Monday, September 12, 2016

Don't Forget about the Data

Formative Assessment, Summative Assessment, turn-in ration of assignments, zeroes, behavior, calls home, referrals, tardies, absences, etc.  There is data about your student popping out your ears.  Are you listening to it?

For many teachers, school has started and you are staring down back to school night.  Parent attendance may or may not be high at these events, but those who show up may wonder if there kid needs a tutor, what does their angel need to do to be successful, and what can they do to help their pride-&-joy succeed in your class.

It is possible that you have answers.  Ones that you have had canned for years, but are they the right ones?  With the amount of technology integration, you inevitably have data on your students.  You know how they write, when they do their assignments, how they do on formative assessments, what are their strengths, and what are their weaknesses.  Use the data to drive these discussions.

Not all data is quantitative.  When I collected data and completed my dissertation, this was the hardest thing for me to understand.  I had a bachelor's degree in chemistry, if it is not a number, then it didn't matter (not really).  You have many different kinds of data about your students, use these data points.  Inevitably, you have collected them while talking with your class.  Does the student make eye contact?  Does the student answer questions with the voice inflection of question?  Sure you may have data on the scores on tests, quizzes, and exit tickets?

Data is not something to be feared.  I love data because I have learned that I often get the following questions:

  1. Is what you are doing working?
  2. How do you know?
I can only answer this question with data.

Imagine that your principal asked you those two questions. What would your answer be?  How could you give them data?  What pieces of data have you collected?

Why are people afraid of data?  Data can tell you if what you are doing is not working.  That may be scary for some, but there are limits to data.  Make sure that you always put your data in context.  Use it to help you write a story, do not let the data be the only thing that makes up the story.  Give it context, faces, and make sure that you get (and give) the entire picture of what the data is helping to tell you.

Why do I bring this up? If there is no expectation of looking at data, then you have time to get comfortable with it.  If you are expected to collect data to rationalize what you are doing, then make sure your data is not just a set of numbers and charts, make sure it is a story.  

How do you get data if you think you have none?  Count the number of times kids speak in class, give a formative assessment through a google form so you can track the data (do this over several days to see improvement).  Talk to students about what they understand and what they do not understand and look for patterns.  Time yourself while you teach and measure engagement with anecdotal evidence or formative assessment.

What are you doing in class?  Is it working?  How do you know?

No comments:

Post a Comment