Saturday, February 4, 2017

TIGERS binders

Do you have data binders or portfolios in your classroom?  My second graders use a combination of these that we call "TIGERS" binders. (The tiger is our school's mascot). These binders serve several purposes for my students.  First of all, TIGERS really stands for this:

Evidences and
Resources for

The binder is usually a 1-inch 3 ring binder with a clear plastic sleeve in the front.

The first part of the binder is for data.  Some of the things my students track are math chapter tests, spelling words learned, fluency WCPM, and DRA levels.  When working with data and students, I always focus on improvement.  We know that not all of our students are going to reach the grade level benchmarks during the 9 months we have them.

At the beginning of the year, I help my students add baseline data for the things we track in our binders.  Then we work on setting reasonable goals.  I usually put a star on the data sheet to show the student the aim line.  The star represents where he or she needs to be by the end of the year.  We then mark a spot on the data sheet for a short term goal. (Usually the end of the quarter)  We talk about what we can do to reach the goal that has been set.  I want the students to feel empowered and in control of their learning.

We check the progress of these goals about once per quarter.  For some students, progress monitoring is completed more frequently.  Each time we look at the growth and celebrate the accomplishments.  Sometimes we notice that very little or no growth has been made.  That's a time we need to reflect.  I say we because the student should be thinking about what he or she could do differently, but also the teacher needs to think about  the same thing.

If I have been using a particular teaching method or intervention with a student or group of students and no growth has been made, I need to ask why.  I really can't sit back and say, "Well, I  already taught Johnny how to do _________.  It's not my fault he's not getting it."  I need to use the data that we have collected to make decisions about teaching.  My students need to learn how to use the data too.  We are in this together!

An important message that I want my students to hear is this:  We are a team!  I will work hard to help you succeed, but I expect you to do the same.  We need to always move forward.  We need to learn from our mistakes.  Mistakes are important opportunities for learning.  When we do well, we want to think about why so that we can keep doing that.  When we are not doing so well, we need to make a change.  Collecting and analyzing data helps us do that.

After the data section of our binder, we have a section for resources.  This part of the binder can have lots of different things in it.  My students have spelling and phonics resources, math problem solving resources, and a cursive writing chart to name a few things.  Sometimes this section has different things for different students.  I try to provide the students with resources that help them achieve success.

The last part of our binder has three sections.  This is the portfolio part of the binder.  One is for language arts, one for math, and one for social studies and science.   We put our evidence of learning in the appropriate section.  In language arts, for example, there are writing samples that have been scored.  We might also have some reading response papers.  In science, we have observations and experiments documented.  I like to have my students do some writing in math too.  A math sample might have one problem on a page that has been solved.  The students may have writing to explain what they did and how they solved the problem.  This part of the binder is always growing and changing.

I don't send the TIGERS binders home every day.  I think it's a bit much to do that.  Students just take them home on Fridays.  That way students can share anything that we have added that week.  Parents can look through the binder and ask questions.  It helps keep parents informed about what we are learning and gives them some insight into how their child is doing.

Our TIGERS binders not only help us with data collection and reflection, but also serve as a portfolio of student learning and a collection of resources to use  in the classroom.  Do you have a similar product?  How do you use data in your classroom?

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