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Tool: Observing with the tally marks technique

Tally marks can be used to record many different types of information. Although you do not record the actual words or actions, totals and percentages of different types of behaviors can be informative. 

  • Select the general area of focus. For example:
    • Students called on by teacher
    • Participating students
    • Types of questions asked by the teacher
    • Interactions with students initiated by teacher
    • Interactions with teacher initiated by students
    • Teacher praise statements
    • Teacher management statements
    • Children called on with or without hands raised
  • Create relevant sub-categories for focus area if desired. For example:
    • Types of questions
    • Types of interactions
    • Gender
    • Use of specific words
  • Record tally marks and compute percentages if applicable


Observation Notes:

TEACHER QUESTIONS AND GENDER   Teacher: Mary K.  Lesson: Economics  

Date: 5/6/04   Observer:  Jim B.   Children at desks.  Teacher wanders.  Begin: 2:15

Kind of questions Boys Girls

Factual questions

llll ll


Clarification questions


Explanation questions


llll lll

Opinion questions



Application questions



Analysis suggestions

Analysis depends upon the focus and sub-categories chosen. Information can be examined according to individuals, gender, seat location or other variables.