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Efficient and Simple

                   Monitoring Notes

Document.  Document.  Document!  I cannot begin to tell you how important it is to document your observations.  We make hundreds of observations every day.  As much as I would love to be one of those teachers who remember EVERTHING, I just can’t remember it all (do those people really exist?…ok…maybe you Sue:). 

I’ve tried many ways to track students’ learning in the elementary classroom.  Here are a few:

index cards: put objective on card, then write those students who are struggling or need some sort of re-teach; then file the card in a recipe holder box according to subject, objective…back in the day I also put the index cards on a piece of paper where they stacked on top of each other and sort of flipped up

labels: have a label for each student with their name already on it, write observations of that particular objective; then peel off the label and file it away in their own personal file

general rubric: show a list of student’s name (all on one page) then rate their learning on that particular objective; usually done on a scale of 1-4.

sticky notes: much like index cards but you post it on one single paper; example: the skill students are working on is ‘two digit addition’; you monitor students, write down observations on sticky notes, then place them on a paper labeled ‘two-digit addition’ (I would also write the objective number)

So….after all these years I have finally found a system that works for me…I have used this for two years and I love it…

Here is why:

1.         It’s simple and easy

2.        It’s generic—I can use it for almost any subject/skill

3.        It’s all on one page

4.        I can highlight who needs what

5.        I make myself accountable to observe everyone

6.        I don’t have to worry about other supplies  (sticky notes, labels, etc)

You can download it here.  Three columns! That’s it!

So how do I use it?

I add all of my students in the first column.  I then make several copies of this….grab my clipboard and go… I write the skill at the top and then I rove or pull a small group.  In the next column, I put a √† if they completely understand the task/skill/objective and exceed expectation, a if they understand, and a √− if they need some reteaching.  Then in the last column I make any anecdotal notes.  Maybe a student ‘got it’ but needed some prompting.  I’ll note that.  Or what are they struggling with? I try to be as detail but simple as possible (and I don’t write notes for every child)
NOW WHAT??

The next step is crucial.  I usually highlight those that got a check-minus.  BUT I also note who got a check-plus  and who got a check because I might need to differentiate the next day (depends on skill/subject).  Those kiddos who got a check-minus are the ones I need to either check-in with first or pull for a small group or reteach.  Some of you might not be comfortable with using minuses or pluses…just come up with a symbol that you know of that can differentiate between the three levels (even numbers work). 

I can’t tell you how much this has helped my teaching.  After I make my notes, I usually punch three holes, file it in a binder (under subject/objective), and can always use it for reference for me, student, administrator, or parent.

How do you monitor student’s progress—informally?  Do you have a system that has worked for you?