Podcast Episode 43:
Tracking Progress

Tracking progress is an important part of education.  It lets us know where children are at and what educational strategies are working and which aren’t. It also can reassure us that despite all the fun that they are having homeschooling, they are making huge progress!

Welcome to Decoding Learning Differences with Kimberlynn Lavelle. This episode is tracking progress. So at this point in the year, if you're listening when it goes live, when the episode goes live, I'm assuming that you have started your school year and that you may or may not be doing anything with tracking progress. Earlier in the year, we talked about setting goals.

How to set relevant goals for your school year, for your week for your life and how to look at that? So today we're going to be getting into how to track progress. Again, episode 32 is how to set relevant goals. The purpose Of tracking progress is to recognize when things are going well and when things aren't going well. So if we are making,

if your child is making really good reading growth, but you're still giving them the same level reader, you're not pushing them to get a little bit better, right? You want to track progress. So, you know, when it's time to move them up in their reading level or you view, if they're still struggling and you're not paying attention and you keep moving them along and things are getting harder and they're not able to keep up,

we need to backtrack and figure out what is going on earlier so that we can figure out how do we, how do we solve that problem? So one method of tracking progress is a strategic sample collection. Oh, let me back up a little, one other really big purpose is to remember that we are making progress to remind ourselves that we are making progress,

that our child is learning a lot and to feel good about all that our child is learning. Even if they are struggling also recognizing the learning that's happening. So that's another big purpose is to celebrate all the great things that are happening. Okay? So method, one of tracking progress is just a strategic sample collection. So this is thinking through, not saving every single item of work that they do,

unless they don't do very much like paper, pencil stuff. If they do very little, that's actually like paper, pencil, then you can save it all. If they do, if they're working through a workbook, then it doesn't really matter. Like you could flip back later pretty easily. If you're constantly printing out worksheets, don't save them. Or if you want to save them all fine,

but pull out the ones that are important and show you something. And even in like the workbook, go back when you're trying to track, go back and look at the assessments. Maybe if you like did a beginning of the year assessment, sometimes the curricula suggests that you do a beginning assessment, like a placement test to see where they should start or what they should focus on or whatever.

So you can go back, look at that. You also can look at like the, any end of the chapter tests. What were they struggling with? What did they get wrong? Another backup, one more time. Another purpose of tracking progress is recognizing they didn't understand that let's do something about it. So when you're looking at that test, hopefully when you first looked at it,

you were like, oh, they are struggling with this. Let me reteach it. Now a few, a few weeks later, are they still struggling with it? If they are, do something about it. if they're not, celebrate it! So you might want to have a math sample, like math tests that you're doing, or certain math worksheets, maybe you're working on multiplication facts.

And you're tracking that along the way, just pull samples that are relevant. So really think through what do I want to pay attention to? What, what skills are they learning, what shows whether or not they got that skill. Now, if it's a worksheet that they completed with your help, that's not particularly helpful thing to save. Unless you write down all the things that you did to help them.

That can actually be very valuable. I do that with my students all the time, because I don't want them just sitting there struggling so that I can have a paper that says 20%. That's not helpful, but I pay attention while I'm working with them to what they need. And then after they've left, I write down all the notes of what I did to get them to complete that worksheet.

Then I do different activities with them. And then maybe in a couple of weeks, I give them a similar worksheet and see, can they get it now on their own? Do they still need a lot of help? Where are we? What, what are, what are they getting now? Are they struggling with? so strategic. reading samples you might do.

If you know how to do a running record, you could do a running record. You also could just do a video recording of your child reading, and then later do another video recording of your child, reading, reading, comprehension, tests, pay attention to what the level of the text is and how they're doing on that. Writing samples are pretty easy in some ways,

like just have them do an independent writing sample, like a journal or a whole essay. If they're able to a sentence, a word, wherever they're at, have them do something that's on their own. And then you have that sample. This is what they're able to do on their own. And then in three months have them do something on their own,

okay? This is what they're able to do on their own. I'm not saying you have to wait three months. You can do one month. You could ... I wouldn'- I probably wouldn't go more than three months before having them do it again. That was kind of my, like by three months, you want to have another sample to see how they're doing with their writing,

independent writing. If you're doing a lot of like writing together, great, you might do independent writing every single day. And that's amazing. And I love it. Please keep doing it. Okay. Another method is pictures and videos. So you might be someone who likes to track things on your phone. You might create a little album on your phone,

math samples, reading samples, writing samples, science samples. If you want to track science, I don't know whatever you want to track. And then you just go through and you're taking pictures or you're doing videos of them reading, maybe even videos of them solving math so that you can understand their thinking process and how their thinking process changes. These ones could also be really fun to look back at.

