Organization is one of the keys to effective teaching. Checklists and forms can help a teacher stay organized and on top of her record keeping. Classroom observation forms and checklists are used for everything from evaluating the signs of autism in a child to grading a group discussion. Principals also use classroom observation forms to evaluate a teacher's educational practices and classroom setup.
Forms and checklists are often used by teachers to observe and record signs of learning and behavioral difficulties. They also might be used to assess progress in these areas. Such forms are often highly specialized and individualized. A form used to track the progress of children learning English as a second language, for example, may include a place for teachers to record the students' latest grades in spelling and English as well as each student's efforts to speak English or read English text aloud. A checklist for the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder might ask a teacher to record how many times he has to ask the student to stay on track, or whether the child seems to be able to work independently.
Formal Observation Forms
Formal observation forms are used by teachers and administrators. Teachers use these forms to track the progress of their students. Administrators use these forms to evaluate the teaching practices of their employees. A checklist used by a principal during a teacher's evaluation might include such items as whether the classroom is organized, if the teacher allows enough transition time between subjects -- or allows too much -- and if the teacher uses a number of teaching practices that allow every student to succeed.
Teachers also often use simple checklists to record classroom observations quickly and then deal with those observations later. Roll taking, for example, can be done with a sweep of the eyes and recorded on a simple piece of paper on a clipboard. Later, when students are actively working, the teacher can enter that information in the computer. This saves time at the start of class. Similar forms can be used to record behavioral issues. A checkmark by a student's name on a chart is a reminder to give the parents a call that evening or keep the student in from recess. These forms usually have the names of the students down one side, and a list of common behavior issues across the top, such as refusing to completing work, being disrespectful and using unkind language.
Informal assessment is a way of grading a student's academic progress through classroom observation. This is not standardized grading, but is still valuable and usually is used in combination with formal testing to evaluate a student's skills. The teacher may observe how often a child contributes something unique to a group discussion on a book, how rapidly and coherently a child reads aloud, or how quickly a student can go through a set of multiplication flashcards. Such classroom observations are then quickly recorded on a form and taken into consideration when the time comes to give the student a formal grade.
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