Here is a long-awaited post about how I handle record-keeping in my Montessori preschool classroom. I've had several readers ask this either in the comments section or in emails, and I've promised to write a post describing what I do to keep track of what work children have done, what lessons I've given, etc.
My main day-to-day "tool" for record-keeping is one I learned from Mrs. Honey (yes, that is really her name) who was the Montessori teacher I did my internship under. She just took a regular sheet of copy paper and divided it vertically in half, then into boxes horizontally so she had 20 boxes on a sheet. She wrote a student's name in each box (20 students per class session) and xeroxed the page. She kept one of these forms on a clipboard at all times and used it to jot down anecdotal notes about the children. Since that school required children to attend 5 days per week she only needed one sheet to cover all her students. I've had to adapt this for my situation since I have different children attending each day.
I have one page as described above for each session that I teach during the week. Therefore, I have 8 different sheets since I teach 5 morning and 3 afternoon sessions. I keep the sheets on a clipboard and keep the clipboard with me or near me during most of the work period. EAch time I give a lesson, I jot it down in that child's box. I also jot down which children are working together and which activities they are choosing on their own. This system is not fool-proof and doesn't not capture every single activity the children do throughout the work period each day. However, it is the best system I've found for keeping notes and it helps me tremendously when I prepare for parent-teacher conferences.
Below you can see photos of my record sheets on the clipboard. I keep the same sheets on the clipboard for several weeks. I replace them with new sheets when they become too full of writing. Then I remove them all and staple them together, noting the beginning and ending dates of the recording period.
When I get ready to prepare for parent-teacher conferences, I pull out all the sheet and use them to help me fill out a data sheet for each student. The one I use is one I came up with myself last year. It is basically a checklist of the main materials I present in each of the curriculum areas of the classroom. There are many variations and even materials that are not represented on this list. When I share the checklist at conferences I explain to parents that it isn't an all-inclusive list of what's in the classroom. Instead, it gives an overview of the areas a child has been working in. I color code my "checks" by semester so that over the course of a school year and between fall and spring conferences we can easily see what "new" work a child has chosen or received lessons on. When I have students for the second year, the sheet will reflect 2 years of work in the classroom and should have a variety of activities "checked off."
Below ou can see the form I've described above. This particular form is an actual form for one of my second year students from this past school year. In the second photo you can easily see how I've color-coded her work from each semester.
I know you may have MANY questions for me about all this, though I hope I've explained it clearly. Below you will find a link to the form I use. You are welcome to use it, adapt it, whatever you choose.
I would love to hear from you about how you go about record-keeping. If you would like to share, please do so in the comments section so we can all benefit from each other's ideas.