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Teachers today are being asked to focus on data-driven instruction and using analytics to inform their teaching and planning. But what, exactly, do these terms mean, and how can classroom teachers effectively use data to impact student learning?
Simply put, data-driven instruction is “instruction that is guided by, and responsive to, information (data) we have about our students… usually obtained through tests…and teacher observations” (excerpt from Dr. Joseph K. Torgesen’s power point from the 2006 Principal’s Leadership Conference)
By using data, teachers can analyze “the numbers” in order to tailor instruction to meet individual needs. Typically, this data comes from standardized tests (such as state testing, IQ tests, etc.), attendance data, district-wide assessments, discipline data, and more. But in a class of 20-plus students with one teacher (sometimes two), how can this realistically work? Below are a few suggestions for teachers who want to transition into a more personalized instructional approach:
If you can develop a routine that frees you up to host individual conferences with students, this provides you with the perfect time to individualize your delivery to meet a child’s needs. In English Language Arts, for example, teachers may wish to conference with students during writing time or independent reading: conferencing one-on-one during these times makes sense, as the other students are engaged in a meaningful activity (instead of mere busywork). Conferencing allows you to touch base with students and tailor your conversations in a way that targets each child’s unique needs.
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