Anecdotal Notes and Checklists

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1 fee- n i G, phe II ff; [/ ea-/ V,?1 i -:' i'i Anecdotal Notes and Checklists ".iyisl H II l':_' i."7 --T.^?7r>,r7r^'~ l^l_g^lll^ls^liillim_i^f_ilm --fe i r v , j. - - I a struck again and again by the power of anecdotal notes. They are a powerful assessent tool we haven't begun to tap. Carol Wilcox, Staff Developer, Denver, Colorado In the field of anthropology, if you want to learn ore about a group of people, you live aong the, exaining, questioning, and taking extensive field notes. Like anthropologists or ethnographic researchers, teachers continually collect inforation about students. Unlike anthropologists, however, teachers are also participants and not erely observers in the world of the classroo. Teachers need to collect data while interacting with students. In the last chapter, I described ways in which you can collect assessent inforation. In this chapter, I explain how anecdotal notes can add the stories and voice that enable you to portray each child's leaorning and unique personality. In Webster's Dictionary, anecdotes are defined as "a short, entertaining account of soe happening, usually personal." The word "short" is iportant here. In die busy world of teaching, you siply don't have tie to write extensive descriptions of incidents that occur during the day, hence the ter, anecdotal notes. The key phrases or verbati coents that you record will trigger your eory of the incident when you look at your notes later. I J 'M 279 'ft

2 280 Developental Continuus The second part of the definition includes the ter "entertaining," which is a word we don't usually connect with assessent. Soe of the reasons why any of us enjoying teaching are the wonderful things children say and the classroo stories that we tell to our colleagues. Anecdotal notes are a perfect place to record those "Art Linkletter" coents students ake. By recording students' words, you can gain insights into how they are constructing eaning. Their conversations enrich the inforation that you can gain through observation. The final part of the definition iplies that anecdotes are "personal." This is the significant difference between the plethora of assessent tools described in the last chapter and anecdotal notes. Anecdotal notes will help you becoe a better observer and researcher in your own classroo. In Negotiated Evaluation (1994), Helen Woodward states: "Observation in itself is not sufficient - to be useful, observations ust be faithfully recorded" (p.- 23). Anecdotal notes are one way to "faithfully record" learning in your classroo. In The Handbook of Literacy Assessent and Evaluation (2000), Bill Harp defines anecdotal notes as "the written records a teacher keeps of his or her observations of children" (p. 19). He adds that these records are valuable for docuenting progress, planning future instruction, and setting goals. For soe of you, taking anecdotal notes ay be a new strategy. Others ay have used this strategy for several years. If you have tried taking anecdotal notes, do you change your ethod every year? Soe years do you record your observations in a spiral notebook with tabs for each student and the next year take notes on index cards? Do you have trouble finding your notebook or index cards and end up writing on the back of a eo or envelope, fully intending to transfer your notes at a later date? Instead of siplifying life, do your notes pile up and add to your feeling of being overwheled? As you prepare for report cards and parent conferences, do you have a wealth of inforation about soe students and ebarrassingly little about others? If these scenarios sound failiar, this chapter ay provide soe practical strategies for strealining your ethods of recording observations about your students. The first part of this chapter provides practical ideas about taking anecdotal notes. The second section contains focus questions to help you fine-tune your observations. In the last part of this chapter, I explore how checklists can also be an efficient way to docuent student learning. The Anecdotal Grids (DC Fors ), the Focus Questions (DC Fors , and the Checklists (DCA Fors ) are all included at the end of this chapter and on the CD-ROM. Anecdotal Notes At workshops, I present exaples of any of the assessent tools described in the previous chapter. At the end of the session, I ask teachers to list one or two ideas they can use right away in their classroos. Anecdotal notes are always at the top of the list. Teachers are delighted to find an organized and anageable way to record inforation about their students. Why Take Anecdotal Notes? Ten years ago, you probably kept a great deal of inforation about "your students "in your head." Today the level of accountability is far higher. As profession- ::'vii

