Some teachers may be reluctant to use data in their teaching for a variety of reasons. They may feel overwhelmed by the amount of data available or unsure of how to interpret and use it effectively. They may also be worried about being judged or evaluated based on student data. However, it is important for teachers to take using data seriously in their teaching for several reasons. Here are some ways for teachers to get excited about using data:
Data is Exciting
I love data! When asked for my hobbies I put down data. When GOOD data is collected and you have the RIGHT data it is truly transformative. Unfortunately, we are often awash in bad data.
Last year I had a conversation with a parent on the phone. Because I collect data in Google Classroom by adding hashtags to my assignment descriptions I was able to quickly break down for the parent what activities their child participated in and which ones they avoided. Going beyond a simple percentage breakdown of grade categories made for a significantly more meaningful experience.
Helping Teachers to Understand the Importance of Data
First, data can be a powerful tool for informing and improving instruction, helping teachers understand their students’ strengths, weaknesses, and learning needs. Second, data can help teachers set and track progress towards specific goals, whether that be improving student achievement in a particular subject area or creating a more positive classroom culture. Finally, using data can help teachers advocate for their students.
Schoolytics is One Source of Good Data
To accomplish this parent interaction I used schoolytics.com. On the “Students” table I can look up any student in my class and gain helpful insights. Look up a student and select “View Student Profile”
By Assignment Categories
Because I took the time to set up my data in a way that is helpful to me it is truly exciting to see a breakdown per hashtag for a student. I can see what is and is not working. The “By Assignment Categories” not only gives me information about student performance by hashtag, but also by Google Classroom topic. I can also adjust the date ranges to see if the student is improving.
Schoolytics is one example of how I use data to be excited about helping students learn! However, there are many data sources that can be used to hopefully make my life easier and make better connections with students.
25 Ways to Use Data
1. Use data to inform and improve your teaching.
How do you know your lesson worked? When I have a successful lesson, this is what I live for! My gut feelings sometimes betray me when I look at the data. Oh, I guess we were having fun but the learning did not stick. When you see your students improving and have hard evidence that is truly exciting!
2. Get students involved in collecting and analyzing data.
When students track their own data they do better. Tip, students can log into schoolytics.com for free to view their progress in their classes.
3. Set and track progress towards specific goals.
Go a step further than just having students look up their progress, but also have them REFLECT and GOAL SET. Goal setting is powerful for student learning. Google Forms is great for this.
4. Use data to tell a story.
My example above showed how I was able to create an entire narrative with specifics about my student when I had the right data. It was not just a snapshot in time but schoolytics provided me insights into truly how my student was as a learner.
5. Collaborate with other teachers to use data.
Setting goals as a department and looking at the data to see that it is working is truly exciting! Even if it is not working, working together with others to solve a common problem is exciting. Challenges are called challenges because the solution is not easy. With data you can tell that it is working or you can stop spinning your wheels and should try something else. The key is making sure you’re collecting meaningful data that will really let you know if you’re on track.
Collecting good data is VERY INTENTIONAL.
If you’re relying on pre-made data sources such as standardized test scores you will probably find this frustrating. If the data collected is a hot mess…. this is not a great data experience.
6. Identify and address inequities in student learning.
Firstly, assess student performance regularly, by using formative and summative assessments and tracking the results, to identify learning gaps and disparities. Secondly, analyze the data to identify patterns and trends in student performance. This will allow you to identify specific groups of students who are struggling. Next, create targeted interventions and strategies, such as differentiated instruction and small-group instruction, to address the identified inequities and support the students who are struggling. Also, involve students and families in the process by providing regular feedback and encouraging participation in educational activities. Additionally, reflect on the effectiveness of the interventions, tracking student progress over time, and making adjustments as needed. Lastly, work with other educators and administration to address systemic issues, such as school culture and funding, that may be contributing to the inequities.
7. Inform lesson planning and curriculum development.
Do we teach students or content? To teach students you have to take the data you know about students and use this to build the curriculum guide.
8. Personalize learning for individual students.
While gradebooks and data collection tools do not generally actually measure student engagement they can certainly give us insights to students not being engaged.
