Sunday, February 12, 2017

Data, Data on the Wall? YES!

DATA – sometimes thrilling, sometimes scary, ALWAYS necessary.  I know that as educators, we continually hear about the importance of analyzing the data to drive instruction.  We utilize research based curriculum that is supported by data, we sit through many a professional development that talks to us about the importance of said data.  Data is a key component in education and has been for a while.  It should be something that motivates us to do better, to celebrate those things that are working and adjust those things that are not.  Unfortunately, for some of us (I am including myself in this) data or even the mere mention of data, can cause our eyes to glaze over.  So here is my question, is there a way to make it fun for the masses?

This is my AMAZING friend Julie Swann!  Super excellent Kinder Teacher, who graciously let me take pictures of the data walls in her room!  The way she is tracking data in her room is truly motivating!

Being at a Leader in Me School, we often talk about goals, personal goals, school wide goals, academic goals, professional goals. WIGS (Wildly Important Goals) are established and the data tracked for students and staff to see.  Getting the students to setting goals, track progress, celebrate victories and make plans to meet those goals, is a key component to LiM.  The first step was setting classroom goals and it was important to post them for everyone to see.  The first goal chart I made was for word wall words. It was a big pyramid that was divided in to four sections.  Each section represented a different term (our expectation was 10 words per term) Every time a student showed mastery of words they were able to move up the pyramid.  I remember talking to a mom that was VERY concerned that the children that maybe moved at a slower pace would feel bad about themselves.  While I understood her concern, what I found was the exact opposite.  The students were highly motivated to move up the pyramid!  AND they weren’t sad when their friends were successful, they were happy for them!  It also ended up creating an environment where students were helping each other to practice!  It was AMAZING!  That first data wall morphed to include knowing number patterns, mastering writing goals, describing shapes, pretty much all of our standards could be tracked on data walls or in their leadership/goal notebooks!  As you know, I moved to a new school this last year and I recently went and visited my old campus (I was missing my friendsJ) and I was AMAZED at how they continued to transform the use of data in their classrooms!

This is where it starts. The area on the white board is for tracking their progress towards a class goal.  The goal this week, was "I know my shapes!" The goal is 3 - "I can do it."  To the left of the numbers are magnets with the kid’s numbers. I love that she includes extension in her data tracking!!!

Once a student meets his or her goal, they get to ring the bell!  Seriously, how fun is that?!?!         


When a student meets their personal goal, they get to add a gumball to their personal Gumball Goals machine in their locker.  Five gumballs earns the student a piece of gum!  That is a fun reward😊

They put is all together here!  This is their classroom data wall or "Gumball Goals" tracking system. Everytime 90% of the class meets a particular goal, they add a gumball to their class jar!  Each gumball is labeled with the goal - Term 1 Word Wall Words, Writes Name the Kindergarten Way, Letter Sounds, # 1-20, etc,

When I looked around her room it was so easy to see what students were working on and what the end goal was!  Julie kept telling me how motivating it was for students, it totally supported everything that I had experienced when I was in the classroom.  The practice of tracking data for all to see, does not make students feel bad, but it encourages and celebrates growth!  It got me thinking, “This is so much fun for the students!  Why can’t we make our professional data tracking and goal setting more fun?”  Why is it just my students that have goal notebooks?  I really should create my own.  Then it hit me, I do have one, a fancy planner that I probably spent WAAAAY to much money on, that I decorate and record information in.  I make plans, write down goals, check off some, forget about others…that is when I realized, I was missing an important piece, THE ACCOUNTABILITY!

And that is the key value of the DATA Wall- ACCOUNTABILTY.  I know, I know, some of you are going, REALLY?!?!  You want me to just put it out there?  YES!  Choose a goal, make a plan and track your progress in the open.  Let others, celebrate victories with you, encourage you to keep going when you are of so close, and most importantly, readjust your plan when you aren’t seeing the progress you want!  Don’t let the pressure to appear perfect, rob you of the JOY of growth and collaboration!  So, pick a goal, make a plan, track your data, in the open and MAKE IT FUN!!!

Here's an example

I set a goal in January to post twice a week.  Well here I am in January and it has yet to happen.  So, I am going to adjust my personal goal to - I am going to post once a week. And the fun part?  When I have posted four weeks in a row, I will buy myself a treat (something small, I am in Education after all 😊).  Do you think that we could do this with our professional goals in our buildings? I sure would like to try!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Movement in the Classroom Part 2

Many people have asked about the items that I started with when I began incorporating movement in my classroom.  Now that I am a counselor, I would love to begin stockpiling some of these things so that I had them available for teachers that were wanting to try something different! These items can make such a difference in regards to behavior and academics!  

The following are the items that I started with-

Ball Chair with legs, affectionately called "cow chairs", by my kinder kiddos! 

I will say that these did not last very long like this!  Even with them only at my teacher table, the kids had a hard time managing them, so we let out a lot of air and put them in milk crates.  This allowed the students to bounce, but kept the balls from rolling.

This is also a WAY cheaper option!  I know many upper grades use these with great success, but for the younger kiddos, I would go with cheap balls in the crates!  These are always easy to find and CHEAP at Walmart and you can get the balls there too!  I googled milk crate chairs and this amazing blog post came up from Miss V’s Kinder Kraziness!  Super cool and you should definately check it out!  And btw, the saving grace for ball chairs in kinder…ALWAYS KEEP BOTH FEET ON THE FLOOR J!

Image result for milk crate ball chair

Pure Fun Kid’s mini trampoline – to be utilized prior to beginning assignments, as well as, upon completion, to expel excess energy and to increase focus.

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this trampoline (you can buy it here!!! It is the PURE FUN Kid's mini trampoline with handrail.  Now, I am not gonna lie, it was a bear to put together!  (Thank the Lord for a my strong hubbyJ)
I put this with the handle facing in a corner.  The rules were… 1) both hands on the bar, 2)  only one person touching on the mat a time (more on the mat below) & 3)  Chose one patterns in numbers to read out loud, then let someone else have a turn (on the wall in the corner I had number pattern anchor charts)

Balance Boards were utilized by anchor charts with high frequency words and/or phrases.  In order to make it easier for the kinder kiddos, one of my teammates had the brilliant idea to put a die-cut had on the counter and we taught them to place one hand on the counter for support, until they could balance!  This is the one that we used and it was perfect.  The picture makes it looks like it is for really young kiddos, but it was perfect, I might have even used it once or twice 😊.  This was another Amazon purchase (again, THANK YOU Toyota of Rockwall!)

Students read and balance, fun, coordination, strength and balance all rolled into one!  This is Win-Win!!!

Slant boards – were utilized on the floor as alternate seating.  Students would on their stomachs, developing core strength, and eye coordination as their eyes move up and down tracking print.  I had these available as a choice during word work   The Occupational Therapist on my campus said this was a MUST HAVE and I always listen to those that know more than me!

 Puzzle Play Mat was used underneath standing tables to provide support for feet and legs while standing on tile.  Being able to utilize another type of alternate work spaces in the classroom, allows for greater growth academically for students.

This was one of my favorite purchases because of its versatility.  I used some of it under the trampoline, some under the balance board, some under tables as stated above  It provided designated areas for our flex seating and added some fun colors in the processJ.

This is just the starting point!  It is so exciting for me to walk around my current building and see so many teachers embracing flexible seating!  I used to not be a beleiver, but after seeing it in action and the the academic and behavioral successess that it produced, I have had my mind forever changed inregards to the power of movement in the classroom!  Small changes can produce results, but those small changes have to begin with us 😊. 

I would love to hear some of the things that you have tried!