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In my last blog post, I addressed a helpful procedure I use for checking in student work and eliminating the need to sift through piles of paperwork to see if a student turned in a particular assignment. This eliminated the work on the teacher to track down paperwork from students and gave a quick way to see who had and hadn't turned something in.

Today, I would like to address part two of my turn-in procedures - Reflect & Highlight! If you haven't read part one, I highly recommend it so that you know what it means when the poster says that students should check off their name. This strategy has almost eliminated my no name papers and also allows the students a quick moment of self-reflection after every assignment. Allow me to explain...

As a third year year, I was super frustrated at having to tack multiple no name papers up to the board every time I graded a stack of papers. I had seen plenty of strategies scrolling through Pinterest, but none of them appealed to me or stuck very long if I tried them out. I found myself stuck telling my students that they needed to put their name on their papers 56,345 times every month, and it wasn't holding them accountable for remembering these procedures!

I also loved the thought of having students reflect on how they feel they understood an assignment. I had looked at many options on Pinterest - but again, nothing really stuck with me. I liked the idea of having different colored turn in bins, or labels for their level of understanding, but I wanted something that wouldn't require me remembering who had put what paper in each bin for each assignment. Then, I had the idea to combine these two procedures (highlighting their name and reflecting) and alas, Reflect and Highlight was born! I know I'm probably not the first teacher to ever think of this, but if it helps anyone else as much as it helped me, I definitely wanted to share!

It goes like this: after students check off their name on the checklist for the assignment, they grab a highlighter that corresponds to their level of understanding about that particular assignment. I have these highlighters conveniently located by my turn in baskets, and marked with washi tape so that they don't walk off! Students simply grab one, swipe their name ONE time (yes, this is a procedure I teach, otherwise they highlight multiple times until their name is barely readable!), and turn their paper in.

These Levels of Understanding Reflect and Highlight Posters, with an editable version available in the resource in my TeachersPayTeachers store as well! See below for how I teach the procedure and implement this within my classroom.

Level 1 - I do not understand, YET. I needed support to complete it.

These might be your kiddos who completed this paper at your small group table and needed assistance through each step of the process.

Level 2 - I sometimes understand. I had to ask a couple of questions to complete it.

These might be those kiddos who checked in with your halfway through the assignment to make sure they were doing it right, or needed a few quick reminders on what needed to be done.

Level 3 - I understand most of it. I completed this independently, but I couldn't teach it to someone else.

I teach this explicitly to students! I tell them that if they could do it by themselves, that's great! They are a Level 3. This is the step I want them to attain, and anything else is bonus! Sometimes students have a hard time not being at the "top of the chart" (Level 4). I explain to them that Level 3 is great and is exactly what I am looking for.

Level 4 - I understand completely. I am confident I could teach this to a peer!

If I notice a student consistently rating themselves at a Level 4, I may check in with them and ask them to explain to me how to do a problem. This just helps them recognize whether they can truly break the process down to help someone who may be struggling. If they are confident and can explain it to me, I will sometimes partner them up with a peer to help!

I pair these check in procedures with my student checklists and teach them all at one time at the beginning of the year. It takes a few weeks of reminders, but then it is ingrained in them and they do it naturally!

In the resource, I have included a sheet with mini-posters, four to a page. These are useful for a couple of purposes!

1. Teacher cheat sheets: I always found that when I took papers home to grade, I would forget which color went with which level when I was grading. I always liked to see if their color correlated with how they scored on the assignment, so it was crucial for me to remember which color was which level, but I could never seem to keep them straight! Now I keep a laminated copy with my E-Z Grader so that I always have a copy with me.

2. Student reference sheets: You could also print these in color and have the students paste them in their notebooks so that they can refer to them at their desks before turning in. This would work especially well if you have table supply caddies and each group has their own supply caddy and highlighters!

As with any procedure, I teach the how and the why to students when I introduce it. I tell them that it is important for them to reflect on assignments to monitor how well they are understanding concepts and ask for help when need be. This would be great paired with the read-aloud The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes! I love using picture books to teach procedures at the beginning of the year.

You can find this resource posted in my TPT store. I hope it helps you and your students! I know it has greatly increased accountability in my classroom and I love not having to search for the owner of no-name papers anymore! Click this link to grab the posters for yourself.

Have you ever combined two different procedures like this before? What does it look like in your classroom? Let me know in the comments below!

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Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. This allows me to earn a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for helping me provide my classroom with more great materials!

First, let's examine the current system you have for students to turn in their assignments and how you check for missing work. Do you collect piles of work and tediously check through each one of them, making notes in the grade book as you go along? Do you have students clip their numbered clothespin to their work and check to see whose clothespin is left (and then unclip all of the clothespins to be ready for the next assignment)? Do you write the names you are missing on a post-it note that will inevitably get lost in the mountain of paperwork that we accumulate on our desks during any given week? I have done two of those listed above, and neither of them worked for me. I always felt like it was so much work as the teacher to check through all of the stacks of paper to make sure I had them all, and let's be honest, we could all use that precious time somewhere else.

Today, I want to tell you all about a strategy that I started using last year that saved me SO much time: STUDENT CHECKLISTS! Having a list of students to check off for various things like field trip forms and lunch money isn't a new concept, but I wanted to turn the tables and make my fourth graders accountable for checking in their own work! I created student checklists and printed them on colored Astrobrights paper (a different color for each subject). When I handed out an assignment, I would fill out a checklist sheet with the date and title of assignment, and slip it into the correct turn in bin.