3 Anecdotal Notes and Checklists 281 als under intense scrutiny, it has becoe vital to support and docuent your observations. In addition, curriculu has changed. If students are involved in reading/writing workshop, literature circles, guided reading, cooperative learning, and inquiry studies, you need a ethod for keeping track of what students are learning. You have too any students and too any interactions to be able to reeber everything. You ay find that if you don't write soething down, the thought has vanished by the end of the day. By taking anecdotal notes, you have ore specific inforation when you get ready to write coents on report cards, fill out the continuus, and eet with parents. As you take anecdotal notes, you ay also becoe aware of instructional gaps and skills you need to teach or re-teach. If several students have a siilar need, you ay want to teach that specific skill in a sall group. At other ties, a whole group focus lesson ay be ore effective. Anecdotal nntps_pnahlp ynyi to teach ore resppnsively based on students' needs. - Anecdotal notes can also be useful when you are concerned about a particular student. Your notes can be valuable during tea eetings about a child, special services referrals, Child Protective Service reports, or eetings with concerned parents. Teachers soeties see different behaviors than failies see at hoe. For instance, Linda Johnson had a kindergarten student who was reading at a fourthgrade level. Although this student was quite advanced acadeically, she was not producing work in school that reflected the type of writing that Elizabeth's parents saw at hoe. As an only child, Elizabeth was able, to write several pages at hoe without any distractions and with the help of two attentive adults. In the lively world of kindergarten, she was easily distracted and far ore interested in what other children were doing than in writing in her journal. Her lack of aturity and social skills greatly affected her acadeic perforance. Linda found it helpful to take daily anecdotal notes that she suarized in a weekly letter to Elizabeth's parents. The faily becae less critical and ore supportive once Linda docuented specific incidents and noted iproveent. When you feel "on the spot," anecdotal notes can provide objective evidence to back up your educational decisions. In another exaple, Lisa Norwick had a second grader who was struggling in all acadeic areas and diagnosed as having a learning disability. Brandon tested high in ath, but his schoolwork did not reflect his abilities. During a resource tea eeting, Lisa shared her anecdotal notes about Brandon's difficulty with the ath work. Upon closer exaination, the tea discovered that any of the ath pages dealt with two or three concepts at a tie. For students like Brandon, leaping fro one concept to another can cause difficulties. Lisa's anecdotal notes helped the referral tea develop strategies to support Brandon's learning in the classroo. Anne Klein uses her notes to share specific positive incidents with failies of her fourth and fifth graders. For instance, Sa seldo contributed to literature discussions at the begning of the year. By May, he had begun to ask thoughtful questions and deonstrated soe leadership qualities. When Anne shared specific exaples with Sa's father, he was extreely pleased, since he rarely heard positive coents about his son's behavior or perforance at school. Finally, anecdotal notes can be useful when you write coents on report cards. Janine King finds that 90% of her narrative report card coents cae directly fro her anecdotal notes. For instance, on Eily's sixth-grade report card, Janine wrote, 1 i S M :?.*

4 282 Developental Continuus Eily thoughtfully contributes to literature circles and helps sustain the discussion. She is able to read between the lines, interpreting the deeper eaning of what she reads. Her written responses to literature are filled with interpretations of author's purpose, description, style, and use of language. Eily selects and finishes a wide variety of appropriate books independently. In writing, Eily is able to transfer what she has learned fro so uch reading to her own pieces. She akes great use of iagery and word choice to enhance her clever, creative ideas. She is developing her. own strong voice and sense of style. Janine's written observations enabled her to paint a portrait of Eily as a reader and a writer using very specific language. Many teachers ention the following reasons why they feel that anecdotal notes are worth the tie and effort: Purpose for Anecdotal Notes provide docuentation of each student's strengths and needs ensure that teachers gather data about every student provide additional docuentation for students with special needs help teachers spot instructional gaps help teachers plan whole class, sall group, individual instruction, or focus lessons based on needs provide iediate feedback to students give voice to narrative coents on report cards provide specific exaples to share at parent conferences reflect how well you know each student How Do You Take Anecdotal Notes? Many teachers use a clipboard containing a grid with V/2 x 2-inch rectangles that fit 20 sall Post-it notes on a page (DC For 6.1 and 6.2). Since she has 30 students, Anne Klein uses two pages of grids on her clipboard. Other teachers prefer to use a legal size clipboard and grid that includes roo for coents about 28 students. (The legal size 8V2 x 14-inch grid for anecdotal notes is included on the CD-ROM.) Another variation (DC For 6.6) contains roo for six sall (V/2 x 2- inch) and six large (3-inch square) Post-it notes that specialists or parent volunteers can use while working with sall groups of students. You ay want to place a copy of these grids in an acetate slip-sheet in either your Continuu Notebook or Assessent Tools Notebook so that they are easy to find and photocopy. In the fall, Anne writes one student's nae above each rectangle on the grid. She then akes several copies of the grid with students' naes for her clipboard. At the beginning of a literature circle unit, for exaple, she places one blank Postit note on the grid for each student. She chooses a focus, then writes the date and short observations on Post-it notes for a few students. Depending on her focus, she ay write three or four notes each day. At the end of two weeks, she will have at least one anecdotal coent for each of her 30 students. The advantage of this syste is that Anne can see by glancing at the grid on her clipboard which students

