Monday, May 7, 2018

Practice in Action: Data Driven Instruction Through the Lens of Teachers and Students

As I have visited classrooms this spring, one of my focuses has been on how teachers are using data to hone in on the needs of their students. Not only have I seen some great ways teachers are using data to drive differentiation for learners but I've also observed how they are teaching students to use their own data to increase agency in their own learning. Below are some examples of data use by both teachers and students in elementary and secondary blended classrooms.

Tippet Middle School

Tippet uses a station rotation model for math in grades 6-8. Students have opportunities each week to learn in small groups with the teacher, work on collaborative activities with peers, learn independently through online assignments and focus on personal learning goals based on assessment data.
Tippet MS uses the NWEA MAP test as their benchmark assessment. Students have their own learning profile based on this assessment. NWEA also provides practice resources by objective which teachers organize in folders for students to access in Schoology. The reflection form above helps students focus on personal learning goals and holds them accountable for their own learning.

Math teachers at Tippet Middle School post class data tables for each chapter test for each period. Individual student data is posted on large data tables by TEKS. Students can track their personal data by ID number throughout the year to see their growth and what they need to improve. The green dot indicates that they demonstrated mastery on the fall benchmark test and the purple indicates mastery on the winter benchmark. The checkmark indicates a score of 80% or higher on the unit test for those TEKS.

Temple High School

The French teacher at Temple High School uses an individual rotation with a playlist shared with students via Google Classroom. As students complete assignments, they put checkmarks on the board so the teacher can quickly see who is progressing and who is not. She circulates around the room to encourage, give feedback and help for students as needed. To track progress, objectives are posted on a class chart and students' achievement level is recorded. Students who have acceptable or mastered indicators may select a grid number from a jar and place their initials on the incentive chart. Once an entire row is filled, all students on that row earn the reward list on the end. Apparently Jesus stickers are a favorite!

Kirk Elementary

Kirk Elementary is in their 3rd year of a blended learning implementation. It is obvious as you walk through the school that the use of data by students and teachers to inform their work is embedded in the school culture.

From left to right: 
  • This data display shows how the increased focus on positive student/teacher relationships has impacted behavior across all grade levels.
  • In each classroom, teachers use a touch screen monitor for students to record work completed. Teacher can see at a glance from anywhere in the room how students are progressing through independent work.
  • Class academic data provides a visual for discussions on student goal setting, effort and the correlations with achievement.

Kyle Elementary

In the last few weeks before STAAR testing, KES Instructional Coach Rachel Phife analyzed results from the fall and winter interim assessments and identified high priority TEKS for review. We then created a playlist organized by TEKS including online and offline reteach and practice opportunities for students. Students will use their test results to identify the TEKS they need to work on and will highlight those as their priority independent work. Teachers will continue to do small group instruction on current TEKS. Students will self assess their work using the tracking chart
Carpenter Hill Elementary

3rd Grade Students at Carpenter Hill use Dreambox Math. Teachers track student progress on their dashboard and assign students practice based on individual data. Students are encouraged to complete at least 7 lessons each week in order to master objectives. Crystal Stevens has students record their progress towards goals on the board each week. In Heather Myer's class, students are using a personal tracking chart to track mastery of 3rd grade math objectives. Additionally, they are tracking class progress to see growth over time.

Data comes in many forms

Regardless of the age group, model or subject, using data to inform instruction is a critical element  in blended classrooms. Online programs (Dreambox, Apex, IXL) can be a great source of data for both teachers and students but is not a requirement for a blended model. Teachers are using data from sites such as FormativeNearpod, Edpuzzle or traditional, non-digital assessments to differentiate instruction for students. Tools like Flipgrid or Explain Everything allow students to show what they know and give teachers a fast way to assess understanding.

Though it may come from several sources, choose data that is easily accessible, provides actionable information and allows you to differentiate instruction based on student needs. Use it consistently to target specific outcomes and to increase student agency in the learning process.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Exemplifying Growth Mindset: Blended Cohort Teachers Iterate and Refine Their Practice

I saw some exciting things happening in our blended learning cohort classrooms this week! As teachers become more comfortable with the models they are employing, they are iterating and refining to provide greater differentiation and opportunities for students to have agency in their learning process. Here are some examples of how teachers are pushing themselves and their students to grow and improve.

