Using Data: Engaging Students

How can using data with students increase motivation and achievement?

Teachers and leaders recognize the importance of being data-driven to improve instruction, but one key group is often left out of the process: students. Using data with students empowers them and allows them to take control of their learning. Students of all ages can use data, helping them to understand learning as a process of growth over time. Educators who realize the full potential of data go beyond occasionally sharing test results with students.  They engage in an intentional process in which students assess their current level of proficiency, set goals, track progress, and reflect upon and communicate results. 

As you can see, I'm doing really well on all of these learning targets except for 'I can solve integer word problems' because I need to work on open response Gabriella, 7th grader, Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School

Learning Targets

  1. I can describe the benefits of using data with students. 
  2. I can apply strategies for using data with my students, including setting goals, tracking progress, and reflecting upon results. 

Watch: Goal-Setting for Achievement in Reading

  1. As you watch the video of a classroom at World of Inquiry School #58, consider these questions:
  2. How does the teacher structure class time to give students the opportunity to continually revisit their reading goals? 
    1. One strategy for goal setting with students is to use SMART goals, meaning goals that are:S= specific; M= measurable; A= attainable; R= realistic; T= timely
    2. What tools do students use, and how do these tools support the development of SMART goals?
  3. How can teachers help students set goals that are just right—not too difficult or too easy to achieve?

Watch: Students Own Their Progress

As you watch the video below of a classroom at Genesee Community Charter School, consider these questions:

  1. Why is it important to make data transparent for students?
  2. In this video, students speak about tracking progress with specific skills. What impact does this appear to have on their motivation? How does it impact their learning?

Tools: Tracking Progress

As described in EL Education’s text, Leaders of Their Own Learning, teachers can create systems and implement tools that help students track their progress. Teachers may create forms to help students collect data and organize their work, establish a system of student work folders with learning target trackers and assessments, or use digital tools to analyze data.  

Download the following tools (found in the upper right and also at the bottom of this page) and consider how you might use these tools for tracking progress:

Sample Diagnostic Tool: This diagnostic tool for a sample social studies class can be used to gauge students’ initial level of proficiency. 

Tracking and Reflection Form: This tracking form can be paired with the diagnostic tool above to help students understand their diagnostic results. 

Tracking Learning Form for Primary Grades: This featured teacher tool from Leaders of Their Own Learning helps young students track their progress toward learning targets. 

 Working Folder Quick Reference Guide: When implementing student folders, use a form like this from Leaders of Their Own Learning, to help students organize their work and track achievement. 

Watch: Student-Led Conference

Student-led conferences provide students with the opportunity to reflect on learning and share their progress with their families. In the process, they build important communication skills and further their sense of responsibility for their own learning.

Watch one of these two videos:

Kindergarten Conference: A kindergartner leads a conference at Delaware Ridge Elementary School.
Middle School Conference: A seventh grade student leads a conference at Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School, serving grades 6-12.  

Then consider the questions below:

  1. How does the student conference reflect the data process of setting goals, tracking progress, and reflection?
  2. What does the student share as evidence of learning?
  3. How does the teacher ensure that students are prepared to lead their own conferences?

Dig Deeper

Getting Started with Data: In this excerpt (download from this page) from Leaders of Their Own Learning the authors cover how to create a safe environment for students to investigate data and how to teach students about data explicitly. 

What to Expect When Using Data with Students: This excerpt (download from this page) from Leaders of Their Own Learning includes a bulleted list of benchmarks for the beginning, intermediate, and advanced phases of using data with students. 

Synthesize & Take Action

For Teachers...

  1. How can you modify your practice to further develop students’ ownership of their progress toward learning targets? Consider examples from the videos and tools found above. 
  2. What tools do you have in place to help students track their progress toward learning targets? What tools would enhance your work in this area?
  3. How might student-led conferences work in your classroom? What supports would you need to implement this practice? Or, if you currently use student-led conferencing, how can you improve upon this work and ensure that students and families are invested in the process?

For School Leaders...

  1. What school-wide practices can you implement to help teachers engage students in setting goals and tracking progress? How can you help teachers create space and time for working with students around data?
  2. What data practices do individual teachers already implement? How can you differentiate your support to teachers based on their experience and current needs?
  3. What are your next steps for helping teachers engage students with data? What are your goals for the next month, semester, or year?

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EL Education

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