5 Anecdotal Notes and Checklists 283 she has issed. Once she has assessed all of her students, Anne transfers the notes into each child's section of her Teacher Notebook. All her notes about a child are then in one place, and she doesn't have to copy the over. Of course, no one ethod works for everyone; you will want to adapt this strategy to fit your own needs and teaching style. For instance, Anne Klein used ailing labels instead of Post-it notes for any years. Linda Johnson prefers to take anecdotal notes in a spiral notebook with a page for each kindergarten student. It's helpful to have a single student's coents on one page without transferring notes; however, it's harder to be sure that you have recorded notes about every child. You ay find that you have any coents about soe students and relatively few for other children. By using the anecdotal grid, you can see at a glance which students you have issed. Whether you use Post-it notes, ailing labels, or a notebook, the key is to decide what to record and how to create an organized syste for docuenting your observations. How Many Anecdotal Notes Do You Take Each Day? Obviously, if you took notes on all of your students all day long, you wouldn't have tie to teach. The nuber of notes you take will depend on your teaching style, your experience using this assessent strategy, the age of your students, and the context. For instance, Anne Klein usually takes notes on two or three groups of students as she oves around the roo during literature circle discussions. At other ties, she ight only record two or three quick observations during Author's Chair or Writing Workshop. Start with a realistic goal. Taking notes on two or three students each day is anageable. At the end of two or three weeks, you will have assessed your whole class and can then choose a new focus. By iddle school, students can also take anecdotal notes during literature discussions or peer conferences. Of course, this would require a great deal of odeling and support. When Do You Assess? When I asked teachers when they take anecdotal notes about reading and writing, their responses were very siilar: When to Take Anecdotal Notes silent reading tie literature circles sall reading groups guided reading writing workshop individual writing conferences Author's Chair In the beginning, you ay' want to take anecdotal notes at one specific tie during the day. For instance, you ight want to observe whether students are engaged during silent reading. Do they read for only a few inutes at a tie, for inutes, or for inutes? Janine King's iddle school students have tie for reading every Friday during language arts. Janine walks around the roo and ill M 31 il I'riii IL '. :'?,! "'if 1 JP 'if ;l r. :M M i 3U.«; /ih

6 284 Developental Continuus ffljvi'.'. records the titles of the book each student is reading. When she goes to her desk to read her own book, she keeps her clipboard handy and glances up every 5-10 inutes and records which students are still engrossed in their books. This quick check akes it easy for Janine to assess the continuu descriptor at the Fluent stage that states, "Reads silently for extended periods (30-40 inutes)." When she first tried this syste several years ago, Janine thought that she could have predicted which students were able to read for long periods. When she observed ore closely, she was surprised to learn that a few students that she thought could not sustain interest in a book were able to read for long stretches at a tie. A few others had astered the art of looking like they were reading but were not actually engaged with the text. Janine's intentional observations provided ore precise inforation than siply scanning the roo or relying on her general ipressions of students. Once you assess your students' ability to focus during reading tie, you can start recording titles of books they read each day. You can note if they are reading books at an appropriate level, if they finish books, as well as the genres and types of books they read on their own. You can collect further inforation about the students' texts by looking at their reading logs, surveys, and self-evaluation checklists (Chapter 7). It will probably take two or three weeks to collect this inforation about all of your students. It is then quite siple to fill out the Types of Texts (B3) strand on the reading continuu. Next, you ight want to either assess reading coprehension or decide to spend a few weeks assessing writing behaviors. In order to assess reading and writing processes, it's easiest to take anecdotal notes when students are working independently. You can also jot down observations during whole group lessons. For instance, Anne Klein takes anecdotal notes when her students read their onthly Tie for Kids agazine. She records inforation about students' oral fluency and their use of nonfiction reading strategies fro the reading continuu. The key is to create a structure in which your students are independent enough that you can take a few seconds to jot down a few notes. In her book, Taking Note: Iproving Your Observational Notetaking (1996), Brenda Miller Power describes these as "in the idst" notes you can take while students are working. In Negotiated Evaluation (1994), Helen Woodward notes that "the closer to the tie of observation the recording is done, the ore accurate it will be" (p. 23). Soeties you're siply too busy teaching or solving probles to record your observations. The other types of notes Brenda Miller Power (1996) discusses are "after the fact" observations that you can write before school, when children are at P. E. or usic, during planning tie, after school, or at hoe. As a kindergarten teacher, Linda Johnson finds that the ajority of her anecdotal notes are written "after the fact" at the end ofjhe day, since her children are less independent and it's ore difficult to jot down notes during the day. She prefers to record two or three anecdotal coents about students during lunch or after school. The key is to ake this type of reflection a consistent part of your schedule and routine. Lisa Norwick found that when she taught interediate students, ost of her note taking occurred "in the idst." When she oved to the priary grades, it becae ore challenging to take anecdotal notes. Lisa found that she could still take anecdotal notes during literature discussions, but it was uch ore difficult h

