Friday, August 5, 2011

General Record Keeping

Some of you may be interested in knowing how I keep general records of lessons and observations in my classroom.  As we know, keeping notes and information regarding children's activities is paramount not only to the success of a Montessori educator, but also to the child's overall experience in the prepared environment.  As mentioned in this post about record keeping specific to Sandpaper Letters, I have experimented various methods of general record keeping as well.  Last year, I changed my system to a table format (made using Word) and is easily accessed on my clipboard (which is pretty much with me at all times during our work periods).

A blank table:  Each page is divided into the five major curriculum areas with enough space for six students.  The names are written in the far left column.  The small space above the names is where I write the month - I usually start a new table every month or so...

As you can see, it gets a lot of use!  Please excuse the lovely red art - compliments of my Little Miss, who evidently enjoys taking notes too! ; )  You will notice the pen and red pencil on the far left under the clip - they are always there to eliminate me having to search for them.  The red pencil is used to make red dots next to a newly introduced lesson (it's a little hard to see it in the photo...)
 I find this method is beneficial for several reasons.  First, I can easily record lessons as the are given and mark (with a red dot) new lessons a child receives.  The table is also where I record activities during general observations giving me insight into a particular child's proclivities in the classroom.  For example, I will notice which works to which a student has repeatedly returned.  Also, after a period of a week or so, various trends of the classroom will reveal themselves on the table - I can immediately see which parts of the classroom have been busy with activity because my notes will fill in under that particular heading, i.e. Sensorial.  Likewise, it becomes evident which areas of the classroom might not be as active because there will be fewer notes under that section in the table.  This information is critical to me as it allows me to zero in on any individual child's activities and lessons while still showing me the "big picture," of the classroom.  With this data then, I can determine if changes need to be made either individually or as a class.

Other reasons why I enjoy this method of record keeping include ongoing opportunities for me to model writing!  The kids love to see me writing - especially something about them!  Oftentimes, they want to see for themselves which lessons they have completed, allowing the chance for them to scan the table for their names and read the lessons.  Also, I use these notes when redirecting children, if needed.  For example, if a child needs guidance choosing an activity, we will look at the table together and see what that child has already completed.  From there, he can choose what he would like to do next.  This is particularly helpful because the child is still able to make his own choices,  a key component in the Montessori setting!

The notes gathered through this table are also used to transfer  information to my students' records at M.O.R.E. Montessori.  This is an excellent, free, web-based Montessori record keeping program.  I will say, however, that it takes some time getting used to its formatting - I recommend checking it out if you are interested.  It is a resourceful tool in creating school forms, keeping documents, and overall curriculum data for each child.  I have found the ability to create individual newsletters highlighting a student's Montessori lessons especially helpful in sharing information with parents. 

I would love to make my simple table available for you to download, but I do not know how to do that!  If anyone would be so kind as to explain to me how to provide downloads, I would be very grateful.  In the meantime, I can always send an attachment if you email me directly...

8 comments:

  1. We used to do something very similar to this at Blue Mountain Montessori. I finally got tired of all the paper record keeping so we developed Montessori Workspace (www.montessoriworkspace.com) It's free for 5 or fewer students. I would love to hear your feedback!

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  2. I will definitely check it out - thanks for telling me about it!

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  3. So by using this format, do you plan individual lessons or do you just go with the flow and present a lesson when you see one is needed?

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  4. I've always planned individual lessons AND given spontaneous lessons... When I wrote this post, I was still not using the web-based record keeping program, Montessori Compass. This is a system that I've used for almost two years now. You can read more about it under 'Montessori Compass' in the 'Labels' box on the sidebar. It's a valuable record keeping tool and much more effective than the clipboard method!

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  5. Well, our school actually just purchased Montessori Compass for all of the 3-6 classes to see if we like it. I see you post a lot about MC so I read a lot of your blogs to try and figure out how you function in the classroom. :) We have been told we cannot be on our laptops/ipads/Montessori Compass if we are out of ratio in the classroom. So pretty much, we can be on there only if we have 19 students or less (and the other teacher). (Which most of the time we have more than that) So, that's why I'm curious as to how you record keep during the work period. Do you use paper during the work period and then transfer everything that evening or are you able to keep records on a device with Montessori Compass during work time? I would love to pick your brain on the subject of record keeping for any and all things in the classroom!

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  6. I have my laptop in the classroom and I periodically go and input information throughout the morning. I upload photos during lunch. I also consult MC during the worktime as planned lessons and classroom observations are available for viewing as well...

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  7. Does M. O. R. E. Montessori still work as far as you know? I cannot get their website to load. Thank you for these resources!

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  8. Hi Becca, Not sure about M.O.R.E. Since this post, I have switched to using MOntessori Compass - you can find more information by looking for the label 'Montessori Compass' in the sidebar.

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