The more we know about students, the more we can help them. Observations, sometimes called kid watching, can help teachers determine what students do and do not know. There are several instruments and techniques that teachers can use to record useful data about student learning. Here are a few:
Anecdotal Notes: These are short notes written during a lesson as students work in groups or individually, or after the lesson is complete. The teacher should reflect on a specific aspect of the learning (sorts geometric shapes correctly) and make notes on the student's progress toward mastery of that learning target. The teacher can create a form to organize these notes so that they can easily be used for adjusting instruction based on student needs.
Anecdotal Notebook: The teacher may wish to keep a notebook of the individual observation forms or a notebook divided into sections for the individual students. With this method, all of the observations on an individual student are together and can furnish a picture of student learning over time.
Anecdotal Note Cards: The teacher can create a file folder with 5" x 7" note cards for each student. See Observation Folder. This folder is handy for middle and high school teachers because it provides a convenient way to record observations on students in a variety of classes.
Labels or Sticky Notes: Teachers can carry a clipboard with a sheet of labels or a pad of sticky notes and make observations as they circulate throughout the classroom. After the class, the labels or sticky notes can be placed in the observation notebook in the appropriate student's section.
Whatever the method used to record observations on students' learning, the import thing is to use the data collected to adjust instruction to meet student needs.
Methods for Documenting Student Progress