Checklists can make the difference between a well-run lesson and a disjointed one. A smoothly run classroom and a chaotic one.


Read on for ways they can make your life easier.

Organize and streamline your teaching by using checklists!

Have you read The Checklist Manifestoby Atul Gawande?  

He proposes that the simple checklist will help streamline complex tasks and reduce errors.

While the primary focus and anecdotes of his book deal with the medical field, the take away is that when we have a complicated, multi-step process, a checklist will help reduce mistakes and omissions.

When to use them

Checklists are perfect for when students are working on a multi-step task:  writing assignments, projects, book talks, or project-based learning.  This helps me know that students are progressing in their work. 

You can also use them to quickly mark daily homework that is completed, but might not be taken for a grade.  Since I don’t always collect homework, the checklist helps me see who has completed the work and who has not.  

A checklist helps me track when and how often I conference with a student during workshop time.  

Additionally, you can use it to record participation grades.

Your walking grade book

If you keep your checklist on a clipboard, it’s easy to monitor students at work.  Use a simple shorthand code to record notes.

Be sure to keep a cover sheet over your clipboard to ensure students privacy, and always return your clipboard to a safe place!  

Other benefits

When using a checklist for a project, you are really creating all the steps required to complete the project and you’re creating a grade book page.

This will help you stay organized and on track.

A checklist is really a formative assessment.  You can see what areas need to be retaught — even if you’re just using a – or + notation.

Anecdotal evidence at your fingertips.  

Your checklist can show behavior patterns that need to be addressed with your students.  

Often, students don’t realize they’ve been unprepared for class three times in a week, or they have missed turning in assignments on a regular basis.  It will gives you the data you need to conference with students to help them adjust their behavior.

Checklists help you stay on track for a project.  You’ll be able to see what the next steps are in completing a writing assignment or group project.  This will help you adjust the pacing of your class.  

Keeping it simple

Obviously my checklists are academic rather than medical in nature.  But the outcome of using one helps simplify my life.  

As you’re organizing projects for this school year, consider trying a checklist to help you organize and gather data.

Looking for a few ready-made checklists?  I have a few on my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  Head on over and check them out.

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