I love data, and I like to implement easy ways for tracking student progress during the year. I have grades and test scores, but I also need a system for recording daily observations and general student performance. A few years ago, I started keeping a plain manila file folder with Post-it notes inside for anecdotal or informal records about each student. Each time I grade longer writing assignments, observe students during group work, or make mental notes during instruction, I jot notes on a Post-it note, which I add to the student’s space inside the folder. When I am preparing for a parent meeting or creating report card comments, I have a personal resource to remind me about specific strengths and areas of focus for each student.
The Student Progress Folder
- Create a 3″ x 3″ grid inside a manila folder. Measure from the center fold, so you won’t have any squares that straddle the fold line. I mark every 3″ down the center line first. I then move the ruler to the right side and left side and mark the 3″ spacing. After making the guide marks, I connect the dots to create the horizontal lines.
- To create the vertical lines, place your ruler at the center fold in the top half of the folder space and make a few dots for guidelines every 3″ to the right and every 3″ to the left. Slide your ruler to the bottom half of the folder space and make another set of dots. Connect the dots to draw the vertical lines.
- If your grid is 3″ x 3″, you will have ~22 usable spaces. Where the notch on the folder dips, the grid space is smaller. My maximum class size is 18 students (lucky, I know), so the folder spaces work for my classroom. If you have a larger class and need more squares, plan to use smaller Post-it notes and adjust your grid measurements.
- Print labels or write names in each grid space. I create this folder at the beginning of the year when I am labeling class supplies and textbooks. I usually have extra labels that I can use.
- My school keeps 3″ x 3″ Post-it notes in our teacher supply area. I like to have a little gap around the edges of the sticky notes, so I use the guillotine paper cutter in the teacher workroom and cut a stack of Post-its down to 2.5″ x 2.5″. And yes, you may comment about my tendencies to be a little OCD. You could also purchase the 2″ x 2″ size or even the slightly smaller 1 1/2″ x 2″ size.
- Begin adding notes to each square. I might only add one small note at a time and keep adding to the same Post-it note over several weeks. Or, I might need many notes stuck on top of each other. By the end of a grading period, some students have multiple stacked notes, and some kids only have a few.
Suggestions for Tracking
- When you grade projects or larger writing assignments, add short thoughts about trends in each student’s completed work. Did the student struggle with time management or working independently? Did the student work well in a group or have evidence in the finished project of good higher level thinking?
- Note details about independent reading choices, pace to complete a book, comprehension overall based on his/her comments when the book is completed.
- As you listen to students read aloud, what are impressions about fluency or word attack skills?
- Monitor organizational skills and how a student transitions from class to class or teacher to teacher, you may have notes about executive functioning areas for a student.
- Since I am a language arts teacher, I tend to make notes about writing mechanics and writer’s voice. For math teachers, you may detect weaknesses or strengths with certain skill areas. When you see pockets of need with a handful of students, it can help you plan mini lessons to reinforce specific topics or give you inspiration for an enrichment idea.
- Observations about peer relations can be added too. I find I add items about general behavior– fidgety, frequent water breaks, stomach hurts every day after lunch, tardy to school…
I have other charts I keep too. They are plain and simple like the student progress folder but help me log parent contact or unusual student behaviors (more than what I might note with the quick Post-it note system). I also have gradebook style grids that I use for different class checklists. To download my teacher binder materials for free from TpT, CLICK HERE.
This is what we did when I was collecting anecdotes for an elementary gifted research project. I like it. but I’ll need to wait until I get back in the classroom. Remotely now.
Good luck with remote! When I was teaching via Zoom in the spring, I still used it to add notes about behavior during remote classes, turning video off, not completing HW. I feel like my teacher memory has gotten so bad, I need to write observations down constantly!