7 KI Anecdotal Notes and Checklists 285 during Writing Workshop since her students were continually tapping her on the shoulder and asking for help. She decided to take anecdotal notes about writing "after the fact." Before she goes hoe each night, Lisa takes out two children's writing journals and looks through the, jotting down one or two anecdotal coents about what she notices. Over tie, she accuulates several Post-it notes for each child with very specific inforation. These daily reflections also help Lisa plan her focus lessons based on the needs she sees in her students' writing. Rather than carting hoe a tub with all of her students' journals to look through the week before report cards, Lisa has built assessent into her daily routine. Once her writing progra was running soothly, Lisa found three other ties she could take anecdotal notes about writing. Lisa begins each writing workshop with a focus lesson and quick "status of the class," then students have 10 inutes of silent writing tie. During that tie, Lisa uses her writing clipboard and roas around the roo, looking over students' shoulders and jotting down observations. Once the 10 inutes are over, students can talk as they write, or confer with peers or an adult. Lisa ight write down an additional note or two as she conducts individual writing conferences. Her notes ight be a few words or a phrase, alost like her own personal shorthand, that can jog her eory later about an interaction or a student's writing breakthrough. Finally, she takes a few ore notes as students share their writing at Author's Chair. As you becoe ore cofortable with recording your observations, you ight want to keep two or three separate clipboards for different subjects. For instance, Lisa has different.clipboards for reading, writing, and ath. If behavioral issues arise, Lisa places a Post-it note on the clipboard for the content area in which the proble occurred. Anne Klein keeps four clipboards; one for reading and writing, one for ath/social studies/science, one for social and behavioral observations, and the fourth for parent volunteers to use. She uses her reading/writing clipboards in the orning and her ath/science/social studies clipboard in the afternoon. Anne uses the third clipboard when behavioral or social issues arise or after a phone call or eeting with a parent. Other teachers, aides, or volunteers use the fourth clipboard during literature circles or when they help students edit their writing. How Do You Organize Anecdotal Notes? Anne Klein keeps a Teacher Notebook in a three-ring binder with section dividers for each of her 30 students. She keeps three blank anecdotal grids in each child's section of her Teacher Notebook. One grid is divided in half for coents about reading and writing (DC For 6.3). The second grid has space for coents about ath, social studies, and science (DC For 6.4). Anne also uses a third blank grid where she places anecdotal notes about behaviors, social skills, work habits, and parent interactions. She copies the three grids on colored paper and uses atching Post-it notes for each triester (yellow = fall, blue = winter, pink = spring). In the fall, Anne ade 30 copies of the Reading/Writing grid on yellow paper and placed a copy in each student's section of her Teacher Notebook. She used yellow Post-it notes during literature circles, silent reading, writing workshop, and Author's Chair. Anne will have between eight and ten Post-it notes per child for reading and writing each triester. She has three or four anecdotal notes for every grading period

