How to Use Student Data Notebooks to Boost Your Classroom Culture
I’ve had such a love-hate relationship with data notebooks over the years.
I’ve always worked in “Baldrige” schools that have required every teacher to have a data wall and every student to have a data notebook. My first few years in the classroom, this would be something that I spent my first week of school really focused on and then we would largely forget about it until admin came around and started asking to see them. It became very tedious and a pain in my neck. Then one year I decided…I’m going to really do this and see if it works.
Spoiler Alert: It does!
I realized that when I really invest in the student’s notebooks and get them engaged in the process, we see results. Every year that I’ve devoted time and effort to the notebooks, I have seen a higher return in the scores and confidence of my students.
Here’s How I Work It:
I still spend the bulk of time setting up this notebook and getting the students acquainted with it during the first week of school. We spend time as a class coming up with rules/expectations together, and then we record these in our notebooks in a doodle notes type fashion to make it their own. Then they work in small groups or with buddies to discuss the qualities of a good student or teacher and record/draw these in their notebooks. When they are done, we share with the class and I add it to our poster. Next we discuss all the different ways we can be “smart” and that not everyone learns the same way. The students then record their strengths and how they like to learn in their notebooks. We also set first quarter goals at this time, after I model how it’s done by setting my own goal.
Students set a new goal at the beginning of each quarter and write to describe how they will meet their goal and why it’s important to them. The goal can be about behavior, academics, effort, whatever they need to work on. At the end of each quarter, we also reflect on our previous goal and discuss whether or not we met it and why. When we have parent conferences, the students will go through their data notebooks and explain what it all means to their parents.
After Unit Tests
After each unit test we graph our scores and make a goal for the next test. I tell the students that their goal should either be 75% or 5-15% percent higher than their last test. Some students have one-on-one conferences with me to discuss what their next goal should be.
Here’s How I Organize It:
I have utilized many different types of data notebooks over the years. I’ve used folders, binders, and notebooks. My favorite methods have been either a prong folder or keeping it in the back of their homework binder, so that parents are always in the loop. When I use folders or notebooks, I typically have the students just keep them in their desk.
I have created many different types of data notebooks over the years because I used to modify each year to fit my classroom theme. I have these available in my store and I even have a few editable versions (see the end of this post).
I’m currently working on an interactive notebook for data and testing. I teach third grade, which is the first year our kiddos are asked to take the big tests. I’ve come to realize that passing these tests isn’t based solely on whether or not you know the content, you also have to know how to take a test. Next year, I’ll be teaching testing as a genre and using the notebook I’m creating to keep that info and data pages all in one spot.
I’ve love to hear how you track data, comment below with any advice or ideas you have!
Talk to you soon,