Utilizing Effective Monitoring Strategies in the Classroom

The American heritage dictionary describes monitoring as scrutinizing or checking systematically with a view to collecting certain specified categories of data (Cotton, 1988). Another definition for monitoring that is more closely related to the field of education is, “activities pursued by the teacher to keep track of student learning for purposes of making instructional decisions and providing feedback to students on their progress”(Cotton, 1988). Both definitions accurately describe what effective teachers do when they monitor students’ performance and understanding of lesson material.

Research shows that there is a strong correlation between effective student monitoring and student achievement(Cotton, 1988). Teachers who regularly implement effective monitoring strategies into their classrooms have more students who succeed academically. Monitoring is an essential component of the learning process and effective teaching; there are various types of monitoring strategies that knowledgeable and productive teachers use in the classroom. Questioning, is a monitoring strategy that is commonly used in the classroom.

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Teachers can implement questioning strategies into their instructional activities in a variety of ways. During classroom discussions, they can question students to check their understanding of the lesson material that was taught. Also, they can circulate around the classroom and interact with students one on one by helping them with independent practice and giving them substantive feedback. Moreover, teachers can conduct periodic reviews with students to discover whether or not they have a good understanding of learning material.

Such questioning strategies help teachers identify any gaps into students’ knowledge and understanding(Cotton, 1988). As can be clearly seen, there are many ways to incorporate questioning strategies into the classroom. However, in order to produce great gains in student achievement teacher’s learning probes must be substantive and effective. Effective learning probe techniques incorporate questions into the lesson presentation that require only brief responses but are tailored to determining students understanding of what is being taught.

Questions are posed at an appropriate level of difficulty; such level of difficulty is determined by considering whether or not students can answer such questions with a high percentage of success. Effective teachers pay close attention to which students attempt to answer questions. They are careful to not only pick students who are always eager to answer questions and they make a point of calling upon those students who do not volunteer too. Once teachers have gathered the necessary information needed to assess students understanding, they use it to determine whether or not they need to re-teach material or pick up the instructional pace. There is a strong correlation between content covered and student achievement(Cotton, 1988). ” Monitoring seatwork is another effective strategy that is used in the classroom. Effective teachers commonly circulate around the classroom after an instructional presentation to determine how well or poorly students are progressing through assignments. (Assignments that once evaluated will be a good measurement of whether or not students are able to meet the lesson’s objective. ) They stop and provide brief one-on-one assistance to those who are struggling to complete assignments.

Productive teachers make sure that their interactions with students are substantive by incorporating systematic procedures for supervising and instructing students during seatwork. One way they do this is by staying task-oriented while consistently working through problems with students, and spending extra time with students who experience a high level of difficulty with seatwork or independent practice. Moreover, effective teachers diligently follow a process of carefully and consistently checking independent practice and requiring that it be turned in.

Once pupil’s work have been evaluated they provide them with prompt feedback so that they are able to quickly correct any errors before they become ingrained in their minds(Cotton, 1988) Assigning homework is another successful monitoring strategy when it is facilitated properly. Homework bears a significant and positive relationship to achievement when the homework is carefully monitored and designed appropriately to be a productive extension of students’ learning in the classroom.

Consequently, homework should not be merely busy work but rather it should be closely tied to the subject matter presently being taught in the classroom. Furthermore, homework should be well-aligned to students’ ability and developmental level. Lastly, homework should be easily understood by students and parents. Parents should be required to carefully monitor homework to make sure to the best of their ability that it is complete and done with care and accuracy. One way to hold parents accountable for making sure that students complete homework ssignments is having parents sign their signature on a daily homework log, indicating that have made sure that their child completed the necessary homework. Once students turn in their completed homework, it should be quickly graded and promptly returned to them so that they can immediately have feedback how well they are doing in understanding lesson material. “Research shows that students who are assigned homework have more positive attitudes towards school and homework than students who have no homework”(Cotton, 1988).

Testing is another advantageous monitoring strategy but for it to be highly effective it must be administered regularly and be an integral part of the instructional process. Moreover, it must be well-aligned to the material being taught. Like homework, it must be promptly scored and returned to students so that they can correct any mistakes or thinking errors before they become ingrained in their minds. Research shows that, “students who test frequently and are given prompt feedback have positive attitudes toward testing.

They regard tests as facilitating learning, studying, and providing effective feedback(Cotton, 1988). ” A technological advantageous monitoring strategy is the use of interactive whiteboards or clickers. Students are able to use them to input responses to the teacher’s questions. The responses are immediately registered and shown on a graph or chart for both students and teachers to see. The interactive whiteboards provide the instructor and pupils with immediate feedback on how well the whole class is understanding and keeping up with the lesson(Slavin, 2009, p. 93). All of the above mentioned monitoring strategies, when applied in an effective and strategic way, really help to increase overall student achievement in the classroom. However, additional strategies may be needed to carefully monitor students of diverse backgrounds such as ELL students and special education students who may experience an above average difficulty with learning subject material and completing assignments. One way to monitor such students is to provide them with additional instruction and feedback on their work separately from the whole-class.

If there is only one teacher in the classroom, the teacher can have the rest of the class do independent practice or some other productive and beneficial learning activity at their desk while they(the teacher) work with students experiencing a high degree of difficulty with the material in a small learning group. However, if the teacher has an aide, they can assign the aide the task of working with students in a small group while they continue instruction with the whole class or circulate around the run helping the general classroom and vice versa.

Also, if the teacher has a person in the class, who is specifically assigned to work with Ell or special education students in the general classroom, they (the teacher) can have them circulate around the class and provide individual assistance specifically to these students or work with them in a small group. Keeping individual portfolios for students who regularly have difficult with classwork such as ELL students, students’ with learning disabilities and reluctant learners is also a great way to monitor their performance and understanding of learning material. When designed properly, a portfolio can show a learner’s ability to think, problem solve, use strategies, and procedural type skills, and construct knowledge”(Borich, 2007, p. 421) Teachers, students, and parents can have the opportunity to view the portfolio regularly to monitor learning progression and success overtime. Consequently, portfolios can be a great tool to motivate students because it can provide a great concrete visual to students of their academic weaknesses, strengths, failures, successes, and any learning difficulties or obstacles they overcome.

Teachers can also have students incorporate into their portfolio some type of personal self-reflection on their learning progress. A portfolio not only measures a learners’ progress in skills sets and understanding of concepts but it, “shows the learners persistence, effort, willingness to change, skill in monitoring his or her own learning, ability to be self- reflective, or metacognitive. In this sense, a portfolio can give the teacher information about a learner that no other measurement tool can provide”(Borich, 2007, p. 21). To culminate, monitoring is fundamental to the academic achievement of all students regardless of their cultural or academic backgrounds. In order for monitoring to yield a high percentage of success in the classroom it must be facilitated in a meaningful, procedural, strategic, organized, and well- planned way. Moreover, monitoring strategies must be applied appropriately and well-aligned to fit distinctive learning activities such as seatwork, omework, testing, group work and question and discussion sessions after an instructional presentation. Students perform much better academically in classrooms where teachers appropriately use monitoring strategies than students whose teacher don’t use monitoring strategies appropriately. Therefore, proper and substantive facilitation of monitoring strategies in the classroom is an integral part of excellent teaching and student success in the classroom.

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