Sunday, August 07, 2011

Collecting Data: The First 20 Days of School

As we are gearing up to start our new K-5 Standards Based Report Cards I have been trying to piece together how I can begin to collect effective data.

Where do I begin?

The First 20 Days of School (*pdf) are traditionally spent with many team building activities and discovering my new students strengths and passions.  Within the context of our Reading class much of my data collecting is done through anecdotal notes and observations during those first weeks of school.

How can I use my observations to effectively report out on student learning?

First: I listed the Reading Competencies
  • Monitors own comprehension
  • Answers literal questions
  • Answers inferential and critical/application questions
  • Identifies and summarizes main ideas and details from the text.
  • Draws conclusions/makes inferences using text information
  • Compares and contrasts to gain understanding
Google_Form_for_Reading_ObservationsSecond: I Designed a Google Form to Begin to Collect my Observations

During the Independent Reading portion of my Reading Workshop I usually conference with students and have a discussion about the books they are reading.  The questions I ask may or may not be directly related to the days Mini-lesson, but ultimately that conference is spent trying to help that student become a more effective independent reader.

During these 3-5 minute conferences I keep a clipboard where I jot down my anecdotal notes.  This data has traditionally helped me create reading groups and determine what skills and strategies will be taught.

At this point, I can see myself using a hybrid of this type of data collection.  I will still use my almighty handy clipboard, but one of the computers will also have the Google Form open where I can quickly insert the data.

The beauty of using this Google Form is that all the data will be dumped into a Spreadsheet where I can quickly analyze and identify common strengths and needs among my class. 

For years, we teachers have used our keen sense of observation to make instructional decisions.  However, in the light of R.T.I. and Standard Based Reporting we are now being asked to provide more data to support those decisions.  I for one think this will ultimately improve our craft which will translate into more effective student learning. This idea was inspired by Bill Ferriter after reading What I Would Do with an iPad in My Classroom.

Thanks Bill.

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