How A Simple Checklist Can Improve Learning
From reminding us of what to pack for a trip to helping doctors perform surgery, checklists are crucial for projects that require sequential steps or a series of tasks. As Atul Gawande points out in his book “Checklist Manifesto,” checklists break down complex tasks and also ensure consistency and efficiency if more than one person is working on a project. If checklists are so effective for airline pilots, skyscraper construction teams, and heart surgeons, why shouldn’t students use them as well?
Checklists can benefit students in the following ways:
For younger students, simple, task-based checklists can help them become accustomed to following steps, adding order to the relative chaos of learning, and offering a pathway to accomplishing complex tasks. For older students, they can do all of the above, and also serve as memory aids as they work on unfamiliar or complicated tasks.
Checklists help students feel in control and hold them accountable by removing obstacles to success such as “I didn’t know we were supposed to do that,” or “I forgot to do that part.”
Checklists keep students on task. Rather than losing focus and forgetting where they left off or abandoning the task all together, they always know where they are in a task or project. (Or should know.)
- Checklists can help communicate the details or goals of an assignment or project to other teachers, parents, or relevant community members.
Education specialist Dr. Kathleen Dudden Rowlands believes checklists are more than just a way for students to stay organized and on-task. As she explains in “Check It Out! Using Checklists to Support Student Learning,” checklists can aid students in developing metacognitive awareness of their own learning process.
“Used effectively, checklists can help students develop metacognitive awareness of their intellectual processes,” Rowlands explained. Metacognitive awareness is essentially people’s understanding of both the process of learning and how they can optimize their learning of certain knowledge or skills.
“Metacognitive research consistently suggests that students who know how to learn, know which strategies are most effective when faced with a problem or a task, and have accurate methods of assessing their progress, are better learners than those who don’t,” Rowlands noted. She also discussed checklists’ role in the process of fostering strong metacognitive awareness: “By articulating and labeling operational steps, checklists scaffold students’ metacognitive development.”
5 Resources To Use Checklists In Your Classroom
This turbo-charged mobile app checklist allows users to collaborate on shared lists, turning it into a project management tool. You can create simple “to do” lists or different lists (subtasks) based on more complicated tasks. It syncs across iPhone, iPad, Mac, Android, Windows and the Web. You can leave notes, set recurring tasks, share your lists and set alarms. The app lets you break big projects or tasks into manageable smaller goals. Of special benefit to the classroom is the fact that Wunderlist lists can be printed. It is also free, with an option for Wunderlist pro at $4.99 a month.
List Weaver’s strength lies in the simplicity of the app and the fact that checklists can be shared among users. If team members are completing tasks at the same time, the shared checklist ensures they don’t duplicate efforts. When someone has completed a task on the list, others on the team receive push notification letting them know it’s been done. If you are looking to foster collaboration among your students, a shared checklist could help you achieve this. The app is free and offers in-app purchases.
You can do a search on Pinterest and find a variety of checklist resources. Search on “checklist classroom” and find simple, pre-made checklists such as the “Dismissal Checklist,” a list of tasks to help young students prepare for leaving school at the end of the day. A writing checklist for older students helps them make sure they are taking the necessary steps to successfully write essays and compositions. Other checklists include “end of the year,” “field trip,” and “active listening.”
From the simple “Homework Checklist” for young students to more in-depth rubrics for older students, TeacherVision offers dozens of checklists for both teacher and student. All you need to do is search using the term “checklist.” Even if you don’t find quite what you need here, you’ll discover plenty of ideas that you can incorporate into your own custom checklists.
There are several templates available from Microsoft and Adobe.
This site, a collaboration between the International Reading Association, The National Council of Teachers of English and Verizon’s Thinkfinity program, offers several in-depth and useful lesson plans that are accompanied by comprehensive checklists.
The “Editing Checklist for Self and Peer Editing” offers a step-by-step guide for students to edit their own work as well as their classmates’ work. A quick web search on any school subject will yield checklist ideas as well.
Any checklist you use in the classroom should be a flexible document that adapts to the needs of your students. Remember to visit your checklist with a critical eye frequently to make sure it’s still working for you and your class. As you work through your checklist and realize ways to make it better, take the time to do so.
Ask for feedback from your students as you implement new checklists to ensure that they are working as effective learning tools. They might surprise you.
Kristin Marino writes about education for several websites, including onlineschools.com. She has a bachelor’s degree in English composition from the University of Nevada, Reno; How A Simple Checklist Can Improve Learning; image attribution flickr user stuartchalmers; How A Simple Checklist Can Improve Learning
Templates are extremely useful for business documents10 Free Business Form Templates You Should Keep Handy10 Free Business Form Templates You Should Keep HandyBusiness templates can save you lots of time. Here we show you a selection of business form templates you can download for free.Read More, but for students they can be lifesavers.
You have enough to think about during the school year, so using a template can save a ton of time. Put your mind on your classes and use these helpful checklist and planning templates for the rest.
1. Homework Checklist
For a plain and simple homework checklist, this template from TeacherVision is great for younger students, but can work for any age. Each subject is in its own spot with days of the week and check boxes to mark off as you complete assignments.
