Anecdotal Note Writing: Learning from Your Students

This semester, students in READ 6329.10 were asked to contribute a post to this blog.

By Mrs. Campos

Anecdotal Note taking was a requirement my school district had my first year teaching. I’ll be honest; I did it only once because I didn’t know how to do it properly. I did it all in one day with 25 kinder students, and after that, I didn’t do it again. It felt like a burden rather than something to learn from.

However, now I am on my fourth year teaching, and I have taken up anecdotal note taking as a way to monitor my students in their learning and behavior. This semester in my graduate course I have learned how to use anecdotal notes correctly to benefit from them. I have created a matrix with the names of all my students to keep track of how many times I observe them and write notes about them. This helps me stay on track with my goal of writing notes on each child at least three times within a six-week period. I write down my notes on a notebook where I have designated 2 pages to each child in my classroom. I don’t always have my notebook with me, but I always carry post-its.  At first, I didn’t like the post-its because I was sticking them on the notebook pages, and it was too messy for me. Now, I make sure to copy what I write on the post-its on to the notebook page. This makes it neater, and as I transfer my notes, I get to internalize exactly what I wrote and jot down any other comments I might have.

During my anecdotal note taking, I look at specific things for each individual child. When looking at progress in their learning I, take into consideration what the child is able to do and how well they are doing it. I make notes of what they need more help with or what they have mastered. This helps me when I do my small group instruction because I am able to focus on the skills that I know they need more help with. I also look at behavior because I have several behavioral problems in my classroom with a few students. While I am watching them and making my anecdotal notes, I make sure to write down what triggers their behavior and how the situations arise. I try to remove any triggers to avoid these behavioral situations; which seems to be working because these particular students have decreased their behavioral problems.

Anecdotal notes have become a regular part of my classroom and I have learned so much from my students thanks to them. Now that I have learned strategies to help me manage the note taking, it is easy to acquire notes. I sit down at the end of each six-week period and analyze what I have written. This has helped me meet the needs of my students either with instructional matters or with behavioral issues. I highly recommend the use of anecdotal notes in the classroom. Once you establish your routine and methods, it will become second nature.

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