VTaL Tracking Sheets (or Class Task Lists) : The Nuts and Bolts!

In response to a query from Georgia, about the effectiveness of the use of the Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists] with students of varying ability levels and behavioural issues, I will attempt to answer the query from experiences that I have had with my own classes.  Essentially, if the Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists] are set up correctly, and feedback is maintained on a regular basis, the Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists] are useful and suitable for ALL students, regardless of ability level.

Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists] - Features and Attributes

The usefulness of the Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists] comes down to a few important variables:
  • The information that the tracking sheet is reporting on eg. learning activities, specific criteria etc
  • The clarity of the information in the Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists]
  • The frequency by which the Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists] are updated
  • The frequency by which the Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists] are referred to throughout lessons
  • The accessibility of the Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists] to students as well as the teacher
  • How the information in the Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists] eg. visual feedback, is being used to enable students to progress onto the next tasks
So, if the Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists] include clear information about the criteria or tasks that contribute towards a standard, assessment or task being completed, the Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists] are updated regularly (at least once a week is manageable), the Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists] are referred to regularly in class (‘regularly’ is debatable as there’s a fine line between not enough and overkill!), the Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists] are accessible and ‘visible’, then, the Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists] can be set up in a way that enables students to progress forward.

Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists] and Colour Codes

I tend to use green (complete), orange (work in progress, or criteria not quite met), and red (task not started) as the colour codes for students to use and track where they are at.  At this point I have to be very clear about the fact that a colour coded tracking sheet does not guarantee that students will complete assessments, and finish work.  The Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists] are a tool that enables teachers and students to make informed decisions about where a student is at, and what needs to happen in order for the student to progress forward.

Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists] and other Teaching Strategies

Student motivation over an entire class increases if there are a lot of GREENS displayed across many tasks for a wide range of students.  The opposite occurs when there are huge clusters of REDS displayed across the entire class.  Student motivation diminishes.  Whilst the design of the Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists] (in conjunction with other VTaL tools such as Google+ communities, learning activities etc) enables many types of differentiation to occur in class, the colour coded feedback should provide feedback to the classroom teacher that other interventions may be required to assist students to progress forward.  For example, I wouldn’t keep progressing forward with learning activities, if I’m loading column after column after column of REDS against particular learning activities.  Clearly, other teaching strategies need to be applied to enable the reds to turn to greens.  A page of reds is demoralising.

Junior Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists] for DigiTech

I approach the design of the junior Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists] quite differently to the design of the senior Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists].  This is based on the students needing to complete a Technology project with a DigiTech focus over the course of a semester.  In Technology, within the design process, sometimes there are tasks that I can afford to skip in order to progress into the next stage.  Therefore, I list the learning activities within the Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists] according to their name and stage in the design process, eg. Design Ideas, Conceptual Designs etc.  I used to list the tasks according to activity eg. Activity 1, Activity 2, Activity 3 etc.  However, if I ended up skipping activities (due to time, and the fact that we could afford to skip that activity in the design process), it would look weird and confusing to students to see Activity 1, Activity 5, Activity 6, Activity 11 etc, in the tracking sheet.

Original Junior Tracking Sheet

Revised Junior Tracking Sheet



Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists] and Hyperlinks (also included in Calendar Events, and Project Instructions)

I also include hyperlinks within the Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists] to tasks and/or learning activities.  The same hyperlinks are also included in the calendar events, learning activities and project instructions.  The reason why the hyperlinks appear in multiple locations, is dependant on which resource the student is accessing at the time to progress with their work.  You really have to think as a student thinks in order to understand the logic of why the hyperlinks are in so many locations.  When the student logs into my site, and accesses the calendar, the hyperlinked learning activity, navigates the student to the task according to today’s date.  When the student accesses the tracking sheet and sees that a task needs to be completed because it is in orange, a hyperlink to the learning activity is included at the top of the column.  The student doesn’t need to exit the tracking sheet and try to locate the previous task; they just need to click on the hyperlink within the tracking sheet to go back to the work that needs to be completed.  If a student is looking at the project instructions to get an overview of the project, there are hyperlinks to the learning activities, according to each instruction.
Level 2 : 25655 Create a Website : Class Task Sheet

DIGT Year 10 Calendar w Hyperlinks to Learning Activities and Class Tasklists


Senior Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists] for DigiTech

For Senior DigiTech, students are working through and completing standards; which includes all of the criteria that needs to be met.  Some of the activities have multiple criteria that needs to be met.  Therefore, the Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists] are set up according to activities eg. Activity 1, Activity 2 etc.  The students use the standard tracking sheet to see which activities they have completed.  However, they use their own checklists, to monitor which criteria they have met within each activity.

Senior DigiTech Project Class Task List

Senior DigiTech Class 2017 - Student Standard Checklists


Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists] and Student - Teacher Conversations

In Senior DigiTech, we use the Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists] to have student-teacher conversations around next steps in the project.  We discuss where the student is at within an activity and particular tasks, what needs to occur to progress forward, and what the student will do next.  Essentially, the Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists] are guiding the learning process forward, which students find useful in terms of feedback and feedforward.

Senior DigiTech : Student - Teacher Conversations



Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists] and Student Collaboration

Something that I had not anticipated, when I started developing the Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists] 4-5 years ago, is how students would start using the tracking sheet information.  Students started to identify and self-group according to where others were in the class.  Students who were on red or orange, and who could see that one of their mates was on green, would start having discussions with that student about what they needed to do in order to progress forward.  I did not set the discussion up, students did this themselves.  Or, instead of talking to that student, they might just go into the relevant Year Level community, to view the exemplar of what their class mate had completed that met the criteria, and used the exemplar to guide their own learning.  I did set up the communities for this purpose, so it was great to see that the communities were and are useful to the students for the intended purpose.  Another way that the students were and are using the Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists] to self group and collaborate, is by seeing which class mates are at the same or similar level as them in the class.  They would then have conversations with their peers, get feedback or guidance from them, and continue working on their particular learning activity.

Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists] and Mixed Ability Levels

As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists] have a lot of scope in terms of student agency, and also in terms of how teachers use the tracking sheet feedback to apply other teaching strategies and interventions.  The Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists] are an excellent guide of knowing where each student is at, and where they need to progress to.  However, the Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists] themselves are just a guide.  The Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists] are made more powerful, when used in conjunction with other learning tools eg. project instructions, learning activities etc, and that all of the learning tools are visible to both the teacher and the students at all times.  If the learning activities are set up for engagement, and to enable students to achieve, then students will be motivated to learn. Linking the learning activities to the tracking sheets is what enables student progress to be communicated back to the students.

Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists] - What’s Important?

As mentioned previously, Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists] are only useful if they are up to date.  I find keeping them up to date on a weekly basis, a manageable process.  They are also only useful if they are accessible and visible, which is why embedding the sheets into subject sites is a great idea.

Tracking Sheets [Class Task Lists] - Tips and Tricks

  • As mentioned, I hyperlink learning activities into the sheets.  
  • I upload a Student Number into the sheets and email these numbers through to the students.  This keeps the student information anonymous to anyone who doesn’t know the student.
  • Each week I make a duplicate of the sheet eg. Week 1, Week 2 etc.  This enables progress to be monitored over a particular timeframe.  If a student hasn’t progressed from Week 1 to Week 3, then some pretty interesting discussions need to be had with that student!

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