Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Students Tracking Their Progress

Well, the hustle and bustle of school is officially here!  What a busy year this year has started out to be!  We have a class of 49 fourth and fifth graders, with ability levels on complete opposite ends of every spectrum there could possibly be...math, reading, writing, behavior!  Of course, that's what keeps things interesting.  :-)

A student's fluency data
With all of these ability levels comes a grave responsibility of meeting the learning needs of a wide range of students.  Is it a tough job?  Of course.  Is it an impossible job?  Of course not.  With it being such a challenge, it helps if the students take more responsibility for their learning and if the students are more motivated to succeed. 

One structure that helps with students taking more responsibility and being more motivated about their personal growth is to have the students track their individual progress.

Students can track a variety of learning measures...
  • Pre- and post assessments in math or reading
  • Sight word growth
  • Reading level growth
  • Math facts
  • Homework scores 
  • Homework consistency (turning it in on time)
  • Behaviors that focus on frequency negative behaviors (behaviors you want students to stop demonstrating)
  • Behaviors that focus on frequency of positive behaviors (behaviors you want students to start demonstrating)
  • Standardized testing results (and goals)
  • Spelling words
  • Fluency (words per minute and/or a fluency rubric score focusing on expressive reading)
Basically, you can track any type of learning that is easily measurable, whether through a number, percent, score, or rubric!

Student tracking data for Counting Jar

It works nicely if each student has a 1" data binder, where they can keep their tracking information.  Typically, it works to have all students tracking specific measures, such as reading levels.  However, some students will need to track growth that is more reflective of their individual needs.

Students' tracking of comprehension on reading cards

For example, only our struggling readers track their sight word growth.  Other  readers whose difficulty lies in the area of comprehension, may be tracking their scores on short reading passages.  

The students had a chart, which indicated what the Proficient level was for each Benchmark Assessment.

When having students track their progress, it is beneficial for them to know where their individual performance level lies in terms of their expected performance level.  For example, if the students are creating line graphs to track their reading level data, there should be some indicator on the graph of where the "Proficient" range is so students understand if they are below, on, or above average.   Those expected performance levels can often motivate students to move to higher levels!  

One of my favorite parts about the data binders is that the data is only for the individual students to see.  

Often times, students' data is publicly displayed, which can be mortifying for those students who are not meeting grade level expectations.  I've seen data bulletin boards where nameless objects represent where the students in the class are performing.  For example, on one bulletin board, there was a hill with hikers on it.  The hikers represented the individual students' fluency rates.  There were no student names written on the hikers.   While the students' names may not be displayed on the bulletin board, the students know where they lie on this public display.  They know if they are the hiker at the bottom of the hill.  There are some students (particularly those with learning disabilities) who will likely always be "at the bottom of the hill" when compared to grade-level expectations.  How will always seeing themselves at the bottom of the hill on the public display affect their confidence, thus affecting their learning?

The individual data binders can encourage student growth at the students' individual learning levels, while giving them goals to work towards (teacher/student-established goals and/or expected performance levels).    

Having students track their own progress can not only increase student motivation, but it can help students take more responsibility for their learning, which will result in increased achievement!  :-)

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