CGI Anecdotal Records

I’m a CGI math junkie through and through.  You can read more about that here.  But it can be a struggle to get data from a CGI lesson, with all kinds of questions left unanswered, like…

How do I know if my kids successfully “got it” during our story problem time?  

How do I measure growth?  

How do I prove that my kids are actually learning…even if they don’t get the right answer? 

Traditional grades don’t work for CGI, so how do I tell parents how their kid is doing on math story problems?  

I am data girl.  I think in numbers.  So, I spent several years working on a system for collecting data for story problems.  Here’s a look at my data collection system during my CGI time.

What Are CGI Anecdotal Records?

Anecdotal records for CGI are like running records in guided reading.  They give me a snapshot of a kid’s math thinking on a particular day for a particular math story problem.

The record sheet I use…
*is organized by problem type…with a different sheet for each type of problem
*records the date and number sets I used for that day
*let’s me write down which strategies I expect to see from kids for that problem type
*tells me who understands the problem and who doesn’t
*tells me which kids used which strategy that day
*tells me which kids shared their thinking that day

Why Anecdotal Records?

Math story problems aren’t one size fits all.  There are at least 14 different problem types, all kinds of variables depending on the number sets used, and even how we word our story problems is a variable.  So, the data collection for math story problems can’t be a one size fits all either.  That’s why I finally settled on anecdotal records.

Anecdotal records help me easily see who understands the story problem and who doesn’t.

I simply write the names of my babies who have no understanding of the problem in the box under our number sets.  Then, this gives me a heads up on who I need to pull for small group intervention to work on story problem comprehension.

Anecdotal Records also help me see what strategies kids are using.  In my data records resource, I have left these gray boxes blank because I don’t anticipate the same strategies for a problem type all year long.  Hopefully, as we grow throughout the year, our strategies grow too! 🙂 I anticipate the strategies I expect to see kids use for this story problem type and record those in the gray boxes across the top from least sophisticated to most sophisticated strategies.

Anecdotal Records help me see patterns in a kid’s thinking.  Is he using the same strategy each time we do this problem type? Or is she flexible in her strategies depending on the number sets? (I use an arrow to show flexibility within the same day like in the picture below):

How Do I Organize My Data?

A record sheet for each problem type can be a lot.  And by the end of the year, I have several pages for EACH problem type.  So, keeping everything organized is a must!

I keep my record sheets in a basic pocket folder.  It’s nothing fancy, but it’s the best system I’ve found in 11 years.  I keep blank pages and “unfinished” sheets on my “unfinished side.”  The finished side is for…my data sheets that are all filled in.  Once I have more than one page for a problem type, I staple them together to stay a little more organized.

Here’s an old picture with my old records sheets in my file folder with the index cards.  And excuse the privacy boxes! 🙂

I rotate which kids I conference with each day.
 There is no way I have time to adequately meet with every kid every day in a conference to interview them about their strategy!  If you do…kuddos to you!  But as a dear friend of mine says, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”  I wish I did.  I really do.  But the reality is I don’t.  So at the beginning of the year, I do a basic story problem and I sort my kids into 3 piles: no understanding, some understanding/lower level thinking, higher level strategies.  This is very similar to what I do in writers’ workshop…just with math!  Then, like in writing, I make 3 piles…each with 1/3 from each of the levels.  I want them to be mixed in levels so that I have time to meet with everyone.

Then, I write down my schedule on an index card with colored dots and staple it on one of my pockets.  The colored dots help me color code my records.  On the day I meet with my pink group, I record my data in pink.

This helps me remember who I met with last…because Lord knows I wouldn’t remember it any other way! 🙂

I circle names of kids who share that day.  This is also just to help my feeble mind remember better!  If I’m not careful, and don’t keep track, it’s easy to have the same kids share each time.  By circling the names of kids I chose to share, it helps me vary kid strategies each day!

How Do I Use the Data from my Anecdotal Records?

I’m too busy to collect data I’m not gonna use…amen?!?!  I love being able to open up my folder and reflect on today’s math problem, or a series of math problems from the same problem type!

I can pull intervention groups.  Kids who are constantly in my box under my number sets because they don’t understand the problem type are my babies who need some extra small group attention.  And their names jump out at me after I have several days of records from a particular problem type.  I can also pull intervention groups for kids who are only direct modeling by ones.  In first grade, I want to see kids’ strategies growing.  If I have kids who are “stuck” direct modeling every time, they need an extra small group push from me to help grow their math thinking!

I can decide what strategies I want my kids to move to next and how I will get them there.  In addition to looking at individual kids for intervention, I can see my class as a whole…and make some professional decisions just for my class’ needs.

Are almost all of my kids not understanding the problem type?  Then, we need to work on this problem type again and I need to give more support when I launch the problem.

Are most of my kids direct modeling their thinking?  Then, I need to change my number types to make them uncomfortable and force them to try another strategy.

Are my kids direct modeling by tens and ones during story problem time, but I’ve seen flickers higher level, relational thinking during conferences?  Then, I need to plan some math talks to focus on notating thinking to give kids a bridge between base ten blocks and relational thinking.

And those are just a few, common examples I see in my own first grade classroom!

This system has worked well for me over the last several years and I am so so thankful for a way to record data that is meaningful for me and helps me track growth that I know my kids are making during our CGI math time! Grab the anecdotal record pages here!

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