Do you know all your students and how each one is doing? Have you put the FACE on the data in order to have cognitive insights and make emotional connections with each student? I feel very strongly that Data Walls provide a visual representation of where our students are in their learning journey in the assessment area chosen to be displayed. The advantages of Data Walls are many when they move from being a static picture in time to being a living conversation piece.
Beginners may experiment with Data Walls that are easily put together using student assessment data from a purchased assessment tool such as PM Benchmarks, DRA Data, EQAO or NAPLAN results. These are valuable beginnings and provide opportunities for rich conversations about what instructional strategies will be needed for all students: those stuck, those struggling and those who need extending beyond their present grade level. The visual representation of every FACE on the Data Wall will prevent some students from falling out of sight – out of mind. In order for these visual reminders to become living, growing and thriving, these Data Walls need constant focus on being growth-promoting. They need to move from being stilted snapshots to living entities; from being pretty displays of beautiful FACES to becoming evidence and documentation of problem-solving strategies agreed upon by all teachers who teach each student.
Data Walls become more in-depth when the assessment tool used to put the FACES on the data is teacher developed, focused on student work and collaboratively assessed to agreed upon levels of the work. The documentation of this work invites inquiry into students thinking and raises questions for teachers and leaders about best, high yield instructional practices for all students: necessary for some – good for all.
Questions for us to consider in moving from Data Walls as displays to Data Walls as documentation of next steps are:
- Does the Data Wall focus on learning or just something we did?
- Does the Data Wall help us re-examine our practice?
- Does the Data Wall raise questions that lead to action
- Does the Data Wall lead us to an inquiry about strengthening some aspects of our practice?
- Does the Data Wall focus on the process and the product?
- Does the Data Wall lead to rich conversations and “Academic Controversy”?
- Does the Data Wall lead us to want to know more about a certain aspect?
- Does the Data Wall lead to a new, more precise Data Wall being built?
- How can Data Walls be used by students to become “assessment capable” and own their own learning?
- Does the Data Wall allow the builders to become critical of it and cause it to be redesigned?
- Does the Data Wall enable us to conduct Collaborative Inquiry to benefit the System – School – Classrooms
In order to be value-added, Data Walls MUST show growth and achievement. The value-added is when Data Walls are co-constructed, all FACES are jointly owned, and the ensuing rich discussions and academic controversy move teachers and leaders from engagement to empowerment.
Follow the author on Twitter: @LynSharratt and #FACESLyn
This post was written by Lyn Sharratt for The Learning Exchange (formerly LearnTeachLead).
© Dr. Lyn Sharratt, February 26, 2016
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