement this in your classroom, tell your students how/when they can answer questions and be sure that you add your own post-it response to the wall too, students love seeing what teachers write! I hope you find this activity useful and if you do start to utilize this in your classroom, I would love for you to share what you and your students write!