Never underestimate the power of a clipboard, a pencil, and a well-designed piece of paper. When students see that a teacher has a consistent and prepared way of noting the quality of their engagement, many will take note and begin to work differently. All you need is to ensure that the piece of paper is well-designed, making your life easier and your classroom practice tighter. Here’s one I created for a school recently.
Here’s how it works. Put students’ names along the top row. Then, identify three times in every class where you can note students’ engagement level (defined loosely, but observably), like during the Do Now, main class Learning Activity, and during Exit Slip completion. Now, here’s the trick. Do NOT use a check in the boxes. Checks are almost useless, slightly better than nothing. Instead, mark students’ engagement with a simple 0-3 entry every day. Then, you can use that simple data to see patterns in students’ action, serving as a point of entry to discuss things with them. It won’t revolutionize your practice necessarily, but it will help you and your students shift focus.
And that can make all the difference.