Christy Thomason, 1st Grade at Negley Elementary School


Christy has set up a math wall station where students can practice and apply previously learned concepts independently.  A cool addition is a recording studio set up where kids can demonstrate learning in a video and post directly to their SeeSaw account for the teacher to view. Christy can use this as a formative assessment and accountability piece for students independent work.

Allison Auth, 1st Grade at Elm Grove Elementary School

Ally has grouped students for learning stations and assigned a station leader who can provide peer tutoring assistance. The peer tutor I observed sat between two other students and provided feedback on adding coin values. This reinforces her understanding of coin values while helping her peers practice and correct mistakes. Students worked collaboratively and respectfully and were fully engaged in the learning! In this .gif, she notices her partner has accidentally put a nickel instead of a dime. She points this out to him, he swaps out the coin and they recount together.


Wendi Cruce, 1st Grade at Elm Grove Elementary School

Wendi borrowed 3D printing pens from the maker space to reinforce geometry concepts. Students review academic vocabulary such as rhombus, hexagon, vertex, edge and others while tracing shapes with a 3D pen. Students then pull the plastic shape from the paper and store in a plastic bag. Next week they will use them to construct 3D shapes. This was a small group, teacher-led station. Other students worked on individual learning paths in Dreambox during station rotation.IMG_1836

Bertha Endsley, 3rd Grade at Kyle Elementary School

Bertha has been combining an individual rotation model with a playlist and Google classroom for her Focused Instructional Time (FIT). Students work independently on both online and offline activities in the playlist while she pulls small groups for focused intervention. Now that students have learned the process, she is going to move to using different playlists based on learning needs. Additionally, she will incorporate a progress tracking chart and self-checking rubrics to build greater independence in students and to promote higher levels of work quality.

Caitlin Boyce-Brejcha, 1st Grade at Tobias Elementary School

Caitlin has been blending her math instruction since last spring using a station rotation.IMG_1894 She has recently moved to an individual rotation with paper playlists for station time. Students are expected to complete everything on their playlist for the week but may do it in any order. By doing this, she is meeting her goal to increase student agency and build independent learning skills. To track their time goals on Dreambox Math, Caitlin has taught students to use the iPad timer. Students mark off completed work for the week and post some of their assignments to SeeSaw for her to check later. She is able to pull small instructional groups for greater differentiation during station time. Caitlin employs this model several days each week.

Emily Hawk, 4th Grade at Tobias Elementary School

As we move into testing season, the use of data to determine specific learning needs of students is more important than ever. Using her data dashboard in Dreambox, Emily has found that some students are struggling with grade level math concepts.  Once she has identified students struggling with their assign focus lessons, Emily plans to assign prerequisite concepts from 2nd and 3rd grade Dreambox lessons in order to scaffold their learning. Once they have demonstrated mastery of those earlier skills, she will then move them on to the grade level skills and monitor their success. This will be incorporated with face to face small group instruction and offline application of concepts.

Melissa Ivicic, 4th Grade at Tobias Elementary School

IMG_1897Melissa has recently started creating her own video lessons for students to access through their playlists on Google Classroom. This allows her to teach and model activities and concepts while giving students control over their path and pace of learning. Additionally this has given her more flexibility to pull small groups for targeted instruction. Quotes from her kids:

“I can go at my own pace. I can pause it right there and then I can write down what I need to. And then I can start the video again when I’m ready.”

“Some teachers talk really fast and you might not understand what they said so with the video you can follow along and watch it again if you need to.”

“It’s just more rememberable if you put in on the computer. We have something to refer to back. We can go back to our drive and get it and use it.”

Since implementing video lessons, several other teachers have started trying this as well. She is inspiring others to use technology in new ways to meet the needs of individual learners!

Heather Myers, 3rd Grade at Carpenter Hill Elementary School

From Heather:

“Today I tried station rotation model a little differently.  I allowed them to rotate throughout the three stations at their own pace, allowing for some to take a little longer if needed and some to get through faster.  I took a video and asked them to give me some reflections.  Most of them liked it better, commenting that they could go at their own pace.”

Heather is exploring the individual rotation model to determine what benefits it may have for her and her students. The advantage she is interested in is the ability to have greater flexibility and choice when it comes to the pace of learning. With this model she can still pull small groups for instruction but is not ruled by the clock and specific station intervals. Students have greater agency with an individual rotation model. I’m exited to work with her as she implements this in her classroom!