Thursday, January 21, 2016

Having students track their own data

It’s Mandy from Caffeine and Lesson Plans here, sharing some thoughts on tracking student data!

I don’t know about you, but I have a seriously hard time keeping track of data for my kiddos. Even though I teach a middle school grade, I am a generalist and teach all subjects. That means less kiddos to keep track of (yay) but way more subjects to keep track of (boo). I used to try to do everything on paper, and put it binders. It was a serious problem- I even had a binder to keep track of my binders. I just couldn’t keep up with tracking everything I had the kiddos doing. It was exhausting. In the middle of another long afternoon of tracking scores, it dawned on me that was I was doing was just silly. If I want the kiddos to be accountable for their scores, they should be responsible for tracking their own scores. If they are capable of writing it down, they are capable of tracking it! With that, I bid adieu to the data binders and said hello to individual data folders.

Once I had the idea in my head, I just ran with it. I started having my kiddos track anything that I would normally track. We took a pre-test on a unit, and they tracked their score. Once we finished the unit and took the post-test, they tracked that too- and calculated how much they grew! I found a simple bar graph chart that went up to 100%, and had the students color in the amount they received on the topic pretest.  Once the unit was over, the students used the exact same test as their posttest. They then tracked that data in their binder, and were able to see their own growth.  If you are looking to get started with minimal time investment, a quick google search will bring up a ton of graphs you can fill in, but here is the one I started with, free from Tons and tons of other data tracking forms are available online. Check out a pretty great list of free resources here

Since I began having my students track their own data I have seen such a huge shift in their attitude about learning. It's noticeable in all my kiddos, but it is incredibly obvious with some of my students who lack motivation. Suddenly, they care about making progress. Going from a 10% to 30% within a topic is no longer just "still failing"- it's measurable, viewable progress. Their bar graph visibly grew, making their growth concrete. They can see the change, proving to them that the effort is worth it. It's been an incredible shift, and I would definitely never go back! 

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