Efficient and Simple
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)
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?