Tuesday, 3 November 2015

A Simple Checklist Can Go A Long Way

            I don’t know about you, but my entire life is basically made up of lists. To-do lists. Grocery lists. Homework lists. Packing lists. You name it; I got a list for it. But they’re not just any lists, they’re checklists. It is such a satisfying feeling to check something off; it almost acts as an extrinsic motivation for me to finish something. Even if you may not be as serious about lists as I am, I am sure you have used one at some point in your life. Whether it has been a simple packing checklist or a more detailed checklist to ensure you're on the right track for your school assignment, we have all used one. Personally, I find that I am able to stay on track a lot more successfully when I am following a checklist.

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As future educators, using checklists in your classroom can be very beneficial for not only you as a teacher but your students as well (Drake, Reid and Kolohon, 2014). Drake, Reid and Kolohon (2014) discuss how checklists can be beneficial to student learning. They focus on summary checklists, which give students steps that need to be met in order to meet the goals of a specific project. This is something that I found very successful not only in my personal life, but in my camp classroom as well. Typically, I would create a checklist for each assignment that I gave them, and they knew that before asking me what the next step is, or claiming that they are ‘done’, they had to look over the checklist and go over each step. Additionally, this allowed them to brake down something bigger into smaller parts, making them feel like they were accomplishing something with each item on the list that they got to check off.

The use of checklists is so beneficial for providing students with a tool that can help them to scaffold their learning (Rowlands, 2007). Rowlands discusses much of this in her paper Check It Out! Using Checklists to Support Student Learning. She emphasizes the importance of using these operational checklists to encourage independent thinking (Rowlands, 2007). I believe this is a fundamental part of encouraging inquiry based learning, which is a very beneficial way for students to learn.

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Retrieved from here.
Considering that during this time and age technology is all that is talked about, and is practically unavoidable, I thought it would be appropriate to share this great app with you. Wunderlist is a mobile app checklist that can create anything from a simple ‘to do’ lists to more complex subtask based lists. 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, which is exactly what our students need! It can sync across iPhone, iPad, Mac, Android, Windows and the web, allowing you to take your lists everywhere! I don’t know about you, but I am ALWAYS that person who forgets the grocery list at home… and now, the solution to all my problems has landed in my lap! And not only will your students have no excuses (“my dog ate my list!!”), their parents/guardians will be able to see these lists too, so they will have access to all the expectations if they are interested. It’s a win-win all around; you almost have to use it in your classroom!

In the following short video, a teacher discussed her implementation of a peer assessment checklist so that student's can receive feedback on their letter writing skills.

Retrieved from here.

She emphasizes that this assessment technique has helped her students to view her more as a 'coach' and less as a 'teacher who knows it all'. That comment has really resonated with me because it completely represents how I want to be viewed by my students as a teacher. I hope that I will be able to help my students learn without making them feel like I know everything (because the truth is that none of us know EVERYTHING).

Overall, I think that checklists are very beneficial tools that help students become accustomed to following steps, accomplishing complex tasks, feeling in control, staying focused, and understanding details and goals. For more information on the benefits that checklists can provide for improving student learning, read Kristin Marino’s article, as she too believes that checklists are a must!

I guess I can check this of my list now…. Until next time!


Brannon, N. [nbrannon1]. (2005, April 5). Peer editing checklist letter to editor [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DR0Lu_-Nyks&feature=youtu.be
Checklist-clip-art-815319 [online image]. (2012). Retrieved from URL (http://www.cliparthut.com/checklist-clip-art-clipart-qva25f.html) 
Close Reader Checklist [online image]. (2014). Retrieved from URL (http://www.arockytopteacher.com/2014/03/close-reading-checklist.html) 
Drake, S. M., Reid, J.L. & Kolohon, W. (2014). Interweaving curriculum and classroom assessment: Engaging the 21st century learner. Toronto, ON: Oxford University Press. 
Fab 5 Checklist [online image]. (2011). Retrieved from URL (http://cdnpix.com/show/imgs/523b91da84d91937a043d948b3ddae9d.jpg) 
Marino, K. (2013, August 12). How a simple checklist can improve learning [Web blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.teachthought.com/learning/simple-checklist-can-improve-learning/
Rowlands, K. D. (2007) Check It Out! Using Checklists to Support Student Learning. English Journal 96(6) 61-66.