Strategy

Stop and Jot

Stop and Jot is an activity that has students stop, think, and write about what they are learning at specific points within a lesson to check for understanding. The teacher initiates a Stop and Jot by posing a critical thinking question such as, “What do you think will happen next and why?” or “Why do you think the author decided to include this part?” The teacher prompts students to respond in a designated writing space (e.g., students draw a rectangular “stop box” for note taking, use sticky notes, write in a special section in a notebook) and allows time for processing and recording. The teacher then uses student responses to gauge the level of understanding before moving on in a lesson. Stop and Jots help maintain student focus and promote retention and comprehension through active engagement.

Implementation Tips

Preparation
Plan one or two opportunities for a Stop and Jot before teaching a lesson to predetermine points where students can demonstrate a taught concept (e.g., making predictions, synthesizing information, text connections). For more resources on planning for Stop and Jots visit [[https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/blog-posts/danielle-mahoney/reading-and-critical-thinking-stop-and-think-then-jot/ | Scholastic]].
Build Routines
Select a specific recording task for students to use any time a Stop and Jot is requested during daily learning activities (e.g., students draw a rectangular “stop box” for note taking, use sticky notes, use a special section of a notebook). This format should remain the same even when applying this strategy across content areas to establish consistency.
Engagement Techniques
Alter the opportunities for students to participate in a lesson by combining Stop and Jots with other engagement techniques (e.g., Turn and Talk, Think-Pair-Share) to provide a variety of interactions among students. With implementation of each engagement strategy, invite students to share as a whole group or with a partner to grow insights and deepen comprehension through conversation.
Exemplars
Present and highlight exemplar Stop and Jots during a lesson to emphasize a teaching point or to present two opposing viewpoints and have the class debrief/debate the ideas. Providing exemplars gives all students an opportunity to observe and hear strong Stop and Jots from a peer’s perspective to make the content relatable.
Modifications
Create a pre-formatted “stop box” for students, offer sentence starters (e.g., “I think the author included this part because ___.”), or permit students to stop and sketch with labels to help facilitate task initiation and writing efforts in a simplified manner.
Build Independence
Invite students to create Stop and Jots during independent reading to promote responsibility and reflection. Provide a lens for students to consider or allow students to generate their own wonderings (e.g., “What kind of a person is the main character? How do you know?”). Students can use text evidence to synthesize information across a text.

Examples

Key Idea Check
A history teacher checks for understanding during a lesson about the American Revolution by asking students to Stop and Jot. The teacher asks, “Why was the Boston Massacre significant?” As students record responses, the teacher circulates, noticing exemplars to highlight in the group discussion. During the discussion, students are encouraged to add to/change their notes to include key points that are raised. The teacher prompts students to save this Stop and Jot with previous class notes about the American Revolution and reminds students to use the combined notes as a reference while studying for an upcoming quiz.
Think-Pair-Share Jot
After a read aloud of Shel Silverstein’s, [[https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/7/79/The_Giving_Tree.jpg|The Giving Tree]], a teacher stops and asks students to decide if the Giving Tree is a weak or strong character and why. Each student individually jots down an opinion with text evidence on a sticky note, notebook, or Stop and Jot graphic organizer (Think). Students then work in pairs to collaborate on similar views, or to begin comparing opposing views (Pair). Those with similar views collaborate to build a stronger argument, and those with opposing views work to persuade one another. The teacher then invites each pair to communicate their ideas with the whole class (Share), recording key information supporting each perspective for a larger discussion.
Collaborative Jot
As part of a review, a teacher asks students to Stop and Jot what happens in each stage of the water cycle. Students work in pairs or small groups to generate an answer to each question on a sticky note (i.e., one sticky note for each stage). At the end of the activity, the teacher invites students to post their sticky notes accordingly based on a large blank image of the water cycle. After all Stop and Jots have been posted, the class reviews and compares jots, noticing commonalities and clarifying any misinterpreted thinking collaboratively.

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