Using Data to Personalize

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Today’s Contributor: Alex Hassett
Alex Hassett teaches 4th-grade math and science at Baranoff Elementary and serves as CIC and SLO Coordinator. When she isn’t busy working on her NBCT certification or making a new playlist, she enjoys running, playing tennis, reading murder mysteries, and working on her golf swing. To see what crazy strategy she is trying next in her classroom check out @HassettTeaches on Twitter.

Data. It’s a four-letter word that makes some break out in a cold sweat and stomach churn as it dehumanizes students and replaces them with a numerical value. In our classroom, however, it’s what drives our daily learning, reflections, and conversations, as our class uses data for student-directed learning and development of agency, as it’s owned and controlled by students.

When we start a new unit, students take a pre-test of STAAR released questions on Blend to give a baseline of their knowledge, which allows me to make flexible groups and plan. For students, the pre-test provides feedback which allows them to know which skills they already show understanding in and which they need to focus on. With this feedback, students highlight the learning expectations they missed or rate their understanding using emojis. From here students know that they need to select learning options that allow them to work towards mastery on these learning objectives. As students progress in their learning and feel that they have shown mastery of a concept, they check the box for the corresponding standard. It not only is a way to give students control over their learning but empower them to know exactly what they must learn and work on in order to achieve mastery.

Each day in class students set a specific learning goal based on their playlist learning options. After each session, students reflect on if they achieved their goal, set their goal for the next learning day, and communicate anything they need or suggest. Looking at these daily goals and reflections, students are able to locate patterns that exist within their learning and make better choices to meet their needs. It also allows me to know which students may need additional support if they have been on the same learning option for multiple days without achieving their goal.

This year during benchmarks, we decided to put the breakdown of data into the hands of the students instead of relying on DMAC. When students finished their benchmark we took their bubble sheet and had them immediately go through their test booklet and write down their answer choices from each question. Students were able to immediately check their answers and highlighted the questions that they missed. After going through their test, students were given reflection questions to guide their thinking to help show patterns in skills that they did well on and ones that they needed to focus on improving. This was not only a great way to provide students with feedback but also allow them to set intentional goals for their learning. These sheets were then copied and sent home to parents so everyone was aware of the goals that students set to improve their mathematical understanding

Although data can be used in dehumanizing manners in education, I have found that putting students in control of their own data, puts a little bit more “human” into our classroom. Altogether it has led to deeper discussions and reflections on what it means to achieve mastery, what quality learning experiences look like, what students need to be successful, and, ultimately, allows for students to control and guide their learning.

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