My students are in the middle of our writing unit. We have been working on close reading texts, planning for our essays, and today they spent the class period sitting in silence writing. These are rare days. These are days when I try to limit my instruction so that the illusive “productive struggle” can take place in their own little minds while they work. I’m around, but my involvement is limited. I’ve taught them for weeks and now they have to show what they know.
Fly, little birds!
While my students worked today, I used the chance to make some notes in ClassMax for each student. Often, I don’t have time during the course of a class period to make detailed notes on students. Instead, I am using the behavior, accommodations, and progress boxes to record my information. Sometimes, i add a quick note or two when I have time, but today seemed like a perfect opportunity to updated my student notes, which function as my student files.
I went through each student in every class and made a note about how they were doing generally in class. I recorded things I felt like they were doing well with – both academically and behaviorally – and I noted any areas of improvement. Some of my notes said things like, “Sally continues to be a leader in her table group and I appreciate her patience and willingness to guide her table to success.” Other students might have notes such as, “Charles has trouble transitioning between activities in class. It often takes him two or three times as long as his peers to begin an assignment. During this time, he is out of his seat, distracting others, or playing on his phone.” These are general statements about the student that can be made at any time and do not have to be tied to a specific day, time, or action.
I also used the time to record behavior. I started with positive behaviors because those are ones I hardly have time for in the course of my school day. It is easy for me to see negative behavior and mark it in ClassMax while I am teaching. However, I seldom remember to mark the positive behavior I see in students, simply because they aren’t catching my attention. I also used this time to record recurring negative behavior, too. Let’s face it. For many students, the date of behavior doesn’t really matter. They will “distract others” every day of the week, so it really doesn’t matter when I put my note in!
Keeping thorough notes helps make my communication with parents and administration about particular students more effective. Anecdotal tracking through notes allows me to create a complete 360 degree profile of my students’ performance.