../Images/btn_assessment_over.gif Classroom Interactions Attitude Surveys


A. Questioning Strategies
B. Observations and Note Taking
C. Conferences and Discussions


B. Observations and Note Taking

Classroom observation is another form of ongoing assessment. Most teachers can "read" their students; observing when they are bored, frustrated, excited, motivated, etc. As a teacher picks up these cues, she or he can adjust the instruction accordingly. 

It is also beneficial for teachers to make observational notes (referred to as anecdotal notes). These notes serve to document and describe student learning relative to concept development, reading, social interaction, communication skills, etc.   

The Umatilla Morrow County Head Start, Inc. has published numerous observation forms and guidelines on their website. For example, they adapted the following guidelines, Making Observation Note-taking Easier, from the Child Observation Record Manual - High Scope (p. E-11). The guidelines emphasize that "the most important part of note taking is to find a system that will work for your teaching team and that you will use consistently."

  • Take about ten minutes after children leave to record and discuss your observations, perhaps working with your teaching partner(s) as a team. Set this time aside daily.
  • Jot notes to yourself during the day as you interact with children.  Keep paper to record notes in different locations throughout the room or in your pocket. Devise your own system, but don't let it interfere with your primary role of interacting with the children.
  • Be selective in what you write. As you become more familiar with observing and recording and get more practice in recording your observations, it will become easier to take notes.
  • Save children's dated art work to evaluate areas.
  • Keep a tape recorder on hand to record children playing in classroom areas. Listen and record comments on the spot or later.
  • Focus in on one category and observe children in relation to that. Post key words to help you to remember what to watch for as children work and play in the classroom.
  • With your team member, focus on a few children each day or two and write notes on those children specifically.
  • Use guidelines as a resource when planning for children's materials, activities, and lessons and as ideas for collecting developmental information.
  • Set up some systematic way to collect and organize the notes you have made on each child (e.g., individual folders or pages in a notebook can be set up for each child).
  • Finally, in your routine, think about when, with your group of children, these observations can be made most naturally, easily, and efficiently.

The guidelines listed above are pertinent for elementary schools and can contribute to anecdotal notes, running records, and classroom walkthroughs. At higher grade levels, it is more difficult to maintain detailed observation data about each student because a teacher may have 150 students each day! Nonetheless, all teachers should be aware of the value of observations and note taking, and they should document important aspects of the classroom environment as much as possible.



Try This

  1. Read The Habit of Kid Watching (scroll down to find the article).
    • What types of observations does the author recommend?
    • What observation form (if any) does he use?
  2. Some teachers find it beneficial to use an observational form. These forms are especially useful if you are trying to observe similar behavior aspects for all of the students. There are several sample note-taking forms on the web. Compare and contrast the following forms:


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This course was developed in partnership between the Pinellas School
and the Florida Center for Instructional Technology at USF.
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