About 8 years ago, I blogged about my “Stamp Sheets.” In fact, it was “Idea 45” on Creative Language Class. This was one of the first steps that helped me to shift to proficiency-based instruction. Today I’d like to tell you why I still love them and how they have changed over the years. Just like a real love story, right?! ❤️

Each sheet has the daily objectives for the entire unit. I prefer to have smaller units, so each one was usually for 3 weeks.
Next I look at the major unit goals (communication, culture, comparisons, community, connections). I start “unpacking” them by creating daily objectives. In each box, I put one daily objective. This really helped me to plan and ensure I’m covering all the major goals. Equally as important, I give these sheets to the students. This lets them know what we we going to learn and gave them a way to track their progress. No more “Surprise! It’s the end of the unit and there’s a test!” This helped to lower student anxiety as well.
Normally I would teach a lesson that would cover one objective per day. Sometimes I found that naturally I could cover two objectives in one day. For example: “I can ask questions about…” goes well with “I can answer questions about…” OR “I can describe…” goes well with “I can give my opinion.” There’s no exact way to do this. You could put them together (I can ask and answer questions about…). My students loved the double stamp days so I left them separate. Who doesn’t want more stamps?!
I usually leave a few blanks to allow for tweaks along the way. So if there was a lesson that didn’t go well or I realized they needed to work on more, I could add a new one that “recycled” the lesson. For example: Let’s say during the “I can give basic information about a love celebration.” I notice that they struggled. I could add one that is “I can give my opinion about love celebrations.” so we could work on that a little more.

Another advantage was that students could add their own objectives. Sometimes there were students that were at a higher level than the majority of the class (aka the native speaker put in level 1) or someone that was a little behind. Overall this was great for differentiation, plus I didn’t have to worry about filling all the blanks.

In the very last box, I like to put an objective that is “packed” back up and vague. Usually I have something like “I can talk about…whatever the unit is about.” This has been a nice way to put everything together and try it before the assessment. So basically, this can be a review day.
At the bottom, I asked them to circle which proficiency level they wanted to reach. This was great to be able to adjust it for higher and lower students.

So here’s where the stamps come in… after a lesson, if they can do the objective at their proficiency goal, then I stamp or sign the box. If they can’t do it, I tell them to go practice more and come back later.

This also helped to get more speaking checks, instead of always being written. It was easy to stamp the sheet right, then collect later. If it was written and turned in, then I just recorded it in my grade book the traditional way.

Here’s another option. Once they understood what a “good answer” at their proficiency level looked like, I let them either sign off on their own, sign off on a partner’s, or designate several students (usually 5 or 6) for them to visit. I mixed it up to keep them guessing.

Could they cheat? Yep. However I saw few students cheating because they knew they would have to know it at the end when I assessed their summative assessments and this was a low-pressure formative check.

This is a newer addition: I started adding the authentic resources that would be good for input in order to complete the objective.

Reason 1: This helped me to lesson plan and remember to give plenty of input.

Reason 2: Sometimes I’d ask them to find their own resource during class. For example: First I would show them a resource and do something with it. Next they would go find one and do the same thing. Then I’d stamp the resource box showing they had completed that task. It helped with the accountability factor.

How can I get to everyone everyday?

The answer is it’s tough and I don’t recommend that you try to get to everyone, every day. When I tried to do that at first, it caused a lot of downtime while I was checking. And downtime meant behavior problems.

Suggestion 1: Call up 5 or so students a day and check only them.

Suggestion 2: Let them check themselves (like the signing off listed above).

Suggestion 3: Cut up the objectives that you’ve done so far and put in a bucket. At the end of the week, pull two or three of them out for them to answer and turn in. This is a good review center/station too.

Suggestion 4: Set up centers/stations at the end of the week and sit at one of them. There you can quickly check and stamp them off.

How do I grade them?

I usually had them staple their stamp sheet to their summative assessment after they completed it. Then I had a “packet” to put all grades in at once (I also collected their “Real World Homework“). This was a process for me so let me show you how I progressed.

Step 1: Count up how many they had stamped out of how many possible. That went in the grade book as points. Remember that I didn’t count every objective on there, just the ones that I stamped.

Step 2: Same as Step 1, except it was in a separate category called “progress/classwork” where it was weighted pretty low, like 5% of overall grade.

Step 3: Same as Step 2, except it was weighted as 0%. Now it was only used as data/evidence to support why someone was earning a certain grade. Mainly, I noticed that if a student had a low amount of stamps, they were not doing well on the assessment. This was my preferred way, especially when I was at a standards-based school.


Well, now you know a little more about why I still love my Stamp Sheets. The original post has some great dialogue in the comments from other teachers if you want to check that out.


Other Creative Language Class Posts with Stamp Sheet Examples