Meaningful Little Student Data

Ken Royal

Ken Royal

It seems data has gotten some negative press lately, especially when the word is associated with student information, but meaningful student data is extremely essential to teaching and learning. It shouldn’t surprise anyone, today, that most of us are familiar with little data collection in most personal, digital and online things we do. It is becoming so seamless, we hardly know it’s happening. We’ve become unappreciative of the sorts of data mining companies and online stores do to find out more about us—and our habits. Many times it can be considered stepping over the line. There’s certainly misunderstanding when it comes to types of data, and their value. Hopefully, no one confuses that, with the importance of meaningful student data for educators and school leaders. Today, with technology, the capabilities of doing student feedback right, as well as in the moment make student data collected, daily, a classroom-learning participation and achievement necessity.

What’s interesting is that with new digital watches, and digital health bands, more people are collecting more “little data” about themselves, and trusting apps to hold the information in the cloud, without a thought that it’s a violation of privacy. Much of it is just considered helpful. Everything from measuring sleep patterns, blood pressure, and daily dietary intake can be assessed and compared by constantly collecting data. This personal data isn’t about kids, usually, and it can be more about the activity to be done, rather than using the actual data to its fullest extent. Sometimes that sort of data can just be an after-thought, when the initial coolness of what the gadget can do wears thin. You run a mile, and oh, guess what, there’s a little data collected that can be used—if you’d like. In that instance, the device and apps just speed up the journal-keeping process to do the thing you most want to do. It’s simpler.

It’s different in schools, or at least it should be. That said technology makes it possible to understand, better and easier, what works and what doesn’t in a lesson for students as a group, and as individuals. Each day should be, and can be, remembered with every lesson, and for every activity an educator teaches and a student attends. That last part—attends—is important. While students can attend every class, it doesn’t mean they’ve participated. If teachers don’t collect the small data each day for every student, throughout a lesson, all we have are memories, and slivers of stories. There is very little meaning to that anymore. Stories are nice, but don’t deliver all of what we need to know. Teachers need to know exactly if their lessons have been successful, and students need to know if what they’ve done, or tried to do, was successful, or on the right path. If there isn’t a method for doing this in a classroom—there needs to be. While old-fashioned hand raising is great for simple Yes/No responses, in a modern classroom, it can’t possibly do what technology can through digital devices, solutions, and apps—for collecting so much more, every moment of every class for every student. Technology can collect that little data necessary—faster and better—hands down!

Teaching and student daily data collection is so essential that organizing a team to understand, share and publicize its benefits is being done in most districts, today. While standardized testing has gotten a lot of criticism for teaching-to-the-test methods, daily feedback for learning offers in the moment assessment and information on student achievement based upon what is really being taught—and happening in the classroom. There is no way, today, that what happens in a classroom should be left to a story, or two, shared from memory at a parent conference, or PPT meeting. If you can gather, use, save/archive, and re-use what happens throughout active participation and feedback each day for all students—you should. That kind of data is essential and meaningful.

Editor’s Note: Try a little organized classroom feedback for learning, and essential data use. ClassFlow lessons are a good way to start, or continue to do it faster and better.

Article Name
Meaningful Little Student Data
It seems data has gotten some negative press lately, especially when the word is associated with student information, but meaningful student data is extremely essential to teaching and learning.
Ken Royal

Ken Royal is an educator with 34 years of classroom/school and instructional technology teaching experience, as well as a blogger on all things education and education technology. Teaching accomplishments include: 4-time district teacher of the year, Connecticut Middle School Teacher of the Year, as well as Bill and Melinda Gates award for Technology School of Excellence. He is an Education storyteller. Follow @KenRoyal on Twitter.
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