How Teachers Can Turn Data Into Action

A protocol for analyzing data both descriptively and inferentially. From How Teachers Can Turn Data Into Action by Daniel R. Venables (ASCD, 2014). Reprinted with permission from the publisher.

Time:  45 minutes

  1. Participants are presented with a table and/or graph of data pertaining to their practice. The data set may be displayed on a screen for all to see, or it may be given to each PLC member in hardcopy form. (I prefer the former, since graphs and sometimes data in table form are often illustrated in color.)
  2. Each participant is given a 5”x7” index card. Quietly and individually, participants write three observations evident in the graph or table. These observations must be free of inference or speculation; they are factually based from objectively examining the display. Each observation starts with the phrase, “I notice that…” (5 minutes)
  3. Round 1. In turn, each participant reads aloud one new observation that has not yet been shared, each time beginning with the phrase, “I notice that….”The facilitator records the responses on chart paper. After the last participant shares one new observation, the first participant offers a second new observation and the process continues until all observations have been shared aloud, without discussion. (5 minutes)
  4. Each participant turns over his index card and quietly writes three suggestions or question-statements based on any observations heard in Round 1. These comments attempt to offer possible explanations for the observations or pose suggestions for pursuing additional data. No attempt should be made to solve the problems that surface; the intent is to gain insights into what the data imply. Each comment starts with the phrase, “I wonder why….” or “I wonder if…” “I wonder how…” (5 minutes)
  5. Round 2. In turn, each participant reads aloud one new thought that has not yet been shared, each time beginning with the phrase, “I wonder ….” The facilitator records the responses on chart paper. This process continues as in Round 1 until all speculations have been shared aloud, without discussion. (10 minutes)
  6. Discussion. PLC members discuss what has been shared and possible causes, connections, and links to classroom instruction and note other additional data that may be needed. (15 minutes)

 

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