ProTip Wednesday: 10 Tips on Using Data for New Teachers

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Being a new teacher is never easy when you have classroom management and routine to strengthen— use these tips to start slowly using data in your classroom. Knowing is half the battle; back it up with data! But don’t take our word for it—listen to Gradeable users and education experts on how they use data in their classrooms.

1. Don’t re-invent the wheel

Don’t try to tackle data by creating an immense Excel or Google spreadsheet all by yourself. Chances are, the teacher next door or in your Twitter PLN already has a tracker they’d be happy to share with you! (If not – we do!)

2. Use tools you have to visualize the data

Take advantage of built-in tools, already in your hands. Many grade books, such as Easy Grade Pro, have summaries and reports that visualize student scores for an easy, at-a-glance analysis.

3. Make sure your data has context

Don’t take data for its face value — be sure to evaluate the data for authenticity and possible skewness. Were there students absent? Were there enough students? And then — How were planning to make the data actionable?

Our power user and middle school reading teacher, Colin T., wants to make sure new teachers started with these nuggets of wisdom:

4. Start small and use the data you already have

Begin with an exit ticket that just has 2-3 questions on it, assessing one objective.  At the end, your data should tell you which students mastered the objective, and which still need practice. By counting the number who got it, you will know whether to re-teach the objective to the whole class, just do a short review, or pull a few students for tutoring.

5. Get a buddy

Find a veteran teacher who is a wiz with data, and have her/him show you the spreadsheets s/he uses, and how to use them.

6. Plan ahead

Set up the assessment so it’s easy to analyze the data.  Organize it by objectives, and put a key at the end for yourself. Start with lower-rigor questions that all students can get right, then build to higher-difficulties that only a few will master.  That way, you can chart exactly where student understanding breaks down by looking at which questions were most frequently missed.

Gradeable user Rik Rowe is the #SBLchat moderator and math learning facilitator. These are some great tips for new high school teachers on how to use data in the classroom:

7. Compare pre-test and post-test grades

Teachers often forget to pre-test and jump into a unit before know exactly where students are before learning a new concept. Tracking their growth from pre-test to post-test allows both teachers and students to celebrate growth!

8. Analyze Summative Assessments to pinpoint weaknesses

Teachers should analyze Summative Assessment grades and determine what that tells them about what weaknesses their students have and how to close that gap with the next unit.

Jennifer S. is a high school math teacher and a recent Gradeable Social panelist. She’d like new teachers to keep these things in mind when analyzing data for the first time:

9. Purpose of the paper

Are you using the ticket to leave to figure out if students know how to do a skill?  Make it easily correctable, correct them quickly, incorporate into your next day’s do now/class materials and return them to students to correct errors.  Then, toss.  To correct, I often know the answers by heart, stand at the door and collect the (Ticket to Leave) TTL and give students an immediate yes or now or quick tip as they walk out.

10. Get the wide view

How are students generally doing on a group of standards?  Use data to get the big picture with programs like Gradeable.  Take the time to correlate questions to standards so you can track these.

Looking for more thoughts on data in the classroom? Check out this video from our recent panel on assessment and the importance of data.

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