This is the fourth in a series of posts describing my journey to take on the challenge of reducing the amount of full-class instruction/lecture. Along with creating the “By the end…” sheets, taking steps to focus instruction, and working behind the scenes to clarify the focus of our teaching, another critical part of reducing the amount of full-class instruction has been finding a way to keep track of what instruction I do do.
If you take on the challenge for yourself, you have to remember that you (and/or your administrator or evaluator) can no longer assume that “everyone was taught this” by sitting and listening to full-class instruction. Without that assumption, you need to think about how to gather data about who was taught what and when. Such data serves a wide range of purposes, including
- providing evidence for teacher evaluation (especially if your administrator/evaluator questions your non-traditional approach or questions if you are “actually teaching” because you aren’t in front of the class)
- providing evidence for IEPs, 504s, and other documents pertaining to student performance, beyond a single digit or letter on a report card
- establishing trends in student performance, such as when a student receives multiple rounds of support (small-group or individual initial instruction, small-group or individual reteach following an assessment, and small-group or individual reteach following a retake prior to a cumulative assessment)
I’ve often heard people talking about needing to collect data when working with students. That felt really overwhelming, until I hit on a very simple system to help me quickly and easily keep track of interactions with students. I begin by printing out a class list for each class. Then, over the course of the week or so, as topics come up, I put the topic on the bottom of the column, with a date on the top. I come up with topics in response to assessment data or by identifying them in advance when I am planning collaboratively with my colleague. Finally, I decide which students I need to see and when. For example, I might want to see every student to work on parts of a given exercise at the start of a unit. Or, I might need to see a subset of my students to review and reteach based on data from an assessment. Since I can easily scan the list of names, I can call groups of students and then check them off, ensuring I see all students I need to for the given topic.
Snapshot of a week’s data
In the sample chart above, which came from real data I recently collected, I began with a reteach on a quiz we had given on Sample Proportion versus Sample Mean. We offer retakes for any scores under 90%; in this class, only four students had gotten an initial score of 90% or higher. I met with all the other students in small groups of 6-8 students, determined by the scores on the quiz. In the groups, I reviewed the material, answered questions, listened to student misconceptions, etc.
That same day, when I was done with the reteach, I met with students on a specific exercise in a lesson from the Eureka curriculum. Students could opt into that group; they were not assigned or called, although I did speak quietly to a few students I thought might be struggling (based on past experience). As you can see from the data, about the half the students came and I worked with them for the remaining time left in the class period, about 20 minutes.
The following day, students could do their retake on Sample Proportion versus Sample Mean. During class, I met briefly with every student and noted where most of them were at in the work started on the Friday before. Some were calculating the Mean Absolute Deviation…others were creating a dot plot of the data….others were working on another part of the Lesson. This is a great snapshot of how Universal Design for Learning (UDL) meets the needs created by student variability–if I had required all students to do the same things in the lesson at the same time, three-quarters of them would have either been behind and lost or ahead and bored. Instead, students were able to work at their own pace and to get time with me as needed.
That evening, I graded the quiz and looked at the data. Based on what I saw, almost 100% of the students had been successful on the retake, leaving me with only two students who needed additional intervention prior to the Module Assessment.
Finally, the next day in class, I met with every single student, in small groups, to help them solidify the concept of using Mean Absolute Deviation to determine meaningful difference, a challenging and vague concept that, in past years, caused considerable confusion for students. Because I knew how challenging it had been in the past, I made sure I saw every student at least once to give a mini-lesson and take questions. I always invite students to remain for a second round of small-group instruction if they are feeling still uncertain about the material, so some students chose that option.