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Dedicated to Teachers


Reflect, Revise, & Reset: Using Authentic Data to Plan for Next Year

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 by Anna Gratz Cockerille

Data collection has become more and more of an obsession in education over the past decade. Certainly, the term data often suggests Big Data: standardized test scores and other quantitative measures derived from evaluations, and school-wide data such as graduation rates and quality review or teacher evaluation outcomes. These kinds of data can provide helpful big-picture information about a school. But it is the little data that teachers collect continuously that often has the most impact on day to day teaching and, in the end, on student achievement. This kind of data is mostly qualitative and provides in-depth insights into students’ skill levels, understandings, and work habits. 

Kinds of little data include:

  • Analysis of students’ work 
  • Teacher notes from conferences and small group lessons 
  • Evaluations of students’ participation in whole-class, small group, and partner conversations
  • Observations of students’ work processes, including choices they make, materials they use, and ways they solve problems
  • Student self-reflections, including student-facing rubrics and checklists

When combined, these kinds of data provide a rich, big picture analysis of a student that is greater than the sum of its parts. Further, when a teacher studies an entire group of students in this way, patterns arise that can give insights on which lines of teaching are sticking and which need reinforcement. With these insights, teachers can fine-tune their plans so they can help students progress in individualized ways rather than follow a predetermined set of plans that may not help all students. Further, teachers can study data to reflect on their own instruction and to fine-tune their plans for the following year so that they begin the next year in the strongest possible place. 

At this week’s TCRWP Twitter chat, Janet Steinberg, Research and Data Manager for the TCRWP, along with staff developers Arlene Casimir-Siar and Dwight McCaulsky will lead a discussion on ways that teachers can use authentic data to reflect on their instruction and make plans for the best possible finish to this school year and the best possible start to the next.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Each Wednesday night at 7:30 pm eastern, The Teacher's College Reading and Writing Project hosts a Twitter chat using the hashtag #TCRWP. Join @eriuqse695, @acasimirsiar, & @mccaulskydwight tomorrow evening to chat about ways to look at authentic data to plan. 

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Not on Twitter? Take Heinemann’s free Twitter for Educators course here.


Cockerille_Anna_GratzAnna Gratz Cockerille, Coauthor of Bringing History to Life (Grade 4) in the Units of Study for Teaching Writing Series.

Anna was a teacher and a literacy coach in New York City and in Sydney, Australia, and later became a Staff Developer and Writer at TCRWP. She served as an adjunct instructor in the Literacy Specialist Program at Teachers College, and taught at several TCRWP institutes, including the Content Literacy Institute, where she helped participants bring strong literacy instruction into social studies classrooms. Anna also has been a researcher for Lucy Calkins, contributing especially to Pathways to the Common Core: Accelerating Achievement (Heinemann 2012), and Navigating Nonfiction in the Units of Study for Teaching Reading, Grades 3–5 series (Heinemann 2010). Most recently, Anna served as an editor for the Units of Study for Teaching Reading, K–5 series.

Topics: Units of Study, Lucy Calkins, Education, Literature, Reading, TCRWP, Teachers College, Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, Writing, Anna Gratz Cockerille, Elementary, Kindergarten, Language Arts, Literacy, Middle School, Nonfiction, Reading Units of Study, Units of Study for Teaching Reading

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