Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Importance of Monitoring

I have not always been a teacher who monitors student work. I used to say things like, "I know my students." This was true, to some degree. However, I didn't know enough. What I have found is when I monitor not only do I know them, I know their next steps and I know what is sticking. I don't make assumptions about the learning. I see the learning. I keep track and have a system. If I didn't do this my lesson planning would be based on what I think is going on instead of what is truly going on with student learning.

What is monitoring?
When I monitor a piece of writing I am looking for characteristics of learning taking place. I may look for one specific thing or I may leave it general. For instance, this week I am looking for evidence of independent revision. Not necessarily whether it has been effective or not, but how many students are really trying to revise their piece. They may not be doing a great job but I want to see if I have to put more emphasis on the act of revision. Then I can get into the nitty gritty of it all. When I look for more general sources of learning I may jot down what I notice the student is doing and what I think should come next. When I go through this process it helps me to plan for small groups. Often the characteristics of student work fall into categories and I am better able to meet needs. I can look for trends in the work and decide what needs to be taught or re-taught in the whole group lesson.

I find that monitoring the work helps me to be more intentional. If you want to be clear on your expectations with students you need to know where they are in their process. Monitoring does this and will bring your teaching of writing to a new level.

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