The Value of Data

As a history teacher, sometimes I get caught up in the big picture rather than the details.  I like the meta-concept more than I do the details.  This is especially true when I look at grades or trends in my classroom.  Sometimes I’ll look at an assessment and rather than drill down into the data I’ll opt to say things like “The students must not have understood this as well as last unit.”  This week I got the opportunity to have the first US History data day and it was very useful for me as we come down the home stretch of the school year.

We began the day looking at the overall data for our school on our cumulative assessment.  This was helpful to me because it helped us identify areas in the curriculum that the US History teachers do well and where I can improve and learn from my teammates.  It is true that we’ve done this on our own at times, but to see everything in black and white as well as having the time to talk through the curriculum together was oddly therapeutic.

After staying at the macro level, we began to dig into our sub-pops to see what their weaknesses are as we finish up our curriculum.  It was interesting to break down all the ways we could spiral information from the beginning of the year into the end of the year.  Since this is only my second year teaching this content, I’m still learning where there is overlap between the units.

We finished the day looking at specific areas to review before our state tests later this semester.  Last year we thought we had a good plan, but after looking at all of our data we were able to pinpoint specific areas of weakness as well as match up common weaknesses.  We also divided up the work between all the history teachers to ensure we were all pulling our weight and getting experience developing the materials we’ll need.

While it wasn’t anything earth shattering, it was great to get another set of eyes at our students and new insight coming to the party.  It was a great experience and it helps remind me that we have a good support network for our school and our department.

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