This next part is what takes the work off of you: Students check their OWN name off the list as soon as they turn in the assignment, and place their paper UNDER the list so the colored checklist remains on top. The best part? When I come to collect the assignment, I can easily see who has turned it in and who I am still missing, without having to go through all of the papers myself! It's a simple procedure that saves me literally hours of work over any typical school year.

The most important part is consistently teaching the procedure. For the first few weeks, yes, students will forget to check off their name. But, if you consistently practice the expectation and hold them accountable, this procedure will become second nature to them. I have students practice this procedure by making them turn in virtually everything I have them do the first few days of school - even those word searches and get to know you activities - so the procedure becomes ingrained in their brains. If they forget, I just call their name, and I have them look through the stack for their assignment. Then they check off their name and turn it in again. This puts the responsibility back on them and they are more likely to remember to do it themselves next time.

Some people have asked if I ever have problems with a student checking their name off but not actually turning it in, or checking off other student's names. Because I keep the checklist IN the turn-in bin, I rarely have students who check it off but don't turn it in, because it requires them actually coming over to the bin empty-handed. If I did, I would just have that conversation with them. I'm more likely to have to talk with students who didn't check their name of but swear they turned it in. As for students checking off other students' names, that's never been a problem for me, but I let them know on the very first day that the only name they are allowed to make a mark next to is their own (and the checklist is set up so it's easy to track the line they need to check).

I have two columns on my student checklists. The first column is where they check off their name, and the second column is for me to write their grade! My last school didn't require us to keep a traditional grade book, so I just stored these checklists in a binder by color (subject) when I was done to ensure I had them if I needed to refer to them later. You could also use this column to mark late or missing assignments if you needed to. The possibilities are endless!

My favorite part about these editable student checklists is that the names auto-populate into each sheet, meaning you only need to type them one time and the PDF does the rest! I save a master copy for when I need to copy more sheets and keep the ones I have cut in half near my desk for easy access all year long. These checklists have room for classes as big as 30 students (sorry... I know some classes are bigger but that's the biggest I could accommodate with readable text!)

I hope you were able to take away some good tips from this blog post! Next up, another turn-in procedure that puts a spin on the traditional tips for how to ELIMINATE no name papers and encourage self-reflection at the same time. Stay tuned!

Would you like to share this tip with others? Feel free to use the images below (or any in this post) to pin to Pinterest or share on Facebook!

  • Christina Brauner

Many of you may remember the post-it note daily mental health check in that @makingastatementinsped posted on her Instagram a few weeks ago. It was a huge hit! In our present world, talking about mental health with our kids is so important. Although we have endless tasks to cram into a day-- morning meeting, specials, content instruction, guided reading groups, recess, the list goes on-- we need to be more mindful of checking in with our students who need us the most.

After seeing @makingastatementinsped's amazing idea, I knew I had to incorporate something like this in my classroom. But, let's be honest. It was the last few weeks of school, and anchor chart paper and post-it notes were in short supply. Plus, for my elementary students, I wanted something a little more private so they might feel more inclined to share.

So, I decided to adapt it into a Google Forms version. I love using Google Forms for just about everything, including short assessments, bathroom passes, and meet the teacher night questionnaires. Why not a daily check-in to see how my students are doing when they walk in each morning?! They already logged onto their Chromebooks first thing to copy down their daily work into their planner, so this wouldn't add in any extra chaos. Plus, Google Forms could track their responses so I could see trends and have data readily available if I needed to help one of my students.

Students log on each day, fill out this quick form that asks them how they are feeling (and if they want to share why, if they are having a rough day) and then organizes and color codes their responses so that I can see who needs a quick check-in before the day begins.

What did I find over the next few weeks? I found that my students who often came in smiling were harboring anxiety and fear over things I never would have know if I hadn't created this form. I found that my students who came in sporting a foul mood had good reason... and I was able to chat with them and steer their day in a better direction. This form held me accountable for checking in with the kids who needed it most... and weren't sure how to ask for it.

If you are familiar with Google Forms, you know there is an option to export the answers to Google Sheets so that you can see all of the information at a glance. I also used "conditional formatting" (not nearly as difficult as it sounds, promise!) to color code their responses so I could quickly assess who needed immediate intervention to put their day on the right track. On mornings when things seemed to go 1,000 mph this was so helpful to see at a glance who needed me most. Did I have students who marked red every day even for little things that had set them off? Yes, but they felt heard when they got to type in what was bugging them and often a quick chat or post-it note from me was all they needed. It's a small price to pay when all of your students feel like they can open up to you -- and know that if they are having a rough day, you will be by to check in on them. Consistency is key! They need to know you will always take time to check in if they are having a rough day.

I have included a video tutorial below so you can follow along to set up your own daily mental health check in. Your students will need email addresses for this, unless you have them type their name in each day or select it from a drop down list. My school already had Google accounts set up for everyone, so I just set the form to automatically collect email addresses, and it worked perfectly. I'm all for saving precious time whenever I can! The first video addresses creating the Google Form, which I recommend watching even if you are familiar with it because I add a couple of tweaks not commonly used, and the second is how to format your spreadsheet so that you can automatically see colors when they submit their form each day. I hope they are informative and help you implement this with ease!

If you have any questions about how to implement this Google Forms check-in in your classroom, please comment below or reach out to me at beingmrsbrauner@gmail. com. A huge thanks again to @makingastatementinsped for her amazing idea to help our kids! Check her TPT store out for some more great ideas and resources.

Use the graphic below to pin to pinterest if you would like to share this idea with others!