By adding a plethora of hashtags to each Google Classroom assignment as to the topic, the assignment type, the standard, the activity type, the tool, etc… I can see that students are not that into ____. What does engage that student? How can I assign more of that?
My new favorite way to personalize learning is to use ChatGPT. If I know a student is really into soccer or Roblox, I can ask ChatGPT how to use these examples to relate to the learning objective.
9. Measure the effectiveness of different teaching strategies.
As my friend Ginger Lewman says, “If it is not working, do something different.” One thing I loved about the book Building Thinking Classrooms by Peter Liljedahl is his approach to research. Do something radically different than the traditional way of doing it and have a way to measure if it is better. If it shows improvement, tweak it until you’ve maximized the amount of improvement. If not, stop doing that. Try something else.
Be bold, try something different. But make sure you have a way to compare the different teaching strategies to know if this is a direction to continue in.
10. Track student growth over time.
Tracking growth is tricky. However, especially for a struggling student showing that they are growing can be very motivating. It was so helpful for me to be able to adjust the date range in Schoolytics so I can see how they did last month compared to this month.
11. Identify and support struggling students.
Is the grade in the gradebook the only indicator that a student is struggling? Maybe they are hanging on grade wise but are struggling in other areas. This is where the hashtags and topic data in Schoolytics really helped me. Just being able to break the Google Classroom data down by individual student was a game changer in supporting students.
12. Celebrate student achievements and successes.
Too often we focus on what students are missing. However, when we get to celebrate with students this truly is one of the ways for teachers to get excited about using data. Send high fives from Schoolytics. Call home to share with guardians that the student has made growth goals. Is there anything better than seeing a student proud of their efforts and learning?
13. Use data to guide professional development for teachers.
Initially, schools should conduct a needs assessment to determine the areas of professional development that teachers need the most support in. Next, they can use data from student assessments, observations, and other sources to identify specific areas where individual teachers or groups of teachers need improvement. Then, professional development should be designed to target these specific areas and be directly aligned with the identified needs. This could include workshops, coaching, or other forms of professional learning. Additionally, data can also be used to measure the effectiveness of professional development by tracking changes in teacher practice and student learning outcomes.
Regularly Review the Data
By regularly reviewing data, schools can make adjustments to their professional development programs to ensure they are meeting the ongoing needs of teachers and positively impacting student learning. Moreover, ongoing professional development opportunities that allow teachers to share data and learn from their peers can also be valuable in providing them with new insights and ideas for improvement.Finally, It is crucial that professional development opportunities are tailored to meet the needs of individual teachers, giving them the support they need to grow and improve.
14. Evaluate the effectiveness of professional development for teachers.
Firstly, teachers should set specific goals for what they hope to achieve through the professional development. Next, pre and post assessments can be administered to teachers before and after professional development sessions to measure changes in their knowledge, skills, and attitudes. Additionally, observations of teacher practice can be conducted to measure changes in instruction before and after professional development. This can be done through observations of lessons, teacher feedback, and self-evaluation.
Impact of PD on Student Learning
Student learning data can also be used to evaluate the effectiveness of professional development. This data should be analyzed to determine if student learning outcomes improved as a result of the professional development.
Furthermore, teachers should be surveyed to gather their perceptions of the professional development and their implementation of what they have learned. Surveys and interviews can provide valuable insights on the quality of professional development and the challenges that teachers face in putting new skills and knowledge into practice.
Finally, schools should analyze the data collected through these various sources to identify areas of success and areas for improvement in the professional development provided to teachers. This information can be used to make informed decisions about future professional development opportunities for teachers.
15. Track the impact of new educational technologies.
Educational companies are not altruistic. They are not classroom teachers with a personal vested interest in that one struggling student being successful. The design of many educational technologies is NOT based around what is best for students and student learning but rather what can bring in users. It’s not uncommon that I am truly appalled at features or lack of features in an edtech product. Get past the shiny wow factor and the cute graphics… is this really impacting student learning and student engagement?
