Data...it's a huge buzzword in education lately. Having students track their own data has become something a lot of administrators want to see, and in some cases, it's even a checkmark on our teacher evaluations. I'll be honest and tell you that's why I started them with my students in the first place, but I loved the benefits I saw from using student data folders in my classroom. Please read on if you are interested in having your students track their own data...weekly...and INDEPENDENTLY!! Yes, you read that right! ;)
When I first started looking for a data folder, I had a really hard time finding something that was kid-friendly enough for my second graders. Everything seemed to be geared towards the upper grades. Eventually, I convinced myself that my brand new second graders could track their data by each Common Core standard (and that I had the time and patience to manage that), and bought a shiny new pack on TPT and created beautiful Data Folders for each student. I'll tell you that we did open them. Once. *ONCE!* ((As a side-note, the pack I bought was ah-mazing, it was just not appropriate for my second graders.)) I took it upon myself to create something that worked for us.
Tracking student data has huge benefits -- most of all being that students really begin to take ownership for their learning, they're self-motivated to do well, and as a bonus, they will be graphing EXPERTS by the end of the year!!
A look inside Student Data Folders
The first section is for setting student goals. There are plenty of options - monthly, quarterly or trimester. Students will set one academic and one personal goal and think of how they will reach that goal. I like to have students reference this page after we graph in our data folders each week, just as a refresher and reminder of what they're working towards.
Here's the meat of student data folders - where all of the graphing magic happens! I have several remade templates for you to use, but the headings and graphs are also completely editable so you can literally make it to fit your classroom needs exactly.
Another push in primary grades is math fact fluency...I wanted a fun way for students to track that. These math fact fluency pages are available in 1-10, 1-12 and 11-20. You can even print different ones to differentiate for your students!
Another great thing to keep in student data folders are writing samples. I've included monthly writing sample pages in several formats. This makes it easy to differentiate based on grade level, student needs, and as the school year goes on.
The last part of the data folders are the weekly reflection. Each week takes up a half page, and students reflect on two positive things they did that week and one thing they can improve on. This is one of my favorite parts, and I love seeing what students pick out each week. This part took the most practice at the beginning -- I had a lot of kiddos who wanted to write that they did great at reading and math each week. We really practiced being specific and picking out moments they were really proud of.
For fun, here's a peek at some of my students' Friday reflections. I recently updated the Data Folders, so this is an older version you see below. (However, this version IS still included in the download.)
*This was from my line leader of the previous week, who was having trouble stopping at the correct stopping points in the hall. ;) It's so cute the things they pick out!
Frequently Asked Questions
Where do you store the data folders?
I store their data folders in a hanging file crate. I didn't want the folders to get crammed inside of their desks, or to be inaccessible to them. I have hanging files with their student numbers and their data folder lives inside that hanging file. This method has really worked out perfectly for our classroom.
How do you teach your students to use them?At the beginning of the year, we did a lot of practicing during whole-group. I printed out a single page for each student to practice on, and we practiced together multiple times. Then, I gave them their data folders and we practiced how to find the correct page to graph on. The first few weeks it took extra time, but after that, my students could do this quickly and independently.
When and how do you use student data folders in your room?
On Fridays, I will pass out all of their graded tests, quizzes and assignments to them. I will list the titles and dates for them on the board, and they flip right to the correct page to graph their scores. I flip-flop between doing this during whole-group and small-group (to be honest, it depends on how much time we have! Fridays are always a little hectic.). I walk around my classroom and hear things such as
"I'm improving! My scores are going up!"
"I'm really going to work harder on my spelling next week."
"Great job, Alan!! You worked so hard in math!"
It.is.AWESOME!! They really do get it, and it has motivated many of them more than I could have thought!
I'd love to answer any other questions you have about using student data folders in the classroom. I've loved the benefits I've seen with my students. If you think they're right for you, you can check them out by clicking below.