Math Monday: Documentation During Small Group

Here's, "Karina's History of Small Group Documentation."

1. On a legal pad.  Write the date at the top. List student names. Take VERY brief notes. It was simple, and I checked the box in my lesson plan that said, "Documentation Needed."  The problem came  when I had to go RTI meetings or parent teacher conferences.  I had to flip through page, after page of information just to show one student's progress. Not very efficient.

2. Excel spreadsheet. My district put together an RTI spreadsheet for teachers to use.  I assigned each student a page, and kept a laptop with me as often as I could so I wouldn't have to transfer hand written notes after school. Extra work, anyone? I really liked that notes were kept electronically and that they could be quickly e-mailed to the counselor, or assistant principal when it was time for RTI meetings.  Downside? Having to click between pages to take notes on each of about 5 kids I would be working with at one time. Oh, and that one time I forgot to charge my laptop and it suddenly died on me halfway through math stations. Good times.

3. TEKS Checklist. A printout with kids' names down the sides and TEKS (our state standards) across the top.  The bottom and top intersected to basically create about 420 tiny boxes.  As students showed mastery of each TEK, I would check the appropriate box.  If they weren't there yet, the box would be left blank. Quick, and easy if you avoid going a bit cross-eyed especially at the end of the day having gone through 8 small groups.  Problem? There was not enough information about the student and his work.  Why isn't that box checked? Bad day? Number sense? Reading comprehension? I need to know why.

4. Calendar. Two weeks per side. Many pages for each child. I tried using this calendar system earlier this year.

Simple to create, hard to manage.

As you can see, I tried to combine what I loved about the other ways I attempted documentation. A spot for the learning objective. A spot for the amount of time we met that day (typically 17-20 minutes). There is even a bar where I could circle how the student felt about what he was working on (easy, okay, or hard).  Best part? Huge box to write comments about the student's work.  This section was my favorite because it really forced me to think about what the student was doing and how to address it.  Stressful part? Retrieving each calendar, juggling up to five of them at a time during small group, then having to file them away again.

5. Stickers.  Late last semester I participated in a Twitter chat all about conferring with students during math class. The sticker idea came from Renee Poulsen (@renee_Poulsen).

NO. WAY.

Stickers.

I was so excited I went to my local office supply store the next day and purchased Avery 8463 labels (2 inch by 4 inch shipping labels).  I found the template in Word and came up this:

I love them so much.  They are easy to use.  I don't have to worry about finding calendars, and managing 5 different pieces of paper. I can take anecdotal notes for each of our meetings.  Let's see them again.

I keep two or three pages on a clipboard with my TEKS Snapshop.  I write the TEK we are currently working on on the board, but sometimes, a teacher just has to go back and reteach previous skills. Imagine that.

At the end of the day, while my kids are stacking chairs, and packing up, I take just a few minutes to peel and stick them on individual student pages.  I made up a kiddo for the purposes of this blog.

Judy B. needs some help with math...But I hear she's a great writer.

Ten can comfortably fit on one page.  Sometimes, my notes need more than just one, so I use the adjacent space to finish up.  The owl folder holds more printed stickers.

I've been using the stickers for about five weeks, and I am so happy with them. There is plenty of space for writing.  I like going back and reading through past notes.  The amount of progress that kids make over a short period of time is amazing!  The E  OK  H portion is becoming a fast favorite.  It's a really great way to see how kids are feeling.  Also, if a student says, "Easy," but my notes say otherwise, that's a huge red flag for me.

One think I would like to do, is use different colors for alternating months - just so I can quickly see how many times I am getting to meet with each kid. Maybe for each week? Something to think about.

How do you document small group meetings in math class?

What type of information do you include when you document?

Three awesome things:

1. I'm back to eating clean and my body says, "Thanks, lady."

2. This week, I purchased milk that had a lid. Win.

3. My science collaborative meetings start again this week and I can't wait!

Karina Vu