16. Identify and support students with special needs.
Fair is not always equal. Bottom line we are here to help students be successful. If a student is struggling it is malpractice to say we would not provide helpful interventions for a student just because other students do not get the same supports. What does EACH student need, rather than ALL students need? Without good data we can not identify how to make these essential adjustments.
17. Use data to track the impact of different interventions on student learning.
We do a lot of things for students. Some are effective and some are a drain on our time and resources. Be quick to identify what is not really making an impact and more just looking like the school is doing something. If it’s not working, do something else!
18. Inform parent-teacher communication and collaboration.
To be honest, as a Google Classroom user the communication to parents is poor and frustrating. Thank goodness I stumbled upon Schoolytics to give me better ways to communicate with parents. I love love love the student log in Schoolytics to help me be part of a team to communicate what does and does not work for students. Schoolytics also has an optional parent portal that is much better than guardian summaries in Classroom.
Without good data it is difficult to really partner and collaborate with parents and guardians.
19. Identify and address gaps in student knowledge.
What is exciting to me as a teacher is the gradual shift by some schools towards a standards based gradebook. I have started hacking my Google Classroom by adding the standards to the description as a hashtag. #pythagoreantheorem and #mp3. I’m then able to pull off this hack with the hashtag tracking in Schoolytics. I can see exactly what students are struggling in and modify the lessons to address this.
20. Use data to differentiate instruction for diverse groups of students.
Who needs to learn this topic? Sometimes everyone, sometimes not everyone. I taught 9th grade Algebra 1. At that particular district 100% of the students had taken Algebra 1 in 8th grade and had not passed. Does every student need a lesson on “what is a variable?” Probably not. By using a digital quiz I can get fast feedback on what students do and do not know. Rather than going over common denominators with all students because I know many are weak in it, I can instead use that data to work specifically with the students who actually need help with this.
21. Inform decisions about grouping students for instruction.
Sometimes randomized grouping is the way to go and sometimes we need to have data that helps us to make grouping decisions. In the book Mathematical Mindsets, Jo Boaler shares research around the benefits of heterogenous groups rather than homogenous. Having different skill sets, talents, and abilities raises the tide for everyone.
22. Track student attendance and engagement.
If you are interested in student engagement check out Heather Lyon and her books on student engagement. One thing she shares is “you can not tell a student is engaged by looking at them.” We think we can tell, but does the data support that?
23. Identify and address student behavior issues.
A game changer for me truly is the student log in Schoolytics. Yesterday I had a student ask to stay after class to discuss a challenge they were having. This was information that my co-teacher and the counselor needed to be aware of. By selecting “Student log” under the student profile you can add entries for any interactions with students and stakeholders. The student log is intended to bring teams together to better help support each other. Sharing the data and being able to be on the same page is an exciting way to use data!
24. Inform school-wide decision making.
If teachers are not collecting good data then it is difficult for site and district admin to make helpful and supportive decisions. What programs is everyone using and using in a consistent way so that when decisions are made based on data it’s actually helpful.
Schoolytics provides a unified data platform that can truly help support students and teachers better. Sign up to learn more about how Schoolytics can help you and your district get your data in one place and useable.
25. Use data to advocate for students and education.
Without data showing your students are not meeting the goals you have set it is hard to advocate for change. If we know something is not working and have the data to back it up we can ask for spending, resources, or support to make that change.
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Incorporating play in math education is not just a fanciful idea; it’s a transformative approach that has tangible benefits for both teachers and students. Play fosters an environment of exploration and curiosity, helping to dispel the myth that math is a dry, unapproachable subject. Through games and interactive activities, students are encouraged to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. This playful methodology aligns perfectly with fostering a growth mindset, breaking down barriers of anxiety and opening up new avenues for intellectual development. Ultimately, integrating play in math education can lead to deeper understanding, improved engagement, and a lifelong love of learning.
Ways for Teachers to Get Excited About Using Data
Use data to inform and improve your teaching. By analyzing data on student performance and using it to inform your teaching practices, you can identify areas where students are struggling and adapt your instruction to better meet their needs. This can be both personally fulfilling and beneficial for your students.
