28 Replies Latest reply on Jan 27, 2013 6:38 AM by tdiener

    Checklists

    tdiener

       

      I love checklists. I make them, many or them, everyday, They keep me focused and on task. And, sadly, at the end of the day remind me what I’ve procrastinated upon.

      I love NPR too. Did  anyone else hear the NPR Podcast: Atul Gawande's 'Checklist' For Surgery Success on January 05, 2010?
      http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122226184

      Fascinating podcast! I immediately made teaching and learning connections. I plan to use the podcast when I introduce teachers to the Assessing Projects Tool. (Which, I might say, produces top-notch checklists.)

      checklist

      The podcast promotes Atul Gawande’s book: The Checklist Manifesto How To Get Things Right. I hope it is available as an eBook. I look forward to reading it on my brand-new really cool Barnes and Noble Nook.

      Here’s the NPR’s book review of The Checklist Manifesto How To Get Things Right, By Atul Gawande"

      “Surgeon and writer Atul Gawande's crusade seems utterly mundane at first: He wants surgeons to use checklists to help them avoid mistakes caused by fatigue, flagging attention and other factors. Using anecdotes from aviation, construction and medicine, Gawande sets out to demonstrate that routine works wonders, even though checklists require the putting aside of pride and of surgeons' mystique of infallibility. Ultimately, he even brings the book back to "Sully" Sullenberger's landing of a plane in the Hudson River, creating a compelling case for an idea so simple that the hardest task he may face is convincing people of its importance.

       

      Atul Gawande digs into the eye-glazing debate over health care costs and makes it clear and sometimes riveting (although some of his critics grumble he makes it a bit too simple). The book can be summarized in a sentence: Really smart surgeons make fewer mistakes if they act like airline pilots preparing to take off, working through a checklist of best practices before they get started. Do you really need a whole book to convey this idea? Not on the surface, but the stakes are high. Doctors resist checklists, fearing it makes them look dumb; yet when some doctors finally adopted checklists in a study, medical mistakes went down drastically. The book comes most alive when Gawande dwells on the actual cases of patients affected by mistakes, like the man who was accidentally administered potassium at 100 times the intended concentration — a dose that would normally only be administered at an execution.— Steve Inskeep, co-host of Morning Edition”

        • Re: Checklists
          julesfischy

          Interesting - I guess a question one may ask when preparing for surgery is do you use a checklist?  I was chatting with a colleague last night that it was so obvious on an assignment which students did not do the self- assessment before submitting their work.  We were using a scoring guide and not a checklist but it was the same thing- if they only would have reviewed.

           

          Many teachers create assessments to help studetnts but they don't always use them.  This could be a way to get them on board.

          • Re: Checklists
            glen_w

            Tom,

             

            The idea of a checklist is just as important for a surgeon as for a student or teacher (IMHO) . I understand how and why checklists are used. I've found my students can focus better when given a checklist. This applies to the gifted, special education, and regular education student. I introduced my student teacher to the concept of how a checklist could benefit lesson planning and daily instruction. She was so excited at how checklists can benefit both the planning and implementation of lessons. She then wondered aloud why she was not given this information from her college professors. I said since I did not teach the class I would not be able to give her a good answer. Perhaps college classes only have so much time and just can't cover everything.

            • Re: Checklists

              I read an article about checklists, probably in response to this new book, in a weekly news magazine I get, The Week. There was a cool story in it about checklists and the band Van Halen (of all things!).

               

              Back in the 80s, the band had a provision in their contract with the venues where they performed that there had to be a bowl of M & Ms backstage with all the brown ones removed. It seems like just an egocentric request, but it was very smart. The band had a huge show with tons of equipment and they had to be really careful about how things were set up for safety reasons. The M & M request was buried in the middle of a checklist with all the things that had to be in place for the show.

               

              David Lee Roth (Remember him?) said that he would check backstage first, and if there wasn't a bowl of M & Ms with the brown ones taken out, he knew that they hadn't read the list carefully. Then he would tell them they had to recheck everything.

               

              I love that story.

               

              Peggy

              • Re: Better by Atul Gawande
                tlmaves

                I love that author. I read another one of his books, Better, which I highly recommend. The main theme is performance and is filled with stories from the medical profession.I like how he takes a seemingly simple procedure such as medical staff processes on washing hands and demonstrates (with data) the impact on the spread of infection in a hospital. I definitely was making connections to performance outcomes in education (literally and metaphorically).

