Episode 03: The importance of data folders and weekly data meetings in a blended learning classroom.
Step 1: Start with Checklist Folders
The best advice I can give to new blended learning teachers that once you deploy checklist start by putting the checklist into a folder. Make sure to get folders with prongs so that the checklist doesn't fall out of the folder. The front pocket is designated for "In Progress" work, and the back pocket is for the "Completed" work. Take a look at the photo below to get a better idea on how to design the folder.
Step 2: Print
"If I am going to kill a tree, I am going to for two things; Checklist and Data Folders" M. Kish.
I believe in being paper light not paperless in the classroom setting. I love seeing our teachers using Google Classroom, or an LMS to post notes, agendas, activities, and newsletters. This is saving the trees and keeping paper out of the landfills. However, I recommend printing two things for any classroom. First the checklist. There is something about being able to mark off the completed items on a checklist and making notes on the checklist to remember the content for later use. The second thing that I would print would be the items in the data folders. If the data is always in front of the students and the teacher then they will refer back to the information more frequently. Take a look at our data folder items that we print for each student.
Step 3: Start Small
Step 4: The Traveling Data Folder
The students should travel from one learning studio to the next with the data folders. When the students attend the mini-lesson, they should bring the data folder.
Side Note: The data folders NEVER LEAVE the classroom. The checklist and folders stay in the classroom at all times. If you need work to go, send it home in a different folder.
Step 5: Data Meetings
The key to Student Ownership and Student Engagement is to conduct data meetings with the students. The data meetings don't have to take a lot of time but rather a quick one on one meeting to answer any questions, to review any misconceptions, and help level up the students. Some of our teachers conduct a data meeting on Monday mornings. The Monday morning data meetings are set up to go over the checklist, talk about the pre-assessment from Friday, and to customize the checklist for the individual student. This quick meeting takes about a minute to a minute and a half for each student.
Other teachers conduct Wednesday data meetings. This mid-week checkpoint helps to ensure that the students are getting their work done on the checklist as well as answering any questions, checking in with the students, and adding any weekly data to the data folder.
Some teachers conduct their data meetings on Friday. The Friday data meetings are the final check-in for the week. The students need to meet with the teacher to showcase the completion of the checklist from the week, look at the pre and post assessment data, and set goals for the following week.
Start with one data meeting a week. Pick the day of the week that best works into your mini-lesson plans. Set a timer. Only meet with the students for a minute and a half. Meet with all students. Don't forget to use this time to build relationships with the students. Ask about them. How are they doing? How is their puppy? How is the new baby sister at home? This quick conversation will help to build relationships with the students.
The Best Parts About Data Folders
Of course, data folders can seem to be overwhelming, but in reality, the data folders will save you time. Think about it, when it comes time for parent-teacher conferences, the data folder becomes your resource to share with the parents. You will know your students. I can not tell you how many times teachers have thanked me. They thank me because this process of meeting one-on-one with the students builds the relationships. Teachers feel like they know the students more than other years. If the students trust you and know that the teacher is there to help, then they will be more likely to achieve more and work harder for the teacher.
Marcia Kish - Blended and Personalized Learning coach that designed the Three Phases of Blended Learning