Have you ever sat down to write a report card, or tried to have a parent teacher conference, feeling very confident that you know how a student is doing, only to realize you don’t really have a way to show it? ClassDojo has made keeping track of behaviors very simple, but documenting learning is not an easy thing to do.
The best tool that I have found for documenting student work is Evernote (although I am sure there are others). The reason I like this tool is because it makes it really easy to document everything that happens in the classroom, including learning moments that aren’t always apparent in a final piece of work. I used this application with my fifth grade class this past year, and it was pretty life changing.
There is a bit of a learning curve, as with any new product you try, but it is worth the time it will take you to integrate this tool into your workflow. I recommend making a file, or a “note” for each student, including each project they are working on. As I started teaching my students a unit on persuasive writing, I made each student a “note” and captured all of our conferences in that note. Every time I met with a student I would take a picture of their work and write down the gist of our discussion. This ended up being invaluable in so many ways.
To sum up why Evernote helped me so much, I’ve narrowed it down to four major benefits:
1. When I would meet with each student, I would have a very clear idea about what they were working on, and I didn’t have to try figure out what they were doing at each meeting.
2. Grading was super easy because I had given so much feedback along the way, I was able to summarize all of the things we had already discussed.
3. Parents loved seeing concrete evidence of their child’s learning process (and they couldn’t do the work for their child at home!).
4. Documenting student work in this way emphasizes the importance of learning as a process, not a product, and it helps make the abstract very tangible.
Give it a try 🙂