8 286 Developental Continuus about each child's ath, science, and social studies skills. Of course, when she first started to use the continuus, she had far fewer notes. She is able to record ore as she has becoe failiar with the descriptors and has fine-tuned her ethods and observations. In Figure.6.1, you can see an exaple of Anne's anecdotal notes about Brittany's reading and writing. Nae: prit-fonm Observations/Inforation Triester r-q Jj_ fa. fat/by fir QVJrX. lorn./ulrkl ' /t3 "Ptbetbi*^ dtad " fab /ffst}*»±, all Hear 1» Language/Writing: A/* 1 ** e^/wlcw Uinhpa bua& - (fzrhttiaiile/- (Jsrihettp*"^ w*wi> "S.I- " /btil 'S-hai-teC 'fclclnu- Sbk. Alr-THijh*J (tote <rfao»ic D«J&W" Ltt - U»IC(Vw /I'r-<l's- U_l/vc}tXRrK. II/? r - Ovwp/irn/ Gfadra, CcricOvuffaS/vy- /ridid^y tvh/ig. fio. \J, -fitts" PltAH»V<- Cl>&ratHr, <g 0XF* "TncL f rhf^re/rf- 6-tJovC>*_, ChAS J>M., Mil- 2. rh yt>f- fj/vj <r> duuu/l*. Sfo»j. OyiMatk.,^* fof MJahu 4*d u)r>sias>ii, MHsSs Figure 6.1 Saple Anecdotal Notes Cindy Flegenheier organizes her Teacher Notebook in a slightly different way. She records the date and observation on the. Post-it notes until she has assessed her whole class. She then transfers the notes into her Teacher Notebook. In each fourth grader's section of her notebook, she has three blank grids that she copies on differ-

9 Anecdotal Notes and Checklists 287 ent colored paper. She transfers all her Post-it notes about reading onto the blue grid, writing notes onto the green grid, and ath/science notes onto the yellow grid. Cindy will have about ten or twelve anecdotal notes per child in each subject area for the whole year. She ay have ore notes for children with special needs or concerns. Lisa Norwick has two Teacher Notebooks, one for language arts and one for ath. She keeps two blank grids in each student's section of her language arts notebook, one for reading and one for writing. The ath notebook contains one blank grid in each child's section for Lisa's ath observations. By the end of the triester, she has a page of Post-it notes about each child's reading and writing and half a page for ath. When it's tie to fill out report cards, Lisa takes hoe her language arts Teacher Notebook in order to fill out the reading and writing continuus. She takes hoe her ath Teacher Notebook another night in order to fill out the ath section of her students' report cards. Because she teaches three language arts classes in iddle school, Janine King keeps three separate Teacher Notebooks, one for each of her sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade classes. In each student's section, she includes one blank grid for reading and another blank grid for writing. Janine will collect four or five anecdotal notes in reading and three or four notes in writing about each of her students for each grading period. All four of these teachers have been keeping a Teacher Notebook and taking anecdotal notes using this ethod for several years now and have developed their own anageable syste over tie. If you are just starting to take anecdotal notes, you ay want to start on a saller scale. Soe teachers place only one grid in each child's section of their Teacher Notebook. Since they only collect four or five Postit notes per child per subject for the whole year, they siply place their notes in the appropriate row for reading, writing, ath, and social/behavior. All of the variations of the anecdotal grids are included at the end of this chapter and on the CD- ROM (DC Fonn ). What Are The Challenges? The biggest challenge is learning how to ake anecdotal notes a habit. Teachers who have ade note taking part of their teaching, autoatically grab their clipboard at various ties during the day. Another challenge is finding tie to transfer the notes into your Teacher Notebook. Sandy Figel and Lisa Norwick transfer their notes into their Teacher Notebooks at the end of each day. Anne Klein finds it's easiest to do at the end of a unit or literature circle set. She also uses early release days, planning tie, or an hour after school to transfer all her notes into her Teacher Notebook before report cards and parent conferences. Most parents are quite ipressed with Anne's organization when she flips to their child's section, and they see how uch inforation she has collected (Figure 6.2). Your Teacher Notebook can help your principal and parents see the tie and effort that you put into teaching and assessing your students. When I asked several teachers how their anecdotal note taking has changed over tie, they all entioned that their notes are ore specific now and ore closely connected to the continuus. Cindy Flegenheier said, "I know the continuu better, so I know what I' looking for and y anecdotal notes are ore focused." M M irafl iw lii Mr. ] M :*i» tffiss :' Xtk '.«I asysbtt '1 «*I_~. [ffl :.T y_v <& '!:$ [ i.l:tj "H il ' (""ill iw W w

