In this lesson, we’ll learn how to take anecdotal notes and how to use them to make instructional and placement decisions.
We’ll also learn how to use anecdotal notes for professional development purposes and parent conferences.
How do teachers keep track of all of the things that happen during a school day? Anecdotal notes are written records of a teacher’s observations. They might be used to assess student achievement, evaluate work products, or measure progress towards professional development goals. Notes are most useful when they’re specific, objective, and focused on set criteria.
Why do teachers take anecdotal notes? Informal, formative assessments, such as anecdotal notes, are used to assess classroom performance and drive instruction. Anecdotal notes might be used as a stand-alone assessment, or accompany rubrics, scales, or checklists when used to score writing assignments, portfolios, performances, or projects.For example, a teacher might determine which students need additional remediation through small group instruction by taking anecdotal records while observing students in a learning activity.
When students don’t meet or exceed proficiency, anecdotal notes describe the reason for the score in a way that not only helps the teacher make instructional decisions, but provides feedback to the learner. The cumulative information collected in anecdotal records might contain comments about a student’s academic achievement or behavior.
Although placement decisions in special education or gifted and talented education are typically made with the assistance of cognitive ability tests, generally the decision on whether or not to give a cognitive ability test to a student is determined through multiple measures. Anecdotal notes, in combination with other measures of achievement, are valuable pieces of documentation to provide a school psychologist who’s trying to determine whether or not further testing is appropriate.Perhaps you notice that Gerald, upon being asked a question, uses a high level of critical thinking or he seems particularly bored with basic teaching and often needs additional challenges in his assignments to stay motivated and engaged.
You might note this and include it in the information for assessing Gerald’s placement.Although it can be overwhelming for a teacher to attempt to observe and record every action of every student, anecdotal notes can be useful when used in relation to learning or behavior goals to target remediation within the classroom.
Anecdotal notes are not only used to record information about students, but also to monitor teacher effectiveness.
Looking back at your own anecdotal notes might help you realize what did or didn’t work in certain situations or with certain students. Was positive praise for good work or sternness and discipline for acting out more effective in a particular student?Anecdotal records might be part of data collection when a teacher engages in action research. Action research is a method by which teachers collect data from at least three sources to answer a guiding question about the effectiveness of an instructional practice. Anecdotal records could be one of the three sources.
Reflective journaling, incident analysis, and peer observation are other forms of reflective practice that rely heavily on the ability to take specific and objective anecdotal notes.
A great way to make a connection with parents is to have anecdotal stories to tell them about their child. Parents want to know about their child’s academic progress, but they also want information about the student’s social skill development. When preparing for a parent conference, be sure to observe the child in various settings, such as group projects, individual work, and recess, so you’ll be able to answer their questions and assure them that you know and care for their child.
Anecdotal notes are a valuable tool for recording information that happens in the classroom. They’re most effective when they are specific, objective, and based on set criteria.
Teachers can use anecdotal notes as a formative assessment to help guide instruction. They also might be used as one of multiple measures when determining placement in special programs. And anecdotal notes aren’t always about individual students; they also might be used as a reflective practice by teachers wishing to improve their effectiveness.Action research requires at least three forms of data collection, which might include anecdotal notes.
Additionally, anecdotal stories about students in various environments can help build relationships between teachers and parents.