2. Printable Homework Planner
This next homework planner from TidyForm lets you easily plan your assignments for each day of the week and even the weekend. Instead of listing out the subjects, you can enter them yourself for the day and include details with due dates for each. Note: you will need a PDF editor to make changes to the template on your computer.
3. Homework Schedule
Another planner from TidyForm breaks down your daysThe Busy Student’s Guide to Finding More Time for SchoolThe Busy Student’s Guide to Finding More Time for SchoolSometimes, 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week are simply not enough! These strategies may not add hours to your day, but they'll help you use your time more efficiently.Read More into time blocks. Each hour slot is along the left side of the sheet with the seven days of the week across the top. This one is great for assignments, but you could use it for class schedules or work shifts to plan your entire week ahead of time. It is a very basic template, but a useful one.
4. Class Schedule and Planner
If you need a more detailed planner, this schedule is intended for classes. However, it can also be used for more. It uses time blocks like the TidyForm planner, but breaks them down into increments that you choose. Adjust the start time and interval minutes and the sheet automatically updates. You can add your classes, pop in your homework time, and add shifts for work all in one place.
5. Assignment Schedule
This template from Vertex42 is another with time blocks in 30-minute increments. And, this one has even more detail. On one side of the template, you can list out classes with assignments, dates, and times. On the other side, you can add your class schedule or plan your homework and projects. The workbook also includes a Homeschool tab for parents homeschooling their children. Overall, it’s a good dual-purpose option.
6. Multiple-Task Planner
If you are a OneNote user, check out this option from OneNoteGem. You can quickly fill out subjects and assignments for five days of the week. This is ideal for classes that have many tasks on the same day. For example, you may need to work on a group project, research a paper, and finish an assignment in one day. The template has a good amount of room for those to-dos.
7. Student Notebook
Also for OneNote, you can download an entire student notebook template. Just scroll further down on the OneNoteGem templates page for this option. What’s nice about this template is that the notebook includes sections for planners, five classes, and research along with note-taking tips.
8. Class Schedule
For a neat and flexible class schedule template, this one is available for Excel, OpenOffice, and Google Sheets. It is basic with time slots broken into 15-minute increments on one tab and 30-minute increments on another. Plus, includes seven days of the week, unlike many others. For college students, this is a terrific class schedule template.
9. Student Planner
With a student planner that lists your subjects by week, you can stay on track every single day. Vertex42 has two templates to pick from that offer different layouts. One option has the subjects down the left side with days of the week across the top. The other template is the reverse of that. Each has spots for to-dos and notes and is available for either Excel or as a PDF.
10. All-in-One Schedule and Budget
For an all-in-one workbook for college, this Excel template has sheets for classes per term, course credits, a college budget, and textbooks17 Money-Saving Websites for Renting Your Textbooks This Year17 Money-Saving Websites for Renting Your Textbooks This YearYou should rent your textbooks instead of buying them. Here are some ways college students can save a ton with these textbook rental sites.Read More. You can keep everything in one place. You can also track your overall progress and your current GPA.
11. Student Calendar
Another planner from Microsoft Office is this 12-month student calendar. There is a tab for each month, spots for a weekly schedule, and a section for assignments. The year cell is editable making it reusable for your entire college career. This template makes planning homework and study time a breeze.
12. Dorm Room Checklist
If you are heading to a dorm room for college, there is no better way to make sure you have everything than with this checklist template. You can add box numbers for packing and checks when you pack the items. The template gives you sections such as kitchen supplies, electronics, computer equipment, safety items, and more.
13. Back-to-School Checklist
For parents with kids in elementary or middle school, this checklist is perfect for back-to-school time. One page has tasks to take care of like arranging for transportation and preparing a school calendar. The following page has items to purchase from clothes and a backpack to school supplies. If you have a youngster getting ready for a new school year, this is the template for you.
14. College Budget
When you need to keep an eye on your college budget8 Ways to Save Money When Going to College8 Ways to Save Money When Going to CollegeStudents need to find ways of staying financially afloat, so we look at some of the ways the internet can help you save money when going to college.Read More, this template is just for it. The top section is for your funding and income with the bottom for your expenses. The most common types of college-related items are included, making this a convenient template for college students.
15. Monthly College Budget
This monthly budget tracker from Microsoft Office gives you a simple way to view your cash flow. You can glance at the pie charts at the top to get an overview of your income and expenses by month. Change the values below to add your items and the charts change automatically. It’s one simple sheet with everything you need to budget each month.
Time for Class!
For classes, assignments, budgeting, supplies, course credits, and all that goes with these things, make sure you are prepared when the bell rings or classroom door closes. Now that you have these 15 awesome template options, you are on your way to starting the school year off right.
Which templates for school help you the most and save you time? Or do you prefer to go digital9 Essential Windows Apps for Students9 Essential Windows Apps for StudentsStudents have a lot to deal with these days. Do you need an extra hand to get stuff done? Here are some essential apps for your Windows hardware.Read More all the way and use mobile apps? Let us know what you think in the comments below!
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