10 288 Developental Continuus Rather than recording generic coents, these teachers now link their notes to skills and strategies they have taught and record specific exaples or verbati student coents. Teachers also rearked that organizing their clipboards and pages in their Teacher Notebooks by subject has been extreely helpful. In order to be useful, taking anecdotal notes ust becoe part of your daily teaching. For instance, Janine also adits that she has twice as any anecdotal notes for reading as she does for writing, since reading has been her focus this year in iddle school. Next year she hopes to change the forat of her writing progra and to build in ore tie for taking anecdotal notes. It's iportant to be kind to yourself and not get overwheled by all the things you haven't done! Start sall and tea up with a friend as you try new ideas. Concentrate on your successes and set reasonable goals for incorporating anecdotal notes into your assessent plan. Figure 6.2 Anne Klein Organizing Anecdotal Notes Focus Questions for Anecdotal Notes What Do You Record? At the beginning of the year, anecdotal notes can help you get to know your students. As the year progresses, you can focus ore on the specific strategies that you have taught. It's easy to becoe buried in piles of Post-it notes if you start writing down everything that goes on in your classroo. Anecdotal notes are ost beneficial when you know exactly what you're looking for. A list of Priary and Interediate focus questions is included at the end of this chapter and on the CD- ROM for both writing and reading. It's helpful to place a copy of the questions you plan to use in either your Continuu Notebook or your Assessent Tools Notebook. You ay want to put the appropriate page with focus questions on the top of your anecdotal clipboards. You can highlight or place a date by the questions you have assessed. The focus questions becoe a fraework for taking anecdotal notes. In addition, since the focus questions were pulled fro the reading and writing continuus, they provide the link between the continuus and anecdotal notes. (If you would like to see ore about the connection, there is a copy of the reading and writing continuus on the CD-ROM with shading for each of the continuu descriptors that can be assessed by using anecdotal notes.) Each list includes about 20 focus questions. Soeties the questions contain a developental progression, I such as questions 15 and 16 in the Anecdotal Notes Writing focus questions: "Can

11 Anecdotal Notes and Checklists 289 the student tell about his/her writing? Pretend to read his/her writing? Does the student read his/her own writing and notice istakes?" You're observing one behavior (students reading what they have written), but looking for three developental levels of sophistication. You ay want to pick one question and take notes for a week or two until you've assessed each student on that particular skill or strategy. When your grid is full, transfer the Post-it notes into your Teacher Notebook, then choose another focus for your observations. Your notes will be ore effective if you tie your observations to a strategy you have just taught and if your focus lessons are linked directly to the continuus. For instance, Anne Klein used an idea in Craft Lessons (Fletcher and Portalupi, 1998) to teach students about word choice, which is one of the descriptors on the writing continuu. Anne read aloud John Henry (1994) by Julius Lester, then asked students to find places in their own writing where they could add ore vivid verbs. For the next few weeks, Anne conferred with students about their writing, recording specifically which students used this strategy. At the end of Writing Workshop, she asked one or two students to share exaples of where they changed a passive or dull verb to a ore interesting one. It also helps to keep your anecdotal notes specific. A coent like "good writing" doesn't provide uch useful inforation. Writing down direct quotes or specific exaples' fro students keeps you objective and also provides the "voice" that akes your narrative coents on report cards or conversations with failies show that you really know each student. As you listen to students talking about books or giving each other feedback during Author's Chair, you can also record gaps you see, books you want to share, and ideas for future focus lessons. You can also involve parent volunteers, the ESL teacher, the reading specialist, or other adults in taking anecdotal notes by providing a clipboard with Post-it notes and a class seating chart, along with one of the focus questions. For instance, you ight want to role play how readers can ake connections between their book and other books, as well as to their own lives and experiences. The adults can then listen in to several literature circles, recording exaples of when students discussed how their book reindedthe of siilar situations in their own lives.. The four lists of focus questions are based on the reading and writing continuus. I used italics to show which focus questions can be assessed ost effectively by taking anecdotal notes. I've also included focus questions for adult volunteers to use. Priary teachers ay want to use the next list of focus questions as a guide for recording social behaviors. The final list of focus questions is intended for principals to use as they observe and interact with teachers. In Chapter 9, you'll also find focus questions and checklists for teachers working with students who are learning English as an additional language. Note that the focus questions are nubered for quick reference. Rather than writing, "Mark ade a personal connection to events in the book," you could siply write #21 fro the priary Reading Focus Questions list, then jot down Mark's coent: #21: "I feel just like Marty in Shiloh when I spend the night away fro y dog." You ay want to odify the list of focus questions on the CD-ROM to atch your standards, report card, and particular grade level. For instance, third-grade teachers who hover in that gray zone between priary and interediate ay want " If : :i -< -if " SSH l v,". v- :\JU. w I. l 4 Ml II

