Teaching Opinion

Keep Students Accountable With Weekly Class Logs

By Starr Sackstein — April 23, 2017 2 min read
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In a perfect world, even in a classroom of 34 students, every student would get what he or she needs which can include a level of differentiation that might be challenging to maintain.

Imagine a room full of students working on independent projects, all around the same standards and/or skills, but designed by students and, therefore, each day looks different for each child.

And even if we are able to accomplish such a feat, how can we keep students accountable and provide feedback as needed in a meaningful way to ensure that learning is happening as planned?

Although running records and other in-class methods can be useful, they can often be tedious and superfluous. How many times do we actually go back to the records beyond the next day or two to really think about where students are and how we can better plan mini-lessons and feedback?

What we need to do is place the onus on the student to set goals and maintain progress that we check daily rather than the other way around.

One technique I have used (it used to be in my newspaper classes where students kept weekly logs and then class managers did status of the class intakes to ensure the aligned) is daily learning logs that help students set goals and reflect on each day’s learning in addition to setting them up for making broader goals moving forward.

First, it is imperative for students to understand why they are setting goals and reflecting each day. Spending time helping students understand the standards and align the learning is an essential part of what makes this activity meaningful.

Time is given at the beginning of each class for students to set goals for that class period while the teacher is walking around making sure students are getting ready for their learning and answering questions. Then, since the goals have been set by the student for the day, they are more equipped to follow through with their own expectations.

Each project is individualized and therefore, so are the goals.

Students work at their own pace until about eight minutes are left in the period when they are reminded it is time to start finishing up their work and getting to the reflecting of what actually got done. What work was accomplished? How well was it accomplished? What challenges did he/she face and how did he/she try to overcome them? What goals will need to be set moving forward?

The logs are maintained daily, with additional time on Monday and Friday: Monday for full week goal setting and Friday for full-week reflection. Logs are submitted to me and then I provide feedback to the students on how they can be more reflective or handle challenges as they arise.

These logs have helped me plan full class lessons or small group mini-lessons based on need and also have provided insight into what students are working on regularly.

Pacing is also a challenge. Sometimes I tell students to have a plan B if they finish their work early. This is part of the reason why a big picture goal setting is important for Mondays, in the event that students move slower or faster on any given day.

Logs aren’t only good for me as their teacher, they are also good for students as they can track progress and help students see themselves as learners.

Learning is a complicated and personal matter. The more control we give to our students, the more ownership they will take. This increases motivation and engagement and allows students to really be a part of their own success.

How can you help your students be accountable for their own learning while giving them more ownership? Please share

The opinions expressed in Work in Progress are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.