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.

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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. 


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  2. Hey Miss Nicole,

    Great blog, as usual! I like you provided many resources to refer to and the pictures you provided of checklists are fantastic! The app you mentioned, “Wunderlist” is a great resource for teachers since it can also be used to connect with parents!

    I love checklists too because of the feeling of accomplishment after crossing something off! I think they are fantastic because they help me stay organized and to ensure I do not forget anything! You brought up several benefits of using checklists in the classroom! One point that stood out for me was that it promotes independent learning and reflection on one’s work! This is similar to my blog post about self- and peer-assessment because checklists can act as a guideline for students to ensure that they are meeting the requirements and criteria of their tasks and assignments! Checklists hold students accountable for their learning when checklists provide all requirements needed for success.

    I like your idea about how checklists could be used in the classroom to break down larger and complex tasks into smaller and simpler tasks. In university, I use checklists to break down the process of writing essays, like first researching and find articles, then writing the intro, body, and conclusion, and finally editing. I think that this will help students stay motivated and concentrate on working one step at a time. It will be beneficial especially for students who often get anxious from large projects or have difficulty paying attention and staying on task. However, if the checklist is too long and complex, I think it can be overwhelming for students. Do you know of any other challenges that may occur when using checklists? Maybe next time you could incorporate some discussion questions! Again, fantastic job on your blog!


  3. Miss Nicole,

    I really enjoyed your blog topic this week, as it is so relatable to our everyday lives. I definitely agree with the importance of checklists as a future teacher. They allow us to keep organized and make sure that we don't forget anything important throughout our week. Your blog raised an important point on the significance that making checklists for students can have on their academic success. Students who are able to track and monitor their progress have the fundamental scaffolding to advance their learning. This gives students a sense of accomplishment, and encourages independent learning and self-reflection. The point you raised about having students interact with technology to make their checklists I thought was and important part of managing their tasks. Students today connect very well when using technology because it is something that their generation is constantly using. I definitely noticed this in a personal experience working in a classroom. Students better understood their math problems by simply working on them using programs on iPads. My question for you is, can negative effects occur for students for who can’t complete their checklists? Awesome final blog post!

    - Jennifer L

  4. Dear Miss Nicole,

    I can’t begin to explain how many times I’ve used checklists and still continue to use them today! Checklists are a crucial part of my daily life, as they help me achieve my day to day, weekly and monthly goals. The key is to key reasonable goals to attain, preferably smaller objectives that can be achieved in a sensible amount of time. In the past, I have tried to live up to many goals that were way too big which in turn discouraged me from completing them. I would sometimes try to squeeze way too many tasks in one day and ended up completing NONE of them because I felt so overwhelmed. I agree with your statement on how using checklists in the classroom can be very beneficial not only for teachers but for students as well. I believe this is a great start in aiding students on beginning their organization skills and to help them feel motivated in what they are trying to achieve. There’s nothing better than having that satisfaction by checking something completed off a list. Having checklists for students ensures their learning and gives them a chance to reflect and re-think their steps. Such an excellent topic to touch on Miss Nicole! It’s a great way to open up future educator’s eyes by using such a simple technique that can go such a long way. I enjoyed the video you posted on Peer Editing Checklist and Feedback. I am with you on how I would never want to be that “know it all” teacher, but a teacher that is more of a guide. It’s like the checklists helps them carry on their own learning in a way which can lead to autonomous learning. I like how you incorporated the “Wunderlist” mobile app in your blog; such a practical and quick way of being organized and well-structured. Great use of images! My question to you is: do you think checklists can be beneficial towards everything you use? In what ways can you incorporate them to be more beneficial?

    - Miss Le Pera