Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Stoplight Stickies

Shayna Pond | Published: September 16th, 2020 by K20 Center


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Stoplight Stickies

This strategy provides a formative assessment to gauge how confident students feel about their understanding of new content and/or their ability to put that new learning into action.

Stoplight Stickies


Students use red, yellow, or green sticky notes to color-code their comfort level with understanding a new topic or practicing a new skill. After brief reflection, students choose a color and write questions or comments on their sticky notes. Then, students place their sticky notes on a board, poster, or chart paper in a designated, color-coded area. This way, the class can see how confident their classmates feel. The teacher can address questions and concerns on each note without singling out any one student.


  1. Provide students with a prompt, such as "How comfortable are you with ________?" or "How confident are you in your understanding of ________?"

  2. Ask students to write a question or comment that represents their answer to the prompt on a sticky note. For example, "I feel like a pro!" or "I am unsure about ________."

  3. Have students place their sticky notes in the area that represents their comfort level on the board: red (skeptical or not at all confident about the topic); yellow (interested but unsure or in need of clarification); or green (excited and confident about the topic).

  4. Read some of the comments and address some of the questions for the whole class.

  5. Optionally, use this activity before and after a unit to see how the group's understanding and confidence changes over time.

Adapted from Keeley, P. (2015). Science Formative Assessment, Volume 1: 75 Practical Strategies for Linking Assessment, Instruction, and Learning. Corwin Press.