While many educators are using data to drive instruction and influence decision making, some are also using it to drive student success. When visiting schools with online learning classrooms, I often see data walls that showcase student data (within the parameters of federal legislation that protects the privacy of academic records). These data walls were constructed carefully to celebrate student success without embarrassing the students who are struggling. The data walls provide feedback on student progress with information that can lead to increased motivation and, consequently, improved engagement with learning.
Here’s what a data wall looks like
The data wall below is a simple bar chart on a teacher’s whiteboard. Students see their progress, and color-coded chunks communicate additional details about daily work.
Use the data to reward your students
Teachers who use data walls will usually have a variety of ways to celebrate success. Mr. Godfrey, a teacher in Kansas City, Missouri, celebrates weekly winners who made the most progress. He also recognizes a “valedictorian” who has the highest overall progress in a certain period of time. He says students get very excited about simply being recognized. Often, students who have never been successful in a traditional classroom are greatly encouraged by recognition of their progress. In addition to visual recognition, some teachers have rewards that can be as simple as a free Slurpee, a time-out card to listen to music, or a comfy chair to sit in.
Graduation data walls
I have also seen wonderful examples of how teachers use data walls to celebrate student progress toward graduation. The data wall below uses inexpensive framed certificates for each course students complete. When students graduate, they take the framed certificate as recognition of work they accomplished in the online program. The teacher who designed this wall told me that many of her students had never received certificates, so they get very excited about being recognized for their success.
The wall below is another great example of using data to motivate students and celebrate success. The teacher created simple graduation caps for each student. Every time a student completed a course and received credit, he or she got a sticky dot to place on his or her cap.
My challenge to teachers
Before school starts, consider how you can use data effectively to drive student success. Get creative and have fun as you think of ways to recognize students. Design your wall to celebrate success in a way that is fair and equitable to all students. And, be sure to set up your wall to protect the privacy of each student’s academic achievement.
If you have a good classroom idea to share, post your suggestion in the comments section below. We can all benefit from your expertise!