And any of these can be fun to look at back at with your kids and show them. This is your thinking before this is your thinking. Now look at how much easier this skill is for you now than it was before. It really works to keep working at things over and over and to persevere way to go love the perseverance, right? So you see me keeping just quick pictures,

and then you're all of your records that are basically digital. It's all on your phone or wherever you take pictures. That's what I use is my phone. And then I make different albums for different categories that I want to track. And otherwise it's like in the whole camera roll, and then you can't find anything, but so right after you take a picture,

save it to the correct album so that it's not lost in. And you know the cloud, I'm not sure what's happening there. Sorry. That was not supposed to be another method is a formal or informal assessments. So this is what I was talking. I was like a running record. If you know how to do a running record, you could do that.

If you have a teacher friend, most teachers, elementary teachers at least know how to do a running record, or maybe several, you could have them do some running records with your child. So you have that reading assessment. Those can be really valuable to have on record cause they give you a lot of insight. And if you're having a teacher do it to have the teacher walk you through,

like what the mistakes are, what those mistakes mean, how to correct those mistakes going forward, because that's why they're valuable to me. Some, some teachers just do running records and they write down the cause they're supposed to. And then they write down there, the kid's fluency score and accuracy score and comprehension score. And that's all they do with the running record.

They just write down the scores. The good teachers will use that information to structure how they respond to that child's reading in the future. So if a child is constantly replacing the with a, you might do a quick little activity where they have to recognize the difference between the and thing. If a child is constantly, but if they, but if they do it once in their reading,

you're not going to stop them and correct them, ignore it. But if they're constantly doing it, you might want to correct it just to make sure that they note the difference. It's a really common one with like the stronger readers. They'd start to make that switch. And most of the time I don't do anything about it because it's not changing their ability to understand what they're reading.

And they do know the difference. It's not that they don't know the difference. It's just like what comes out when they're reading out loud, we all tend to make mistakes when we read out loud. So it's not like a big deal, but if they're always, if all of their errors are it anyways, I don't wanna get into specifics. But if they all had to have a certain type of error,

there are certain ways to correct it. Every single time, the formal slash informal, like end of chapter math test, right? Keeping all of those. And also the more structured ones, you might have something like a star math test or a star reading test. If those are available to you, it's a accelerated reader. And they actually get very helpful in general and how to say it.

They can be helpful to actually show progress. Like the scores are, are really narrowed down enough that you can see significant progress in a particular child pretty easily. So those can be really good to invest in. If you're interested in some kind of formal, where are they at? If you don't really care where they're at compared to others, which is really what that score is showing no worry about it,

skip it. It doesn't matter. It might be much more valuable to you just like the end of chapter test. What skills did they learn? What skills are they struggling with and keeping track of those might also do a placement test at the beginning of the year, at the end of the year to show how much growth have they made? Did they make a year's growth in a year's time?

That's always our goal to make at least a year's growth in a year's time. But in general, there will be some years where they don't quite make a year's growth. It'll be some years when they make a little bit more. And that's for the average kid, those with learning disabilities and learning struggles often in some areas, at least won't make a year's growth in a year's time.

But I mean, a year's growth, right? Because that's based on a neuro-typical kid and the average neuro-typical kid. So just keep that in mind, your child's year of growth think about is my child and what I expect my childhood was do in a year. Do they make that year of growth or did they do more? Did they do a little bit less?

What, where were we at? What went well, what didn't go well? Okay. So it is important to look back at those regularly so that you know how things are moving, how things are progressing and what needs to be switched around, changed that if you've stagnated, like you're just not like you were doing okay. And now nothing seems to be happening.

Your child's still seems to be struggling a lot. What are you doing about it? Sorry. So the takeaway is do something about it after you've decided what your strategy is for tracking progress. You got it in place. You're looking back, do something about it. If what you're doing is working and your child is showing significant growth, keep doing it,

but also pay attention that it doesn't flat line at some point. And if it's working in some areas And not so much in others Recognize that difference, where is it not working? What do we need to adjust? So that, that can be working better for us. So it's just being really strategic about how you're providing things to your child so that,

you know, when they're making progress and when they aren't, and if you need help with that, let me know. That's what I'm here for. I am here to help you. So if you are looking for more support, look me up, email me, Kimberlynn Decoding Learning Differences dot com. You can also find me@yourparenthelp.com. And there I have services available to help parents to help parents work through some of this stuff one-on-one problem solve and just get back on track,

right? It doesn't mean that your kid needs to go see a tutor which can get really expensive. We can work through something pretty quickly and get some really strong results. So check me out. I do have a few different options for that. And either way, let me know how things going for you and what you do to track your progress. Do you do something entirely different?

Do you do kind of a mixture? I would see myself doing a mixture for homeschooling and well, and also for, actually for in the public schools. I do mixture as well. So let me know what you're up to. Kimberlynn@DecodingLearningDifferences.com. I can't wait to hear from you.



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