Friday, January 15, 2016

My Love Affair with Checklists!

Today's blog post is all about my love affair with checklists! 

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a bit of a space cadet. Always have been – probably always will be. I’m one of those people who forgets seven different things every time I try to leave the house while my husband waits at the door, staring in disbelief because he’s been ready for the past ten minutes and doesn’t understand how I can’t remember where I put my keys for the 5th day in a row. When I got my own classroom, of course my scatterbrain soon followed. I realized very quickly that I needed a better strategy to keep myself organized and accountable for the millions of big and little things I was responsible for each day. Enter: Checklists!

Checklists have been a lifesaver for me because I’m able to visually see what I need to do and what I’ve already completed. I used to feel like I would get to school early and stay late every day but still somehow not accomplish anything. Honestly, I do still feel like that a lot, but using checklists in my daily life has made a world of difference. 

I created a “Daily Checklist” for myself in PowerPoint, printed and laminated it, then hung it on the bulletin board by my desk. I’m able to check off the things I’ve done throughout the day with a whiteboard marker, and at the end of the day I have a much better picture of where I’m at and what I need. The next day I just erase and start over. Admittedly it does sound a little tedious when you put it in writing, but I promise it has been amazing!

I also love using checklists in the classroom, particularly for larger writing assignments, because it allows students to interact with and think more deeply about the information in front of them.  I used to pass out the rubric for an assignment ahead of time and even though we would go over the expectations together, I felt like the rubrics still weren’t being utilized by a lot of students. When I started converting my rubrics to checklists, I noticed a huge improvement. Students were more easily able to navigate the checklists and they seemed more engaged with the revision process overall. I still grade using the actual rubric, but the checklist form really helps students home in on their strong areas as well as the areas in which they need to improve. 

If you're not a checklist person yet, I encourage you to try it out! Checking off those boxes is oddly therapeutic! :)  

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