12 ^ 290 Developental Continuus to cobine soe of the focus questions fro both the priary and interediate lists. You ay also want to revise the focus questions to atch your curriculu and specific units. For exaple, after spending several weeks teaching poetry to her fourth graders, Anne Klein used two focus questions to record exaples of students who used carefully chosen language in their poes (#5) and who revised their poes for clarity or word choice (#15). Anecdotal Notes: Writing Focus Questions (Priary) The Writing Focus Questions (Priary) (DC For 6.7) can be used with K-2 students in the first four stages of the writing continuu (Preconventional, Eerging, Developing, and Beginning). The focus questions address approxiately one fourth of the descriptors on the continuu for those first four stages. Anecdotal notes are ost useful for assessing two continuu strands: Writing Process (X) and Attitude ( ). Most teachers exaine writing saples and use other assessent tools to assess Types of Texts (i), Writing Content and Traits (?), and Writing Conventions (._>). Anecdotal Notes: Writing Focus Questions (Interediate) The Writing Focus Questions (Interediate) (DC For 6.8) address skills ost coonly used by Expanding, Bridging, Fluent, Proficient, Connecting, and Independent writers in third through eighth grades. These questions cover approxiately 20% of the descriptors in the last six stages of the writing continuu. Like priary teachers, teachers in the interediate grades find anecdotal notes ost appropriate for the Writing Process (5<) and Attitude ( ) strands, as indicated in italics on the list of focus questions. For instance, soe interediate teachers use anecdotal notes to record specific exaples of writing process strategies (like prewriting), or a revision strategy they have taught (such as revising for word choice). You ay want to record when a student becoes aware of using a convention or note when a child needs extra support. These types of anecdotal notes are particularly helpful if you write narrative coents on report cards, since they provide specific inforation about each child's writing skills. To assess Types of Texts (i), Writing Content and Traits (&), and Writing Conventions (_?), it's ore efficient to exaine writing saples and drafts and to use rubrics and revising/ editing fors. Anecdotal Notes: Reading Focus Questions (Priary) The Reading Focus Questions (Priary) (DC For 6.9) apply to the first five stages on the reading continuu (Preconventional through Expanding). Anecdotal notes see to be far ore powerful as a reading assessent tool than as a writing assessent strategy. In fact, over 75% of the descriptors in these stages are addressed in the reading focus questions. In writing, uch can be learned fro exaining actual saples. Reading, on the other hand, is usually assessed at these early stages by watching students in action as they read and talk about books. At the priary level, you can use anecdotal notes during silent reading tie or during guided reading groups to assess three strands: Types of Texts (B3) and Attitude ( ), and Self-Evaluation {&s). You can assess the Reading Coprehension (&) strand using

