Week 1: The Data All Around Us

Data, data, data!  We collect data all the time at school.  No matter what subject they are in we are constantly collecting this data to help guide our teaching.  If we are able to sift through the data in a focused approach, then there are an amazing amount of information we can put to good use.  But, if we don’t know how to ask the right questions or are not able to see the large problems then data is useless.  In the article, “What is Data,” we are told to start with a question or story otherwise we are just exploring (School of Data, 2013).  But do we always need to start with a question or a story?  This brought me back to what we are looking at this week, the data that surrounds us in the classroom.  There is so much baggage that comes with these students everyday, we as teachers have to keep this in mind.  That is why I love education, so much, we are constantly kept on our toes.  Everyday is an adventure and we change how we teach according to how the kids are learning in that moment.  Even Darwin knew the importance of collecting data over time, enabling him to come up with supported hypothesis that he could then test.  Conner and Mehl’s continue with an example of how adolescents who tend to use risky behavior in certain social environments, with specific interventions they believe these can be diverted (14).  It is the same in the classroom, if we look at their social behaviors as well as academics it can help to guide our interventions.

I am currently a physical education teacher, so I don’t get to use a lot of technology in my classroom.  The data I collect is academic and social.  The social is in participation, cooperation, teamwork, sportsmanship, and so on.  You are on the spot for a lot of the social teaching, which just depends on the situation that arises.  It’s amazing how much data collection you are doing but not realizing you are collecting it.  I know I use technology for the academic part of my job, but I wanted to see if there was anything I could include the students in.  So, I did a little research and came up with a lovely site that focuses on using iphones and ipads.  For me, the iphone apps are helpful because it is a little device I can carry around with me indoors and out.  It also gave me some brilliant ideas.  One app helps in equity, keeping track of the students you have questioned or used as volunteers.  Then there was a whole section on exercise that totally pertains to my job.  I think it is a great resource for teachers in general (Casper, 2014).

I am also a reading intervention teacher.  Since my school is the only school in our district to not have a commons, I lose the use of my gym for two and a half hours a day.  In that time I have small reading groups.  These groups are formed by looking at their DIBELS and MAPs scores.  We collect these scores then take the data and place students who are below or just under proficient into small reading groups that meet 5 days a week for 30 minutes.  Then we use an Ashlock Core reading program with small books to instruct these groups.  I found a great resource online that goes through the logistics of this program in a regular classroom (ODE Outreach K-3).  In the small groups, we focus on the sounds and blends.  Our school test scores have increased immensely, since we started teaching these intervention groups.  It’s just another example of data driven instruction.  When we collect data and are able to understand where the holes are in our student’s education, we can try to fill the gaps with focused instruction.

Best Workshops Inc. (2006). Experts in DIBELS Training and Data Interpretation. Retrieved from http://dibelsnext.com/

Casper. (2014). Support Real Teachers. Retrieved from http://www.supportrealteachers.org/iphoneipad-apps.html
Conner, T., Mehl, M. (2012). Handbook of Research Methods for Studying Daily Life. New York : Guilford Press.

ODE Outreach K-3. (n.d.) Core Reading Program Enhancements.  Retrieved from http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CCAQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Foregonreadingfirst.uoregon.edu%2Fdownloads%2Fprofessional_development%2Foutreach%2F0809_outreach_module6_enhance.ppt&ei=G2cKVNuYKYv8oQTzlYCQDg&usg=AFQjCNGEhCKrELwavc9F9OAGBCa_KsdjmQ&bvm=bv.74649129,d.cGU

School of Data. (2013). What Is Data? Retrieved from http://schoolofdata.org/handbook/courses/what-is-data/

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6 thoughts on “Week 1: The Data All Around Us

  1. I can see how it would be difficult to incorporate technology into PE. I have a colleague who teaches elementary PE and tries to incorporate technology. She mentioned to me that for her the hard part is in each class period she has a different grade level of students and she only has them in class for a half an hour, so it’s a very limited time. I came across this website http://www.sparkpe.org/blog/physical-education-pe-apps-for-teachers/ it has a list of PE apps. Some of the apps include Team Shake, when you enter the students names, then give it a shake, the screen will then display a random set of color-coded teams. There was also a Giant Scoreboard app. It seems like most the technology for PE are tools for the teacher.

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    • I use Sparks PE a lot and find that they have a lot of great resources. They even have Webinars pretty frequently. I agree, a lot of the technology tools would be for the teacher to use rather than the students, that is why I keep hunting for other ways to try and include the students in the technological portions. That’s a tough one.

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  2. I am interested in the app you found that keeps track on students you have questioned. That data would be fascinating. It would be good to analyze that to see if I am favoring certain students or areas in the classroom.

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  3. “If we don’t know how to ask the right questions or are not able to see the large problems then data is useless.” Wow, this is a powerful statement. I think we all need to stop and think about the questions we are asking with the data and how it is used. Too often data is misused or misinterpreted which lead us in the wrong direction. This makes me think of the kid who is constantly getting in trouble. The data could be telling us he is a troubled kid but is he really, is he just bored?

    I can see how the use of data can impact your PE class, in the terms of cutting back time for PE to make room for more math and reading. Which would lead to your reading intervention teaching. I wonder if this is the right direction for our schools. While reading intervention is critical, what about what the kids miss to get that intervention?

    PS I loved the website from agryga, I bookmarked that one too. It made me think of other ways to include technology in the general classroom too. Love the team builder one.

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    • I totally agree! Kids need more physical activity, and it is just frustrating to have to do reading interventions instead. Yes, I agree they are necessary for those kids, and we should continue double dipping them, but at what cost. I really can’t complain too much though. Until we get a commons in our building we lose the use of the gym for that two and a half hours every day.

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