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by Erica Fischer on Nov 2, 2016

How to: Collecting and assessing data in language classes to improve teaching

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For the last #langchat of October, participants decided to talk through the finer points of how to successfully collect and assess data in the world languages classroom in order to improve teaching and instruction. Participants talked about the types of data that they find the most helpful, as well how they collect (or plan to start) collecting data from their students. Contributors shared their thoughts on what kinds of feedback can be put together besides numerical data, and also chatted through ways to share data with their colleagues to improve instruction. Finally, langchatters went over how data has changed or can change one’s teaching and instruction in the WL classroom.

Question 1: What types of data do you find the most helpful and why?

Data and feedback from a classroom is very important to have in order to make adjustments for the betterment of lessons in the future. The types of data that WL teachers shared as the ones they find the most helpful were things like data on student’s proficiency (you need to know where they are in order to plan for moving on), student surveys (good to understand learner’s perceptions), baseline data (finding the starting point is necessary), can-do statements (to know how students are moving along), proficiency scores on benchmarks (help for long term planning), formative mid-lesson (helpful when using websites and presentation tools), and lots more.

@srtamartino shared a great insight when she said, “For a full picture of student data, it’s also important to include a balance of reading, writing, listening, and speaking.” Similarly, @mmeshep suggested that a great way to judge is by making sure you can get students involved in the process – aka, it’s important to use, “Data that the students can understand. When a [student] said ‘My checkmarks are moving to the right–I must be getting better!’=gold”.

Question 2: How do you collect – or plan to start – collecting data?

Collecting data from your WL classrooms can be the hardest part of making data work to your advantage. Langchatters shared some great ideas for how to gather data including tools like Google Sheets, Evernote, Google Forms, polls and ongoing conversations with students/parents, surveys, Peardeck, rubrics from summative assessments, Google Classroom, grades, charts, portfolios, Twitter polls, exit tickets, and so many more. @KrisClimer reminded chatters that it’s important to use, “Online programs that accompany texts track time spent, how much resources were consulted, accuracy, etc.”

A great suggestion for how to focus in on making your data collection really work for you came from @BThompsonEDU who shared that’s, “It’s important to decide what is going to be for long term data collection and what will inform tomorrow’s lesson.

Question 3: What kind of feedback can you collect besides numerical data?

In order to get a full picture of what’s going on in your WL classroom, you have to be able to collect other types of feedback other than numerical data. Chatters had lots of suggestions for other things that you can gather including student portfolios, daily tasks/comprehension tasks, words counts for stories, informal growth checks, presentational speaking records, individual goals, actions plans, student accountability, end-year survey of likes/dislikes, and several more.

The best source of feedback (outside of numerical data) really does come directly from your students input. As @Sr_MedinaMVHS reminded chatters:

“At the end of the day, good ol’ fashion communication [with] students goes a long way. Showing authentic interest goes a long way.” in getting the kind of feedback that you need to make adjustments.

Question 4: How can you share data with colleagues to improve instruction?

Sharing data with colleagues is very helpful in order to collaborate and improve instruction. Ideas for ways and tools to share data between instructors included giving individual growth tracks as students are moved from class to class, sharing portfolios or lessons that kids really took to, sharing SRBI strategies/background info on students that affects learning, looking where strengths and weaknesses are as a group/determine how you can address those, providing course surveys, passing on student action plans from previous year to next teacher, and so many more.

@PRHSspanish had a great point when she pointed out that, “Sharing especially on common assessments fosters discussion to improve those assessments AND teaching. Win, win, win potential.” Similarly, @KrisClimer reminded chatters to take advantage of sharing data since, “Colleague to colleague sharing is so much less threatening than colleague to administration, or evaluation-focused sharing.”

Question 5: How has data changed your teaching/instruction, or how could it?

Using data to your advantage will oftentimes change your teaching/instruction – adjustments that participants have noticed are that it makes them more responsive to student interest/more in touch with their strengths and weaknesses, it makes teaching more structured as it shows what needs to have more time spent on, gives the ability to correct major class errors, helps prompt reflection on instruction/questioning the purpose of activities, helps differentiate assignments, meet students interests, review/re-teach when necessary, challenge excelling students, respond to student needs in class/vary types of tasks, gear topics to student interests, can find problems/ undesirable trends faster and try to fix them, etc.

@sr_connolly had a great point up when he shared, “Narrative feedback reminds me where I need to strive. Feedback on students’ work reminds me what I need to stress.”

@PRHSspanish really summed up the overall thought when she shared, “Data and sharing forces us to look at what’s REALLY going on in a number of areas. When [we’re] ready to be vulnerable, can be HUGE!” And similarly, @krisfauch reminded chatters that, “Data simply drives all manners of instruction- short term and long term- data reflects how WE are doing as teachers (usually).”

Takeaways

This week, langchatters had a lot of great ideas to share for ways to effectively collect and assess data in the language classroom in order to better their teaching skills.  Takeaways from the conversation included the fact that it is not the data or experience but the REFLECTING on it that helps teachers grow, it’s important to do more specific data collection with portfolios not just Can-Dos and rubrics, and using numerical data as the starting point to be able to start sharing information across the world language department.

@Sr_MedinaMVHS summed up the overall takeaway for this chat when he shared:

“Data has a place whether with pencil & paper or [with] tech… We must remember to talk and interact [with] students too!”

Thank You!

Thank you Kris (@KrisClimer) for spearheading this week’s chat, and as always, we’d like to give a big thanks to everyone who takes the time to join these discussions every week. We hope that you continue to link up with #langchat as often as you are able – if the weekday chats on Thursday evenings at 8 p.m. ET don’t work for you, try joining the #SaturdaySequel, every Saturday morning at 10 a.m. ET instead!

Our weekly #langchats have gotten busier and busier, so due to space limitations, the summaries always focus on the main themes and takeaways from each week’s conversation. Many tweets have to be omitted but to read the entire conversation from this week, you can access the full transcript on our tweet archive. Have a topic that you’re impatient to discuss?! Send us your ideas for future #langchats!

Erica Fischer
Erica is the founder and CEO of Calico Spanish. Her passion for teaching her own children to speak Spanish led her to create Calico Spanish. Our mission is to give all children the opportunity to learn to speak real Spanish for life.

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