13 Anecdotal Notes and Checklists 291 I IB anecdotal notes during literature circle discussions and by exaining students' response journals. Reading Strategies (0) would be better assessed during individual reading conferences by using Concepts About Print (Clay, 2000a), Running Records (CBA For 8.2), or a Reading Conference for (CBA For 9.6). There is siply too uch to write on a Post-it note as you listen to individual students read aloud and talk about books. Anecdotal Notes: Reading Focus Questions (Interediate) The Reading Focus Questions (Interediate) (DC For 6.10) are particularly effective for assessing Bridging, Fluent, Proficient, Connecting, and Independent readers in third through eighth grades. These questions cover % of the descriptors in the last five stages of the reading continuu. Teachers at the interediate level find anecdotal notes appropriate for all five of the continuu strands. Anecdotal notes can provide docuentation about the strategies of ore fluent readers. In order to discover which strategies they can do independently, you need to watch students "in action." You can use anecdotal notes as you listen to students talk about books during literature circle discussions and by looking at their response journals. Interediate teachers like Anne Klein and Cindy Flegenheier also use Reading Conference fors (CBA For 9.6) for assessing coprehension, as well as reading strategies and fluency. Anecdotal Notes: Reading Aloud Focus Questions Sandy Figel has a pool of adults who read with children on a regular basis. Many of these parents, grandparents, and teaching assistants were unsure of what to record when they listened to students read. In response, Sandy developed the Reading Aloud Focus Questions (DC For 6.11). Sandy asks adults to respond to one or two of these questions by writing their observations on larger 3 x 3-inch Post-it notes (DC For 6.6). She soeties gives volunteers a particular focus for their observations. For instance, she ight ask, "Today, would you please note if the students are reading with expression?" Sandy often finds the perspective of another adult inforative. Anecdotal Notes: Literature Circles Focus Questions When you listen to students talking about books during literature circles, you ay want to keep the list of Literature Circles Focus Questions (DC For 6.12) on the top of your clipboard. The focus questions serve as a reinder of what to observe and can be linked to your focus lessons. For instance, at the beginning of the year, Cindy Flegenheier uses role playing to show both effective and distracting listening behaviors. Students brainstor a list of ways Cindy will be able to tell that they are listening to each other during literature circle discussions. The next few ties the students eet, Cindy uses her clipboard to record exaples of effective listening skills. For exaple, during the debriefing after one discussion, she entioned that Brandon's group was leaning forward and that their body language showed how focused they were on the discussion. She also noticed that Catherine asked Leah, "Winy do you think that will happen?" which showed that she was listening to her group ebers. > I. - iiv :.v\ Hi ts'fl M t ill

14 292 Developental Continuus L i_a-h-f WBBffl Checklists Anecdotal Notes: Behavior Focus Questions (Priary) The Reading and Writing Focus Questions for anecdotal notes have been useful for any K-8 teachers. Several kindergarten and first-grade teachers coented that at the beginning of the year, their focus is on classroo routines and behaviors. By Noveber or Deceber, they ight start taking anecdotal notes on reading and writing behaviors. I therefore included a list of Behavior Focus Questions 1 (DC For 6.13) for students in kindergarten and first grade. You ay want to odify! the list to atch your report card and curriculu. As described earlier, choose onelf or two questions and observe a few students each day until you have recorded! inforation about your whole class. After transferring the Post-it notes to youff Teacher Notebook, you ay want to continue to observe students' social skills o begin focusing on early literacy behaviors. Anecdotal Notes: Focus Questions for Principals In one district in Washington State, the assistant superintendent keeps an Adinistrator's Notebook with a section for each principal. The principals, in turrf keep a Principal's Notebook with a section for each teacher. The principals keep!, blank anecdotal grid in each teacher's section, along with the teachers' Organizal tional Grid (DC For 5.3) and their professional goals for the year. Principals take anecdotal notes during staff eetings and when they inforally visit classroorrfej Their observations are directly linked to each teacher's goals and assessent plan! Principals also keep ore extensive narrative records of foral classroo observjy tions in the sae notebook..in each teacher's section, the principal also places" grid with the naes of all the students in that teacher's class for recording intera tions with parents or with students. By scanning the class grid, principals can eaj ily see which students they still don't know. Of course, just like students, teaches) need assurance that principals are writing down all the great things they obsefvj If observations are stated positively and recorded objectively, principals will ha specific data that can help support teachers' perforance and professional grow I've included Focus Questions for Principals (DC For 6.14) for observing readmg writing, and assessent in classroos. Principals ay want to create additidr questions as they observe other content areas. By keeping a Principal Noteboe and taking anecdotal notes, principals can odel these effective assessent tec niques for their staff. 'Sr? Anecdotal notes are not necessarily the best assessent tool for all of thejc scriptors on the continuus. For instance, soe very concrete skills, such as whe or not a student uses spaces between words, could be better docuented by.jus a checklist. Many teachers have rearked that it would be useful to have che?k_ of the ore specific descriptors on the continuus. In this chapter, I've devek j six saple checklists for reading and writing. You ay want to select th^^l appropriate checklist for your grade level, then keep the checklist tucked : 2i your anecdotal note grid and focus questions on your clipboard. There ar? r checklists for writing and reading (Priary, Priary/Interediate, and hl!i j[ diate/middle School). All six checklists can be found at the end of this chappy M & ML

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