Using Classroom Observation (PD activity) - …

Anecdotal Notes, Video, Audio, Photos
Observations are a commonly used method to informally assess student behaviors, attitudes, skills, concepts or processes. Anecdotal notes, checklists, video, audio recordings, or photos may be used to formalize and document the observations made.

Evaluation Purposes:
  • Use observations to collect data on behaviors that are difficult to assess by other methods (e.g., attitude toward problem solving, selection and usage of a specific strategy, modeling a concept with a manipulative, ability to work effectively in a group, persistence, concentration).
  • Observe and record the way students solve problems and complete tasks.
  • Ascertain whether students (individually or in a group) are attaining the intended objectives with observational tools. (Do I need to reteach? Are students ready to move on?).

  • Record and date your observations during or soon after the observation. Develop a shorthand system. Distinguish from inferences.
  • Observe students in a natural classroom setting so you can see how they respond under normal conditions. It is easier to observe students' behavior if they are working in small groups rather than alone.
  • Have an observation plan, but be flexible enough to note other significant behavior. You may find it helpful to record either many behaviors for one student or one behavior for many students.
  • Use technology like Newton or bar code readers.

Detachable Labels:
  • Keep a clipboard with sheets of computer labels attached.
  • Keep a 3-ringed notebook with pages for each student. Create sections for the skills and concepts you are targeting.
  • As you observe the students, record anecdotes on a label. Include the student's name and the date.

At the end of each day, peel the labels and attach them to the student's page in the ring binder.

Problem Solving Checklist:
"If students have internalized the underlying concepts of problem solving, we should hear them asking such questions as these:
  • What's this problem really about?
  • Why is this true (or not true)?
  • What's a good next step?
  • What do we still need to know?
  • Is there another explanation?
What if we changed this part?"
(Stenmark, 1991 p. 28)