Hello!! It’s been a while since I’ve updated Views. It’s been a busy few weeks, with targeted parent conferences, my birthday (!!), ACT Aspire and CAASPP prep and testing, End of Year prep, etc. Whew! I’m back, though, and I thought it would be cool to come back with an effective classroom tool that has worked wonders in my classroom!
In January, I learned what aggressive monitoring was. I’m a bit late to the party, but better late than never. For those of you who do not know what aggressive monitoring is, it is a method of giving immediate feedback and collecting data to adjust instruction. Before A.M., I would just walk around aimlessly, not really knowing what I’m looking for. I just knew that I’d know it when I saw it. Hmmm… Probably not the best way to grade. Lol.
Prior to one of my observations, my instructional coach instructed me on how to effectively aggressive monitor while my students are working on classwork. As we use the blended learning model on my campus, I only have 16 students at a time to monitor. At first, I must admit, I thought it was just more work for me to do. Ugh.
The first time I aggressive monitored, I thought I had to use a clipboard and be vigilant and notice every little thing with all of my students. However, I was still willing to do it because it was an easy way to verify that my students were on task. However, I learned that there were various ways to aggressively monitor.
One way that worked for me was to do “laps.” Each lap was a checkpoint that students should reach. With each lap, I’d walk around and give students a score or feedback for that section. Each lap may take about 1-5 minutes, depending on what I’m checking for and how much feedback I’m providing. This works especially well when students are writing an essay. The first lap can be their introduction, and then each lap thereafter would be the subsequent paragraphs of the essay. That way you can have eyes all around, and you can see a pattern that you wouldn’t have otherwise seen if you were just checking at random. This process helps you to not only grade faster, but also to adjust instruction effectively. For example, if you see that the majority of your students are all stuck on their thesis, you can pause the monitoring process and review the thesis with the entire class so you aren’t repeating the same helpful hints multiple times.
Even though I’m a newbie to this, I’ll share what I’ve learned in my time using aggressive monitoring, so far:
- Set a plan — Plan your “laps” out. Ask yourself what am I looking for? Have I expressed my expectations to my students? What are my success criteria for each lap? What are some common misconceptions I can address prior to letting my students loose? How much time will students need for each lap? (TBH, this last one… my first period is always my guinea pig period where I test out the timing of each lap).
- Decide on feedback — To maximize your effectiveness, figure out what type of feedback you will provide to your students. In the beginning, I just gave out checks (correct) and exes (incorrect). When I learned more about the process, I started giving out a bit more detailed feedback. Currently, my best bet is grade checkboxes. I check off what grade students would get if I were grading it at home, but do it in pencil so they can change their grade. I also give them verbal feedback about why they received that score and how they could improve their score before their official grade goes in.
- Adjust instruction accordingly — If you see a common misconception occurring throughout the class, stop class and address it. It’s better to do this instead of repeating yourself multiple times, which can be extremely frustrating. This gives you the opportunity to address this misunderstanding for the next periods, and your day will go a lot smoother as you go.
- Learn from your mistakes — Each student is different so you may need to tweak your method of monitoring a few times until you decide on one you like. I’ve tried the checks and exes, Google Classroom comments (for a more discreet way of giving feedback), checklists, etc. I enjoy the digital comments and the checklists the best, but do what’s best for you and your students.
Since I’m pretty new to this, do you have any additional advice for ELA teachers using aggressively monitoring?