Welcome back! We are on week 4 of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Math Workshops Series. So far we have discussed having a plan that meets the needs of your class, having high expectations, and having a board to show schedules and assignments.
So, what is the 4th habit? Know your kids. I know, this might seem like a no-brainer, but I just want to give you some tips and tools for tracking your students learning so that you can make sure that they are in the correct group each week. (Stick around for the FREEBIE!)
Pretests for Tracking Students
I would say the hardest part of making sure that my students are in the correct groups are pretests. Why? I can never seem to find a test that is actually helpful. When I refer to pretests, I mean short, ungraded assessments given before each chapter or unit. In the past I have used part of the end-of-unit test. However, these (even though they aren’t graded) were very frustrating for all my students, even the highest group. What I have found that tends to work best is to get copies of the end of unit tests from the grade below you. This way the students should (supposedly) know the information (if they can remember it). I think that these are much more helpful in understanding the levels of your students.
I probably gain most of my insight into my students’ understanding through watching them during the teacher time in the centers. With such a small group of students with you at one time, it is much more difficult for a student to “skate through” without really understanding the concepts. Now, the observing of your students is the easy part- this is what we do as teachers. It is keeping track of all that information before you forget it that is the problem. Therefore, I have put together a system in my classroom based on a few different blog posts I have read.
First, Erin from Eberhart’s Explorers posted a blog a few years back about recording your observations on address label stickers. I really loved this idea because it seems so simple and easy to use. (Also- I just love stickers of any sort!) Then I also looked at this post by Tori from Math by Tori. She had the great idea of layering index cards on a file folder, so that you can see each name.
I took these ideas and made them into a system I could use. First, I created a template for the address label stickers. I tried to make the process a little faster by making a checklist on the sticker.
Then I taped the index cards onto the file folder. By staggering them, I was also able to add the students’ names to the bottom of each card so that you could see them. When I observe something in the classroom, I can quickly write the name of the child, check off the appropriate item and write a quick note on the line. At the end of the day (or week) I can add in the dates, and stick the stickers to the appropriate index card in the file folder. I can simply reference each students’ card if I feel a student needs to switch groups or during parent teacher conference time.
You can get these stickers for FREE! I have included the stickers you see here, blank stickers (just a name and date line), and then a sticker with a few less items on it (to make a little more room). These stickers would also be perfect for any observations you make in the classroom, not just math workshop.
*Note: These labels work with Avery 5260 labels.
How do you keep track of students and monitor their learning?
Check out the rest of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Math Workshops Series:
- Week 1: Have a Plan
- Week 2: Have High Expectations (plus a FREEBIE)
- Week 3: Have a Board
- Week 4: Know Your Kids (plus a FREEBIE)
- Week 5: Know Where to Find Inspiration
- Week 6: Get Organized