Teachers are being inundated with a need to collect data. Data is important because it is meant to inform day-to-day teaching. That looks like an examination of student writing, rubrics, checklists, and anecdotal notes that are driven by close “kidwatching” inside the instructional day. Yet teachers are often faced with the need to collect data in a sequential way, to plot growth on a graph. When plotting numeric scores on a graph becomes the “thing of importance” many times that score is relating to oversimplified disconnected academic tasks that can be completed quickly and that do not require deep thinking. The problem is there is no quick fixes when it comes to transferable learning.
To understand what students can do we need to gauge growth within authentic learning situations. That looks like:
- There is a student in my classroom who is reading below grade level expectations.
- I decide to provide an intervention in my classroom: Guided Reading 3 times a week for six to eight weeks. .
- My progress monitoring is the RR that triggered the need for intervention and subsequent Running Records throughout the process. Those along with my anecdotal notes are the progress monitoring data.
- At the end of the cycle reflect and refine my practice to see if it worked, or if something needs to change, or if I need some help to come up with a different approach.
When teachers are collecting formative data like running records and anecdotal notes they are capturing the intricial features of what the reading process is and what it is to transfer learning. In the end the whole purpose is to actually read in the real world. To learning something it has to connect real life experience. Responsive teaching is driven by real interactions with students. It is not a form, a chart, a graph. We need to be careful not to oversimplify the process in service of a number, a level, a cut-points. Everything we do as teachers is in service to our students’ developmental needs.