                 

                I am excited to hear of his other book on checklists--thanks for sharing.

                • Re: Checklists

                  Thanks Tom, I just downloaded it to my Kindle! I can read it on the plane to Austin!

                  • Re: Checklists
                    tdiener

                    Atul Gawande's new book about checklists    received  more press this weekend:

                     

                     

                    NY Times Review of Atul Gawande new book, “The Checklist Manifesto”
                    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/24/books/review/Jauhar-t.html?scp=2&sq=gawande&st=cse


                    NY Times Podcast featuring Atul Gawande
                    http://papercuts.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/01/22/book-review-podcast-atul-gawande/?scp=1&sq=gawande&st=cse

                      • Re: Checklists

                        Thanks for sharing Tom. I am definitely interested in reading this book since I am an avid checklist creator. Can't live without them.

                        • Re: Checklists

                          I am reading the Checklist Manifesto and it is amazing to see how they used the checklists to communicate as well as "to do" lists for large building projects such as stadiums and skyscrapers. We could take some tips on communication to help our students. We learn so much about how our students learn and what strategies work for them to get them to relax etc and often that info is not passed on and the students suffer. The book is fascinating.

                            • Re: Checklists

                              JoAnn,

                              Sounds like a great book to add to my spring reading list! I am very intrigued by the whole concept of checklists because it is one of my most effective strategies to accomplish tasks. And yes, these are things that we should be teaching students as lifelong skills.

                          • Re: Checklists

                            Tom

                             

                            What a great article, and a great way of promoting checklists with teachers and students. When talking with teachers about formitive assessments I always emphasize checklists as an easy fist step when moving to rubrics. Isn't a checklist just a simple yes or no rubric? Few teachers use checklists as an assessment before taking the Intel classes, and almost all do after taking them.

                            • Re: Checklists
                              lsrdhunter@msn.com

                              Tom... how do you like your nook?

                              • PBL Checklists
                                Bonnie Feather

                                Be sure to visit Naomi's discussion on PBL.  She posted links to several sites which have  already-created checklists for PBL.

                                • Re: Checklists
                                  lsrdhunter@msn.com

                                  Tom,

                                  I kept smelling salts next to my chair as I read the Checklist Manifesto by Dr. Gawande, a surgeon and author! The medical scene is not a place I normally like to be and Dr. Gawande graphically describes several emergency room scenarios in his book... a stabbing victim, a small child who drowned but recovered after two hours of intensive interventions, and a middle aged limo driver who flat lined unexpectedly. The emergency room staff had to be on their toes every second while they worked through complex problems. On average a patient in ICU receives 178 procedures per day. With this many actions there is lots of room for error. This book reminded me of the TV show called Dr. House.

                                   

                                  Dr. Gawande introduces Dr. Pronovost, a critical care specialist at Johns Hopkins. Dr. Pronovost wrote a five-point checklist which he gave to the nurses in the I.C.U. and with the approval of hospital administrators, told them to check off each item when a doctor inserted a central line into a patient. The five steps were necessary to avoid subsequent infection. He recognized that one-third of the time doctors were skipping at least one of these critical steps!!! The checklist greatly reduced the margin of error. OK... the next time I go into the hospital I will bring my own checklists!


                                  The book is not all medical... Dr. Gawande also makes reference to aviation and construction procedures. I can definitely see the connection to education and assessment.

                                   

                                  Good book... thanks for the recommendation.

                                  • Re: Checklists
                                    tdiener

                                    I remembered this old conversation about checklists when I saw the photograph below in the New York Times. I had the good fortune to see the play War Horse on Broadway last year. The play was sensational; wonderful story and amazing use of puppetry. As you can see in the photograph, the stage crew used checklists to make sure the horse puppets were ready for each performance. Checklists...easy to create and use, yet very effective.

                                     

                                    There's a great TED Talk about the Handspring Puppet Company (they created the War Horse puppets). Well worth a view Handspring Puppet Company: The genius puppetry behind War Horse - YouTube

                                     

                                    warhorse.jpg

                                    Other Fields to Conquer - Slide Show - NYTimes.com

                                    • Re: Checklists

                                      "Check" out Checklists.com

                                      The current featured checklist is how to save the earth.