Get students involved in collecting and analyzing data. By involving students in the data collection and analysis process, you can help them develop important critical thinking skills and foster a sense of ownership over their learning.
Use data to set and track progress towards specific goals. Whether you want to improve student achievement in a particular subject area or create a more positive classroom culture, data can help you set specific, measurable goals and track progress towards achieving them.
Use data to tell a story. Data can be a powerful tool for telling a compelling story about your students, your teaching, or your school. By finding patterns and trends in the data and presenting it in a visually appealing way, you can effectively communicate the impact of your work to others.
Collaborate with other teachers to use data. Working with other teachers to analyze and use data can be a great way to share ideas, learn from each other, and identify best practices. It can also help build a culture of continuous improvement within your school or district.
10 ways using data can help teachers in a variety of ways, including:
- Identifying areas where students are struggling and adapting instruction to better meet their needs.
- Setting and tracking progress towards specific goals, such as improving student achievement in a particular subject area or creating a more positive classroom culture.
- Personalizing learning for individual students by using data to understand their strengths, weaknesses, and learning needs.
- Measuring the effectiveness of different teaching strategies by tracking student progress over time.
- Identifying and supporting struggling students by analyzing data on student performance and using it to inform interventions and support.
- Celebrating student achievements and successes by tracking progress and identifying areas of strength.
- Guiding professional development for teachers by using data to identify areas where additional support or training may be needed.
- Evaluating the effectiveness of professional development for teachers by using data to track changes in teacher practice and student learning.
- Identifying and supporting students with special needs by using data to understand their unique learning needs and challenges.
- Differentiating instruction for diverse groups of students by using data to understand their individual strengths, weaknesses, and learning needs.
More ways using data can help teachers
- Informing parent-teacher communication and collaboration by sharing data on student progress and areas of concern with parents.
- Identifying and addressing gaps in student knowledge by analyzing data on student performance and using it to inform instruction.
- Informing decisions about grouping students for instruction by using data to understand their learning needs and abilities.
- Tracking student attendance and engagement to identify and address any issues that may be impacting their learning.
- Identifying and addressing student behavior issues by using data to understand the root causes of any problems and develop targeted interventions.
- Informing school-wide decision making by using data to understand trends and patterns in student performance and identify areas for improvement.
- Advocating for students and education at the local, state, and national levels by using data to demonstrate the impact of education on student learning and success.
Collect and Use Good Data
Ways for teachers to get excited about using data has to start with an intentional approach to what data is helpful and how to ensure that what is collected is consistent and clean.
First, teachers should clearly define their learning goals and objectives. Next, they can use assessments, such as quizzes and tests, to gather data on student performance. Additionally, teachers can also collect data through observation and monitoring of student engagement and participation in class.
Once data has been collected, it should be analyzed to identify areas of student strengths and weaknesses. Based on this analysis, teachers can adjust their instruction and adapt their teaching methods to better meet the needs of their students.
Furthermore, this data can be used to set measurable student learning targets and track progress towards these goals. Regularly reviewing and monitoring this progress data can help teachers make informed decisions about the effectiveness of their instruction, and make necessary changes to improve student learning outcomes.
Finally, it is important that schools create a culture of data-driven decision making, where teachers have access to the data they need, are trained on how to use it, and have time to analyze it and use it to improve their instruction.
When teachers are reluctant about data
Firstly, it’s important to recognize that a fear of data is a common concern among teachers and should be addressed with empathy.
Next, schools can provide professional development opportunities to help teachers understand the basics of data analysis and how to use data to inform their instruction. This could include workshops, online resources, or coaching on how to read and interpret data.
Additionally, schools can provide opportunities for teachers to work with data in a low-stakes environment, allowing them to become more comfortable with using data to inform their instruction.
Furthermore, schools can provide teachers with examples of successful data-driven instruction, highlighting the positive impact it can have on student learning.
Moreover, involving teachers in data-driven decision-making process and giving them ownership of the data can help teachers feel more confident and invested in the data-use.
Finally, it’s important for schools to create a supportive and non-punitive culture around data use, where teachers feel safe to ask questions and make mistakes while learning.