Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Using Data to Drive Choices in Math Workshop

As teachers, we used data all of the time.  We use data to plan our lessons, to form our groups and to evaluate our students.  This is the first year, I've given my students the responsibility of making choices in our math workshop based on their data.  I found this picture on Pinterest and decided to do the same thing.

{Taking a very deep breath.}

Here is our data from after the first benchmark math test, given some time in December.

No judging.  The chart isn't about judging.  The chart is about staying focused on our goals and working together to achieve them.

I'm sure some of you have immediate reactions to this information being so SO public.  I was a bit worried about that also.  I was worried that some of my students would feel horrible seeing their names under "I need help do to this."  But that wasn't the case.  When I showed them the chart, (whose name is stolen from The Book Whisperer), I explained what each part meant and how they should use it.  Instead of being depressed or paralyzed, I found the students to be VERY motivated to more out of the "help" category and toward the "expert" category.

Looking back at My Teacher Friend's post, I am using the same percentages as she is, but rather than writing 0-59% I wrote "I need help to do this."  For 60-84%, the students are under "I can do this most of the time."  And for 85% and above, the students are "experts."  Along the left side, I used I can statements written from the Common Core Standards.  For this benchmark, the students were expected to add and subtract decimals to the hundredths, multiply whole numbers using the traditional algorithm and divide whole numbers using the traditional algorithm.

One quick glance at this chart can tell you exactly what I wanted to review first.  And the students were able to use this data also when I made these:

I love binders for center activities.

In our school, we use the EnVisions Math Program.  I decided to abandon their games and instead have the kids chose their own task cards based on their data.  They can also use the task cards in our small group tutoring program or if they finish work early.

Each one of the "I Can" statements has a set of task cards for the kids.  The sets are fairly small, just 6 cards with the answer cards in the baggie, so the students can self check their work.  They look at the data chart, find their name in one of the categories and they self select the task cards.  They can also use the chart during our workshop to locate an expert to help them if I'm busy with a small group.  Once they finish the task cards (for one standard) and check their work, they can request an assessment.

Oh yes.  They REQUEST assessments.

I bought Miss Nannini's Standards Based Common Core Assessments for Fifth Grade to use after the students complete their task cards.  They complete the assessments and I mark them right away.  If they score into the next level on the chart, they get to move their sticky notes.  They love it.

Here you can see how many sticky notes have moved from the "I need help" category to the "I can do this" and even all the way to expert!  I have several students who have really put a tremendous effort into moving all of their sticky notes into "expert."  Those little pink stickies really stand out when they make it to expert!

THIS is what the data chart is about.  It's about celebrating student achievement, no matter where our students begin.

I don't want to pretend I have this all figured out, because I don't.  I've found one way to help my kids focus their efforts in math workshop.  One in which we ALL share the data and the responsibility.

Tell me, is your data public?


  1. This is really interesting! I like how you laid it out so succinctly for the students, and I love that they can see their progress. Our data is not public- we use MAPS as a benchmark every trimester, and my mind is spinning with how I can do this in guided reading.

    Everyone deServes to Learn

    1. Reading is so much more complex...I suppose you could make a chart for strategies you are working on or behaviors you are looking for!

  2. Our data isn't public but I like how your kids look to this as a motivating device! I'm happy to be your newest follower!
    Science for Kids Blog

  3. I like this idea. Our data is public WHEN we decide to share with our students. I would like to try this with my students this year. It kind of breeds a competition which my students LOVE! Great idea!!!

  4. I just found your blog and thank you for the sweet shout out! Your ideas are ON ANOTHER LEVEL!! I LOVE the sticky note idea and I imagine your kids do as well. Are you doing this again this year? I'd love to know how it goes. Having the visual for them is so important. I often think that a bit of competition can be a good thing and perhaps this will also get some of those high kids to look out for some of those low kids and help them a bit more. Thanks for sharing! :)

    YoungTeacherLove Blog