                                       

                                      I listened to the NPR story about Gawande's surgical checklist and the TED Talk about the War Horse Puppets. One thing that stood out in the NPR piece is that while 80% of the surgeons wanted to continue the checklist, 94% would want doctors performing surgery on them to use a checklist. In the TED Talk, I was struck by the craftsmanship, all hand-man; shows you how high-tech low tech can be. Also, while watching the TED Talk, I noticed a TED Talk by David Blaine about how he held his breath for 17 minutes. I highly recommend watching this -- lot's of science, lot's of experimenting, lot's of training, lot's of perseverance.

                                        • Re: Checklists
                                          tdiener

                                          I've seen and enjoyed the David Blaine presentation too. TED Talks are wonderful. Their popularity leads me to believe that lecture is not dead, and sometimes a sage-on-the-stage is just what we need.

                                          • Re: Checklists
                                            lwenske

                                            had never heard of checklists.com--thanks, eric!  great stuff!  i just read a few--glad, they are trying to help us in all areas of our lives.

                                          • Re: Checklists
                                            holmesg

                                            Checklists can not only bring focus to the assignment/project but create a timeline for work completion as well.  The checklist can guide teachers in preparing instructions, documents and other materials for facilitating the lesson and allow the teacher to empower students while completing assignments by due dates.

                                            • Re: Checklists
                                              lwenske

                                              I love this thread!  Checklists and lists in general are such a LOVE of mine!  I was so thrilled to show my mom (a bit of a techno-phobe-but-not-as-much-as-time-goes-on) how to keep grocery list and memo's on the new iPhone we had just given her for Christmas.  She didn't seem as excited as I was (and as I am to keep electronic lists of what I need to do). 

                                               

                                              I do agree that checklists for surgeons, for doctors, for all of us, in education and everywhere else, can be extremely helpful.  I do agree that people tend to seemingly believe that we don't need such things to help us--almost like a, "we're too smart for that!" attitude.  However, so many parts of our jobs could be made easier by agreeing to use checklists in high stress situations or in serious matters---or even just in our classrooms.  I know I do too many think aloud/oral checklists with my students, as I am always announcing to my first graders, "Did you color in your square?  Pack your homework?  Put up your chair, and have you had a seat on the carpet?"  This happens all day, repeatedly, from tasks in the Computer Lab to procedural task like the one from dismissal time above.  The checklists, and me trying to help them make mental checklists (do I have my lunchbox/water bottle/jacket when leaving recess/lunch) and teaching them how to self-monitor could probably be drastically improved if I utilized technology to display such suggestions or if I simply wrote them down and went over it in multi-modal ways (instead of just as a constant Charlie Brown teacher speech every day).

                                               

                                              Loved the Van Halen M&M's mentioning and TED talks---always good stuff.

                                               

                                              This also reminds me of my 5th grade teacher, who told us, one day in math class, to completely read and follow the directions on a page she was handing us, which was also a competitive task to see who could submit their paper first.  She specifically stated, more than once:  to read the entire directions before beginning the long list of math problems.  I, as many others, read a small part of the instructions and hurriedly started answering math problems.

                                               

                                              Someone, immediately, got up and turned their paper in.  I, and a few others (as we sideways glanced at one another), were like, "There's no way they finished that whole page."  That's when our teacher, repeated her instructions.  And, just as we reread--or read for the first time, the ENTIRE instructions, we realized that the directions said to write your name on your paper and turn it in without answering any problems.    It was a nice pointing out of how competitive we could be, even with several warnings to read all of the directions before starting...human nature is an interesting thing.

                                                • Re: Checklists
                                                  lwenske

                                                  oh, yes, and when submitting tons of information for national board certification, you complete checklist after checklist to ensure that your "box" is packed just write in just the right order...  it's an undertaking to an extent--in that you have to be careful, but the checklists make it all very, very bearable.  i LOVE checklists!! 

                                                  • Re: Checklists
                                                    tdiener

                                                    Lisa,Thanks for your comments.  I like when you say "  I do agree that people tend to seemingly believe that we don't need such things to help us--almost like a, "we're too smart for that!" attitude. " Checklists have real power to keep us focused on purpose. The Visual Ranking Tool is a good example too. A simple easy to use tool with huge payoffs.